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Challenge Project Profile: Edinburgh Science Festival

Design consultants Make Things Happen were selected to respond to a Challenge Project set by Edinburgh Science who were looking for a fun interactive experience for the Edinburgh Science Festival that encouraged audiences to make a small donation to support their work as a charity.

We asked the team at Make Things Happen to tell us more about themselves and the process that led to the development of the DNAtion web app – which was released during Edinburgh Science Festival in June 2021. Here’s what the had to say…

The Make Things Happen team

At Make Things Happen, we design, create and make. Our team of three bring together specialist knowledge in architecture, creative direction, content production and graphic design to solve problems creatively. We’re a forward-thinking organisation with a genuine passion for enhancing engagement in the cultural sector for all. Constantly curious, friendly and focused, we like to get to know our clients and work collaboratively to form authentic design solutions.


The past year has seen us work on a range of projects from outdoor heritage trail installations, museum exhibition designs, interpretation strategies and, of course, the Edinburgh Science Challenge Project!

The Challenge Brief set by Edinburgh Science was to create a fun, interactive experience that encouraged audiences to make a small donation when attending events, creating a new revenue stream for the Edinburgh Science Festival which would allow them to continue and expand their charitable work. A key stipulation was that the approach be data-driven so Edinburgh Science can analyse user engagement to establish how best to engage with their audiences in the future.

At the outset of the project we had to change our initial concept, which was for a physical indoor installation within a festival setting, to an online only experience due to the continuing social distance restrictions of the pandemic. Always up for a design challenge, we adapted our idea to become a web app, however, that did mean revisiting the user journey and thinking about the donation experience in an entirely different way within a very tight time frame!

DNAtion Dizzy Character Sketches

Following a period of research and user testing, we developed the DNAtion app (a play on the word Donation) which took the form of a science-based quiz. Users would input data such as their age, location and email address to unlock a character called Dizzy who would take them on a journey along a DNA strand, answering questions as they went. To bring our app to life, we enlisted the brilliant Cassie Codes for her coding prowess. Cassie’s skill in SVG animation helped to make the web app interactive with lots of fun animated additions.

We strategically integrated personality-based questions, with no right or wrong answer to gain insight into the areas of science the users were most interested in. This data was then used to customise Dizzy into a character that represented the area of science personalised to the user and displayed facts about Edinburgh Science’s charitable work. The end result was an interactive audience experience that collects user data in a less intrusive way. DNAtion has the potential to be developed much further and, with collaboration from Edinburgh Science, encourage and increase donation behaviour from users!

DNAtion Web App

It was a pleasure to work with Edinburgh Science who were enthusiastic about our idea throughout the whole process. We kept in close contact with them during the project and had regular check-in sessions to show our development. This was important as we were all striving to launch the web app in time for the Edinburgh Science Festival in June 2021. They also guided us on the messaging and key areas of focus for the festival as a starting point for producing content for the app.

Following the first run of DNAtion, Edinburgh Science have asked us to think about how the product could be developed further and if we could look at a way to combine it with our original idea of a physical installation.

We hope we can see our vision for the product come to life so that audiences at Edinburgh Science Festival 2022 can engage with it at a festival venue next year!

Watch the trailer for DNAtion below and find out more about Make Things Happen’s work at www.makethingshappendesign.com/




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