Designing Effective Content for Mobile in Museums


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Smartphones, audioguides and multimedia guides are very different devices but there are some common features of the mobile experience they share. This presentation will help identify what those features are, using real examples of what works and what doesn't, to help cultural organisations make the best use of digital content on mobile platforms.

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  • My partner, Lindsey Green, and I established Frankly, Green + Webb to provide strategy, insight, concept design and development of mobile experiences. We advise on ways to use mobile technologies to improve visitor experience, help you increase audience size or change audience profile. We also help determine what content to use, how to make it and how to use it in a way that helps your audience understand your organisation and your stories. The benefit of using our services is that we can find the right approach to mobile for your organisation and therefore save you money and time. We make it simple and easy for you to develop innovative mobile experiences that capture the imagination of the audience and build the profile of your organisation.
  • There are many things about creating media for mobile that are shared with online experiences - file types or processes for example, general principles of interpretation In this presentation I decided to go back to basics and really think about the nature of mobile - what are the special characteristics of a mobile experience, what are the opportunities - and how do they impact on what we can do These ideas are generally applicable whether you are creating anything from an audio tour to a mobile game and I’ll be highlighting a few examples across these different project types
  • I don’t intend to focus on smartphones specifically today but one of the challenges today is that all mobile interpetation and communication - whether simply an audio guide, a multimedia tour or a mobile website or app is consumed in the context of increasing use and familiarity with smartphones We know that mobile interpretation has a significant impact on visitor experience. Research suggests that: Over 80% of visitors report a mobile guide helps them appreciate their visit significantly more A similar percentage report that guides help make their visits significantly more enjoyable 79% say that guides help them learn much more And almost half report they explore more of the site they are visiting But the data also suggests that visitors’ expectations are changing - they are used to playing games, looking up facts, connecting with friends, taking and sharing photos. This is impacting young people soonest but it is spreading and we anticipate it becoming the norm. We need to bear this in mind as we design visitor experiences and be open to the possibilities of creating new experiences
  • Portable & Located : one of the greatest strengths of mobile is that you have an opportunity to speak to your visitors when they are at your site and in front of the real thing Visting a gallery, museum or historic site is an extraordinarily special occasion and mobile enables you to communicate and interact with your visitors in that moment This affects what you choose to say to them: They can just LOOK and they can get close And, of course we know that visitors often don’t look very carefully on their own. The Louvre found that visitors spent on average 15 seconds looking at the Mona Lisa! The average at the Met was 17 seconds It isn’t because they don’t want to but they don’t know what to look for and how to interpret what they see Mobile can slow people down and provide the guidance and support to interpret that visual experience
  • Staying focussed on the visitor’s physical and visual experience can be challenging as newer forms of mobile offer so many ways of interacting It can be easy to get caught up in designing beautiful content and interfaces, providing lots of information and options But it is often better to pare back what you offer - designers need to be self effacing - and provide something simple, intuitive to use and fitting to the on site experience the visitor wants and needs. Quantity over quality can be harmful to the visitor experience at times. If you are using multimedia you mustn’t let go of the fact that the visitors primary experience is the site - keep their attention rooted in the space not the screen. If you are producing new content or selecting from existing material try to offer only what will supplement the on site experience - only what is really useful, pleasurable in that moment.
  • There are always too many stories to tell but keeping in mind what is possible on site and nowhere else can help shape the content So try to focus on how you can enhance that particular on-site experience - their physical presence - rather than trying to say or show everything It is always better to say less and say it well This piece was created for Monumenta in Paris. It features Richard Serra talking about his reaction to the exhibition space and the thought process behind creating sculpture for the space. It works well because the sense of the overwhelming size of the exhibition hall is one the visitors themselves are sharing - hearing that the artist felt just the same and then following him on the journey to his response is a delight.
  • Being portable also impacts HOW you speak or structure your communication - you need to use immediate, located language - ‘look at this’ ‘crouch down to get a better view’ ‘walk around’ Connecting visual experience to ideas and larger learning works very well – SHOW FIRST AND THEN TELL So if I’m looking at a building I might say ‘can you see how, along to our right, the bricks are a different colour? And if you look down you can see the floor level changes… This is because…’ In this way you actively engage the visitor in the process of looking for visual clues - just as an historian or archaeologist might - and you then reveal how this evidence can be interpreted. You give a visual experience meaning. You don’t say ‘In June 1723 King Blah of Blah decided to rebuild the part of the site and…..” In this case the names and dates have no resonance with the visitor and keeping them in mind, and then the explanantatoin is hard - particularly as they are likely to be looking around them and wondering if they are in the right place!
  • Mobile also means to me, moveable - we can move the visitor about - ask them to step forward and look at a detail or step back to appreciate the impact of the whole, we can ask them to look between works to make a comparison. This movement works well in audio, in multimedia but equally in augmented reality.
  • I fact unlike film or theatre where the scenery and action is moved in front of you, we have the opportunity to move our visitors through the scenery, to position them, to enable them to make visual connections and comparisons, move them through a story
  • This means a story has to almost literally be ‘mapped out’ - you have to structure the experience and narratives - over the course of a visit and over an individual stop - to work in a physical context. – CHOREOGRAPHY You need to consider which objects or locations from which you can ‘hang’information Don’t feel the need to tell everything up front - in fact I often recommend cutting an introduction back to just one or two sentences - people want to get going! They’ve planned the trip and travelled and often bought tickets and hung up coats - now they want to SEE something and wont be tuned in to what you say. Get them in front of an object before you dive in to the content. Example - Battle, English Heritage where the tour follows the action of the Battle as it unfolds - you move across the site and through the day of the battle and gradually realize how close the result was, how our present hung in the balance.
  • Short form ; visitors are on foot, often with bags and coats, so they get tired and distracted. Mobile devices tend to have small screens that are generally less well suited to intensive reading or viewing All of this means that mobile is best suited to what we might call a short form experience - small chunks of content that together build to form an experience Keep each stop to one - maybe two ideas- only No matter how important an object, don’t keep visitors standing in one place too long - 1.5 mins at most as a general rule Let them choose to have more detail don’t force it on them
  • People have a very close relationship to their own phones - would rather lose their wallet than their phone. They are devices that we are used to using to have very personal communications. This direct person to person communication enables communication to be personal, personable, immediate, can convey emotion
  • As early as 1956 this lady - ELEANOR ROOSEVELT - described a mobile guide as a ‘whispered confidence’ She recognised that there is a small scale, personal quality to the communication - this isn’t BROADCAST - this is a conversation and you need to find a ‘voice’ that connects with your visitor and is true to your organisation This direct person to person communication enables communication to be personal, personable, immediate, can convey emotion – PERSON TO PERSON Even where we are using a bespoke museum device we are in effect able to talk directly into the ear of an individual. How does this impact audio and other forms of interaction
  • A couple of examples: This is a screen shot from a project by the RHS… The text is playful, authentic, personal - it uses direct, informal language and provides an opportunity to personalise content and functions to suit individual
  • Need to consider the ‘voice’ of your institution - how do you sound and look, how can speak on your behalf Your organisation probably speaks with many voices - to different audiences, in difference contexts, different media - but try to speak conversationally. Embrace who you are as an organisation Don’t be afraid of opinion or feeling, emotion If you are creating audio, think about who will be speaking right from the outset - can you use interviews with your own team? Do you want to use interviews with eternal experts? Is there a wonderful voice? Write for that voice Here’s a wonderful example in which Luke Syson of the National Gallery speaks absolutely from the heart but with great expertise. We learn why this is an important work of art, how the artist aachieved certain effects, who the sitter is but we also learn that this is the one that Luke would save from a fire!
  • This intimate personal connection also raises the question of whether facts are the only or even the most important thing to convey? You might want to convey emotion, opinion, or ways of experiencing the site. In this example Tracy Chevalier talks about a painting from the National Gallery I love the way in which she not only draws us into the work but she speaks about the actual art of visiting a gallery how you can just look at one work and its ok. Isn’t that a fantastic liberating thing to say to visitors!
  • We need to have empathy for the visitor What are they experiencing What is the first thing they see - it is hard to concentrate on something being said if you are distracted by something you can see - the two need to be in alignment If there is a gorilla in the room it doesn’t matter how interesting the mouse in the corner the visitor’s head will be filled with the gorilla and thinknig about why its there. Empathy extends to considering why your museum and its content and subject matters to the visitor - always try to connect with them and ask ‘why does this matter to me’
  • Immersive vs Social : Visitors come with different purposes – it might be a social visit with friends and family or an immersive experiene. Mobile can support both (that’s one of the fabulous things about NEW mobile technologies) Mobile can support a social experience and interactivity through great content design - example of Teach Your Grown Ups About Art at the National Gallery where the audio tour provides children with information that helps them ‘teach’ their own grown ups, Or Tate Trumps where you can play together in the galleries. But other forms of content will allow you to shut out the world and immerse yourself in an experience and learning. Often this is perceived negatively - people moving like zombies, not speaking - but in fact they are just deeply focussed and the conversations after the visit, fuelled by their experience - can be even richer.
  • There is a lot of emphasis on re-purposing across the media and w hen money is tight it is tempting to deploy the same content on multiple platforms to keep costs low. Clearly there is content that works across multiple platforms but it is rare that the sme content in the same form works at its optimum on all platforms. It is better to be clear about what you would like each platform to deliver for the user and then make or shape the content accordingly. This might simply mean different edits of a video - it neednet be a lot of expense or work but it will have a big payoff in experience. Understanding the unique characteristics of mobile will help identify where you need to create new material and what AND what you can use from existing materials
  • Visitors are consuming high quality content every day and will judge their experience at your site in that context. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune but it does mean you need to be very thoughtful in how you do things. Use methods that can deliver the right quality in a suitable style - think of the Blair Witch Project where handheld cameras and ‘poor quality’ visuals perfectly underscored the subject and emotion of the film. The same production approach would have ruined another film. Imagine My Fair Lady with this treatment! I would also suggest you avoid salami slicing your budget. Don’t try to do the same thing with less - do something different! Try completely new strategies If you can’t afford or don’t have a great writer consider not writing - use interviews and archive for example. Use no music and only sound effects or all music and no script. The possibilities are endless.
  • Designing Effective Content for Mobile in Museums

    1. 1. 15th March 2011 Alyson Webb The Museums’ Association Date issued: Presented by: Created for:
    2. 2. <ul><li>For this presentation I will… </li></ul><ul><li>Consider some of the characteristics of mobile </li></ul><ul><li>Look at some of the opportunities they afford us </li></ul><ul><li>Consider how these impact on the content we need to create </li></ul>
    3. 3. Frankly, Green + Webb
    4. 4. Mobile’s strength is the opportunity to speak directly to the visitor as they stand in front of the real thing Frankly, Green + Webb Frankly, Green + Webb
    5. 5. Keep users’ attention rooted in the space - not on the screen Stay focussed on the visitor’s physical and visual experience
    6. 6. Help the visitor make sense of their time in your space
    7. 7. Use immediate, located language Frankly, Green + Webb
    8. 8. Look at this Crouch down and look over there
    9. 9. Physical We have the opportunity to move our visitors through the scenery, to position them and help them make visual connections and comparisons
    10. 10. Choreograph your visitors
    11. 11. What does it feel like to be a visitor?
    12. 12. Mobile technology is perfect for personal, immediate communiation A recent survey suggested that most people would rather lose their wallet than their phone
    13. 13. Guide is a ‘whispered confidence’ Eleanor Roosevelt
    14. 14. Playful & Authentic
    15. 17. Don’t ignore the Gorilla in the room
    16. 19. Be clear about what you would like each platform to deliver - then create and deploy content accordingly
    17. 20. BUT avoid salami slicing - try completely new strategies Don’t fear a small budget - there are plenty of opportunities within mobile to create something to a small budget Frankly, Green + Webb
    18. 21. Which audiences? Opportunities Challenges <ul><li>Looking at your audiences’… </li></ul><ul><li>Attitudes </li></ul><ul><li>Interests </li></ul><ul><li>Needs </li></ul><ul><li>Which opportunities… </li></ul><ul><li>Fit with you priorities </li></ul><ul><li>Are appropriate to the technology </li></ul><ul><li>What will this take to deliver </li></ul><ul><li>Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Skill </li></ul><ul><li>Resources </li></ul>
    19. 22. W: www. franklygreenwebb .com E: 16th November 2010 Lindsey Green + Alyson Webb Leeds Museums & Galleries Date issued: Presented by: Created for:
    20. 23. Credits: Images: Flckr Commons, National Gallery Audio: Antenna International, National Gallery, Monumenta