Right This Way: Managing Tour Content for the Mobile Web

Tour content management is part of a broader content management strategy for web designers and marketers. If you’re in charge of managing images and accompanying text for web or mobile tours of a museum, gallery, real estate, or other similar project, it probably makes up the bulk of your routine duties. It might also make up for the bulk of your headaches.

Why? There are a number of reasons, not least of which are image specifications, alt texts, and of course the constant creation of quality content.

In managing Whitepoint tour content ourselves and helping others build tours for the mobile web, we’ve developed some thoughts on best practices and tools that can help along the way.

Tour Content = Lots of Images

First off, tour content – and we mean good tour content – means lots of images.

And, not everyone is a graphic designer or photographer. Because of that, we’ve made some recommendations on free or low cost photo and graphics editing tools in a past blog post.

But, Tour Content Also Equals Relevant Images

More and more, with relevance and freshness of content being a key search engine optimization factor, tour content is logically affected as well. How fresh are your images? It isn’t just about having lots of images. It’s also about having relevant images.

Whitepoints on college campus tour content.

Tour content from this college campus tour shows whitepoints plotted on a beautiful spring landscape.

Maybe you manage an online tour of a college campus. Do prospective students want to see the winter landscape of your academic quad year-round? Try always updating with your most season appropriate image.

If you’re in real estate, providing an autumnal image of the property probably isn’t a good idea if the property is still on the market the following summer.

Tour Content Can Also Include Those Filenames Too

Adopting a method for image file naming is a great idea for two reasons. First, it makes photos easier to organize. Secondly, they become even more search engine friendly once posted.

So what’s a good way to do it? Some is personal preference, but try to stick with a method that will serve both organizational and SEO purposes. For a fictional university campus we’ll call UWP, let’s say you’ve got images for the student cafe, Briggs building, and tennis courts. Try this method:

Cafe-UWP-Campus-Tour.jpg

Briggs-Building-UWP-Campus-Tour.jpg

Tennis-UWP-Campus-Tour.jpg

Yes, the dashes between words make a difference for your SEO purposes.

If you go with the above method, just place them in a folder called “UWP Campus Tour” when you manage multiple projects. You may even use that same folder with dashes if you’re uploading the whole thing.

As far as the organization goes, you can thank us later.

And Of Course, Text Content Management

If you manage tour content of any kind, you probably find that you routinely use the same snippets of text over and over again. On Mac, one thing we’ve found that helps is a nifty little tool called Flycut. This tool helps you manage your clipboard, archiving a history that you can easily call from and drop.

For Windows, gHacks has interesting recommendations on a tool called Clipjump.

Don’t Forget Mobile

It should go without saying, but many traditional organizations still don’t understand the impact of mobile. Lots of industries have more mobile users than desktop users, and some vice versa. But, no industry is spared from the impact of mobile.

Whatever you do, make sure first of all that you’re able to keep your image file size down. It’s best if you can offer a mobile-friendly version of the tour. If so, this will impact your image file choices. You may even keep separate versions for both desktop and mobile.

Be sure to test your tour content on multiple mobile devices – iPhones, Android phones, tablets, iPads . . . on and on. Formatting for so many different devices is tricky and time consuming. Luckily, a tour content management framework like Whitepoint may have already done this for you. Images can be optimized automatically as well, with little or no perceived loss in image quality.

And, needless to say, if you are managing tour content, you can use every bit of help and every single time saver.

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.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

Death in Photos: The Demise of Point-and-Shoot?

Photos are being consumed, and captured, in different ways now. If you’ve been faced with using a film camera recently, it may have been a disorienting experience. That’s even before you go and have the pictures “developed.”

Event digital point-and-shoot digital cameras are feeling the heat. In a recent article by Herb Greenberg (@HerbGreenberg), he stated that the digital camera was without a doubt “going the way of the Polaroid” based on industry numbers.

We could debate this topic all day long with hobbyists and professional photographers. However, what we’re interested in here at Whitepoint is what this tells us about the resulting photos and the ways in which people share and consume photos and related content.

The Quality Versus Relevance of Photos

There is no question that better quality photos can be had with DSLRs or point-and-shoots  than smartphones – though some smartphones can admittedly come close to the untrained eye. But, what are web users looking for? If image quality was first and foremost, this wouldn’t even be up for debate.

Photo of sunset at Key Largo, FL

This photo of a Key Largo sunset was taken with an older Droid4 smartphone. No effects were added.
Does the photo work well for browsers and apps? Yes.

Furthermore, the technical aspects of photo capturing, sharing, and consumption can’t be ignored. The screens of computers and mobile devices simply don’t require the resolutions that DSLRs and now even point-and-shoots can provide. Back in the day, 72dpi was enough for a computer screen. Even now with higher resolution displays, smartphones are more than capable of providing the necessary resolution when capturing a photo.

For the untrained eye, the filters or effects applied to photos may matter more than resolution when viewing those photos on the web. The content of those photos is of course the primary concern.

Photos Versus Photography

This whole debate boils down to user or viewer expectations, and this can be an uncomfortable topic in certain circles.

Professional photographers are no doubt helpful – or even necessary – when designing something for print.

But, are professional photographers required for building a mobile or virtual tour for online delivery? To put it nicely, it’s doubtful.

Why? More and more, it’s about relevance, timeliness, and quantity of photos. Take a look at the adoption of Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram – “quality” and the art of capturing images have necessarily taken a backseat.

As people who appreciate photography, not just photos, this is painful to admit. However,   it’s a real truth of the marketplace and state of the technology.

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.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

How To Build a Creative Portfolio for the Mobile Web

One interesting use for the Whitepoint mobile touring framework is as a content manager for basic slideshow functionality. And, the jump to a creative portfolio isn’t far given the Whitepoint platform’s flexibility.

For artists, designers, interior decorators, and architects, this is good news. The mobile web has changed the way that creative portfolios are managed and presented.

Obviously, there are a number of slideshow solutions available out there. But, Whitepoint provides unique advantages for pushing content across iOS, Android, and via your web site if you want. This is perfect for those art fairs, meet ups, or conversations over drinks.

Furthermore, this includes simultaneous distribution of your content – meaning that you update the content in one place, and it is immediately available across each of those vehicles.

Getting Started

If any of the below doesn’t make sense to you just yet, remember that getting started delivering content with Whitepoint is easy, and we offer YouTube tutorials to help get going with authoring. And, in the event you’re a creative who doesn’t have graphic design experience or access to expensive graphic design tools, we provide some graphic design tips for building Whitepoint tours and guides as well.

Showcasing and Highlighting Work

There are several ways to share a portfolio using Whitepoint and provide more information about specific aspects of images. But, the fastest path forward is by building a basic slideshow:

  1. Take each of the images for the portfolio and add any necessary text to them. These are your scene images.
  2. Design one introductory – or overview – graphic and use this as the main scape image.

This approach will work for galleries who wish to offer slideshows of available work, artists and students who wish to build and distribute a free portfolio of their work, and in any other situation where a portfolio of existing jobs is needed.

Don’t forget the resources mentioned above to help get started. Happy #whitepointing.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

Don’t Worry. You Don’t Have to Be a Graphics Wizard.

We’ve had questions about making fancy graphics for Whitepoint scapes, because some scape and scene images are cropping up with text on them. And, sometimes they’re otherwise edited for a presentation-suitable style.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to be a graphic designer or photo editing wizard to author with Whitepoint.

As mentioned in an earlier post about scape and scene tour graphics, images for scapes and scenes usually work best in jpeg (if photos are included) or gif (if it is a pure graphic with fewer colors) formats with dimensions of 950 pixels wide by 550 pixels high.

But, what if you’re not a graphic design genius, and you just want to add some text to your photos? Do you have to buy and learn an expensive, time-consuming graphics program? The answer is no.

There are a number of free and easy-to-use programs that will help you get the job done and make more compelling scape and scene images:

  • Gimp – Best for power users or those with some graphics editing experience.
  • Skitch – Very easy-to-use. Best for very basic graphic manipulation and text editing.
  • Phoxo – Better for beginners and novices. Windows-only.
  • paint.net – Built on the old Microsoft Paint platform, so some graphics experience is good. Windows-only.
  • PhotoScape – Windows-only.

And, finally, since the above list was Windows-heavy, one more software package for Mac is worth keeping in mind if you’ll be doing a repeated – but basic – graphics work for your scapes. It does have a small cost though.

  • Acorn 4 – Better for power users on Mac. Not expensive, but not free.

There. That should be enough to keep you busy, huh? If you’ve got an idea of a program you like that isn’t listed here or another method for getting the photo editing job done, please comment or tweet us @WhitepointMobi.

Happy #whitepointing.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

Recommended Scape, Scene, and Whitepoint Image Sizes?

As a rule of thumb when authoring, bigger images work best for scene and scape images. The user experience tends to be best when they are rectangular – something like 960 pixels in width by 640 pixels high. It doesn’t have to be exact.

Because the display is big enough, photographic images taken with DSLR cameras can look very nice as scape and scene images.

Rectangular whitepoint images can also work, but because they have more limited constraints for display, square images will usually work best. Tall rectangular images can also work as whitepoint images. You can limit the width of whitepoint images to about 500 pixels and get great results. At 500 pixels wide, shoot for at least 500 pixels in height.

And, because of the smaller display area, camera phone shots work just fine as whitepoint images. They can also work in scape and scene images, but you may not get the effect desired. It really depends on your subject. The good thing is that Whitepoint authoring makes it easy to switch out and update images at any time now or later.

Finally, for all images, 72dpi will likely suffice – high resolution is not only unnecessary, it may even produce adverse effects in your display. Test and take a look at your subject on different displays. Don’t be afraid to test an image and switch it out or update it later.

Happy #whitepointing.

 

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

JPEGs Versus PNGs as Whitepoint Images

Based on testing of PNG images used in authoring whitepoint images, we can recommend that you instead use JPEGs.

Here’s why: Because there are different opacities and transparencies at work in the display of whitepoints, there is no guarantee that PNGs will display as desired. We’ve seen  transparencies display as black, and greys do really weird things. Add to the equation rendering of the images across different mobile devices, and you’re better off going with JPEGs.

The same goes with GIFs – watch those transparencies. If you’re authoring and seeing strange behavior in the whitepoint image displays, try GIFs or PNGs without transparency if it is a logo or the image has a limited range of color. For more detailed photos – such as landscapes – use JPEG.

Nothing against PNGs. They’re great – just not always the best for whitepoint images.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather