Touching Rembrandt’s Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum

What if you could observe every painstaking detail of an artwork in the comfort of your own home? Or delve into a painting’s intricate history when you’re standing in front of it? Rijksmuseum’s prize winning website and acclaimed app allow you to do just that. We are privileged to have contributed to its development and optimization since 2008.

Bits & Bobs

Working partners: Fabrique, Q42, Northern Light and Kiss the Frog

Devices tested: tablet, smartphone, desktop

Test locations: Rijksmuseum, Valsplat Usability Lab

160,000+ Rijksstudio virtual collections created

Staying ahead of the pack

Test, test, then test again

Man standing by Night Watch using the interactive tour

Rijksmuseum is a pioneer in interactive applications for its visitors. Insight into user experiences and usability is indispensable. We have assisted Rijksmuseum since 2008, offering insights during the concept, design and optimization phases of their interactive products. A variety of tests have been deployed, ranging from usability and concept tests to online surveys and expert reviews. This way, we gathered the needed insights at every stage.

“How to improve the app became obvious when we used it during a visit to the Rijksmuseum”

Stijn Nieuwendijk

Applying the art of seduction


Users were heavily involved in the development of the Rijksstudio action site. The site allows creating your own sets from the Rijksmuseum’s vast collection of art works (and links with the Rijksmuseum App). It even lets you download, print and edit artworks for personal use. As we closely monitored the interpretation, comprehension and use of the website, we discovered how to make the site even more seductive and even easier to use. Our suggestions to the development teams yielded enviable results: over 160,000 Rijksstudio pages have been created by users worldwide. The site has been honored with various international awards.

iPhone running Rijksmuseum app

Paying a physical visit to the museum

How can we improve the Rijksmuseum App?

The multimedia tour offers visitors a guide to the museum. This downloadable app tells the backstory of each masterpiece using audio, video and fact sheets. In order to gauge user satisfaction, we deployed various methods of usability research.

After a brief expert review we conducted interviews with 150 foreign museum visitors. Mapping their experiences helped us focus on areas of improvement and future development.

We also monitored a number of visitors very closely as they used the app. How do they determine their route? Do they adhere to the multimedia tour? What about experiencing audio and video in the middle of the museum? By looking at what people do and what people do not do (but think they do) we quickly found out how to improve the App. Based on our findings, the design and development teams are currently fine tuning the interface and content of the Rijksmuseum App.