User Research + Personas: Getty Research Institute

Getty Research Institute Personas
Challenge

The Getty Research Institute (GRI) is dedicated to furthering knowledge and advancing understanding of the visual arts through its exhibitions, publications, digital resources, library, and residential scholars programs.

The GRI has embarked on an ambitious, large-scale project to reimagine and redesign one of the its most valued and long-standing resources, the Getty Provenance Index. The Provenance Index is a set of databases that offer free online access to source material for research on the history of collecting and art markets.

The Provenance Index was created in the 1980s and, while it is regarded as one of the world’s most important and trusted resources for researching the provenance of artworks, it is in need of a conceptual, technical, and visual overhaul to increase its accessibility and usability.

The team leading this complex initiative engaged Designing Insights to conduct user research to ground the project in user needs and inform the user interface design of the next generation of the tool.

Approach

persona-detailOur approach involved an intensive two-day design thinking workshop for the core project team, followed by extensive user research, the creation of user personas, and the delivery of a final report outlining high-level findings, key themes, and user pain points.

Our two-day design thinking workshop introduced the team to design thinking tools and methods, brought the group together to build stakeholder buy-in and enthusiasm, and provided the group with a common language around and shared understanding of user needs.

We then conducted 15 in-depth ethnographic interviews and observational sessions with Provenance Index users and developed and designed four user personas. Personas are fictional yet-realistic and representative archetypes based on composite data and observed patterns of behaviors, interests, goals, attitudes, and motivations.

The resulting personas contain stories of users and their day-to-day joys and frustrations with art historical research and writing, their use of the Provenance Index and other digital resources, and their daily professional lives.

The personas offer insights into design opportunities, help the team build empathy for users, facilitate design decisions, provide a common vocabulary, and focus the team on the shared needs of users.

The user research and personas that Designing Insights delivered was inspiring, thoughtful, and thorough. It is foundational piece of research for our project, and my team will refer to it for many months to come.Liz McDermott, Head of Web & New Media, Getty Research Institute

Project Team

Dana Mitroff Silvers
Ahree Lee