Smithsonian Commons Prototype - Experience Brief
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Story #1: Museum Visitor (Pre/During/Post Visit)


Smithsonian museums are visited [X] million times a year.
This story shows how the Smithsonian Commons helps people plan their
Smithsonian visits and connect with the Institution and its mission, over time.
“Memorial weekend is coming up and I’d like to take a long weekend trip with some friends.
What better place to celebrate Memorial Day than Washington DC!
I haven’t been to the Smithsonian in years, so it’s definitely top on our list of to-do’s.
What’s on exhibit?”









Top Left: YouTube sketch/cartoon of the storyboard, in progress. (This has Closed Captions.)
Top Right: Version 2 of YouTube sketch/cartoon of the storyboard, in progress.Bottom: a draft of the storyboard doc, via scribd, in progress (click on Full Screen to view)

Transcript of video (.txt file)



Persona Behavior

  • Browse content across all museums
  • Save things of interest
  • Use citizen-to-citizen knowledge sharing (ratings/tips/user-generated photos)
  • Access content remotely via smartphone

Key Themes

  • Vast – everything on view in the museums can be seen in one website
  • Findable – exhibitions/objects of interest can be found/discovered quickly
  • Shareable – we help users share photos/collections on the social sites they use
  • Free – free content promotes bricks & mortar visits (thus generating more traffic in shops, restaurants, etc)

Possible Topics for this Scenario

  • Stamps
  • Civil War
  • Animals at the National Zoo

Experience Flow (original - - needs updating [M.E. 1-3-09])

  1. (Pre) visitor starts a casual online search for information on the Smithsonian. Types “visit Smithsonian” in Google search.
  2. She clicks a Google result that talks about the basics when planning a trip to the Smithsonian – hours, events, exhibits, etc.
  3. On the si.edu page, she sees a promo about all the “must-see” artifacts and clicks to view more.
  4. She’s amazed at all the cool things on exhibit at the Smithsonian and had no idea there were this many museums! She gravitates toward those items with high user ratings and reviews. She begins adding things to a Trip Planner.
  5. Her Trip Planner tells her where all of the things she’s collected so far are located. She prints out a copy and also saves it to her iPhone.
  6. When finished, she’s presented the option to download a GPS-enabled phone app that gives extra info about the collections on view.
  7. While viewing [x] at [x] museum, she pulls out her phone to learn more. Because it’s GPS enabled, the app shows her location and the item she’s currently viewing, and plays a behind-the-scenes video tour of [x] that are not yet on exhibit.
  8. She has a question about the artifact, and browses FAQs that have been collected from citizens and answered by Smithsonian experts.
  9. She takes a few pictures with her phone and shares them on Facebook. Smithsonian data is carried with it. (reference Brooklyn Museum iPhone app)
  10. When she’s home, she returns to the Commons and notices that she’s earned Commons Cash. She reads a short explanation of what Commons Cash is about. She also sees related information on the items that she’s favorited while on her trip.

Alternate Experience Flow [proposed by Smoot]

[I split Smoot's insertions into this "alternate" experience flow to a) preserve the original flow, and b) allow Smoot's suggestions to stand on their own. HOpe that's OK Smoot! (M.E. 12/4/09)]
  1. (Pre) visitor starts a casual online search for information on the Smithsonian. Types “visit Smithsonian” in Google search.
  2. She clicks a Google result that talks about the basics when planning a trip to the Smithsonian – hours, events, exhibits, etc.
  3. On the si.edu page, she sees a promo about all the “must-see” artifacts and clicks to view more.
  4. She’s amazed at all the cool things on exhibit at the Smithsonian and had no idea there were this many museums! She gravitates toward those items with high user ratings and reviews.
  5. She [registers on the Smithsonian Web site, easily done using her Facebook login credentials, and (Smoot, Dec. 3)] begins adding things to a Trip Planner.
  6. Her Trip Planner tells her where all of the things she’s collected so far are located [and indicates that she will need tickets for two events she added to her calendar. She decides to order the tickets to gaurantee her seats and completes the order, providing her postal address and credit card payment information. She elects to use the print-at-home ticket option and after seeing an eNewsletter subscription checkoff box on the online reciept page, decides to subscribe since the eNewsletter topic corresponds to the events she will be attending. (Smoot, Dec. 3)] She prints out a copy [of her Trip Planner and her print-at-home tickets] and also saves them to her iPhone.
  7. When finished, she’s presented the option to download a GPS-enabled phone app that gives extra info about the collections on view.
  8. [The next day, she receives a thank-you email from the Smithsonian for registering on the Web site, for subscribing to an eNewsletter, and for purchasing tickets for two events. Since she does not live in the DC Metro area, the email includes a discounted Smithsonian National Associate membership offer, which includes the Smithsonian magazine. It also contains a recommendation for downloading addition trip planning documents, suggestions for local accommodations, and a link to a short online questionnaire, which will earn her some Commons Cash. (Smoot, Dec. 3)]
  9. [She decides to look at the questionniare, clicks on the link, and is directed back to the Smithsonian Commons Web site. She is prompted to login with her Smithsonian screen name, starts to scratch her head trying to remember what it is, when she sees that she can login with her Facebook login credentials and does so again. She takes the short online questionnaire, which ask a few questions about her interests and couple of demographic questions--the answers are stored in her Smithsonian account. She also provides the names and email addresses of her two friends, who are traveling with her to Washington, DC over the Memorial Day holiday, thus earning even more Commons Cash. Her friends then receive an email welcome message, along with information about the Smithsonian exhibits that will be on view during the holiday. (Smoot, Dec. 3)]
  10. [The Memorial holiday finally arrives and] while viewing [x] at [x] museum, she pulls out her phone to learn more. Because it’s GPS enabled, the app shows her location and the item she’s currently viewing, and plays a behind-the-scenes video tour of [x] that are not yet on exhibit.
  11. She has a question about the artifact, and browses FAQs that have been collected from citizens and answered by Smithsonian experts.
  12. She takes a few pictures with her phone and shares them on Facebook. Smithsonian data is carried with it. (reference Brooklyn Museum iPhone app)
  13. When she’s home, she returns to the Commons and notices that she’s earned Commons Cash. She reads a short explanation of what Commons Cash is about. She also sees related information on the items that she’s favorited while on her trip.

Functionality Demonstrated:
  • Google search
  • Google search results with link to si.edu
  • Si.edu/visit page with a “must see” promo that links to the Commons
  • “Must see” landing page on Commons
  • “Add to my Trip Planner”
  • View saved items in Trip Planner
  • Print / Download
  • Download phone app
  • Video of exhibit curator viewed on smartphone
  • FAQs
  • Upload photos to Facebook with Smithsonian metadata
  • Personalized view of Commons with related information on the items saved in Trip Planner, new recommendations, and intro to Commons Cash

Outcomes/Benefits for the Smithsonian

  • Our resources are broken out from silos and are findable/searchable
  • Our visitors have a better understanding of what they can do/see and can better plan their visit
  • Our visitors can take Smithsonian with them wherever they go
  • We create a richer museum experience (pre/during/post)
  • We encourage repeat visit to the commons


Smithsonian Commons Prototype - Experience Brief
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