Art & artists is the most visited area of the website with approximately 40% of users viewing these pages during their visit. We recently conducted a short survey on this section in order to understand what motivates people to visit the online collection and what their main activities are when they get there. This research is part of wider website research we are carrying out to create online segmentation.

Herbert Bayer
Four Segmented Circles 1970
Screenprint on paper
image: 755 x 755 mm
Presented by Rose and Chris Prater through the Institute of Contemporary Prints 1975© DACS, 2002

Motivation has been used as a way to segment gallery visits by different museum practitioners and researchers including John Falk, Morris Hargreaves McIntyre, Jan Packer and Roy Ballantyne, Zahava Doering and Andrew Pekarikm, and it is also a key element in the definition of our gallery segmentation at Tate. Motivational segmentation has also been applied for website visits and an example of this is the Indianapolis Art Museum that identified five main reasons that motivate people to come to their website: plan a visit, find specific information for research or professional purposes, find specific information for personal interest, engage in casual browsing without looking for something specific and make a transaction. Based on this work, 20 cultural institutions run a similar study as part of the Let’s get real project.

There is a wide range of reasons why visits are made to our online collection, and visitors have different levels of art knowledge. In consequence, the information required and content needs vary. Users with high art knowledge and expertise require very detailed information about art, while other users with a more general knowledge require more guidance to find things they may be interested in. They also want information that is easy for them to read.

Wordcloud of the motivations to visit the online collection
Wordcloud of the terms used by users to describe the motivations for their visit

The visit mode to the collection varies from intellectual, where there is a learning or research objective, to a more visual and aesthetic experience where users are looking for inspiration or images to browse. For the first category, users are normally in a more targeted visit mode and the main functionalities used are the search or browse by subjects or categories. For the second type of visit, users are happy for the website to help them explore the site and discover art. The following graph shows the different activities users undertook within the online collection.

Bar chart usage of the collection
Activities respondents engaged with during their visit to the online collection

Download the full report [PDF, 1 Mb]

Now that we have the research results it’s time to implement some changes. We will be blogging more to discuss some of the specific findings from this report as well as our thinking to reshape and incorporate some features to improve this website.