CREDIT: All images presented in this gallery view belongs and from the ArtCenter Archives.
reimagining the user experience AND INTERACTIONS OF the artcenter archives.
The goal of the project was to research, develop, and create new User Experiences, ideas, and strategies which could help preserve, enhance, and surface the hidden contents of the ArtCenter Archives.
The largest potion of the project was spent with researching the archives, finding contents, understanding how archival structure and steps work, field research, and interviews with archivist and other users.
This project was created in the settings of a class called "Future Pasts." The class and project was promoted and sponsored by the school's Archives and funded by grant from Institute of Museum and Library Services.
I worked on several designs and concepts in collaboration with Pooja Nair.
The project was mostly developed and built using Sketch, Adobe XD, Keynote, Processing, and Photoshop.
I worked on several prototypes and visual designs, including app design, posters, and interactive displays. I designed and built the Curated Contents and collaborated on the Processing Table.
A significant portion of the project was spent with researching the ArtCenter archives and other libraries. It was key importance that we fully understood how the archival system and user experience works in our, and other institutions and libraries.
We visited libraries and were able to first hand witness the archiving process and documentation.
After the initial research, we spent several weeks with ideation on user experience and building several functioning prototypes. We were looking for startegies whihc could help to connect the activist with the users.
We were exploring ways that could make the discovery of archival contents simple and exciting.
One of the greatest findings and realization was the amount of contents that archives generally hold and preserve. At ArtCenter, we were surprised of the amount and the quality of the meticulously documented and persevered contents.
However, none of these contents were easily discoverable.
Designing CURATED COLLECTIONS to help surface archival contents.
Curated contents and collections is a concept designed to surface archival contents to user. End-users often doesn't even know what are the type of contents they can find in an archives, unless they specifically search for it. This design idea and solution was to create display and apps that could show always changing curated content to users.
Specific items would be selected from the online catalog and sent to and interactive application and displayed on interactive monitors. It was important to able to change it in real time through the online catalog.
Curated Contents being displayed on a screen and continuously looping assets from the archives.
CREDIT: All images presented in the gallery are from the ArtCenter Archives.
How data is being handled within Curated Contents.
PROCESSING TABLE to help with the digitization of physical objects and assets.
The processing table aims to enhance and record the authentic process of physically discovering and organizing content through the creation of a physical table and adjacent software.
Other use cases include 1) video conferencing, 2) allowing for the notes and audio behind each item to be searched by visitors to the archives website, 3) adding the images surfaced from these sessions to Archive search results as digital placeholders to surface previously unprocessed materials and boxes.
Illustration of the planned and designed Processing Table.
Live archiving visible on the website through the use of the Processing Table.
CREDIT: All objects presented in the video are from the ArtCenter Archives.
Live and hands on presentation of the Processing Table.
Surfacing archival contetns with visual outreach.
Part of the project was to figure out simple strategies and design to surface archival contents to students and other users. One idea was to crate simple posters with exciting archival images that poses a question. The answer could be find voting the archives in a form of a scavenger hunt.
These posters and visuals would be contonously updated and plastered around the campus the spark interest and excitement about archival contents.
Simple poster design to surface contents.
CREDIT: All images presented in the posters are from the ArtCenter Archives.
HOW TO search and FIND CONTENTS within the archives.
Searching for contents within an archival system is often a complicated and time consuming task. We noticed that people had a hard time finding content unless they exactly knew what they are looking for. We designed simple ideas and apps that help the searching process with suggestion and options.
It was designed to show and surface archival contents to people who want to find and discover object and assets, but they don't know that they exist or how to look for them. We used a faceted / filter search strategy to help people discover contents.
Overall project RESEARCH and INSIGHTS.
The larges part of the project was taken up by extensive field and first hand research. In order to gain an understanding of the archives, we conducted several research exercises and initiatives. These included:
Website Audit In this excercise, we were given a set of items to find in the archives and then directed to document the process of completing our task. This included going step by step through ArtCenter’s website and identifying issues along the way.
Interviews We conducted several interviews with archivists, librarians, and archive suers as well as students to better understand the mental model of each user and user group.
ArtCenter Archives As a part of the initial finding excercise, we also visited ArtCenter’s physical archives. During this, we looked at the different parts of the archival system (collection, folder system, etc) as well as talked to the school archivist about the archivist point of view. LA Library Archives We had an opportunity to visit Los Angeles Public Library and see how larger archives manage their system as well as talk to the archivist there. We also had a chance to talk to a professor using AR in order to see an example of a futuristic solution.
Content plus context
While visits to the ArtCenter archives as well as the LA Archives, we found that the content that we were looking at became much more interesting when the archivist added a back story or additional context to the piece.
There is a push towards digitization in the archives but there are many items that have special physical features that would be lost in the translation to digital. How can we find ways to retain that physicality as things only continue to get more digital?
1:1 Digital to physical
As of now there is a 1:1 relation between the physical archives (Collection - Folder - item structure). Is there perhaps a a different model that would serve the digital archives better?
The current archives website presents all the information about the piece to the end-user, including those that are purely for the archival process. How can this information be surfaced only as needed by the user so as to not overwhelm?
Different platforms cause users to use them in different ways and develop a sort of “search dialect”. On Pinterest and Instagram people search in tags whereas on Amazon they use filters. How could archive sites, fit the search dialects that user’s are comfortable with.
One of the most interesting parts of the archives was the process of accidental discovery - in which we came into the archives looking for one thing and found another even more interesting thing. How can we retain this process of coming across unexpected content in the digital space.
The mental models of the Archivist and the end user are completely different. The archivists have their own terminology that end users just can’t understand but are still vital to the archival process. How can both these user types have an easy experience.
Whether at ArtCenter, AAA, or LA Public, every single archivist had a large amount of unprocessed material that they felt could never be caught up to. Because of this, there are many objects in the archives that end-users don’t know exist because they lack digital representation.