How Pixel Fusion ran a Design Sprint at Auckland Art Gallery

This is a story about a GV style design sprint. If you want to learn more about it, visit here or read the book.

The Challenge

A significant priority for Auckland Art Gallery currently is increasing donations and other charitable giving by:

  1. Prompting for donations both on site and online
  2. Motivating visitors to donate


Pixel Fusion had already conducted research on best practices for online donations, and it was therefore relatively easy to create an effective online donation flow.

Priority Matrix with Sticky Notes

However, the challenge was bigger than simply adding donations online- we wanted to consider all channels and touch points, including in the gallery itself. Therefore, we’ve organised a small workshop with stakeholders to understand who would donate, why and when.

After this small excursive we were able to generate initial hypotheses which were then prioritised based on their business/user value vs their risk/complexity.


Our goal with the pre-sprint was to better understand what we were
building. What was the main goal of the project? What were some of
the risks? What, exactly, were we trying to solve, and how were we
going to get there?

Here’s some of the hypotheses which were generated:

  • We believe that people don’t necessarily want to go to the AAG in
    person to donate.
  • We believe that people wouldn’t mind donating to the AAG as
    they make a purchase from the shop.
  • We believe that people don’t know that AAG needs donations.
  • We believe that people rarely carry cash when they visit the AAG.
  • We believe that people would be happy to text-to-donate.

and many assumptions..

Our Approach

We only had a short time to work with the team at Auckland Art Gallery
to validate the hypotheses and assumptions we had with customers, so we decided to run a Design Sprint.

The Design Sprint Process is rapid, iterative, low fidelity way to test.
Generally applicable to solving most user-focused challenges in a short

We decided to tweak the Design Sprint phases by adding activities to
help on messaging strategy and identify locations within the Gallery
space that would possibly be most appropriate to ask for donations.

So.. what is a design sprint?

A great time to run a Sprint is at the initiation of a project to bring a
new team together. As a process, the Sprint is a powerful tool to propel
innovation and minimise wasted effort.

The core idea behind Sprinting is to ensure that meetings and
brainstorms lead to action. It is a five-day process for answering critical
business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with

It’s a shortcut to the endless-debate cycle and compresses months of
time into a single week. Instead of waiting to launch a minimal product
to understand if an idea is any good, you’ll get clear data from a
realistic prototype.

Shared Understanding

The first day’s structured discussions define the path for the next few
days. We started by defining the business goals to make sure we have
the right challenge and shared understanding. Next, we listed down
the biggest assumptions we needed to validate.

Next, we split into pairs and spread out across the gallery to conduct
intercept interviews. Based on our previous research we had already
prepared some questions to ask. We discussed these and added few
more. The team was split to pairs to stay in different locations at AAG
and ask basic questions such as:

  • What are you excited to see at the gallery today?
  • Would you donate to bring international exhibitions to NZ?
  • Have you made a donation to a charity before? What was the
    payment method?
  • Do you have a New Zealand SIM card for your mobile phone?
  • Do you expect something in return for a donation?


The team reviewed all answers from the interviews and was able to
identify patterns and gather insights to start the work on the right foot
after killing the biggest assumptions.

  • Visitors were split to two groups, some don’t know or trust
    PayWave, some like it
  • Visitors interviewed were carrying cash
  • Visitors wouldn’t share donation info on social media
  • Visitors don’t care where the money goes and trust the gallery to
    allocate it as needed
  • Most visitors interviewed have donated online before
  • Visitors don’t want anything in return, it’s more about experience
    than reward
  • Donations are usually motivated by an emotional reaction

Explore Solutions

After a full day of understanding the problem and long-term goals, we got to
focus on solutions. The day started with inspiration, a review of existing ideas
to remix and improve.

We started by reframing the insight statements as How Might We questions to
turn those challenges into opportunities for design. How Might We doesn’t
suggest a particular solution, but gives you a frame for innovative thinking. At
this point we had broad ideas about ways that may encourage visitors to

We then discussed the messaging strategy with key stakeholders who’ve
already done some work around the messaging strategy. We reviewed the
examples and validated them against the tone of voice we want to use
depending on the placement of the message.


At the end of day 2, there were 54 ideas generated from 7 different

  • Interactive
  • Video
  • Progress
  • Mosaic
  • Voting
  • Donate to see more

Decisions, Decisions..

By 3rd day morning, the team had a stack of solutions. Generating a
large number of ideas is great, but with only a couple of days left, we
obviously couldn’t prototype and test them all. Luckily, we had a plan.

In the morning, the sprint team, together with AAG & RFA
stakeholders, critiqued each solution, and decided which ones had the
best chance of achieving the business goals. Then, in the afternoon, we
took the winning ideas from the voting and weaved them into a
storyboard: a step-by-step plan for each prototype.

Creating storyboards is a crucial step in the Sprint process which
bridges the gap between rough concept sketches and a testable, highfidelity
prototype. The idea is to sketch out an entire journey through
your product or service with enough detail so that everybody is aligned
on what goes into the prototype.


Fake It

We adopted a “fake it” philosophy to turn the storyboards into a
realistic prototype to test with customers.

We arranged an empty frame to be placed in an exhibition space,
accompanied by text explaining that the gallery needs donations to
keep art on the walls. Visitors will have the option to text to donate.
We created a heartbeat animation on the video to be accompanied by
iPad mounted on the wall with PayWave icon and suggested amount to

We created a video to be used in the Foyer to rotate through
messages and acknowledge the donors by mentioning their names
Arranged an iPad and payment Terminal to be placed near the screens
in the foyer with different payment options and amounts suggested
during the flow.

At the end of the day we had 3 prototypes ready with a list of
assumptions to be validated.

Prototype 1: Empty Frame

Assumptions being tested:

  • We assume visitors want to text to donate
  • We assume visitors want to donate after an exhibition
  • We assume visitors want to donate to a cause (e.g. to repairing
    artwork, running electricity etc)
  • We assuming visitors don’t have cash with them
  • We assume visitors will remember the “empty frame” and donate
    on the exit (foyer)

Prototype 2: A Heart Beat

Assumptions being tested:

  • We assume visitors would recognise payWave icon
  • We assume visitors would use PayWave to donate
  • We assume visitors don’t have cash with them
  • We assume visitors who are near “Corsini” exhibition are more
    likely to donate
  • We assume visitors will naturally tap their cards on the
    PayWave icon

Prototype 3: Foyer Screen

Assumptions being tested:

  • We assume visitors are more likely to donate before they leave the
  • We assume visitors would like to see their names on the screen
  • We assume visitors are more likely to donate with various payment
  • We assume visitors don’t carry cash with them
  • We assume they are more like to notice the donation box with
    different placement and messaging around it
  • We assume visitors won’t enter a specific amount to donate

Interview, watch & learn

The main goal for last day was to learn by watching customers react to
our prototypes. Before the opening time, we had all the screens and
prototypes up and running in different locations of the gallery.
We split into teams again to observe visitors nearby the installations
and interview the ones who interacted with them. At the end of the
day, we had a clear idea of next steps.

Experiment 1 : Empty Frame

  • The “Empty Frame” concept was very well received but did not get
    enough attention due to being positioned outside of exhibition
  • Visitors took photos in front of the empty frame and its description.
  • Visitors did not notice the “Text-to-Donate” call to action. Of those
    that did notice it, most did not have NZ sim cards
“ I usually donate with cash but as tourists we
don’t carry cash ”
“ Really like the idea, good marketing. We all
looked at it ”
“ PayWave donations is heavily taxed and most of the money would not reach AAG anyway. I would prefer alternative methods.”

Experiment 2 : A Heart Beat

  • The “Heart Beat” concept was significantly ahead of the other two
    ideas. People tended to stand back and ponder the artwork.
  • It was popular with children and captured their interest.
  • It’s obvious that you tap your credit card to donate and it was well
    received — however the international visitors who recognised the
    icon had concerns around the CC charges.

“ I would tap to donate ”

“ I like the heart, it’s an amazing machine ”

“ Striking design ”

“ I like that it’s not invasive ”

Experiment 3 : Foyer Screen

  • Visitors leaving the gallery are not in the right mental mode to
    donate. They were more keen to visit the shop, collect bags and just
  • Visitors do not pay any attention to exit screens in the foyer.
  • Visitors did not show interest in getting recognition for their
    donation at the gallery.

“ You can pay with EPTPOS that’s cool! ”

Summary of insights

  • Visitors are more likely to notice the installations during their visit
    but not right before leaving the gallery.
  • The main barrier to donate was not the payment method, but the
    lack of awareness and emotional connection.
  • Donating to the gallery was not an thoughtful process with
    considerations to where the money would go. It was more of an
    emotional reaction.
  • PayWave and a donation box seem to be a good combination of
    payment methods to be offered.
  • There were quite a few languages spoken by international visitors
    so language could be a barrier

Post Sprint

We went to the gallery with some of the learning, narrowing down the assumptions since the first time around we had so many to validate.We also calculated number of donations per day, to get a sense of the ROI before we go on and build it.

I guess this tweet was the best proof that we were on the right track.