Thanks For Joining Us On The Journey!

Over a number of years now, we’ve helped schools, non-profits, museums, and communities share their stories and experiences at little or no cost. We’ve enjoyed encountering a lot of interesting people, stories, and places along the way. To all those who have played a part in the Whitepoint journey – users, authors, everyone – thank you.

All good things must come to an end however.  We are now no longer offering subscriptions or services, and by year’s end, we are discontinuing the Whitepoint apps and platform.

As a courtesy, please note that if you have authored a scape and have content on the Whitepoint authoring platform, prepare by December 15, 2017 for any and all of that content to be deleted.

Again, thank you for joining us on this journey. We wish you the best in 2018 and beyond!

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Bring Attention To Your Mobile Tour as a Featured Scape

Mobile tours – or scapes as we call them – made available in Whitepoint can be categorized for easy discovery. But, what if you want to bring greater attention to your scape?

Whitepoint mobile tours featured as tiles on the main Whitepoint screen.

Whitepoint mobile tours featured as tiles on the main Whitepoint screen.

Whitepoint’s Premier Authoring plan provides the ability to highlight your scape as a Featured Scape. This means that it appears prominently as a tile on the main screen of the app.

And, similarly, it appears on the main screen of our ScapeViewer home page for desktop and laptop users.

Other Ways Visitors Discover Your Mobile Tour

All Whitepoint mobile tours also have these discovery characteristics we encourage all authors to use:

  • Scape naming. This is the name by which your mobile tour is referred. It appears in the top left of the scape’s tile, and repeatedly throughout your scape.
  • Scape categories. Is your scape a mobile tour of a park? A bike trail? Museum? Hospital?
  • Tag scapes with keywords.
  • Provide a scape summary. This is what appears on the right side of the tile to attract attention to your mobile tour.

These options are all available under the “Details” tab in the Authoring Panel, by way of the “Edit Scape Details” button.

SEO Advantages for Your Mobile Tour

These discovery techniques and vehicles can give you search engine optimization (SEO) advantages for your mobile tour. As search algorithms mature and evolve, more focus is being put on the need to generate content. Every opportunity to include keywords and keyword rich content to meaningfully communicate your message is precious.

From this perspective, the items mentioned above are actually secondary to putting the building of content rich scapes first.

In the end, leveraging all of the above to work for you – as well as presenting your scape as a Featured Scape – can produce a compelling mobile tour that new visitors discover and experience.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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3 Things to Know About How SEO is Changing

Search engine optimization – or, SEO – is changing dramatically and in a number of ways. Some are always asking if SEO is dead. Others have long said declaratively that indeed, SEO is dead.

SEO and the search results haystack.

Help readers find that needle in the search engine results haystack.

In reality, SEO does still exist as a way of making web sites accessible and more friendly to readers and search engines. There are certainly things you can do to help your idea or business be more visible via search engines. It just isn’t as expensive as it used to be.

And, that’s a good thing.

1. Search Engine Algorithms Are Smarter. Much Smarter.

In the past, SEO was about tricking search engines by including lots of keywords used in ways that were only search engine friendly and not reader friendly. That resulted in less than engaging content. But, people got found, and it worked for a time.

Now we know that Google’s search engine algorithms utilize artificial intelligence in ways that help search engine results closely mimic how a human brain would search and process the information. That means your content can again be geared toward the reader. As it should be. So, from now on, one of the best SEO practices you can use is to first determine what is important to your audience.

2. Multimedia and Images Are Increasingly Important.

Why? If for no other reason, they are more engaging. Some time ago, Facebook saw engagement increase by 65% once they made their Timeline feature more image-oriented. That’s a pretty telling phenomenon.

The results of more engaging content means more quality traffic and greater potential for sharing and links. And, that will help boost your search engine ranking.

But, the key to images being search engine friendly is to include alt texts – what does the image depict? How does it help tell your story? And, don’t forget those filenames. There are things you can do to help with file organization just as much as SEO.

3.  Fresh, Indexable Content.

In addition to the applicability of content to a specific topic, search engines are now looking for a broader scope of relevance – and content that is fresh is considered more relevant than older, stale content. So, keep those web sites and virtual tours up-to-date.

And, if that content is fresh, then you need to be letting search engines know that its been updated. Sitemaps are the key to seeing that content gets indexed and that search results keep up with your fresh content.

How All of This SEO Stuff Applies to Whitepoint Smart Tours

Because Whitepoint smart tours are available to include in web sites and specifically in WordPress sites, we’ve worked to make sure that Whitepoint helps make scape content search engine friendly.

For example, all scapes are indexable by search engines with a sitemap generated on our servers. By its very nature, Whitepoint helps content creators mix text with engaging, interactive images – while keeping it all up-to-date as easily as possible.

And, in the end, creating content that is engaging and delivers what your audience wants is the best SEO strategy.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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Tips on Building Mobile Travel Websites (Part 2)

In Part 1 of Tips on Building Mobile Travel Websites, we explored some things to keep in mind when building travel oriented websites that are available to mobile users.

One of the most important parts of mobile travel websites is the visual content. And, that’s where a virtual tour – or better yet, a smart tour – plays a role.

Tours in Mobile Travel Websites

Whether you are marketing a hotel, resort, golf course, or summer camp, you know the importance of sharing the best your property has to offer. Luckily for the tourism and hospitality industries, there is no shortage of compelling visuals to attract visitors.

For years, the virtual tour was a way of providing a walkthrough of a place – as with real estate or hotel properties. The problem with virtual tours is that they now have to compete with a lot of other visual content, and in comparison, they often lack compelling detail to make them stand out. That’s a nice swimming pool, but is it mineral or chlorine? How deep is the deep end? What about the shallow end? Is there a swim up bar? An image doesn’t effectively answer all those questions.

Now, add the complication of mobile devices, and the platforms for virtual tours of the past have an even tougher time competing. If you are looking to build a tour, find out if the platform requires Flash. (Yes, they’re still out there.) If so, you’ll likely want to reconsider. Support and the required workarounds continue to make Flash problematic for many users.

Different Formats for Smart Tours

A tour image to introduce a smart tour

A good introductory graphic can include both a logo and a loosely drawn map. The map doesn’t have to be provided by a cartographer – often, a simple representation can have a bigger impact for mobile travel websites.

So how do you arrange a tour of your destination? First, ask yourself how you want to present the destination. Will your tour attract new customers? Or, will it serve existing visitors? The answers to those questions may guide your format decisions.

We’ve found that there are three distinct ways that provide the best user experience and simplify content collection.

For our purposes here, we’re going speak in terms of building your tour using the Whitepoint platform and its scape/scene/whitepoint logic. However, the basic principles remain the same regardless of how you structure your tour.

The northeast portion of our sample city tour for mobile travel websites

Breaking your map image up into geographical areas can create a more compelling experience and enable you to add more detail. For example, breaking the previous introductory tour image up into the city’s quadrants can provide for focus on a particular area or district of the travel destination.

Break Your Scape (Tour) Into Different Portions of a Map – This approach is good when you have greater detail to share.

  • Scape Image (Introductory Image): The map. Scene points can mark the different areas of your map. This enables you to break it down into the Northwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest quadrants for example.
  • Scenes: Each scene is a different area of your location’s map.
  • Whitepoints: The different places within each area of the larger map . . . for example: a lodge, a dock, or a restaurant.

Use Your Map as a Single Scene – This approach is good when you have less detail to share.

  • Scape Image: A nice logo or introductory graphic.
  • Scene: The map image of your destination.
  • Whitepoints: The places that are plotted on your map. If you don’t have many locations, this is fine. But, if you have lots of points of interest to plot, it won’t make for a pleasant experience on mobile. This is the main reason for breaking the map down into areas as described in the first option above.

Point of View Walking Tour – Take some pictures of your destination location on a nice day and provide a point of view perspective walking tour of the property.

  • Scape Image: A map graphic – perhaps with a logo or introductory graphic included.
  • Scenes: Start at the welcome center or visitor arrival area. Each scene is a representation of what your visitors will see.
  • Whitepoints: The places and points of interest your visitors see along the way. Consider the details regarding the swimming pool mentioned above, for example.

However you decide to arrange your tour, don’t forget the importance of meaningful content on mobile travel websites. Travel destinations are perfect for providing compelling visuals and useful information – leverage this advantage.

Do you have questions about arranging a smart tour or gathering your content for mobile travel websites? We’d love to hear from you. Comment below or reach out on Twitter – @WhitepointMobi.

Updated August 25, 2016.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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Tips on Building Mobile Travel Websites (Part 1)

Mobile travel websites – that is, travel oriented websites that are available to mobile users – have become critical for any destination looking to attract visitors. Hotels, resorts, summer camps, arts districts, and even entire cities are now realizing that they need these sites as part of a larger strategy to compete for attention . . . and of course, tourism dollars.

Think About It: Mobile and Travel = Peanut Butter and Jelly

Travel and mobile devices on the beach

Mobile travel websites help visitors determine not only where to visit, but where to go once there. Are you taking another selfie over there?

Mobile and travel go together like peanut butter and jelly. Visitors to your website – and destination – are more likely than ever to use a device. Statistics on mobile usage and adoption are (not surprisingly) through the roof. But, for the travel and hospitality industries, aggressive adoption is even more of a no-brainer.

After all, just like their devices, the travel audience is mobile: They are on the go.

What’s surprising is that so many in the hospitality and travel industries still have websites that aren’t even mobile-friendly. Worse, Google even dings you for that now – one reason they offer a free mobile-friendly test for web sites.

There is really no reason to ignore the mobile-friendly requirement. There are many tools to help ensure that website content is handled automatically according to device and screen size. This practice is called responsive design.

If you’re using WordPress, a third party theme such as those provided by StudioPress can do the responsive design work for you. And, they do it extremely well.

The Different Forms of Mobile Travel Websites

There are many forms that mobile travel websites can take. Depending on the intention of your site, consider providing different flavors and amounts of content types. Reviews, ratings, blogs, deal finders . . . the big thing is keeping content engaging. Over time, you may find that your audience is looking for certain content over other kinds. If so, adjust accordingly. Keep it flexible, and take time to understand your audience.

The Importance of Visual Content for Mobile Travel Websites

Whatever the content, one thing is for sure: A mobile travel website must include lots of photos. User expectations are also shifting in such a way as to expect new and different images regularly. It’s understandable. In the age of Facebook and Instragram, it isn’t too much to expect regularly updated content.

And, let that serve as a reminder – be sure the website ties in social media. But, don’t rely solely on social media. There are still a lot of things that websites do better than a Facebook page or Twitter account can do.

And that brings us to what is often still thought of as a virtual tour or walkthrough . . . a smart tour. This format can help attract new visitors or help others better understand what you like or don’t like about a particular destination.

Our next portion of this series – Part 2 of Tips on Building Mobile Travel Websites – will be dedicated to incorporating smart tours using the Whitepoint framework into a mobile travel website.

Do you like (or dislike) the ideas above? Other ideas? Questions? Drop us a comment below or reach out on Twitter @WhitepointMobi

Updated August 25, 2016.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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A Self Guided Tour App How-To (Part 2)

Ideas for content to be included in a self guided tour app aren’t usually too hard to find. As mentioned in part one of our how-to on building a self guided tour app, public spaces, parks, museums, walking tours, and non-profits usually have an idea of where to start. A few questions need to be asked to help shape the content being collected.

There is often a bigger question for management, because it obviously affects budget: Are we providing the mobile devices that visitors use to access our self guided tour app?

There are several options . . .

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

You can provide your self guided tour app in the Google Play Store and App Store so that anyone can download and use the app.

Download Whitepoint for iPhones and iPads

This sticker shows the QR code for visitors to download the app and access your tour.

This is exactly what Whitepoint’s tour framework does for you. As an author, you offer your self guided tour as a scape within the Whitepoint framework, and users download the Whitepoint app. Your scape – the self guided tour – is available via the free Whitepoint app.

Your visitor brings his or her Android tablet, Android phone, iPad, or iPhone, and they access the app. With Whitepoint, you can even password protect your self guided tour app if desired.

To encourage the use of your guided tour, post stickers such as the one shown here. Whitepoint can even provide the stickers or the design file for you to print.

Provide the Mobile Device

Don’t rule out providing the hardware based on cost alone. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches for accessing your self guided tour app. The BYOD route is cheaper upfront. The upfront cost is higher when providing the mobile device yourself.

Because of the lower upfront cost than you would incur with an iPad, we recommend an Android tablet if you wish to provide the device to your visitors.

And, don’t forget that by providing the tablet, a museum or non-profit will have a more compelling reason to ask for a voluntary donation or even charge a small amount to use the tablet.

Save the Scape To The Tablet

One important advantage to providing the tablet is that you can save the Whitepoint scape to the device.

By doing this, your self guided tour app will not bog down your facility’s wifi connection. In fact, you won’t even need general wifi access if none of the widgets in your scape access the web.

Why Not Try a Custom Branded Tablet for Your Self Guided Tour App?

As discussed above, you can count on visitors to BYOD (bring their own device) or provide the hardware in-house.

If you do not want to do the legwork on providing the hardware, Whitepoint can help you source and setup private branded tablets. Reach out to us by email at sales -at-

We’d love to hear about your self guided tour app project. Please drop a reply to this blog article, email us, or tweet @WhitepointMobi.

Updated July 18, 2016.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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Our Virtual Campus Tour Software Is Now An Even Better Deal

We now have an additional benefit that is exclusive to schools: We are offering a free uplift for all academic institutions from our Pro Plan to our Premier Plan.

This makes a virtual campus tour solution even more affordable for any school – from universities to charter schools to daycare facilities.

Here’s How our Academic Offer Works

If you’re a school or part of a school and want to use Whitepoint to provide a virtual campus tour, you’re in the right place. Maybe you want to use Whitepoint as an educational technology tool. No problem. Simply view our Pro Authoring option. Order, and we’ll confirm that you’re an academic institution based on your email address.

Here’s What Our Academic Offering Means for Your School

Whitepoint virtual campus tour demonstration

Whether a small private school or a globally recognized campus, Whitepoint is now an affordable virtual campus tour software for all.

This offer provides plenty of benefits that are perfect for schools:

  • More smart tours that can be built by students, departments, and staff.
  • Custom branding capabilities.
  • Greatly reduced cost.
  • Low, affordable monthly subscription.

Technically, this is a limited time offer, so we can’t guarantee that it will be around forever. If you have been looking for a virtual campus tour solution, this is a great chance for your school.

A Virtual Campus Tour and Educational Technology In One Package

Now, your school can provide a virtual campus tour for your web site and mobile devices without taking on app development or reconstructing your web site. Building a virtual campus tour can also offer students experience in content management and curation as an educational technology tool. Or, you may wish to use Whitepoint as an educational tool in the classroom.

With the benefits of our Premier Plan, you can construct up to 10 scapes – for example, you may wish to break your virtual campus tour into separate smart tours. For most schools, 10 scapes is plenty. For larger schools, separate departments and even classrooms can have their own authoring subscriptions.

Several Virtual Campus Tour Plans Available

Compare the Basic, Pro, and Premier offerings today. Order the Pro plan, and we’ll do the rest.

Reach out or comment below and tell us about your virtual campus tour needs. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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A Self Guided Tour App How-To (Part 1)

A self guided tour app is a great way to get people to engage with a place. Unfortunately for most organizations, the cost of developing a self guided tour app has relegated it to the bottom of the wish list. The Whitepoint framework makes having that tour app possible – at a true fraction of the cost.

Public parks, museums, galleries, walking tours – the possibilities for implementing a self guided tour app are endless. And, the benefits are many. People engage with the subject more meaningfully. And, having an app relieves some of the guided tour burden from already stretched staff. This is particularly important for any non-profit organization.

How Will Your Self Guided Tour App Be Used?

The first question to ask is: Who is your audience? If you are a museum or gallery, your audience is likely the visitors to your space, looking to learn more about what is on exhibit or display.

Whitepoint Tour of Hart Plaza - Detroit

You can see the whitepoints in this screenshot of a Whitepoint tour of Hart Plaza in Detroit. Whitepoints provide greater detail about points of interest.

If you’re providing a walking tour of a city or a park, you likely want to provide some level of basic navigation as well as more meaningful detail about the sights along the way. Who is the artist who sculpted the statue in the center of the park? Who does it depict? What stories can we capture and share that would otherwise go untold?

In some cases, such as our park example, a map image may be a good first image to use in your self guided tour app. In the Whitepoint framework, this image would be called your scape image – it serves as an overview of your tour subject, called a scape.

In the case of a museum or gallery tour app, you may want to introduce your scape with an image illustrating the exhibition itself or depicting the outside of your facility. The Whitepoint tour app framework is easy and flexible enough to leave the map view vs perspective view decision up to you.

The scenes and whitepoints in your scape are where you’ll share the meaty content of your self guided tour app.

Getting Started With the Whitepoint Tour App Framework

There are plenty of resources on the Whitepoint web site that dig into the nitty-gritty details of building your self guided tour app. Really, it isn’t that difficult. In fact, it is about as difficult as managing a Facebook page or WordPress blog.

There are two great places to get started with Whitepoint:

After spending some time with Whitepoint’s structure, you’ll realize how it acts as a tour content management system for you. And, you don’t pay to have one custom self guided tour app built (along with the ongoing cost of updating it).

Instead, you yourself can keep track and easily manage the information that makes your tour expertise unique.

If cost is the major issue, the basic Whitepoint framework is extremely affordable. And, you can start an authoring account today.

You’ve Got Tour Content, Now What?

You’ve got to deliver all that great tour content to your visitors. To put it simply, with Whitepoint, you can provide the content to both mobile devices and to desktop users – all for free. The next question becomes . . . what devices are they using? Are those mobile devices theirs or do I have to pay for them?

Actually, you can do it either way. We’ll get into that in our next installment . . . Part Two of “A Self Guided Tour App How-To.”

Updated July 18, 2016.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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Introducing Our Virtual Tour Partner Program

In retail, medical, real estate, and countless other industries, clients increasingly need the ability to share meaningful and compelling visual information – a smarter virtual tour of products or places.

Virtual Tour Meet Smart Tour

Virtual Tour Partner Program for Web Design Firms and Freelance Web Designers

Web design firms and freelancers who want to offer smarter virtual tours and a mobile app presence to clients should sign up for our Virtual Tour Partner Program.

Whitepoint offers its smarter virtual tour (or, smart tour) framework that enables delivery of that information via web sites, of course. But, one unique advantage with Whitepoint is the mobile app presence that clients get immediately  – content is updated in one place and simultaneously reflected across web site and mobile app.

Web designers and web design firms know their customers and the opportunities there are for providing more compelling information about places and products.

Hence, The Virtual Tour Partner Program

Whitepoint is now offering its Virtual Tour Partner Program to web designers – freelance or firm – providing an immediate new revenue opportunity.

Just for signing up, web designers and firms can get the Premium Package for the cost of our Pro Package – just $29.99 a month.

Almost half the cost.

And as if that’s not enough . . .

  • There is no limit to the number of packages you can buy and sell.
  • There are no restrictions on what you charge your customer or clients.
  • There is no limit to the potential related services you can offer in providing Whitepoint smart tours to your customers.
  • You’ll get priority support and attention from our team whenever necessary.

Find out more of the details and how to sign up at Whitepoint’s Partner Program page.

Potential Customers and Uses

We’ve found some of the greatest potential in real estate (especially luxury home virtual tour uses), medical offices, retail stores, museums, galleries, and cultural districts, for example.

But, as we’ve said earlier – designers, you know your customers best. And, we’re sure you’ll find new applications for the Whitepoint smart tour framework. We’re continually amazed by some of the ideas we see. In fact, we love sharing them here in our virtual tour technology blog.

Interested? Contact us.

Happy #whitepointing!

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MIT Celebrates 100 Years Of Its Cambridge Campus

Stata Center Whitepoint tour screenshot

Screenshot from the Whitepoint tour, “100 Years of the East Side,” featuring the striking architecture of the Stata Center and related points of interest.

What do you think of when you think of MIT?

It may not necessarily be history that comes to mind first. But, there’s quite a bit of it on the Cambridge campus.

In fact, the campus opened one hundred years ago in 1916 when MIT relocated from Boston’s Back Bay.

A Virtual Campus Stroll

A recent Whitepoint scape highlights aspects of the campus’ eastside on the occasion of the Cambridge centennial. From Killian Court and the Walker Memorial to the striking Stata Center, images and rich text content walk virtual tourists through the venerable campus.

What really sets this scape apart is the inclusion of widget links to additional photos hosted on Google as well as Vimeo videos. So, not only do visitors get the colorful textual content, they can access relevant multimedia content to enrich the context and their understanding. There really are some interesting aspects to the MIT story that would otherwise be overlooked.

Another Whitepoint Featured Scape

We congratulate everyone involved in the centennial celebration at MIT and are proud to present “100 Years of the East Side” as a featured Whitepoint scape.

As with any Whitepoint scape, the tour is available to anyone on the free Whitepoint app available for both Android and Apple iOS. Just download and search “MIT.”

And of course any school, community, or historical district can offer a smarter tour for their visitors and virtual tourists too – just visit Whitepoint to learn more.

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