A Tangible Questionnaire For Children Visitors In Museums
Inspired by The VoxBox
Acknowledgment: Sarah Gallacher, Nicolai Marquardt and Yvonne Roger

Date: 2014 September-November (6 weeks)
My roles: UX designer (prototype), video editor
Outputs: User research, full-scale prototype based on user research results, demo video



Context and challenge

The aim of this project is to train students to be familiar with the traditional user-centred design process. So in this project, we focused on gathering user needs and converting those concepts into a design based on the research results. The output includes several sketches and a full-scale prototype of the tangible user interface.

Our team needed to design a tangible questionnaire in museums for children to collect their visiting experience. So that the staff of museum could get first-hand feedback from them directly.



The HIVE featured hexagon shape with six different question sections and different interfaces. Its special shape and diverse interactivities would guarantee a fun and interesting experience for children visitors. For children visitors, there would be a friendly way for their voice be heard; for museums, the device can be potential for gathering more feedback from children than before, thus smooth the process of improving the service.





The priority goes to getting in touch with target users and stakeholders including museums and its young visitors. So that we could evaluate the content of the questionnaire, and the practicality of this design concept.  It would be helpful to make an interactive prototype in the wild to explore the possibilities and potential issues of this concept in the real environment. 



1. User research

Designing system for children is different, as they do not yet have the knowledge and understanding that develops with age. Their thoughts and motivations are different from adults and their cognitive ability develops rapidly. In an interactive system, they tend to react to changes by often trying to do something repeatedly without actually knowing what is going on.

So on this stage, we launched user research to understand design requirements. Due to Ethic issues in the UK, we couldn’t get access directly to our target users. So we choose observation in the wild, Literature review and semi-structure interview with the staff of the museum as our approach.


1-1. Observations in the wild & interview

We visited four museums that we believed those have the most children visitors in London. (Those are: Science Museum, V&A Museum of Childhood, Horniman Museum and Geffrye Museum). We observed and interviewed with staff in the museums to understand users’ preference, and how museums get the feedbacks from children. 

We found that children like to interact with tangible things, which proven our assumption is right. And The parents and teachers will help the children to follow and understand different topics in the museum.

In those museums, drawing sections, touching areas or any devices with interactive visual effect and audio sounds were popular among kids. And to design tangible user interface, the dimensions should match our target users. 


1-2. Literature reviews

We also referred some kids HCI paper and official museum website to find out the target users and related design limitations.

  • We focused on children aged between 7-10 years old, as their cognitive development is mature enough (Bruckman, 2002) to express their feedback to museums. This group of the children are also the most curious about things around them. 

  • User interface requirements: it is proven that having noticeable sound, image, colour, feelings and simplified text are demanded in UI for children users.

  • Ergonomics approach and dimension.


1-3. Ideation & brainstorming

The main design requirements are as follows: 

  • The tangible interface should be in vivid colour, which is easier to be recognised by kids

  • The scale should be big enough, and having audio feedback to be appealing to our target users.


2. Design

2-1. Questionnaire

We kept the numbers of questions as five, to make sure the interaction is simple, and the timing is proper for children to keep focusing.  On this stage, we also explored different ways to interact with children.

2-2. User interface

The pictures bellow showed the process of user interface design. We simplified many of it to make it understandable.


2-3. Icon choosing

We designed icons based on culture stereotype to make sure it’s recognisable.But it’s challenging to balance “being recognisable” between “avoiding causing bias”.

For example, we conveyed the meaning of “family” by using a pair of female, male and two children. But there are still some other forms of families like single parents or homosexual couple. And it would be better if we could explore alternative expression in the future. 



2-4. Shapes & dimension

The size of the device should be suitable for kids between 7-10 years old. And each question should be able to ensure users’ privacy while providing their feedback. It also should be portable and assembled, so the device can be applicable in different spaces in museums. Our final design is a machine in a hexagon shape along with ergonomics principles. The six questions can put on each side of the shape, so leave the space for kids from each others while answering the questions. The sketches bellow showed the process of designing the shapes and dimensions.


2-5. Full-Scale Mockups

We made full-scale mockup to express the design concept with audience, and evaluate with target users in the future.