Let students be the project leaders of your new app

Let students be the project leaders of your new app

May 2, 2017 by Andrea Goulet
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A lot of museum workshops with young people are focused on art practices or the role of art and museums in society. Those events and apps for young audiences are mostly led by museum staff who bring in their target audience at given stages of the project to get feedback, but can sometimes be co-created by students who work hand in hand with the museum staff all through the project to design solutions that will really appeal to millennials.

Recently, the Louvre-Lens had an opportunity to work with students during the new edition of the WELL event in April, when it scheduled a whole weekend dedicated to students from local schools creating artistic performances, dancing and playing music for the audiences, as well as engaging them in workshops. For the museum’s team, it was a perfect way to see what means “museum mediation” for the young generation, what are their main interests and artistic expressions they decided to showcase.

It is also what happened at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris: At the beginning of the student year, a class from a Masters in Applied Arts and Multimedia Narration asked them if they could develop on innovative projects that would be tailored to their needs.

The museum had a say, but students – and their teachers – were project leaders, reporting regularly to the museum teams and adjusting their projects. Actually, the Fondation Vuitton defined the needs the student would work on: helping visitors find their way in Frank Gehry’s maze, creating content for an already planned app – Lucky Vibes, creating an app to engage teens throughout their visit…

It makes sense to have students work for your institution. Who can grasp the needs of digital natives better than digital natives themselves? Who would be better to design mobile-first apps and websites? By designing for young people, they of course strongly empathize with the target group – as they belong to it. Working with students helps finding way to attract and build loyalty within young audiences that will later on become regular museum visitors.

The Fondation got free consulting from future professionals, but it still required the staff to dedicate time to the students to make the most of their projects and obtain more insights on visitors’ behavior than through focus groups and data analysis.
Indeed, the time dedicated to the projects by the staff also is a way to better understand the digital needs and habits of their audiences – as well as to understand what is at stake when designing a digital project. If students learned a lot from working for a real institution, the Fondation Vuitton definitely learned about project management, UX design, and mobile-first experiences by having young people work with them.