by Lozana Rossenova



Discovery & User Research Phase: 2017–2018


This report presents findings from and recommendations based on the user research studies carried out between autumn 2017 and summer 2018 as part of the initial Discovery Phase of the Rhizome ArtBase redesign project. Due to the lack of any recorded user research data regarding the ArtBase prior to this project’s start, these user studies aimed to gather broad contextual information on the following issues:
– Who are the current ArtBase users?
– How they are using online archives in general and the ArtBase specifically?
– What roles are online digital archives expected to fulfil according to different user groups? And why?

The data gathered from users is interpreted in the form of ‘user stories’. User stories typically record a single objective a user might have, without focusing too much on how that will be achieved. They are useful in highlighting aspects of the design that need addressing, without being prescriptive.


Structure of the report

Following an introduction, the main section of the report provides a brief overview of the setup, before presenting the key findings from four user studies conducted with external archive users. The report concludes with a discussion of lessons learned and overall recommendations, alongside a thematically organanized collection of user stories. The appendix includes additional design notes on each of the studies, as well as an interpretative discussion of the gathered responses and results alongside the original task sheets and questionnaires.

NB: If reading the report as a PDF on a relatively large screen, the following settings in Acrobat Reader are recommended for optimal vieweing: View > Page Display > ✓Two Page View & ✓Show Cover Page in Two Page View.

▍ Cite as: Rossenova, L (2020) “ArtBase Users—Research Results and Insights: Discovery Phase and User Research 2017–2018”. Available from:

✦ About the report series ✦ This report is part #2 in a series documenting the research process and practice of Lozana Rossenova, a PhD researcher embedded at Rhizome between 2016–2020. These reports trace the development of a practice-based interaction design research project, starting with a Discovery and User Research Phase. This phase includes the study of the organizational context and history, documented in Report #1; gathering information about past and current use-cases and user expectations, documented in Report #2, as well as a review of the current landscape of digital design for cultural heritage archives and collections, documented in Report #3. The next phase—Design Exploration, including low-fidelity sketches and prototypes and continuing the conversations with users, is documented in Report #4. This report also includes a summary of the Evaluation Phase, since it is an iterative process throughout the other phases, rather than one final step. The final outcomes of the Design Specification Phase, wherein the initial design proposals are transformed into interactive prototypes and specific recommendations for a data model schema, can be found under the Prototypes and Data Models sections of this website, respectively.