Jodie Clothier
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Sydney Sealife: Explorer Experience

Sydney Sealife Explorer Experience

Redesigning the visitor experience at Sydney Sealife Aquarium for young adults to provide a more modern and engaging experience that speaks to the youths of today.

Timeline - 12 Weeks - 2018

Role: Project Manager, UX/UI Designer, Videographer and VFX Editor

Team: Jodie Clothier / Grace Suprapto


Who are our users?


Direct Experience Storyboarding

Systematic observation, direct experience, documentation and storytelling.


Following our visit to the Sydney Sealife we created a series of photo-narrative storyboards to highlight the current pain points of the user experience and begin framing user needs. 

Direct Experience Storyboards

Direct Experience Storyboards


Sensitising Booklets

A series of playful and provocative tasks for acquiring richly textured and highly personal information from participants that prepares them for their generative sessions.

Completed Sensitising Booklet & Activities

Completed Sensitising Booklet & Activities


Generative Sessions

A context mapping method using stimulative hands-on activities in order to learn the latent needs and desires of our users.


Participants were given two 'make' and 'say' activities - collage making and cognitive mapping -  in which they were asked to visually represent their experiences and feelings towards aquariums followed by a moderated group discussion to unpack and explain the ideas within the artefacts that they had created. I was the moderator and ran the session ensuring that the participants understood what they had to do and helped guide them back on topic when they went astray, as well as ensuring that each participant contributed equally and asking probing questions that prompted deeper revelations from participants. 


Make and Say Activites


"Create a collage using the four axes (child - present, likes - dislikes) to show how your feelings about aquariums has changed over time."

Completed Collage Activity

Completed Collage Activity

Completed Cognitive Mapping Activity

Completed Cognitive Mapping Activity


"Place the provided images closest to the centre the more they would influence your desire to visit Sydney Sealife."


Group Discussion

“I don’t like how claustrophobic it makes you feel and I didn’t like having all those other people around who are just like crowding around the tanks and forcing you around.”
— Mike
“If you go out with a group of close friends it can be such a beautiful experience. You talk about what you like, about the animals and what you feel about it.”
— Cara
“I really enjoyed the feeding times. Since that’s when there was some kind of interaction. And that’s when the people were talking about them and being like these are what these animals like to do which I’m into.”
— Tom
“It’s kind of creepy but I like the atmosphere of a dark cool room. Those floor to ceiling glass tanks where you’re pretty much walking through water. I really like the cool calm atmosphere of that.”
— Lucy

What do our users need?


Affinity Diagramming

Bottom up analysis method that assesses qualitative data by sorting trends and patterns into clusters to identify user needs.


These statements cards were then grouped into clusters to highlight reoccurring themes or related areas of concern. From this initial grouping thirteen categories emerged before we then grouped them again to identify three distinct components of the aquarium experience: the planning phase, motivations for attendance and overall experience. 


Key Areas

  • Transport/Distance

  • Expenses

  • Personal Schedule

  • Who you go with

  • Education

  • Personal Interest

  • Animals

  • Animal Welfare

  • Atmosphere

  • Fatigue

  • Crowds

  • Facilities

  • Navigation








Research Visualisation

A visual representation that synthesises the most relevant data from our user research.


The research visualisation communicates the categories identified from affinity diagramming through the visual framework of the ocean. Each key area is divided by the different depths of the ocean and includes the sub-categories that relate to it. The use of the 3-30-300 second rule of effective communication ensures that viewers are provided with a clear understanding of the problem and empathy for the users. It's important to capture research insights in a way that is easy for everyone to understand and can be revisited to help inform the design solution when needed. 

“We aim to make Sydney Sealife modern and engaging to promote a more social and educational environment. Our design will break the stereotypes that aquariums are merely family oriented institutions and lack relevance to young adults. We will achieve this by implementing new technology to promote co-learning and interactivity within the exhibitions.”

Video Prototype