Mobile museum apps are in the news quite a bit. And often, it is the lack of an app that gets attention. In research we’ve done at Whitepoint, we’ve made some interesting discoveries that might help as organizations approach building mobile museum apps.
Here are a few of them:
1) What is the purpose of your mobile museum app?
Are you looking to attract new visitors? Are you looking to engage visitors once inside? Is the app purely an educational tool with the side benefit of generating new interest?
This answer is important, because its affects the design and development of your mobile museum app.
2) Is the app just for the outside world or does it serve a purpose inside your museum?
Depending on your answer to question number one, you may in fact need multiple apps or at least a very flexible single one. Does it work as a museum guide? If not, are you just developing another version of your existing web site?
3) Expense, both upfront and ongoing.
As we detailed in an earlier post on building a custom app, there are tremendous expenses upfront – and not just in the development of the app. Again, depending on your answers to numbers one and two, you may incur marketing-related expenses as well. Plan on that. Maybe even find a way to experiment before diving in.
4) Curatorial voice and updating.
Once you build a custom mobile museum app, the work is just beginning. Is there content? What kind is it? Who writes it? Does anyone want to write it? Are you just formatting a copy of your web site to upload in Google Play and the App Store?
You’ve got to keep the content fresh.
5) iOS and Android
The arts community, for example, has a clear affinity for iPhones and iPads. We’re not sure if paleontologists though are big Android people. Maybe they are. There are lots of things to consider regarding your development platform, but keep in mind who your target audience is.
If you’re targeting new visitors outside your walls and you’re in the arts, maybe Android is a good place to start. If you’re providing the tablets or iPads to deliver your mobile museum app in house, Android tablets are a lot cheaper to provide. Maybe your space is small, and a single kiosk makes sense.
Regardless, the adoption trajectory for Android is such that it must not be ignored – even though you might prefer iOS.