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Museum of Vancouver

‘Have You Eaten Yet?': an iPad app for the Museum of Vancouver's 2020 "A Seat at the Table" Exhibition.

Project Type

UX and Interaction Design, Research, Visual Design, Concept Art

Keywords

Interactive Exhibition, User Experience, User Interface Design, Ipad App, Interactive Design, Storytelling, Concept Design, Illustration, Visual Development Art, Digital Art, Vectorial Art

Background

Project developed for the Museum of Vancouver as part of the Master of Digital Media Program.

(Fall Term 2019, at the Centre for Digital Media). 

Team: Jaclynn Wong, Eugene Chau, Irene Sasaki, Isabel Hughes, Lam Kwan, Vikrant Rajan.

My Role

Visual Development Lead and Concept Artist | UX and Interaction Designer

 

  • Responsible for the concept design and art development for ‘Have You Eaten Yet?': an iPad app featured as part of the Museum of Vancouver's 2020 "A Seat at the Table" Exhibition:  

 

 

  • Tasks as a UX and interaction designer: research, user journey and interaction planning & design, development of low to high fidelity prototypes.

  • My routine also involved elaborating and conducting user tests, translating its results into actionable insights and design inputs to be further iterated upon.

-  Ensured the app visual development was cohesive with the design guidelines of the Museum of Vancouver, and also with the other components of the exhibition. 

 

-  Creation of appealing art for an interactive map of China and enticing illustrations of local food dishes; development of iconography and additional assets for humanizing the interactive map.

Overview

The Museum of Vancouver presented us with the task of creating an iPad app that showcases various region dialects from China. We were asked to showcase 34 audio dialects of the same phrase, 'Have you eaten yet?', in an engaging experience with appealing visuals.

 

Our objective was to create a meaningful app that is welcoming and friendly for the museum’s wide range of visitors, and that makes Chinese dialects friendly to both users familiar or unfamiliar with the language.

Challenges

  • Experience time-restraint: provide a meaningful experience, considering a user may only spend 3 minutes using the app.

  • Balance audio and visual elements: audio is key to showcase linguistic diversity, yet it alone is not enough to make memorable impact. Our visuals had be carefully designed to complement the audio and enhance the key takeaways of our app.

  • Visual cohesiveness: be unique and memorable, while maintaining a consistent art style within MOV's design guidelines, and also with the other components of the exhibition.

Key User Takeways

The client made it clear that this was NOT a language learning app. The whole experience should provide the main user takeaways:

  1. Understanding and appreciation of cultural & linguistic diversity.

  2. Spatial understanding of where different dialects originate from in China.

  3. “Edu-tainment” from engaging and meaningful audio-visuals.

Solution: Visualizing with Food

The chosen solution was to visualize with food, as this exhibit installation is called "A Seat at the Table" and focuses on Chinese Immigration to British Columbia. Food is a huge part of Chinese culture, as well as Chinese Immigrant culture specifically.

Chinese food is incredibly diverse, and being able to showcase unique regional dishes alongside unique regional dialects provides us with the opportunity to present viewers with a grander appreciation of Chinese culture. 

'Have You Eaten Yet?' app

An iOS application that showcases a map of China and surrounding areas, where the user can select one of 34 locations to hear the greeting, “Have you eaten yet?” in a local Chinese dialect, and see a stylized photo with a written blurb about an iconic dish from that region.  

All app information is featured in English, Traditional and Simplified Chinese.

The Process

Regional Local Cuisine Research

It was of utmost importance to avoid misconceptions or misinformation about Chinese food in Western Culture: for example, “Hunanese” General Tso’s chicken, is actually an American invention, and not legitimately Chinese food (though it is Chinese-American). In order to assure credible information, the following actions were taken during our research:

  1. Use of both Western and Eastern reputable sources to verify the accuracy of the chosen dishes, such as CNN travel, Vice, New York Times and China.Org.

  2. Conducted user research and consulted a variety of Chinese-language articles for cross-referencing and accuracy.

  3. Constant communication with the Museum of Vancouver's team, in order to select and appropriate list of dishes in accordance to the exhibit.

Prototypes and User Test

Series of user tests with paper prototypes were conducted before jumping into digital mode. It allowed us to rapidly find experience problems, iterate and make changes. 

These tests provided valuable insights that impacted in design decisions, for example: the choice to feature a short amount of information about the dish after getting so many comments that people were curious about what the dish was.

The outcome was the addition of 20-40 word descriptions about the preparation of the dish and what ingredients are used in it as many are unique to the various biomes of the regions. This detail proved to be well received by users.

Development

After the basic user journey and user experience plans were fully tested and validated by the client, an initial digital prototype started to be fleshed out. 

A routine of user tests and iterations was kept, and in parallel, the remaining art and audio assets were being developed.

Visual Development

Map Artwork

In order to geographically locate each individual dialect within a tangible context, a map had to be developed in order for users to navigate and interact with.

Multiple art concepts were created for the interactive map. Initial artworks had bold, stronger colours and textures. But the colour palette, mainly containing red, was too evocative of the recent conflicts in China. So another direction was chosen.

The final artwork ended being more delicate, with a watercolor brushed look, with a subtle pastel color palette, in order to be more cohesive with the visual style of the whole exhibit.

Dish Artwork

Room from Growth

At 34 dialects, the app only provided a small sample of the rich and complex Chinese language. There are 56 ethnic minorities and supposedly 297 living languages in China today, according to most linguists.

The app was planned and designed to allow further expansions, with the potential to become a comprehensive dialect soundmap: 

  • The map can be expanded to include other ethnic minorities and languages within China.

  • The possibility of including ethnic Chinese communities in other Asian countries and overseas, with their own unique dialects and flavours to explore: such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Any questions? Feel free to drop me a line : )

© 2011-2020, Irene Sasaki