For our final project in Service Design and Transformation with Marshall Sitten, my team (Ritwik Deshpande, Song Lee, Sara Lim, James Vanié) identified service opportunities for the Museum of Sex museum experience. This project lasted four weeks. 


Project Description

How might We: streamline the existing customer touch points and bring more value to the customer's post-museum experience?

MoSex: the edge case museum


Our team picked MoSex because it is an edge case on the spectrum of museum experiences. From our first site visit, we observed visitors from many demographic backgrounds who seemed to have different motives for entering. From there, we knew that we wanted to collaborate with a brand that pushes the barriers of experience.

During our first field visit, we uncovered fundamental pain points that hinder opportunities to a memorable experience. These discoveries informed our first high-level strategy: 

  • Consolidate the cause of the user pain points
  • Conceptualize new service design initiatives
  • Design a strategy for implementation



My role entailed facilitation of brainstorm sessions, user research, experience map design, strategy, expert interview planning/synthesis, needs finding, iterations on solutions, product concept design, and project management, 

As a team, we collectively gathered our findings and designed a final pitch deck that was presented to service design experts and business professionals.



Uncovering the User Journey

Public Research: Our research started with the team learning about how people discover MoSex. We all took different roles in learning about the museum. We asked friends if they have ever heard of the museum. We noticed provocative (but fitting) subway ads, scoured the web and stumbled upon numerous review sites (Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.), and gained a good baseline understanding of the public perception of the museum. We found that customers who visit the museum are highly intrigued before they visit. 


Many visitors enjoyed the experience, but explicitly stated that it was not worth the admission fee. We also uncovered complaints about the location of ticket counter, which was at the bar in the basement of the building. With the museum on the second floor, customers saw this as somewhat of a hindrance to the actual museum exhibitions. Here are some questions we considered as we created our discussion guide: 

  • What are the types of customers at MoSex?
  • Where do MoSex customers generally live? 
  • Where are MoSex customers at in life (occupation, marital status, how they spend leisure time, etc?
  • What interests brought customers to MoSex?
  • What are customer expectations before entering and upon exit?
  • Once customers enter the museum, what are they looking for and how are they motivated?

External Research: To learn about how new technologies were implemented in a museum setting, we spoke to a designer who helped design an interactive product for the Cooper Hewitt experience. We learned about the process and feasibility of introducing technology to a traditionally non-tech environment. 

Strategic Outreach:  We interviewed SVA’s own Steven Heller, past member of the MoSex board of advisors, in order to learn more about advocating open discourse on sexuality. That conversation greatly impacted our research, as we learned how the perception of sexuality has progressed over the years. We also brainstormed together on different types of technology that might be fitting for the MoSex experience.

Internal Interviews: We spoke with Managers and staff at MoSex during our site visits. We asked questions about their business objectives as a museum and learned their aim is to create an environment where people can explore and learn about sexuality. 



Worth the $20 fee?

In short, not quite yet. MoSex has no issue of getting people in the door. The problem is that of managing expectations throughout the experience. Once inside, the museum is quite small – this means shorter time in the museum.  Although the museum presents several academic and thought-provoking exhibits, most visitors view it as a novelty experience. Because of this, customer return rates are low. 

The MoSex store has a higher rate of returning customers. Strategically positioned at the entrance, the store features novelty and functional products that set the context for the experience to come.

The bar (located in the basement) has ambient music and slightly overpriced drinks. It doubles as a ticket counter and is situated on the same floor as the coat check. The layout makes it feel more like a waiting area than a place where a visitor would want to spend a prolonged amount of time. The decor of the bar also does not reflect the content of the museum and that creates a disconnected experience. Therefore, visitors might be willing to pay for a drink and stick around, but the bar fails to create an atmosphere conducive to long-term retention.




After visiting museums throughout the city, we quickly learned that the experience and mission of our 'direct competitors' greatly differed from that of MoSex. We found that MoSex has more in common with one-off experiences like the Bodies Exhibition, Escape from the Room, and Sleep No More. The common thread of these services is that they are perceived with high expectation and a low customer return rate.  


On the spectrum between industrial and expertise-based services, MoSex falls closer to the latter. The museum is not interactive enough to the point where each customer has a customized experience, but at the same time, very little about it seems mass-produced. The style of curation, the variety of exhibits, and the broad range of topics covered show the sense of specificity used to curate the experience.

While there is much to learn from our direct and perceptual competitors, we found that there are no existing services in New York City that can be seen as direct competition. 




As a team, we visited MoSex to observe customers and eventually interview them after their museum experience. Given the high traffic of couples throughout MoSex, we interviewed two couples in the museum and designed persona scenarios based on those findings. 




We then compiled our observations on Google Docs and began to look for themes and customer pain points. We found that MoSex failed to consider during the first 15 minutes of the MoSex experience. A few question for MoSex to consider:

  • Are the ticket purchasing and coat-check processes efficient?
  • Are staff  providing services that meet customer needs and expectations?
  • Are staff accessible and ready to listen and respond to visitors’ needs and concerns if visitors have problems? 

We learned that MoSex has a stellar initial perception  –  this is the very reason people from all over the world are attracted to it. Unfortunately, there are fundamental pain points throughout the customer journey. Through interviews, we learned that many considered the experience to be underwhelming. To meet customer expectations, the experience must be arranged in a cohesive and logical sequence.


With all of this in mind, we spent time re-sifting through interview audio and synthesis, ethnographic research findings, and notes we took along the journey. We conducted multiple brainstorm sessions where we segmented the user journey and consolidated the pain points by mapping ideas using sticky notes and simply (and continually) asking why. Below is our customer experience map.


Based on the main pain points, we created initiatives that MoSex might consider: 

  •  Redesigning the hiring process to measure how potential employees would handle customers in a stressful/hostile environment
  • Evaluate the existing customer service guidelines and how current employees understand the
  • Extend the MoSex brand beyond the museum experience. With low customer return rates, there is opportunity to stay relevant to previous customers between visits
  • Implement technologies that promote interactivity throughout the museum. We came to understand that the problem was not the $20 fee, but the lack of interactivity throughout the museum.

Design Principles

The key to creating a positive customer experience is making sure that all the staff members have a clear understanding of the museum’s service standards and enthusiasm to meet customers’ expectations. 


With these design principles in mind, we are confident that, if the following initiatives were to be implemented, the return rate would gradually increase, as the experience and navigation would meet and exceed customer needs. 



easier navigation

The recurring themes during research were: 

  1. Location of the ticket purchase
  2. Price was too high for experience

These insights informed solutions that are geared towards creating a cohesive flow throughout the museum. 


The suggested floor plan allows customers to buy tickets on the first floor. We would design visible and concise signage that gives visitors an immediate understanding of the floor plan. On the third floor, pop-up shop-esque experiences will be embedded to promote taking breaks  and interaction with the display items.


The exit of the museum will be changed from first floor to the basement so that visitors file through the bar on their way out. This will encourage reflection, interactivity, and purchase of drinks post-visit. The impact on the customer experience is shown on the linear journey diagram below.


By revamping the floor plan, we mitigate confusion of buying a ticket and embed the store experience within the museum. This also will boost traffic through the bar. The ticket price will not change, as we are simply rearranging existing resources. 

With ticket purchasing streamlined, customers will spend less time wayfinding. The clear signage throughout the museum will reduce ambiguity and give visitors the tools to navigate the museum with confidence and high energy.




Before our pitch, the MoSex team took a different approach by passing out the cards below to simulate vulnerability and exploration. This was a live test for a prototype that we designed further below. After the audience wrote their responses on the cards, we collected and mixed them, redistributed them, and had the audience quickly read off what was on their card.


The interactive wall below allows visitors to share what sex means to them privately and publicly. By using the kiosks positioned in from of the wall, users simply input a one word answer and it appears on the screen. 



Introduction of On-Ground Events

The MoSex mission includes promoting discourse and engagement on the topic of sex. By hosting on ground events, they can achieve this and boost their monthly visitors. We believe the museum can bolster its public profile by setting up educational events where field experts can talk about their work.


By partnering with individuals and organizations who are at the cutting edge of sex research and providing a platform for their growth, MoSex has the potential to become a landmark in conversations relating to sex. These events can also be recorded, serialized and launched online as videos and/or podcasts (above) in order to ensure they reach a global audience. 


FINAL thoughts

MoSex is an institution dedicated to progressive thought and personal freedom. We found that some aspects within their customer journey were in direct conflict with what they stand for. All solutions that we recommended are built on the premise of designing for guided exploration. We want visitors to get lost in the experience itself, not the museum. Overall, there is minimal risk involved in implementing our recommendations, as we have arrived to our solutions by validating through visitor and key stakeholder interviews.

After our final pitch, we received valuable feedback and iterated on our research, focusing more on the wayfinding pain points and less on new programs and products .


Project Details 

Tasks: User Research, Competitive Analysis, Product Design
Class: Service Design and Innovation
Team: Ritwik DeshpandeSong LeeSara Lim, James Vanié



Project Deliverables

• Competitive analysis
• Persona creation
• Service Blueprint
• Price analysis
• Risk assessment analysis
• Discussion Guides
• Interview Synthesis
• Final proposal deck design