The exhibits and experiences that we develop for our clients at institutions such as museums, tourist attractions, and visitors’ centres are designed to be intuitive and easy to use as it is important for visitors to be able to interact with them with minimal supervision. formula D_ exhibits should make immediate sense to the people using them who may never have seen them before and they should just work as soon as someone interacts with them. This is especially true of the many exhibits that we design that are specifically for young users, which are easy to understand – in some cases even for children who can’t yet read – and have built-in robustness that allows the children to explore the content intuitively without breaking anything.
However, there is a second experience layer to the exhibits we develop and that is for the staff members at the institution who are employed to oversee the exhibit area. We design our products so that they are also easy for these staff members to operate – if necessary they can immediately easily help a visitor who would like some guidance in a specific part of an attraction, plus they can quickly make sure that everything is up and running in the morning before the attraction opens and they can easily shut down and switch off everything at night after everyone has gone home.
We work with each client from the concept phase and throughout the development of the attraction and document the entire project, so the entire process is very transparent and there are no surprises. Once we’ve completed the installation of the exhibit we meet with the staff members who are the designated liaison officers or who will be in charge of the exhibit and we have a detailed orientation session with them. If the site has a designated technical person we will liaise with that person as well to ensure that they understand the technical aspects of how the exhibit works.
Depending on the complexity of the exhibit, it will be running off a computer backend or may have a tablet or touch-device integration, plus there is an operating system in the background, and, therefore, as with all computers, the occasional technical issue might arise. Therefore we hand over a manual with a troubleshooting guide that answers the most common minor technical questions that our clients might have (technology being technology, sometimes you need to do a reboot, for example). Therefore, from the first day, everyone is empowered to run and maintain the exhibit and is comfortable knowing that everything will work and is taken care of.
However once we’ve installed an exhibit, we’ve officially handed it over, and it’s up and running that’s not the end of the story. We consider each project to be a partnership and so we also sell service-level maintenance agreements, which are especially recommended for complex exhibits, to ensure that the systems will run perfectly for many years to come. With these agreements, we take care of the software maintenance of the systems, including the operating system, custom software, and network components of the exhibits. We are able to check in remotely – on a daily or monthly basis, depending on the agreement – to monitor the systems and perform updates and maintenance, as and when needed, and if upgrades or replacements of hardware components are required we will be able to see this and inform the client.
If the client prefers, we can also draw up an agreement that includes hardware maintenance. We might liaise with the on-site technician to talk them through a maintenance task that they will perform or, depending on the agreement, we might travel to the site to open the machines and do the necessary physical maintenance ourselves, such as hardware replacements and the cleaning of components inside the exhibit housings and cabinets.
We are very proud of all the exhibits we produce and we want them to be an experience that delights visitors to our clients’ institutions. We want people who have never seen them before to be entranced by their first experience and we want repeat visitors to want to come back to interact with the attraction again because they enjoyed it so much. However, we also want to provide a frictionless experience for our client’s staff and, therefore, through these processes, we ensure that we empower them to manage and maintain the exhibits with confidence and ease for their intended lifespan.