top of page

My work


Optimising the Lens onboarding

UX Design / interaction and visual design

ACMI Feb 21st_WEB 22_Phoebe Powell.JPG

The Lens is a handheld device visitors take at the beginning the centrepiece exhibition, The Story of the Moving Image.

Visitors can collect anything on display (and interactive experiences) in ACMI’s centrepiece exhibition and log in online with their Lens code and see everything they've have collected / made.

The Lens is a relatively new concept for visitors to Museums and galleries.

UX activities

  • 3 rounds of observational research and contextual enquiries

  • Research synthesis

  • 2 rounds of mid-fi prototyping and usability testing

2nd iteration (for opening)

An unsuccessful tap/error: a quick flash of blue followed by amagenta colour flashing 3 times


  • Changed the success /error colours of the Lens readers at onboarding and inside the exhibition to be more colour blind accessible

  • Updated instructions at onboarding station 

  • A clearer CTA for visitors to take a Lens

  • Updated messaging for the Lens device

The Lens experience

The challenge

How do we optimise the uptake, onboarding and engagement of the Lens with existing constraints?

The design process

I conducted 3 rounds of observational research with ACMI members, spoke to Visitor Experience staff, and co-designed the onboarding messaging and the Lens device with the Design team and members of the Experience team.

We needed to:​

  • help onboard visitors quickly,

  • explain the value proposition and

  • provide visitors with the information most useful so they can move into the exhibition with the confidence to start collecting.

The moving parts / things we can control

  • What is on the messaging panel

  • The colour, frequency and pattern of the Lens reader lights and lighting within the onboarding station

  • What Visitor Experience staff say to visitors at onboarding

  • Extra signage around the building

  • Messaging on the Lens device

Optimising onboarding: the onboarding station

The onboarding station is at the entrance to the centrepiece exhibition. This round table is where visitors can pick up a Lens, and test and learn how to use it.

Visitors arrive at the table, slide a Lens out of a dispenser and test their Lens on one of the Lens readers. A blue light means a tap is successful, a magenta light means a tap is unsuccessful and the Lens needs to be replaced.

Stationed here throughout the day is one (or two if it's a busy day) Visitor Experience staff, assisting visitors onboard. 

on boarding messaging 1st round.png
Arrow _edited.png

Lens (NFC) reader

Arrow _edited.png

Printed graphics on paper approx A3

Messaging panel

Arrow _edited.png

The evolution of the onboarding station messaging

1st round of testing (pre opening)

Design had created this, and I tested with users.

I observed users interact with the onboarding station without much assistance. I gave some prompts but luckily they were a very vocal group, so I had no issues gathering their thoughts.

initiL 2019-LensOnboardingInstructions-LABELTESTJULY.png


  • Users didn’t know what they were collecting. (artworks and objects/ labels in the exhibition).

  • Users were struggling with aligning their Lens to the readers. how to collect something. Knowing how to collect a work is a really important interaction. If users don’t understand how to properly collect something, once they log in online they won’t see any works.

  • The value proposition was unclear (we know it as: bringing the museum home with you, seeing everything you collected in one place online, being able to view everything later).

  • They were unsure if they could use a different device other than a computer to access the post visit online experience.

  • We needed to better explain what users were collecting, how and why they were using the Lens.

I worked with Design to have the 2nd and 3rd iterations 'end user' ready. I made the mock up, and Design refined it. 

Current 2142-LensOnboardingInstructions-FINALDRAFT-2 (1) copy.png

Decisions for the 2nd iteration

This iteration addressed:

  • what visitors would be collecting; combining the copy ‘Collect everything around ACMI’ with visual representations of works

  • how to collect a work; being more explicit in the language about the action of collecting (Hold Lens over [Lens symbol] to collect’). Adding in a visual guide (outline of the top of the Lens with the copy ‘Try your Lens’) to help visitors align their Lens to the Lens reader

  • explain the value proposition clearer; where visitors can ‘Watch, play and explore your collection online’. I added in the image of a phone so visitors know the post visit online experience can be accessed on any device.

  • The 'Take a Lens’ copy was relocated from the first step of the instructions to a sticker which sits above the Lens dispensers. We’ve utilised more of the table with this clear CTA (call to action) while leaving more room on the instructional panel to be more action-focused. I also changed the copy to ‘Take your Lens’ After hearing comments about whether visitors could keep their Lens, the ‘your’ to give them more ownership.

3rd iteration (March)

Currently in prototype / testing phase

2471-LensOnboardingInstructions-MessageIteration-May2021-V1.2_Blk-GuidesOff (1).png

Decisions for the latest iteration

  • Swapping the verb ‘Try your Lens’ for ‘Activate your Lens’. Is more active and suggests doing one action and moving on​

  • ‘Your museum favourites’ may help visitors better understand what they’re collecting. This also aligns with the messaging on the back of the Lens

  • Explore your collection online — as a key message

  • This latest condensed version comes as VX staff are explaining the experience a lot more concisely than planned

  • The black background makes for easier reading and connects the instructions visually with the black Lens itself

A note on this design

I designed the latest messaging below, however, after more observational work, it's become clear the more important message to communicate is how to collect and what the success / error colours mean.

We also rely heavily on the Visitor Experience staff to communicate how to collect. Further design is needed to communicate this important interaction, whereby we adjust the messaging and the timing of the lighting feedback.

I want to extend the timing of the light feedback so when users take their Lens off the reader, the blue light remains and they can see their Lens tap was successful.

take your lens positioning.png
take your lens.png

Other components

Lens redesign

My involvement was prototyping Lenses with the white Lens icon and new messaging and user testing with visitors in the exhibition.

Findings from this round of testing:

  • Without staff prompting, visitors were tentative at the onboarding station, as there is no clear call to action — they were a little bit hesitant to interact.

  • Visitors still weren’t confident about which part of the Lens they had to tap to trigger the reader.

  • When visitors managed to align the symbol correctly and triggered the blue light, they weren’t sure what to do afterwards; some would tap on all of the readers expecting some kind of feedback, some would ask the VX staff, ‘what do I do now?’ to which the VX responded something along the lines of ‘Head into the exhibition’.

  • Most visitors preferred to listen to a VX staff member explaining the Lens than read the instructions.

  • A third of the visitors coming through, who didn’t tune into the VX staff tutorial, looked at the Lens instructions on the onboarding table and on the Lens and moved into the exhibition with an ‘I'll figure it out’ attitude.

lens iterations.png
magenta light feedback onboarding.gif
blue light feedback onboarding.gif

Lighting feedback

To make the Lens readers lights more colour blind inclusive, I worked with one of the developers in my team to change the colours from green (successful) and red (error)

to blue (successful) magenta (error).

The blue light is a steady flash and the magenta light flashes 3 times. This is echoed in the exhibition also.

Although these colours aren't widely known as success and failure colours, we wanted there to be a noticeable difference for those who can't see green/red colours as well. There are Visitor Experience staff who communicate this as well.

A successful tap: a steady flash of blue 

bottom of page