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Handheld Basics

Page history last edited by Chris Alexander 15 years, 1 month ago

Museums and the Web 2009 - Starting Points for Discussion 


  • Game application vs. traditional audio/video tour
  • Serves Pre-visit, onsite visit, post-visit, and non-visit


What are the key elements of good mobile tour design?
This question centers on content and the user experience: 'the best technology is invisible'...



  • Clutter makes for a bad experience.  Try not to offer too many choices.


Ease of Use

  • This where the old adage of "So easy your mother could do it." comes into play. 


UI is Instructive

  • Using the user interface to direct the visitor.  e.g. Arrows point to a next page.



  • Video or audio segments are small enough to not annoy the visitor.  Language or ideas are easy to understand.



  • Visitor knows when and where information is available.  They also know how to access that information.


Draft Outline of Nancy's keynote presentation: 'Top 10 Tips for a successful mobile solution' 

1.   It’s not about the technology

a.    Focus on user experience and content

b.   Design for your audience’s needs

c.    Design for your museum’s needs

d.   Use the simplest technology solution available that will meet those needs

  1. It is about the story; speak to your visitors’
    1. Heads: Answer questions, give insights
    2. Hearts: Create an emotion, atmosphere, time or place
    3. Hands: Inspire a response - create, contribute, sign up, come back
  2. Think about voice
    1. Who is the most interesting person to your audience to guide them?
    2. Some common crowd-pleasers:

                                               i.     Artists

                                             ii.     Experts

                                            iii.     Other visitors

  1. Think about context
    1. Private device / public context
    2. Multi-tasking and the museum ‘shuffle’ as visitors choreograph their museum experience by sampling input and activities from a range of different sources, both inside and outside the museum
    3. What is a comfortable unit of content in the mobile context? (long enough to be valuable, short enough to be easy to digest)
  2. Think globally…
    1. WWW = Our visitors expect to experience the museum and its content Whatever, Wherever, Whenever they wish
    2. Design for the distributed museum which exists on a range of distribution platforms including those not controlled by the museum (YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, etc.…), not for walled gardens (be they the bricks & mortar museum or its website)
  3. But act locally
    1. Not only is mobile different, but
    2. Different mobile platforms support different kinds of experiences.
    3. Choose the platform that meets the need;
    4. Develop content for the kind of experience that platform supports.
  4. Distinguish between content & technology
    1. Some common confusions:

                                               i.     Do your visitors love the device or the content?

                                             ii.     Fear of the screen as eyetrap is a content, not a technology issue

  1. Move to web standards
    1. Combine best practice from mobile (audiotours provide the largest database)
    2. With web-standard interfaces to content: familiar, tried & tested, simple to use, direct
  2. Aim to turn visitors into teachers and ambassadors
    1. Why should our visitors’ Web 2.0 lives stop at the museum’s threshold?
    2. Voting to learn
    3. Aide-mémoires
    4. Souvenirs
    5. User-generated content (UGC)
    6. Sharing
  3. And into your partners
    1. Research the needs of both the audiences you have…
    2. And the audiences you want
    3. Tell them how you’re responding and what you’re offering (signage, marketing)
    4. Take tours, try mobile solutions everywhere to ensure your solution continues to keep pace with visitors’ needs and cultural practices


Comments (5)

Chris Alexander said

at 4:06 pm on Aug 1, 2008

Please add or alter. These are not set in stone.

Nancy Proctor said

at 11:05 am on Aug 31, 2008

I've tried to incorporate Chris's nuggets of wisdom into a shortlist of 10 top tips, to be presented in 10 minutes (gasp) Friday morning. Please feel free to add & amend, and I'll revise throughout the day on Thurs as we share best practice.

Anonymous said

at 11:12 am on Mar 31, 2009

I've come across the following website: http://bit.ly/nooM. Now this is about (computer)game design, but i found that it helped me with creating the outlines of my tour (still in progress).
I started with translating the steps given on the website into steps that could be used in a multimedia tour (with pda or iPhone), but i'm not sure if Tatehandheld is the place to put such a text.
I found that most of the items discussed are really based on gaming elements and thus maybe useles to people who don't use gaming elements. If any of you are interested, just say so and i'll post the 'translated' text, but maybe it's enough to use the original link and you can 'translate' items that best suit your needs. Please comment!

Nancy Proctor said

at 9:56 pm on Apr 2, 2009

Vincent, this sounds great! Please do share your 'translation'. I think gaming not only has a lot to teach tour designers, but may actually be the future of the mobile experience. Are you going to be at Museums & the Web?

Anonymous said

at 3:44 am on Apr 3, 2009

Hello Nancy, I'll finish up the document today and i'll post it! Unfortunately i'm not going to be at Museums & the Web, i'm a student from the Netherlands and my internship fee doesn't quite cover both attending M&W and flying there and back again. But i hope all of you who are attending will post enough valuable content online, so i'll be able to view and possibly add/comment afterwards!

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