…took the modern world online with the Science Museum
Back in the dark days when a UX designer was just called a web designer and sites were only 800 pixels wide, I worked for a company called MWR in Winchester. The project stakeholders were HRH Treasury, The Science Museum, MWR and Peter Symonds College. The design team at mwr worked with Peter Symonds to create learning modules based on the objects in the Science Museum exhibit ‘Making The Modern World’.
The site was conceived and wireframed by the team using very rudimentary tools and produced a prototype using HTML! This was tested with students at Peter Symonds.
Whilst the site by today’s standards would be considered to be very wordy we took special care to make it as simple to read as possible with captions on the left and clear navigation on the right showing progress through the module.
In between the text were different kinds of learning objects, usually built in Flash, like timelines, drag and drop activities, expanders and MWR’s ‘Understand’.
‘Understand’ was a natural language engine which asked questions and allowed the user to reply in sentences. At the time it felt very next gen but in fact it just searched the user’s text for keywords and responded with a pre-written reply for that combination of keywords. The authors hated it because if you had 5 keywords in a question you had to write 25 different answers. When I joined the company it was a simple module with a textarea which would change depending on which keywords you included in your text. I changed this to a chat window that allowed you to scroll back through your answers and revise them.
The site took two years to complete but was received incredibly well and was my first real taste of User Experience.