Think like a Product Manager: How IT can help a museum

8.06.2021 #digitalization#digitalsummit#museumnext


We continue our series of reviews of MuseumNext Digital Summit 2021 reports.

When the pandemic struck, the interest in museums on the Internet increased sharply. But after a few months, it started to decline in the same way. Why did this happen? Museum content just could not get through the information noise of games, videos, interactive online learning. Yes, these are the museum’s main competitors in the digital space. They help you better understand the world and are a huge resource for learning and entertainment. They cannot be ignored; they are difficult to compete with. It is difficult because museum has little experience of traditional internet content. Whereas museum used to be open to visitors physically, it now has to compete for attention on the web. Museums have found that they need a more thoughtful and structured approach to presenting information.

Unfortunately, museum’s current investment in communication often does not pay off. This can range from educational activities, to conceptualising displays, to designing user experience, to presenting digital content. Sometimes material provided by museum are not used to their full extent; even more often they are not used at all. Why?

This is an extra burden on the people who are adapting material. Often museum sends in documents of hundreds of pages. It is difficult to use and justify the time spent on them. The result is a huge missed opportunity for a museum itself, its audience and its cultural mission as a whole.

Take a look at Ikea. This is what a piece of material from museum should look like – clear, accessible and concise. It is something that people are willing to learn and use.

Clearly laid out instructions for assembling the shelving unit Expedit, Ikea.

Try looking at museum activities from a different angle. For example, you produce a product for the education market. Whether you like it or not, it means that you are competing in a crowded space for people’s attention.

How museum can be successful?

According to Lisa Bernstein, Education Consultant at Doctrina Education Consulting LLC, you need to think less like a museum and more like a Product Manager.

You might wonder what a Product Manager, an IT professional, has to do with? What does this post  have to do with museums?

No need to be tied to a specific position. First of all, it is about a person who is responsible for a kind of product a company makes and how valuable it is to both a customer and a business. Be guided not by what museum wants, but by the needs of your audience.

It is important to understand that there are people behind a product.

A product manager always puts his users in the centre.

Lisa Bernstein believes that in order to create a useful product, three questions need to be answered:

  1. Who your users are?

A product manager develops user personas and user stories, applying data from interviews and surveys.

  1. What problem are your users trying to solve?

When your solution aims to close a need, it is most likely to be used. Apply the “Jobs to be done” concept adopted by IT companies. It gives an understanding of what work you are helping your  user to do.

  1. How can you please your users and what more can you do for them?

Here, it is important to understand what problem you are solving. If people don’t understand or like something, they are unlikely to be interested in the information you are trying to convey. At the same time, if there is nothing wrong with the flow of information, but your user is not ready to absorb it at the moment, you also risk losing their  attention. How do you know what information is clear and available to the user, and at what time? This question is difficult to answer until you have answered the previous ones.

In order to increase your presence and influence, we recommend that you draw on the expertise of professionals from other professional fields. It is never a waste to push the boundaries of your thinking and perception, and go beyond accepted boundaries.




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