A UX Language Analysis on the Solomon R. Guggenheim’s Ticketing Page for Desktop

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is a modern and contemporary art museum in New York City. The museum became a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2019. Domestic and international visitors go to see the museum every year. In this case study, I’ll be examining its use of language regarding inclusiveness and accessibility, on its ticketing checkout page, which is presented below.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s Checkout Page, as of Sunday, 5 December 2021

First, let’s take a look at the name section. The Guggenheim’s checkout page has ‘FIRST NAME’ and ‘LAST NAME’.

I recommend using ‘given name’ instead of ‘first name’ and ‘family name’ instead of ‘last name’ because not all cultures have one’s given name come first. For example, in Chinese culture, Hungarian culture, and Japanese culture, it’s the family name that comes first. In the culture of Myanmar, there are no family names at all, so the Burmese may use of part of their given name as a family name when they are in countries that use family names. By using the terminologies of given name and family name, we can be more inclusive to global cultures than first name and last name can be.

Let’s take a look at the next section, which is the address.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s Address Section on its Checkout Page, as of Sunday, 5 December 2021

The default country is the United States, which is understandable since the Guggenheim Museum is located in it. But what if someone comes from a United States territory such as Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico is not a state, so why does the Guggenheim Museum’s checkout page say that it is a state?

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s Address Section on its Checkout Page, as of Sunday, 5 December 2021

The checkout page also says that the District of Colombia is a state, but it is not a state.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s Address Section on its Checkout Page, as of Sunday, 5 December 2021

Among other numerous mistakes in the state section, the checkout page also egregiously includes independent countries, such as the Marshall Islands, Palau, among other countries, as states of the United States.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s Address Section on its Checkout Page, as of Sunday, 5 December 2021
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s Address Section on its Checkout Page, as of Sunday, 5 December 2021

Now what if someone who is living in Canada wants to book a ticket on the Guggenheim website? When the user changes the country to Canada, the state section automatically changes to ‘PROVINCE’, which is good.

However, according to the Guggenheim checkout page, Canada has 13 provinces when it actually has 10. The Guggenheim includes the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon as provinces of Canada even though they are actually territories of Canada.

It is ignorant and it shows a lack of effort listing those 3 Canadian territories, namely, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon, as Canadian provinces because the United States shares a border with Canada, the border is the longest border between 2 countries, and many visitors from Canada visit the museum every year.

It is a good thing that the Guggenheim website is not a government website, or else, there will be both domestic and international repercussions.

I recommend that besides making sure that independent countries are not included as states of the United States, have the default wording ‘STATE’ change to ‘State / Province / Region’ for all countries, which is what Amazon does. By doing it this way, we do not have to concern ourselves whether a place is a state or a province or a territory, and so on.

Amazon’s Add a billing address Popup, as of Sunday, 5 December 2021

Also notice that instead of using the terms ‘first name’ and ‘last name’, Amazon uses ‘full name’.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s ZIP Code Section on its Checkout Page, as of Sunday, 5 December 2021

Let’s look at the ZIP code now. Since ZIP code is a term that is specific to the United States, it may be hard to understand for the Guggenheim’s international visitors whose home language is not English. I recommend using the term ‘postal code’ instead because that is the term that Canada, a major neighbor of the United States uses and from where many international visitors come, and more importantly, it’s more understandable to people who speak English well but who are not familiar with the United States term ‘ZIP code’. Reading ‘postal code’ than ‘ZIP code’ is easier to understand to international visitors whose home language may not be English.

In summary, I recommend the Guggenheim Museum take the following 4 steps to improve its language on its checkout page:

  1. Use ‘given name’ instead of ‘first name’ and use ‘family name’ instead of ‘last name’.
  2. Make sure that independent countries are not included as part of other countries.
  3. Use the terms ‘state/province/region’ for all countries.
  4. Use the term ‘postal code’ instead of ‘ZIP code’.

By acting upon these 4 simple steps, the Guggenheim Museum can improve its language to be more inclusive, accessible, and accurate to its international visitors, with the added bonus of being easier to book tickets from their perspective. It may just mean having more revenue in the future.

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