Guildhall Art Gallery, London

Guildhall Art Gallery is home to the City of London Corporation’s works of art. The wide-ranging collection of 4,500 works, including over 1,300 oil paintings, dates from 1670 to the present day. The collection is strong in Victorian material and also houses important ceremonial and topographical paintings.

Owned by the municipal government, the collection is housed in a building internally connected to the government building next door. This means the gallery is sometimes closed at short notice for government events and also that the free-standing signs used to advertise tours and audio guides could get moved or ‘go missing’. Smartify was asked to do a communications study including on-site and online to explore how the mobile guide would be best promoted.

Challenge: The Guildhall Art Gallery space is regularly used by staff from the municipal government and hired to private events. We were tasked with creating a new signage system that would invite all visitors to use the mobile guide without the need for free-standing signs at the gallery entrance points.

Our solution: Drawing on the principles of good user experience design (UX), we worked through the visitor journey, highlighting all touch points, interactions, feelings of visitors; as well as pain points, gaps and opportunity areas. This involved speaking with various staff from in the director and marketing teams; to front of house and the municipality staff who use the space. We looked for under-used areas for signage and worked closely with the Guildhall team to ensure ideas met with their requirements for security; health and safety and brand guidelines.

The result: A thoughtful design refresh was developed to introduce the Smartify guide as various points throughout the visitor journey. The intuitive and easy-to-understand signage increased uptake of the guide by 30%. It has received high praise and visitor assistants have been given extra training to help them to interact even more with visitors.

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