Wellcome collection research

The Wellcome Collection wanted to evolve its digital offering and explore the future of both collections and museums. They had a complex brand architecture which needed to brought together into a cohesive offering yet cater to their diverse audiences. They engaged us to set the foundations of the project including strategy and a style guide to allow the in-house team to continue the work.

— Role: UX & Research Director
— Project type: Discovery  
— Project duration: 3 months

Project Goals

  • Communicate the spirit, values, vision, and knowledge of Wellcome to a diverse global audience
  • Create a seamless user experience for Wellcome digital that encourages exploration across collections - from the venue to the online, and back again.
  • Establish a process, building blocks and platform for Wellcome to develop, validate and extend ideas in the future. offer controls for user interest.

Right: Pitch video.

Exploratory Research Questions

During the initial stage of the project, we ran in-depth interviews with researchers (8) and the public (6).

  1. What are the different stages of research?
  2. What role does the website play in users' 
decision to visit the collection?
  3. How do people interact while in-person at 
Wellcome Library / Collection?

The Findings

There were three key findings that shaped our approach to the project. 

1. There was a clear research pattern across many types of research.
2. Serendipity was key to researchers' progress.
The public wanted more interaction with the depth of the collections. 

Right: Research pattern.

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The Solution

Build an interaction model based on serendipity to bring breadth and clear pathing for depth. By leverage the editorial capabilities of both Wellcome Collection and Wellcome Library to bridge the two experiences. This allowed users with very different mindsets and needs to move easily between the two types of experiences.

Left: The interaction model framework 

Screen Shot 2016-12-19 at 21.36.12

The Process

Over the course of the project, we created a set of workshops to keep the Wellcome team involved in our work. We needed to be closely aligned with all of the processes behind the decisions that were made so they could take on the project after our involvement.

Style Guide
The final output of the project was a set of style guidelines
for the internal development team.
The digital style guide can be seen here

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Screenshot 2019-12-10 12.02.43

Continuous research

We conducted 3 sets of testing during the design phase;
desirability, tree testing, and card sorting.


Desirability testing (pre-design)
Wellcome was concerned that the research audience would not accept a new look and feel if it was too far towards the visitor aesthetic (bold, colourful, friendly). We tested a range of interface styles from other sources to create a recommendation prior to starting designs.

wellcome 8

Open Card Sorting (IA test part 1)
We proposed combining all three Wellcome sites under the Wellcome Collection and as such, we needed to check what users' perception of the new mix of content was. We chose open card sorting so we could better understand how users grouped the information. 

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Tree Testing (IA test part 2)
We combined the card sort with a tree test of an example IA. We tweaked the architecture based on the results of both tests, the main area of confusion was around the new editorial offering as it wasn't associated with Wellcome in users' mental models yet.

"Hollie played a massive role in revamping Wellcome Collection’s complex digital offering. She brought scads of experience across the cultural and commercial sectors to this discovery and design project. As UX Lead, Hollie was the glue that held together the collaboration. A natural facilitator, Hollie kept the teams - both agency and client-side - focused on our objectives. 

Apart from being a skilled and strategy-minded user researcher and information architect, Hollie is also a total pleasure to work with. I would be thrilled to work with Hollie on another project in the future."

​Jennifer Phillips-Bacher
Product Manager at Wellcome Collection

If you’re interested in working together or just want to say hi, please don't hesitate to get in touch. 

+44 (0) 7789937300