Week 11 Lecture & Resources
User Testing – Group Crit Session
The Week 11 Science Museum group crit was a really useful opportunity to get feedback on my prototype design concept, particularly after changing direction since the previous crit session in Week 8. I presented my Cyanotype kit design idea to the group and gave a brief explanation of how the kit would work, in addition to the intention of linking it back to the archive via an information booklet and encouraging people to share the images they create (to a dedicated page/portal/microsite) on the Science Museum website, potentially social media too.
I asked John Stack two specific questions:
- Did he think that the DIY kit concept would help encourage people to learn about cyanotypes and the wider evolution/history of photography?
- How women are represented in the SMG collection generally and whether the Science Museum is doing anything to redress the gender imbalance in modern times.
Feedback from John Stack, Digital Director of the Science Museum Group:
– Yes, he thought the kit idea would work. The idea of “learning by doing” has always been really important to the Science Museum, even going back to the 1920s-1930s
– The kit idea is really nice – you can imagine it as a gift, then whilst you are doing/using the kit, where it’s sitting there in the sun [processing], there are moments at which you can insert into the experience bits about Anna Atkins, bits about the process, the science going on, etc.
– The specific blue colour inherent to the cyanotypes is really nice too + has visual appeal
– The cyanotype kit would work as a gift, as well as an educational tool (recognising that what you’re doing by creating a cyanotype is in fact a scientific practice)
– Research into science engagement (to encourage STEM career paths) – representation is important; so although it’s fun, it is important for people to see themselves represented [so they can picture themselves in those careers]
– Women who worked with male scientists are now starting to get the recognition they deserve (SMG is working on redressing this)
– The SMG is making changes to how history is represented, talking to more people, gathering broader stories and presenting more multi-dimensional views
– They are also working in partnership with Wikipedia and doing a lot of work in redressing balance and reframing the stories of under-represented women at the moment
Feedback from peers via the crit & Ideas Wall:
– Ellie: Craft kits are really popular at the moment, for all age groups.
– Lorri: She would definitely pick up one of the cyanotype kits from the Science Museum gift shop.
– Weronika: The packaging design is really beautiful! The toned down palette of the packaging as well as the bright blue of the inside work really well together.
Further developing the “make your own cyanotype” kit idea, I worked on ideas for the kit contents, including a detailed instruction booklet with a step-by-step guide on creating a cyanotype print, as well as information on the science, history and the work of Anna Atkins. My intention is that there will also be a call to action encouraging users to look at the Science Museum website to learn more and also to share/upload their creations.
Reflection on the week
It was good to get some feedback on the prototype DIY Cyanotype kit design idea and see if it appealed to both the target age group and potentially also a wider audience. Overall, the general consensus from peers, stakeholders and the target audience so far has been very positive, which is encouraging.
Schaaf, Larry J. 2018. Sun Gardens: Cyanotypes by Anna Atkins. New York: The New York Public Library.