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PROJECT In 2021, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens debuted Yours Truly, a bring-your-
own-device interactive exeperience featuring correspondence written by
James Deering, Vizcaya’s founder, between 1914 and 1918. This report
REPORT documents efforts to transform these archival objects into a mobile tour
for both onsite and remote audiences.

Project Background YOURS TRULY,
Experience Objectives
Digitization Process
Hardware and Software

Feedback and Evaluation
Related Digital Media
Project Management
& Milestones
This project was generously funded by
• Create a bring-your-own-device mobile experience that allows users to
access content written by Vizcaya’s founder James Deering
• Satisfy audience curiosity about James Deering’s personality
• Provide visitors with digital means of experiencing archival objects
• Foster curiosity and encourage deeper exploration of images and text
• Build a scalable and replicable digital framework for non-linear storytelling
• Offer visitors context, discovery and surprise in their Vizcaya experience
Page 1 •Yours Truly Project Report
Yours Truly “Yours Truly, James Deering” helps Vizcaya’s visitors and online audiences
get an answer to their most-asked question: who founded the Estate and
Archival why? Despite his great wealth, James Deering was a private person who
did not marry or have children. What we know of him comes from the
Objects letters and telegrams he wrote during the construction of Vizcaya in the
1910s, which to this point have been inaccessible to the public. This
Experience project fashions his correspondence into an online storytelling experience
that gives the user choices regarding what aspects of Deering’s personality
with Tactical Helps they want to explore and guides them into a process of crafting their own
narrative about who he was.
for Cultural Institutions
On-site visitors are able to activate the mobile experience through QR
MISSION: Preserving Vizcaya’s codes placed in the museum and gardens. Aside from the digitized letters,
cultural and environmental the experience also extends the narrative with additional multimedia
resources to engage people in content (e.g., 3D scans, 360 maps, etc.). Collectively, Yours Truly offers
connecting with the past, under- visitors context, discovery and surprise in Vizcaya’s storytelling approach.
standing the present and shap-
ing the future.

VISION: Vizcaya is an enduring,

inclusive and innovative place
In 2019 the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation asked Vizcaya to
that inspires people to embrace
participate in a cohort aimed at instilling the values of human-centered
the cultural vitality and envi-
design in museums. That involvement resulted in the Yours Truly concept,
ronmental sustainability of the
which was developed over the course of 2020.
world around us
The project’s goals and outcomes include the following:
• Established a digitization plan for archival materials
• Procured modern digitization equipment and digitized more than
3,000 pieces of correspondence
• Development of a responsive content management system
based on WordPress that forms the basis of all future interactive
experiences on the Estate and online
• Human-centered design process that is now applied for all
audience-facing projects
FOR AN ONLINE DEMO • Installation of site-wide wireless access for visitors to the Estate
OF THE INTERACTIVE • Experimentation with expanded forms of multimedia storytelling
EXPERIENCE VISIT • Development of a user/visitor tracking system “Personamatic”
based on Google Sheets/Forms/Data Studio for user studies
For More Information
Director of Technology
and Digital Initiatives A shared spreadsheet content map and the online project management
application Trello helped establish frameworks and progress records for
Twitter: @heritagevoices

Page 2 • Yours Truly Project Report

the project. The director of Technology and Digital Initiatives served as the PROJECT TEAM
point of contact between Vizcaya and the development vendor. Getting Jeff Guin
feedback from the entire team was important for concept development. Liza Solomon
After matters of audience purpose, and basic visual treatments were settled, Karen Urbec
two contracted museums studies graduates worked to advance content and Bruce Williams
user experience testing. Wendy Wolf


• Yi Chin Hsieh & Paola Sierra,
Content Development
Team members worked to avoid prescribed interpretations of James
• Stacey Mann, Interpretation
Deering’s correspondence, wanting Vizcaya’s visitors/users to gain an
• Hali Dardar, Personamatic De-
appreciation of them based on their interpretation of his words. In the
age of smartphones and tablets and times of pandemic expectations for
• Nicholas Christodoulidis, 3D
interactive technologies have changed significantly. The initial intent was
to heavily use kiosks stationed throughout the museum that would be
updated via a newly established wireless access mesh. With the COVID-19
pandemic’s onset, the development team shifted to using a bring-your-own-
Nick Faber, Evan Bassler, Eric Holter
device model to access the experience triggered by QR codes on signage
throughout the Estate.
Matthew Scharpnick, Steve Spencer,
Visitors can often be seen in museums using pinch-and-zoom gestures,
Traci Thomas
swiping, and scrolling through content. In much the same way,
expectations have also changed regarding how museums and heritage
institutions tell these stories effectively. The goal is to create enough novelty
Chris Barr
and intrigue—use just enough narrative to evoke emotion, inspire memories
from the experience—to leave the user with a thirst to know James Deering
in the museum and beyond. Vizcaya worked to achieve these objectives
with an approach that will inform its future interactive endeavors.


At the initial Knight Cohort ideation meeting in Pittsburgh in 2019, Vizcaya
participants came away with a general idea of a project that was focused on
developing a framework in which the institution’s stories could be told. This
idea was given further structure through a later session led by Maya Design
that resulted in two vision goals for the minimal viable product:

1. The experience we produce will help Vizcaya accomplish providing

context, promot[ing] greater access, and raise [our] profile as a
historical repository by providing [a] multifaceted (inclusive) and Original Concept Poster
customized/layered experience that makes history enthusiasts from First Cohort Meeting.
and collections advocates feel connection and empathy with the Ideation Notes Below:
Vizcaya story and history, and be inspired by new stories so they can
contribute understanding back to Vizcaya and/or reshape stories and EpM7uxrIa/view?usp=sharing
understanding of Vizcaya.

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NARRATIVE 2. The experience we produce will help Vizcaya accomplish becoming

a welcome and inclusive place for everyone, raise attendance and
reshape stories and understanding of Vizcaya by providing shared
bonding and frictionless experience that makes nature enthusiasts and
kids and grandparents feel surprised and connected to people and
Yours Truly features more than place so they can increase affinity (e.g. sign up for newsletter, post
25 stories organized into five on social media), support Vizcaya’s sustainability (e.g. membership,
categories that illustrate facets of participation in events, donation) and/or return.
James Deering’s identity:
The germ of these ideas was tested, informed and iterated during a
• The Relationships (family and
prototyping phase that took place through the fall months following the
personal friends)
Pittsburgh meeting. The prototyping phase surfaced two audience desires
• The Builder (construction of
in particular: 1) To know more about the personality and motivations
of James Deering, Vizcaya’s founder and, 2) to see more of the archival
• The Businessman
materials from Vizcaya’s history, which at that time were neither displayed
(management practices &
in the museum nor available online. The team settled on the approach of
strategic thinking)
allowing audiences to virtually activate digitized and interactive versions
• The Enthusiast (collecting
of the correspondence collection that was written during the time Deering
interests, sports and passions)
was building Vizcaya.
• The Legacy (Vizcaya today
and what Deering left behind)

The category names were

informed by visitor testing.
Cuberis LLC is a boutique web development agency that specializes in
small to medium sized museums. Vizcaya engaged with Cuberis following
Stories were anchored in the
a partnership that resulted in the redesign and launch of in fall
digitized 1916 correspondence
of 2019. Yours Truly leverages design components built into
archives collection and
but also expands their capabilities to deliver context-purposed media to
complemented with interactive
users on-site and off.
media such as 360 virtual maps,
3D scanned collection object
models, sketches and construction TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS
plans, audio recordings, and
archival photographs. Other As the project began to develop, the initial aim was to feature kiosks as
stories are told by staff members the primary delivery platform for users to access the content. Lockdowns
and specialists in a short video related to the pandemic posed several logistical challenges beginning in
format, featuring correspondence March 2020 when the museum closed. Free-standing kiosks had already
overlays. Vizcaya prioritized been purchased for the project and were intended to host multimedia
correspondence for Yours Truly storytelling content (such as interpretive video) as a complement to the
based on the following criteria: mobile content. When kiosks were no longer an option, the project
pivoted to an entirely bring-your-own-device model, with a greater
• Easy to digest (short or clear, emphasis on site responsiveness to serve remote audiences on any device
and can stand alone) and platform. When the first floor of the museum reopened, QR codes
• Relevant to visitors were employed within the design for the museum’s signage as the main
• Demonstrates JD’s personality trigger point for onsite visitors to launch the experience.
• Can be clearly associated with
a location Prior to this project, museum visitors had no wireless connectivity and
• Contains a compelling quote cellular connectivity was minimal on some providers, including AT&T.

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Project funds were dedicated to procuring Meraki wireless access points ENHANCING
and Vizcaya’s IT staff installed them across the Estate, creating a wireless
mesh to serve visitor needs for continuity of the experience.
Vizcaya invested heavily in process
and equipment for digitizing the
TECHNOLOGY CHALLENGES archives and collections. The
project required the installment
Surfing the wave of tech innovation comes with benefits and challenges.
of sitewide wireless access points,
While WordPress was acknowledged as the right tool for the scalability of
the purchase of a scanner, and
Yours Truly to future interactive experiences, it presented challenges related
upload of the digitized material
to refining approaches to pop-ups, plugins, layouts, slideshows, and
into the public domain. The team
accordion features. The project was released on time; however, refinement
prioritized digitization of the
opportunities remain pending. The situation reinforced the importance of
1916 archives correspondence
extensive testing with newer technologies, particularly when the plan is to
collection, which includes over
fully innovate their capabilities.
2,000 letters and telegrams. More
than 50 were selected to form
Pop-up pages were the original platform used to create this interactive
20+ stories. Additionally, 3D
experience through WordPress. As the project developed through user
photogrammetry of corresponding
testing refinement, specific URL links became necessary to link the QR
museum objects resulted in
codes onto the five site-specific signs throughout the estate.
interactive models. These digitized
archival and museum objects can
The Portfolio element of the Flatsome theme on Wordpress granted us this
potentially drive further digitization
feature and became a major pivot in the development process. It provided
of the organization’s archives and
ease of use in posting content while providing the non-linear storytelling
collections, and save wear on them
experience users desired. Switching to Portfolio required content
as a virtual proxy.
developers to develop skillsets in the WordPress backend. This skillset was
then employed to implement homepage layout decisions, plugin features,
Yours Truly is pushing limitations
an introductory pop-up page that appears upon entering the site, timelines,
in the technology while expanding
emojis, embedded media, tagged categories, and accordion features.
knowledge. On more dense letters,
highlights were digitally created
The newly designed homepage layout allowed each stop to have its
to help users hone in on essential
own image tile represented on the home and theme pages. The tiles are
information. A pinch-and-zoom
representative of stories, displaying a title and image. The lower areas of
feature was tested with a tap-and-
each tile have overlay labels that are dark enough to contrast against the
hold magnifying glass feature,
story titles. The labels are light enough to show the image behind the text.
resulting in user preference for
The images displayed in the tile were chosen to convey what the subject of
the magnifying glass tool. This
the story was about, but do not distract from the page itself.
feature was then coded into the
digitized letters to provide optimal
Using Portfolio functions, each story is grouped into one of six category
magnification on mobile devices.
menu headers: The Relationships, The Builder, The Businessman, The
Accordion drop downs declutter
Enthusiast, The Legacy, and About. The categories facilitate usability,
the pages in the mobile stops and
organization of the content in the stories, and engagement. These
make better use of the space. The
categories appear in each tile below the titles upon hovering over it. In
experience remains true to the
addition, the story tiles are visually categorized by the modes in which the
original archival collection even
Portfolio functions according to each story: video, information, timeline,
while it entertains as a standalone
magnification capacity, text, and slideshow.

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Anatomy of the
Yours Truly Experience
hen the user enters the
experience, they are presented
with aspects of Deering’s
interests (e.g., books, style, business
management, family, etc.). All of these
Yours Truly is a browser-
aspects are represented by images and
based experience that does
descriptions on the home page, which not depend on any specific
visitors can scroll and select, or they may software. The experience is
use the categories at the top of the page to optimized for mobile devices
such as phones and tablets
group these aspects into narrower themes.
but is responsive to any
When they select an image with the device and screen.
magnifying glass icon (eye-spies), they will
enter a page that uses a brief description
and Deering’s own words to introduce
a letter or telegram written by Deering.
In one instance, we read two telegrams
about Deering’s extreme frustration at his
artistic designer’s continually embedding
seahorses into walls, ceilings and
furniture despite Deering’s express wish
that the caravel be the Estate’s emblem.
A touch-and-hold magnifier is built into
the telegrams so visitors can read them
better on their devices and look for clues
about the details of these historic pieces
of correspondence. The title bar remains

persistent so that the user keeps track of
the page’s theme even as they may bury
themselves in the letters and content.
Below each piece of correspondence is a
Story pages
drop-down menu with a text transcript of In Archival Correspondence
the content. Many of our younger testers mobile stops, viewers are
had never heard of a telegram before, but encouraged to read from the
original digitized letters using
perceived a tie to today’s social media
the magnifying glass effect
communication. The seahorse stop triggered by tap-and-hold
ultimately encourages the user to look gestures. Also included are
around the Main House at Vizcaya and transcripts of the letters and
digital media elements along
think about which man got his way with
with the letters.
the Estate’s emblem. For remote users, a
360 view of one of the rooms of the Main
House is embedded.

Page 6 • Yours Truly Project Report

Watch the walkthrough video:

Digital Media
360 maps of museum
spaces powered by

Google Street View

Navigation Key
The experience features several
icons indicating content types.
In the introduction pop-up page,
an infographic key explains
each navigation component,
including mobile stops of Archival
Correspondence, Video Stories, Family
Tree, Timelines, Text Information
and About the Experience. Each
mobile stop on the homepage has a
corresponding icon. A link to a
one-minute intro video is also

provided at the pop-up

Digital Media
3D models of museum
objects that illustrate
the correspondence.

Page 7 •Yours Truly Project Report

EXPERIENCE The Vizcaya team prioritized digitization of the 1916 correspondence
collection to kick off this project. James Deering moved into Vizcaya
on Christmas day 1916 and the correspondence written that year hy-
potheically provided the richest content opportunities.
Experience goals based on user
testing and capabilities of the
Vizcaya’s staff contributed to
technology/online platform:
researching this correspon-
dence collection and selecting
1. Establishes “hooks”
conversations that reflected
(highlighting letter excerpts)
who James Deering was. Us-
to provide focus considering
ing a spreadsheet, two ver-
the depth and complexity
sions of a content map were
presented in the content.
developed to label the letters,
organize what information
2. Refine narratives and
they contained, including how
navigation keys to improve
they would be framed. Stacey
satisfaction for onsite or remote
Mann, an independent inter-
users in reading and using the
pretive specialist, provided
interactive experience.
instruction to better form
each narrative. In the end, 28
3. Foster user curiosity and
stories were drafted showcasing James Deering’s attention to detail,
encourage deeper exploration
business relationships, tastes and style, and personal relationships.
of collections with interest-
based drop-down options
Using the Portfolio platform in WordPress, the team was able to satisfy
for digital media within the
user experience requirements and optimize how each theme was ex-
pressed. Timelines were implemented wherever time was essential to
the story. In addition to these formats, Vizcaya staff scripted, produced,
4. Host a creative platform to
and appeared in video content as well. Traci Thomas, Lead Design
reimagine James Deering’s
Strategist from Maya Design, a technology research lab based in Pitts-
personal life and business
burgh, PA, used the Miro platform to help Vizcaya establish its goals
trades by combining digitized
and determine its approach to user experience.
archives and other digital

5. Enhancing onsite and virtual

visitor engagement by creating
feedback mechanisms for
sentiment, reflections and
feature requests.

6. Explore-by-Map interface in
which users can find context-
driven content using the floor
plan of the Main House.

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Contracted Services:
The steps below details the process from scanning the letters to the final
• Interface Development:
version shown on Yours Truly:
• Video scripts and production
• Contracted Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts
• UX and UI design
( to devise a digitization plan. The purposes of
• Content Development: $10,000
the Digitization and Reformatting Plan are to help further prioritize
• Interpretation Specialist: $5,500
materials for digitization; to recommend staffing and workflows for
the large-scale digitization project; and to recommend strategies for
long-term digital asset management and for increasing discoverability
• Development: $2,370
of materials.
• Digitization of Correspondence:
• Procured an Epson Expression 12000XL Photo Scanner and
Silverfast software to produce high-resolution images of digitized
• Equipment installation and
maintenance: $2,500
• Converted each TIFF file into a high-resolution JPEG for access files.
• Training and Documentation:
In addition, PDFs were made sharable to the content developers for
reference. JPEGS were shared with content developers for site upload.
• Analytics/Performance
Dashboard: $3,000
Added descriptive metadata, including the following information:
• item number
• Server Storage: $3,140
• condition report
• Kiosks: $4,658
• correspondence title
• Digitization Scanner: $3,999
• date
• Wireless Access Points: $6,500
• creator name
• Signage and activation prompts:
• brief summary of content
• person/family name, corporate name
• geographical name
• genre/form SOFTWARE
Scanning & Conversion:
Library of Congress Official Authority Headings were used to describe the
• Adobe Acrobat
work. There are words that were used for descriptive metadata that are not
• Silverfast
official headings. However, has a list for official Vizcaya lexicon that can
be used, i.e., Enclosed Loggia. When more than one heading is included
Imaging and editing:
in a category, the words are separated by one space and two dashes.
• Adobe Photoshop (Edit and
highlight digitized archives,
Specifications for image production included the following:
edit website components, make
website logos, make digital
1. Digitized images in high-quality, TIFF and JPEG formats
2. 400 DPI
• Adobe Illustrator (signage)
3. 16 Bit
4. Adobe RGB (inch) color model
CMS system:
5. Source images for manipulation in Photoshop
• WordPress

Page 9 •Yours Truly Project Report

Leading up to the launch of Yours Truly, staff members and around
100 volunteers tested the interactive extensively. User experience
significantly informed content and visual creation. Yours Truly
Watch the video about visitor
content specialists also invited groups like art major classes and area
testing for Yours Truly: museum professionals to capture their observations. Weekly onsite
testing started with the website prototype to inform improvement
and to catch UI/UX problems early on. The team was able to
adapt, add on and shift project content and visual design while
solving technical issues using testing feedback. Weekend onsite
testing sessions were held every month since July 2020 and captured
in Trello. The team designed open-ended questions targeting different
topics or problems each week, such as the following:

• What is your favorite mobile stop? What attracts you and why?
• Is the content text too small? Is it reader friendly?
Example User Testing Survey: • Did this stop have what you expected to find? • What more would you like to see?
• Did you have any technical difficulty when browsing the experience?
Questions during the early and mid-development process
included content clarity and legibility, visual design, technical effect,
website layout, personal preferences, digital media and other feature
usability. After launching, focus shifted to the user interface and
experience. Users were asked to find certain details in the digitized
archives, reveal digital assets in mobile stops, or look for links connecting
to other content. Questions asked included the following:

View an Early Protoype of this • Can you find (specific) story tiles?
Experience: • Can you find the magnifying glass tool and use that to read the letters?
• Can you locate the 3D scans and other digital media?
X0lwt3gE/edit?usp=sharing • What forms of media are most satisfying to you and why?
• Are there other topics you would like to explore?

In order to continually monitor and respond to visitor testing feedback,

the team designed interactive feedback features to record further
reactions. A section in development, “Ask James Deering”, and an emoji
rating bar is in every mobile stop. Ask James Deering crowdsources
user feedback that will provide future avenue of content development
and research. This could also evolve into a future artificial intelligence
component. The emoji function offers users a low-threshold opportunity
View SOPs for User Testing and
Content Production/Posting: to rate content through sentiment.
Page 10 • Yours Truly Project Report
The book “Innovating for People” by Luma Institute served as
the inspiration for structuring user testing. Testing methods
include guided exploration, likert scales, visitor journey mapping
and observation shadowing. These tests cover satisfaction and
effectiveness of the content, ease of use and navigation, and overall
enhancement of the Vizcaya experience. Testing was performed every
weekend from September 2020 until January 2021, when Yours Truly
was first promoted as a “live” experience. Testing will continue one
weekend per month as a part of standard practice.

Page 11 •Yours Truly Project Report


Many visitors were delighted to learn about Vizcaya’s history with the
virtual tour, and shared great interest especially in “Who was James
Deering” and stories about the Gardens. Related mobile stops such as
“What Motivated James Deering’s Rush to Occupy Vizcaya” and “The
Landscape of a Lifetime” were also rated most meeting expectations. Pre-
launch testing with visitors took place at the Vizcaya Courtyard while the
post-launch testing took place in multiple locations in the museum with
related physical signage. Over 50% of testers found the mobile stops easy
to read and intuitive.

With data flooding in from testing, the question then became “how do we
document this feedback so that it’s useful both for this project and future


Development specialist Hali Dadar (then of Shift Design) established the

visitor data input and analysis system, Personamatic. It is powered by
Google Data Studio and the system allows users to visualize and organize
any Google data (including Google sheets, Analytics, Forms or more).
Personamatic serves as an extensible tool for systemizing and quantifying
visitor data. The data visualization and searchable tools in Personamatic
support the project in reviewing visitor demographics and short comments
given in every testing session.

Some of the Personamatic graphs were designed to feature searchability

functions. Source dates, places, and visitor ID’s can be filtered to extract
specific information to give answers further context. Short comment graphs

also allowed the viewer to see the entire testing information by location,

visitor ID, and questions that were answered qualitatively. The graphs tell
why visitors responded in certain ways and what topics they would like to
know about, whether or not expectations were met, and whether or not the
content was intriguing enough to trigger the QR code. In the conclusive
phase, staff testing was also implemented post-publishing. These graphs
were also helpful in visualizing Likert scales and gathering data about
comments that supported these answers.

As additional content is built into the Yours Truly platform, the data in
Personamatic will provide an ever-clearer view of Vizcaya’s audiences as
well as how to rapidly develop experiences that meet their needs.

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Yours Truly attracts audiences
ranging from international
tourists to local Coconut
Grove residents. Personamatic
analyzed the testing data,
while Google Analytics
tracked how people used the
website. Users so far can be
described as follows:

• 18-59 years old

• From Dec. to Feb., 63%
of visitors were local,
36% national, and 5%
international, mostly from
Europe and Asia.
• 84.1% of users came from
mobile phones, 13.6%
used desktop computers,
and 2.3% used tablet
• Gender: Close to 50/50
split of men and women
• Career: Museum workers,
marketers, tech &
education professionals.

Vizcaya developed audience

personas prior to this
project, and is now using
Personamatic for further
flesh them out. View the
persona library at https://
Page 13 •Yours Truly Project Report
When the project team originally decided that Yours Truly would become
an experience based on James Deering’s archival correspondence, the next
question became how to engage on-site visitors in accessing the content.
Early in the project, 22” touchscreen kiosks placed on both floors of the
Main House were intended to be the gateway to the mobile experience.
When the pandemic hit and kiosks were no longer an option, Vizcaya
shifted to paper signage with QR codes to deliver the information.
Visitor feedback indicated that the following stories (mobile stops) were
SIGN HOLDERS USED: most intriguing and comprehensive:
• James Deering, Book Lover?
• Why Did a Playful Seahorse Annoy James Deering?
• Speakeasy, James Deering: Working Around Prohibition
• J.D. the D.J: Composing Vizcaya’s Musical Soundtrack
These stories became highlights for the experience, represented through
trigger signs, throughout site-specific locations in the estate. Content
developers worked with Vizcaya’s Learning and Engagement department
to refine signs for these stories and an introductory page. The initial signs
featured a simple design aligned to Vizcaya’s identity standards, featuring
one main image related to the topic, a title, a QR code and fewer than 40
words of interpretive text. Once printed, the signs were then installed in
stands and arranged in site-specific locations throughout the estate.
In initial visitor testing the signs were placed in the places in the Main
House where their stories were most relevant. Visitors seldom scanned the
QR codes. Visitors reported the reason that they did not scan the QR codes
is that the signs blended into the museum’s other signage and was not
visually distinctive enough, and the text more descriptive than intriguing.
The Vizcaya team then focused on simplifying the text by using only
a quote from James Deering. The photos were updated to focus on a
dominant image and accented with a stamp-like border to reflect the
“mail” theme. Each sign is titled with the call to action at its top: “Get
Mail from James Deering.” The signs were then consolidated in the central
courtyard. The impact was immediately evident, with 30-70 onsite visitors
scanning the QR codes to enter the experience each day. Additionally,
Vizcaya staff members are now spontaneously exploring the experience
based on interest in the redesigned signs.
Twelve content stops in Yours Truly have corresponding sign designs.
Vizcaya is alternating these designs in the four stands purchased for the
project to gauge their impact on site analytics and further evaluate what
images and information is most intriguing to them.

Page 14 • Yours Truly Project Report

Page 15 •Yours Truly Project Report
Yours Truly represents a landmark for Vizcaya because it helps the
institution get a handle on what stories it would like to tell, and how it to
connect them to audience needs. In particular, this became the first time
that Vizcaya experimented with video specifically for interpretive content,
and videos featuring the project team are viewable from the home and
theme pages with the picture of the interpreter and the media “play” icon.
Video scripts and subject matter placement in the experience overall were
structured based on the “steps in the customer journey”: Entice, Enter,
Engage, Exit, and Extend. Additionally, Vizcaya procured the equipment
necessary (e.g. iPhone 12 Pro, tripods, lights & microphones) to create
these videos and invested in establishing best approaches to capturing the
content. The videos are all less than 1.5 minutes, and cover one element of
the Yours Truly story.

In addition to digitized archives, videos and 360 tours, other bonus

multimedia content is embedded at the bottom of some stops, which will
form the focus in future iterations of this platform. In particular, several
objects related to the stops were documented using photogrammetry and
embedded as interactive models. These include:
• Seahorse weathervane that sits atop the Main House
• James Deering’s golf clubs
• Model caravel commissioned by Deering as emblem of the Estate
• James Deering’s shoes
• Seahorse bookends
• Bottle of bourbon bottled exclusively for Deering properties
• Birdcage that housed Deering’s macaws
Vizcaya established a Sketchfab account to host the embeddable 3D
models for the Yours Truly project and all of them can be viewed there as
In conjunction with the Yours Truly
well. (
project, Vizcaya installed access
points to create a wireless mesh
across five acres of the Main House
and Gardens. The following Cisco
Meraki access point models make up
that mesh:
• MR33 (
• MR53 (
• MR84 (
Page 16 • Yours Truly Project Report
Digitization has become a central tool in making the archives and
collection widely accessible. Noted Wikipedia editor and Wikipedian
in Residence for cultural institutions, Mary Mark Ockerbloom, placed
original, unmarked, correspondence images from Yours Truly in
Wikimedia Commons to provide greater reach for this experience, and
Vizcaya’s archives. Her contribution has optimized access to these
selected pieces of correspondence beyond the digital experience
Ockerbloom made insightful recommendations that professionalized Metadata represented for one of James
the organization of metadata in preparation for Public Domain Deering’s telegrams in Wikimedia
upload. She renamed the files using the format: “Vizcaya_A_to_B_ Commons.
YYYMMDD_” (A) represents the name of the correspondence sender
and (B) represents the name of correspondence receiver.
Using this format, Ockerbloom allowed for backwards compatibility to
the original file names. The uploaded files are accessible through this

In addition to renaming and uploading the files, metadata tags were

also included in this work. These descriptions include: correspondence
date, source, authorship, and general correspondence description that
indicates to whom and from whom the letters were sent.
The images were embedded back into their corresponding pages in
Yours Truly as an optional drop-down, allowing visitors to download
these images in high resolution. The Commons images have since
High-resolution telegram with file title
become a major external referral source for traffic to Yours Truly, and in Wikimedia Commons.
the source for visitors who stay the longest and consume the most Below: All Deering images in the
content. “Vizcaya correspondence” category

Page 17 •Yours Truly Project Report

2019 The closure of the Vizcaya due to the COVID-19 crisis prompted the
JUNE project team to collaborate in new ways. The project team used the
First cohort ideation meeting in following platforms to communicate on development:
Pittsburgh PA to explore human-
centered design concepts.
• Microsoft Teams: The online components of Office 365 became more
critical as staff shifted to remote work. Teams replaced in-person
OCTOBER-DECEMBER meetings and daily communication via phone and to some degree,
Visitor testing and concept
development phase to determine
visitor/user needs • Microsoft OneDrive: All file transfer and sharing was handled
through OneDrive. After digitization, priority files were organized into
themed folders for further formatting and input into the Yours Truly
2020 experience.
JANUARY • Miro: Miro was used to organize and prototype early design and
• Project agreement executed
content storyboards.
with Knight Foundation
• Google Docs: Google Docs and Sheets were used to develop a
content map spreadsheet. The first iteration was used to label and
FEBRUARY identify correspondence. The second iteration was used to develop
• Content Strategy/Development
• Select assistance for Digitization • Trello: Trello was used to capture the development process and user
of Deering correspondence testing outcomes. The Trello board was organized into columns such
focuses on 1916 as: Incoming- All Ideas, Forming, Writing, Content Commentary,
• Procure kiosks
Active Content Testing, Active UX Testing, Issues List & Bugs, 3D
• Storyboarding / experience map
– as anchor for conversation Imagery Captures, and more. It served as the central repository for all
• Information Architecture: information related to the project.
Wireframes; functional
specification annotations
• Visitor prototyping with

• Museum closes in response to
• Digitization begins of 1916
correspondence by James

• Museum limited reopening
• Staff research of
correspondence begins
• Wireless access point
installation begins
• Input and complete metadata
for 1916 correspondence by
James Deering
• Narrative and image input

Page 18 • Yours Truly Project Report


• Narrative development
• Initial content development
• Visitor prototyping with


• Trello used as project

repository and workflow
development tool
• Visual Design: Template
designs, UX design
component builds

• Content Map developed

• Digitization of 1916
correspondence concludes;
metadata development


• Development: Alpha release

(generic design with back-end
access for content input)

• Fully styled Alpha Release

• Gamma Release (QA and final
• Sitewide wireless access

• Museum signage developed
• Development bugs addressed

• Project official launch
• Testing continues online and
in the museum on weekends

• Between 50-100 visitors per
day access the experience
• Website is accessed
throughout the U.S., Europe,
Asia, and Africa.
Page 19 •Yours Truly Project Report
Interactive Experiences CMS
Yours Truly establishes a scalable
content management system that Every component of the Yours Truly project advanced some aspect of
serves as a repository for Vizcaya’s Vizcaya’s digital strategy. Though technically a prototype, this project
archival and object collections, and
serves as the foundation for transformative digital infrastructure and endless
platform that allows contextual ties
that engage users. creativity in connecting and co-creating with audiences.

Personamatic Audience Studies With this foundation established, Vizcaya now has an opportunity
to expand this platform with additional archival and museum object
Yours Truly is the first project to
leverage this unique mix of Google collections. With this additional content, the platform can grow to
Forms, Sheets and Data Studio surface and remix stories that are more customized to the interest of
to record and visualize audience individual users. In particular, the lessons learned in 2020 offer Vizcaya
testing feedback. As data from
an opportunity to further flesh out the big picture concept of a storytelling
additional projects is added, the
more refined and powerful our framework imagined at the first Knight Cohort meeting in Pittsburgh.
audience analysis will become.
One potential manifestation of this is through the development of a user-
Beyond Vizcaya Storytelling
generated storytelling framework to inform the alignment of digital media
Beyond Vizcaya (also funded by platforms and welcomes audiences as our co-creators of digital content to
Knight) is an emerging multimedia produce more diverse and relevant interpretive experiences. This concept
storytelling platform wherein content supports plans for Visitor Orientation & Arrival for Phase Ib of Vizcaya’s
has the potential to be co-created
Master Plan. The design and testing of a storytelling framework would
by audiences. The lessons learned
from Yours Truly development support the development of a user-centered orientation experience, as well
directly informed the structure and as the development of a customized “itinerary” of Vizcaya experiences
technologies behind this platform. both onsite and remote.
With both, Vizcaya is learning how
to tell stories in the digital space.
This concept would crowdsource fundamentals of the storytelling
Sitewide Wireless framework for Vizcaya by creating a web-based interactive that allows
Vizcaya underwent a total users to build off of one another’s memories and ideas. Audiences will be
replacement of its IT infrastructure
allowed to contribute to an online 3D mindmap that is pre-loaded with
as Yours Truly was beginning. As
part of the process of making Yours select visual and textual elements that are part of Vizcaya’s core stories.
Truly available to on-site visitors in Users will scroll through it easily with hand gestures on touch devices and
a bring-your-own-device scenario, be able to add thought bubbles to it based on their interests, memories,
Vizcaya was able to offer wireless
questions, etc., which add to the core stories and create organic offshoots.
access to the public for the first time,
covering most of the Main House This would allow Vizcaya to observe what topics compel interest, and
and some of the gardens. enhance the through-line with additional content from the archives and
collections. Users will be able to share their contributions directly with
Digitization Infrastructure
their communities, which will promote additional interest. The experience
Also as part of Yours Truly, Vizcaya
developed its first plan for archives will have elements of both “social” and “wiki” platforms, providing rich
digitization and was able to procure data that Vizcaya could incorporate into the current Yours Truly database
modern equipment, as well as that will support the storytelling framework for digital outreach platforms.
the needed help, to make part of
Vizcaya will be able to choose information to port over to the official
the correspondence collection
accessible for the first time. storytelling framework using click-and-drag API. There would be a low
Additionally, Vizcaya was able to threshold for participation and maintenance from users and staff. The
add four terabytes of storage to experience will be browser-based and flexible for use on desktops, mobile
its servers to store the digitized
devices and museum kiosks.
collections and their derivatives.
Page 20 • Yours Truly Project Report

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