A Heuristic Evaluation of the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze

Top 3 Findings

  1. Ticket options and pricing are unclear.
  2. Search results are not all-inclusive.
  3. Text language is inconsistent.

Top 3 Recommendations

  1. Provide understandable explanations of ticket options and make the pricing structure clear.
  2. Link to map on artwork pages and include physical object location.
  3. Prevent sudden language changes & include iconography with language selection.
Home Page of Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website
Figure 1: Home Page of Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website

Introduction

The Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze is a northern Italian museum located in the region of Tuscany, in the city of Florence. This gallery houses many famous artworks from the late Italian Renaissance and is beloved by locals and tourists alike. The Accademia houses masterpieces by Michelangelo, Giambologna, Botticelli, Veronese, and many more acclaimed artists. In 2018, the Galleria dell’Accademia first published its website to supplement the museum experience. Today, the museum’s website gives users the ability to book tickets, preview exhibitions, peruse the collections and learn about the history of the artwork and artists.

Methodology

The Heuristic Evaluation is a UX methodology created by Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molich in the 1990s. It is a process in which 3 to 5 usability experts independently evaluate a user interface and identify any usability issues with the current design. The interface is unbiasedly judged based on a predefined set of heuristics: Jakob Nielsen’s Ten Usability Heuristics for Interface Design (Figure 2). After running through the interface multiple times, evaluators identify violations of the heuristics in the interface.

Jakob Nielsen’s Ten Usability Heuristics for Interface Design
Figure 2: Jakob Nielsen’s Ten Usability Heuristics for Interface Design
Nielsen’s Severity Ratings for Usability Problems
Figure 3: Nielsen’s Severity Ratings for Usability Problems

USER CONTEXT:

You are an American tourist looking to visit the Accademia in Florence and see the statue of David by Michelangelo! You need to book a ticket to go and learn a few logistics.

USER TASKS:

  1. Find the price of a ticket for not EU citizen visitors over the age of 18.
  2. Book a ticket.
  3. Find out where in the museum the statue of David is located.
  4. Learn more about Michelangelo, his statue of David, and other related artworks.
  5. Find out if photography is permitted inside the museum.

Findings and Recommendations

The evaluators were generally pleased with the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze’s website. They found the minimalistic design appealing and the simplified navigation easy to use. Though there was much praise for the Accademia website, the evaluators were able to identify a total of
15 violations of heuristics. 67% (10/15) of these violations were reported by multiple evaluators and 53% (8/15) of the findings were rated with a severity of 3 or above.

FINDING 1: Ticket options and pricing are unclear.

Users can book tickets to the museum in advance by visiting the ticketing page (Figure 4) on the website. When faced with the issue of selecting an appropriate ticket and booking a reservation, users are left confused. This issue is two-fold. The first half of the problem has to do with users being unable to discern between the three options that the gallery provides.

Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website Ticketing Page
Figure 4: Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website Ticketing Page
Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website Free Ticket Option
Figure 5: Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website Free Ticket Option
Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website Ticketing Header
Figure 6: Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website Ticketing Header

RECOMMENDATION 1: Provide understandable explanations of ticket options and make the pricing structure clear.

Purchasing a ticket is among the top actions users of the Galleria dell’Accademia website pursue. This page on the site is easily findable, but since it is displayed prominently on the home page, users can even arrive at the page without perusing the navigation. Once on this page, users may have difficulty determining which ticket to purchase and how exactly to do so. Reorganizing the text hierarchy within ticket choices and renaming them in a more commonly understandable manner will help to alleviate this.

Ticketing Page Redesign
Figure 7: Ticketing Page Redesign

FINDING 2: Search results are not all-inclusive.

Rather than looking through the navigation for a page, users often use a search bar and type in keywords to find the content they seek on a website. There is a high likelihood that a user would be looking for a specific artwork on a museum website. The most intuitive way to find the physical location of the artwork in the museum is to look for a museum map or search for the artwork’s name. The Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze website has both of these functionalities in place however the results of the search seem to lack a connection to the physical museum.

Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website Search Results Page
Figure 8: Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website Search Results Page
Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website David by Michelangelo Buonarroti Page
Figure 9: Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website David by Michelangelo Buonarroti Page
Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website David by Michelangelo Buonarroti Page Details
Figure 10: Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website David by Michelangelo Buonarroti Page Details
Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website Museum Map Page
Figure 11: Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website Museum Map Page

RECOMMENDATION 2: Link to map on artwork pages and include physical object location.

To make the online and in-person experience of the museum more seamless and provide context upfront to the novice user, the individual artwork pages on the Accademia website should have links to the museum map and a text-based indication of the physical object’s location in the museum (Figure 12).

Artwork Page Data Sheet Redesign
Figure 12: Artwork Page Data Sheet Redesign

FINDING 3: Text language is inconsistent.

Since the Galleria dell’Accademia is in Italy, the website language is Italian by default. Some discrepancies in language exist for non-native users. Many site users are indeed tourists looking to visit the museum from abroad, so the ability to switch languages is vital. This website has a language switch, designed with the idea of inclusion, in the utility menu above the main site navigation (Figure 13) that toggles between Italiano and English. While users are on the Accademia website, there are inconsistencies on certain pages when switching from displaying the page in Italian to English. When navigating to new pages on the site, there often seems to be no memory of the language selected, and the site defaults to Italian. Due to frequent bugs in this toggle, this is a violation of the heuristic for consistency and standards.

Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website Home Page
Figure 13: Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze Website Home Page

RECOMMENDATION 3: Prevent sudden language changes & include iconography with language selection.

Although designed with good intentions, there may be some back-end software issues causing inconsistencies in the display language of the website.

Language Switch Redesign
Figure 13: Language Switch Redesign

Conclusion

The Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze houses some of Italy’s prized artistic possessions. Serving as the home of the beloved symbol of Florence, Michelangelo’s statue of David, this museum has established itself well within the realm of European cultural institutions.

Appendix — Collected Data

References

World Leaders in Research-Based User Experience. “10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design.” Nielsen Norman Group. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ten-usability-heuristics/

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