My Name in Lights

Testing City Strata at Whiteladies Picture House

Last Wednesday members of the REACT Team joined Charlotte and Jo to test the prototype site of special interest element of their City Strata app. We met at Boston Tea Party on a beautiful sunny day and, smoothies in one hand and iphones in the other, set off to the historic Whiteladies Picture House. This was the first ‘actual thing’ that Heritage Sandbox (or REACT) has produced for us to play with so it was a significant moment for us and for the project team.

The prototype consists of a range of ideas, content and experiences - from seeing your stage name in lights (above) to accessing archive material. Its an interesting example of one of the central questions to emerge through Heritage Sandbox; what is the balance between historical integrity and user experience? There are some really nice touches in the app so far which hint at this. For example you are rewarded for answering questions about the Cinema's history correctly with entertaining snippets of rare footage - in this gentle way, you almost become the researcher for a moment.

Inviting feedback on an early stage prototype from your users, no matter how friendly, is a scary but exciting step. Jo sat us down after the testing to question us carefully about the experience, asking probing questions like: how did you feel stood on the street with your phone out, did the experience change your perception of the building, did you find the navigation intuitive and could you see the images in the sun? (fine, yes, mostly, yes respectively for me). Charlotte was palpably thrilled to see our engagement with the social elements of the app and eager to hear our thoughts on the content.

I learned things about the Cinema, which I’ve often walked past and barely noticed, which surprised and intrigued me and I’m really looking forward to finding out more. Charlotte and Jo will be making changes in response to our feedback and developing the content further, they are also ploughing on with testing of the Castle Park area.

 Bring on the final month!

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