service design / intern


The objective of this internship was to gain hands-on experience related to my major. As an Interactive Design major, I set out to apply a range of human-centered design methods in a museum space in order to find ways to improve the guest and gallery attendant experience at the Zuckerman Museum of Art. I typically use these methods to design websites or mobile applications, but I intended to expand this knowledge beyond devices and into a space in which human interaction with the space makes or breaks the museum experience.


The traditional service design process consists of five steps: vision, personas, location plan, journey map, and blueprint. However, I approached this project from a user experience perspective, hoping to use the user experience processes I have learned and applying the appropriate deliverables to the museum space. 

The process I applied to this space was  the Design Thinking Process. This process consists of six steps:















Service design improves the experiences of both the user and employee by designing, aligning, and optimizing an organization’s operations to better support customer journeys. 


My objective was to apply a range of human-centered design methods to find ways in which to improve the guest and gallery attendant experience at the Zuckerman Museum of Art. I typically use these methods to design websites or mobile applications, but I intended to expand this knowledge beyond devices and into a space in which human interaction with the space makes or breaks the museum experience.


The first week of my internship was spent developing a plan for incorporating human-centered design into a space. I reviewed human-centered design methods and researched numerous deliverables for each step of the process.



Learn about your audience

Identify user needs

Identify personas with motivations, behaviors, and needs

Outline user actions and circumstances under which these are performed

List distinct activities, behaviors and emotions you’re looking to research



Analyze user feedback

Consider observations

Identify problems that stand out




Define success—what does it look like in regard to what you’re trying to achieve?

Frame Your Design Challenge

Bundle Ideas

Form ideas into complex solutions

Cluster ideas into groups by themes and patterns

Isolate quality you’re looking to add to solution (efficiency, speed, cleanliness, glamour?)

Take question and brainstorm in design context

Distill ideas down to their essences

List constraints and barriers

Ask how question allows for a variety of solutions

Translate into design opportunities



Create low-fidelity prototype (rough sketch)

Create high-fidelity prototype (shows all details)

Build interactive prototype (interactive demonstration)

Write down key elements of idea

Write down primary questions of each component

Think about what prototype makes most sense to answer these questions

Test and learn

Determine what strategy you’re testing

Sort out logistics — what do you need?

Test multiple ideas at once if possible

Iterate and capture feedback



Conduct usability report 

Background summary 


Test results 

Findings and Recommendations 

Analytics report

Capture honest feedback

Integrate and Iterate

Brainstorm how idea can change based on feedback

Measure and evaluate by collecting team feedback from ideas and implementation of ideas



I began my on-site research by observing my audience: museum guests and gallery attendants. These became the two personas for which I was to identify motivations, behaviors, and needs.

My initial observations included the following:

  • Attendant anxiety – not sure how to greet guests, awkwardness of asking someone to sign in who has already done so

  • Guest anxiety – gallery attendant placement in gallery is important; guest avoided looking at work because attendant was next to it

  • Gallery attendant mentioned that they prefer minimal technology, but also mentioned wanting an easier way to sign people in.

After making a few general observations, I observed guests as they came into the space to study the types of guests that we have at the museum.


walks at a normal walking pace through gallery; 2 minutes or less



The next step was identifying the needs and collecting feedback of gallery attendants. To do so, I sent an email to the ZMA staff asking that they complete the following survey:


Responses to this survey were as follows:

Please list any feedback or suggestions you have that could help improve your personal experience at the museum.

  • We should spread visibility because no one seems to know we exist.

  • Better communication between the student assistants and the staff

  • More interactive exhibits

Please list any feedback or suggestions you have that could help improve the guest learning experience at the museum.

  • We could advertise a "tour weekend" for students and their families in the middle of the semester. Friday-Sunday, students and their families could stop by at certain time to experience a tour. This way, students wouldn't have to enroll in a certain class to experience a tour, the ZMA would have more weekend visitors, docents would gain more experience, and students would be reminded about the ZMA after opening reception.

  • Some of the guests who want to learn additional information about the artists in the exhibits, or their work have told me that they have had trouble finding this information online. If there are any additional resources, links, etc that we can provide for them to conduct more research on specific artists or topics we should provide those if possible.

  • Maybe email blasts every week, to give a rundown on things that will happen

  • Long term goal: provide QR code on certain works of works of art for visitor to explore more about the work via their phone

  • Interaction between the student assistants and the guests that give a little bit more information about the pieces.

  • Anything interactive or hands-on

Please list any feedback or suggestions you have that could help improve the overall guest experience at the museum.

  • I think that we can continue to improve event/opening marketing for the museum. Unfortunately there are still a lot of people here who have never visited or heard of the museum. I have seen more posts on social media which I think is great we just have to keep getting the word out and keep growing.

  • Provide different types of events to bring students into the museum, perhaps fun evening events or crafting workshop?

  • Have more events, or flyers to get more people to come to the museum

  • Interact a little bit more with the guest.


analysis of staff feedback:


Advertise everything possible

  • Willing to help design + distribute flyers

Project: Design promotion for December show

Project: Campus interactive experiment

  • Scavenger hunt

Additional resources - Provide artist information online

Project: Design website that provides this information for Painting Who?, interactive component

Increase social media presence


Staff to student assistants

Student assistants to guests


Curatorial note: within exhibits

QR code – could provide on info guides to link to more info

Continue educational interactive stations


Tour Weekend

  • Friday-Sunday

  • What: students and their families could stop by at certain time to experience a tour

  • Why: students wouldn't have to enroll in a certain class to experience a tour; ZMA would have more weekend visitors; docents would gain more experience; students would be reminded about the ZMA after opening reception; fun evening events or craft workshop


Through collecting this feedback and pitching some of the ideas, I quickly realized that my power within the museum is limited. I learned that many of these ideas could not be executed directly through me; there are forces beyond me that contribute to the happenings in the museum.


I noticed that there were many comments on interactivity within the museum. When deciding my next step, I kept that in mind as well as a few of my original goals for this internship. Interactivity as it exists in the Zuckerman today is apparent in gallery attendant interaction with the guests, tours, sign-in sheets and feedback surveys, educational activities, and interaction between guests and galleries. Since interactivity showed itself as an important characteristic of the museum to the staff and myself, I decided to focus on improving those aspects of the museum rather than attempting to implement anything completely new.


what does success look like?

Application of a range of human-centered design methods to improve the guest and gallery attendant experience at the ZMA by increasing interactivity between people and within the space.


gallery attendant interaction with guests


sheets and feedback surveys

educational activities

interaction between guests and galleries



  • exhibits are planned years in advance

  • I have less than a semester to achieve goals


  • I have to go through many people to put on any events or change anything physically within the space

  • There are staff who are already working on a lot of the ideas that were pitched

  • I need to focus on implementing what can be done directly through me


  • There is a museum budget that is required to be used for all museum happenings

  • The budget is extremely limited and planned in advance


I found through ideation that my original goals of becoming a docent and improving the guest sign-in sheet and surveys were still relevant and feasible. These goals could be completed directly through me within a few weeks at no cost to the museum.


The museum staff was interested in the idea of a digital sign-in sheet, as we are in the process of transitioning from paper sign-in sheets to student ID card readers. In this context, having a digital sign-in for the semester would serve as a prototype of what would accompany the card readers for guests who do not have a student ID.


Originally, I wanted to create an Adobe interactive PDF as a prototype for the sign-in sheet. I had experience creating these documents and found that they were easy to design and interact with. However, these forms do not collect and store data as would be necessary for their purpose. I decided to build the sign-in form on Google Forms as it was familiar, slightly customizable, and collected data that could be shared amongst the staff. Once the prototype is tested and redesigned, it will be implemented on a university approved system.


For consistency and ease of use, I created the updated survey on Google Forms as well. I analyzed our current survey and reflected on goals in order to adjust and add to the survey to ensure that we were maximizing desired feedback from guests. I noted that the survey should ask questions regarding guest general experience, guest interaction with student assistants, educational experience, and curatorial effect.


I recognized that our current survey included questions that gave a sense of our audience. This information is valuable data for the museum and funding purposes, so I kept those questions in the updated survey. Since I became very aware of the time guests spent in the museum in my observations, I added a section for recording the amount of time spent in the museum. I also added a short paragraph section for general experience, interaction with staff, and educational experience.


It was very important to me to become a docent this semester. I felt as though it was necessary in order to break the barrier not only between exhibits and guests, but also between myself and guests as a constant presence in the museum space. The pace at which some guests walked through exhibits made it very obvious that they were getting more visual stimulation from their visit than they were receiving an educational experience.


Personally, I experienced trouble with anxiety in my interactions with guests that made it very difficult to speak to them. I had hopes that docent training would make me as a gallery attendant an addition to their experience rather than merely a presence. Guests would have face-to-face interactions that would make their experience meaningful and educational. Becoming a docent was a 3 week process. There were 6 sessions that included readings, discussions, activities, and practice tours. Training docents were required to present 3 tours throughout training: The first tour focusing on one work, the second focusing on three works, and the third focusing on the same 3 works with an audience of staff.


The prototyping stage of the process included implementing the updated sign-in form and guest survey on the museum iPads, as well as giving tours and interacting with guests as a newly trained docent.


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After implementing the prototype for the sign-in form, a few minor problems presented themselves. The school Wi-Fi would continuously crash, but that problem could be solved by turning the Wi-Fi off and back on. Younger guests seemed to be pleased with the form and handled the transition with ease, while elderly guests—who often come for events—were confused and frustrated by the technology. The iPad should be replaced with the paper sign-in sheet for events until another solution is implemented.


As far as data recording, which shift leads have to do every weekend, shift leads found it difficult to separate guests by date and by whether or not they wanted to receive emails from the museum. I decided to remove the radio buttons that indicated whether or not guests wanted to receive emails and left the email field optional. To separate guest data between weeks, shift leads can copy data from the Google spreadsheet to an Excel spreadsheet, and delete the data in the Google spreadsheet once that data is transferred. These problems may be omitted or present themselves in different ways with the implementation of the official software we will be using in the upcoming semester. Overall, the digital sign-in form makes the sign-in process smoother for gallery attendants and most of the museum guests.


The implementation of a digital guest feedback survey generated over 100% more responses than the paper survey. I have only ever seen less than 10 paper surveys being completed, but there were over 20 responses on the Google form within the first week of the prototype. This survey generated data on our audience and the time they spend in the museum—data that is important for funding and understanding how our audience interacts with our space. Allowing a space for guests to write their feedback affords direct communication with the museum, which will be helpful in continuing to build a space that fits the needs of our visitors.


After docent training, there was a huge shift in my interactions with guests. My research of the exhibitions coupled with learning museum education strategies made talking to guests and answering questions noticeably easier. Studying Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) helped guide my conversations with guests, for both tours and individuals. I found myself being able to respond to guests and generate conversation when they exclaimed “I don’t get art!” Conversations are less one-sided now that I know to ask guests what they see rather than giving my own opinions. I feel confident extending knowledge to guests who seem lost or confused.


I helped give a tour to a large group of middle schoolers, and I gave my own tour to a group of high schoolers. Giving those tours showed me that I have room to improve in my conversational and public speaking skills. However, I know that I have improved on those skills from the beginning of the semester because I would not have been able to give a tour to a single guest, much less a group of over 20 students. Considering this immense shift in my museum education confidence, I recommend that all gallery attendants either receive docent training, or at the very least research the exhibitions and study VTS.


I have applied human-centered design methods within the context of the Zuckerman Museum of Art and achieved the personal goals I set in the beginning of the semester. By thinking critically about the problems presented to me, I was able to contribute to the improvement of the museum experience for both guests and gallery attendants.


The sign-in form has provided a more comfortable and familiar way for guests to sign into the museum, and having a digital platform to accompany the student ID card readers in the future will provide a way for non-KSU guests to sign in. It has also provided a much easier way for shift leads to record data which they would be required to do manually otherwise. The survey, which attracted more responses with this update, now allows more room to improve the overall guest experience and the educational impact of the museum. Guests can tell us directly what they have learned, which will help curators understand the effect their shows have on their audience. Through docent training, I have assisted the Education and Outreach Coordinator in delivering high quality art education programs to visitors and promoting and creating a friendly space within exhibits. The skills I gained from this training taught me how to give guests the same educational experience whether they are part of a tour or not. 

Moving forward, the museum staff is taking on some of the challenges that I identified through my research. They are working on implementing new marketing strategies that I did not have the time or resources to take on at the time. I have edited the prototypes I created according to user feedback, and they are in the process of being permanently implemented into the space with the appropriate software. I believe that I have done everything in my power to ensure that guests and student assistants are comfortable and having best possible experience at the Zuckerman Museum of Art.