Design Jam Bristol: gallery UX challenges

On Saturday 16th June myself and around 20 other strangers rocked up to Spike Island* in Bristol for a user experience (UX) Day called Design Jam Bristol.

As with the typical wonder of discover I found out about the event from a RT on twitter from a London UX pro.

Ever since I started to create ‘things’ for other people I have been interested in how those things are discovered, used, misused or neglected. The summary of the day grabbed my attention:

Design Jam is a one-day design session, during which people will team up to tackle engaging User Experience (UX) challenges. Similar to developer ‘hackdays’ the aim is to get UX professionals, designers, developers (and more) together to learn and collaborate with each other while working on actual design problems. The sessions champion open-source thinking & sharing and are non-profit, run by local volunteers.

After a tour of the building (they do a lot!) we got chunked into random groups (me, Keir, Robin and Tom) and cracked on with the task which was to explore how to encourage everyday folk to visit art space and galleries like Spike that were compelling and rewarding. The following are some of my own thoughts as well as the group around making art spaces a Celebration:

  • We ARE the user – most of us had never been to Spike island before
  • discovery ain’t easy – even when you are near the building you’d have no idea. We thought of ‘maplines’ to offer various guides around the stuff on offer
  • Art spaces can be intimidating
  • The experience starts from the very first interaction with the words/building and should be considered part of the staff/artists remit. Three states: pre, during and post-visit
  • What should anybody care about these spaces?
  • Let us talk, take photos, videos and make our our interpretations
  • How can digital be used to help the artist and visitor make connections e.g. put communication methods with the work
  • ‘speak to the curb’ attract passing traffic – from the outside what does the building communicate?
  • Consider ‘the wall’ which mixes physical communication and captures online
  • Destroy and rebuild what these spaces are for – this non typical event dragged my carcass to spike
  • View the PDF (12mb) of some of our thoughts used for our presentation

I like free stuff, used to paint a bunch, made digital pieces and like to support local events… yet rarely do I dip into the art spaces available across the uk. For me personally it is partly due to being completely unaware of what is happening. I now mostly discover things from my networks such as twitter so it is essentially art spaces not only have a presence here but realise that it is likely a link removed from the organisation itself that will get me through the door. Make it easy for us to point to you, ask you questions and reflect on our points of interaction. Come to us, help us and we’ll reward you with visits and actively spread the word.

I would like to thank the organisers, other teams and my own team for a thought provoking and entertaining day.

* This was my first visit to Spike island…..

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