Brian Krenz

User Experience Designer


User Testing at the Adler Planetarium

About This Project

Time of Project
  • Feb 2011
Skills Applied
  • Usability tests
  • Survey research
Technology Used
  • Microsoft Office
  • Tap Mobile App Platform
  • Peter Andrews

For the 2011 SI Alternative Spring Break, I spent a week working in the Space Visualization Lab at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. Along with another student, I set up a mobile app platform and imported museum content to an iOS app based on that platform. Following this, I conducted user testing with museum patrons, assessing their perceptions of the app.

The App

The app is based on a platform called Tap, developed by the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The exhibit we worked with was called the Galaxy Wall, a 140 foot picture of the Milky Way Galaxy. We placed numeric codes at the bottom of the wall marking intriguing portions of the image. Users then entered those numbers in the app, which then provided them with additional information about those particular spots on the wall.

Screenshots of two pages in the Tap App with the Galaxy Wall information imported for testing

User Testing

Throughout the development process, my teammate and I tested the app on museum patrons. We found that users were quite immersed in using the app, often taking the time to carefully examine every piece of content or discussing with friends either the information in the app or the app itself.


I developed a simple questionnaire for users to fill out after the test. Findings from that survey indicated that users found the app easy to use and that it made the exhibit more interactive. A majority even indicated they would be more likely to return to the planetarium if more exhibits offered mobile interactivity like that of the Galaxy Wall.


We presented to planetarium staff about what we had done and learned from users. We also noted recommendations for the future. Most immediately, these involved adding additional content to the Galaxy Wall app, which many users requested. Long-term recommendations included expanding the technology to other exhibits and developing a touch app from the ground up that does not rely on the Tap platform. Requiring users to manually enter a code is somewhat demanding. A custom app could include functionality for QR codes, the scanning of which could potentially be easier for users than punching in a code. Additionally, our recommendations included discussion about adding augmented reality or Near-field Communication in the custom-built app.