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- whitepoint.mobi.

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.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

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.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

How Can I Generate Business Using Whitepoint?

Every business is different, and the Whitepoint framework provides a great deal of flexibility in developing and delivering smarter virtual tour content for mobile. Whether it’s a store, product, or training, smarter virtual touring that’s mobile-friendly can probably help.

Generate Business for a Store or Space

Light bulb - find that one idea to generate business.

Looking for that right idea to generate business? Today, smarter virtual touring offers a number of possibilities.

This is the most obvious application, and you can think of Whitepoint as providing the next generation of virtual touring. It’s easy to see how you can generate business with a better view of your store or commercial space. Event rental spaces are a perfect example.

Basically, here’s how it works: You upload pictures of your space and share more in-depth information about what’s in those images. Maybe you wish to highlight a particular feature of your event rental space for example. Click to make the scape active (a scape is what we call any tour or collection of content) and customers or clients can access it using the Whitepoint app or via ScapeViewer for desktop browsers.

Share Smarter Information About a Product

With Whitepoint, you can share meaningful content about a product to help sell it. You control the content and highlight the strengths of the product. Think about that special leather package in a car, for example. You may even want to provide different types of presentations for different customer audiences.

And, just like a virtual tour of a space, click to make the scape live, and customers or clients can access that tour using the Whitepoint app or ScapeViewer for users on desktops.

Training, Support, or Corporate Transparency

Whitepoint enables you to easily share visual information – whether photos or graphics – along with descriptive texts and links. Therefore, Whitepoint is a great vehicle – and alternative to death by Powerpoint – for providing a richer experience that can be more easily accessed across teams and geographies. This is perfect for training on equipment, support of equipment and products, or tours of spaces to which the public doesn’t otherwise have access.

Upload and edit the content, click to make the scape live, and employees, customers, or stakeholders can access that tour using Whitepoint technology from desktop browsers or mobile apps. We also offer private and public access capabilities.

Delivering Your Tour Content

So, what about delivery of your tour content? Once live, the scape is available several ways – and you can use any one or combination of vehicles to provide your content:

  1. On mobile devices: Interested parties can find your content on their phones or tablets using the free Whitepoint app.
  2. From desktops: Using our ScapeViewer technology, you can link to the tour from your web site. We’ll provide you a neat piece of code and the graphic. Got questions? Reach out to us and ask.
  3. From a kiosk or tablet you provide: Onsite, you can provide tablets and/or a kiosk on which the Whitepoint app is running with your scape. You can pretty much spend what you want on any tablets or kiosks. Right now, we suggest Android, because the hardware choices are more plentiful and less expensive. And, here’s an idea: You can even custom brand your own tablets now.

And, don’t forget: When you create and edit content, you do that in one place – from our Authoring Panel online. The content is updated simultaneously across the three delivery vehicles listed above.

That’s right: You edit once and update across the board. Think about that ease of maintenance if someone suggests that your business must have a personally branded native app.

So, go ahead. Get started now with Whitepoint, and happy #whitepointing.

Updated April 28, 2016.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

Building a Free Custom Tour App with Whitepoint

Everybody wants their own custom app. What few realize is that beyond the substantial upfront expense, you now have ongoing expenses, tour app updates, and you’ve got to drive traffic to that app as well – just like a web site.

And for most, driving traffic to a web site is a tough enough challenge.

So Many Custom Apps, So Little Time

Before we get into how Whitepoint offers free custom tour app capability to almost anyone, let’s clear the air on one topic: There are already a lot of apps out there.

Custom tour app for a village view

You bring a unique perspective and viewpoint to your subject – whether it’s a town, a school, an exhibition, or a piece of real estate. A custom tour helps you communicate that perspective.

Launching another tour app means taking on more marketing duties to push that app. Jeremy Olson details the uphill challenges in a great Smashing Magazine article on app marketing.

Save yourself some of that trouble. Whitepoint has designed its tour app building platform so that you can focus more on the content generation for the tour, than developing, packaging, and getting people to download yet another app.

Leverage an Already Existing Free App

As a result, when you build a tour using Whitepoint, you’re not generating another new app – your tour (called a scape) is immediately available via iOS and Android from the free Whitepoint app.

Yes, people will have to download the Whitepoint app to access your tour, but you’re already starting out with several advantages including an existing user base on a tested tour app technology.

This also means that people won’t technically be downloading your standalone custom app – instead, they’ll be viewing your own custom Whitepoint scape. If you have a physical location, we even have nifty stickers that you can use claiming your location as a Whitepoint site and providing the QR code for download. And, that’s one more thing you won’t have to do.

But Wait, There’s More (To this App)

Your scape is also simultaneously available to desktop Web surfers with our ScapeViewer ™ technology. That means that with a simple snippet of code on your web site, you can link the same tour that your app users are taking. No app download necessary.

This also means that you’re immediately synching content delivered via iOS, Android, and desktop browsers at one time and in one place: at the Whitepoint Authoring Panel. And, yes, that’s right – you’re not updating content for three different platforms separately.

So, How Do You Get Tour App Capability for Free?

For most, Basic Authoring is more than enough capability. If additional capabilities are needed – including custom branding opportunities – there are options with expanded features for that. Get started with Whitepoint right now.

For your visitors or tour users, the Whitepoint app download is free.

And, how do you start building your scape? Take a look at our YouTube video on beginning authoring. In short, it involves little more than building a Facebook profile, adding pictures, and tagging them.

A Real World Example: The Arts Community

There are a number applications for Whitepoint across countless industries. For example, let’s look at the arts:

Odds are that you’ve thought of a similar application given the above examples: How about real estate tours? Office tours? Medical office tours?

And, once you have your scape built, you have a lot of flexibility in terms of driving your business. We’ve studied a few innovative ideas for content delivery using Whitepoint, including Google TV and tour kiosks. You can also save your scape to dedicated tablets which visitors use to access the tour app onsite.

This is all fun stuff – and it’s a lot cheaper and less time consuming than taking off with your own custom app development project. Got ideas or comments? Just send them to us below or by Twitter, Facebook, or Google +. We’d love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, happy #whitepointing.

Updated March 28, 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.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

Adding Video and Audio To Your Virtual Tour

Need a walking or virtual tour that includes audio or video? We’re routinely asked how this can be done with the Whitepoint platform for smarter virtual tours. Here’s how.

First, A Bit About Whitepoint Tour Structure for Smarter Tours

Your tour – whether it’s a walking tour or a virtual tour – is referred to as a scape. Scapes have scenes, and within those scenes are points of interest, or whitepoints. You can learn more about tour structure and getting started building a Whitepoint tour in our YouTube tutorials.

Whitepoints provide the opportunity for text and an image. They also provide linking capability with widgets.

Widgets Are How You Link To Audio or Video

Headphones for audio and video tour

You can easily add audio or video to your Whitepoint tour using widgets.

Widgets can be used for links to YouTube and Vimeo files, for example. If you have a separate video or audio file hosted somewhere, that works too. In short, all you need is an audio or video file with a web address. If you have that, the file can be linked from a whitepoint of your choice.

In the Authoring Panel, you’ll simply add that link in the widget link field for the associated whitepoint.

This capability is included at no additional charge in all Whitepoint authoring subscription plans.

Some Things To Keep In Mind About Audio and Video In Tours

There are a few things to remember when you add audio or video to your smarter virtual or walking tour:

  • Your users or visitors will need Internet connectivity to access the audio and video linked using widgets in your tour, even if the scape is saved to the device.
  • Depending on your user’s mobile OS, the content will open separately in the default app for that content type. YouTube or Vimeo content for example will open in the YouTube or Vimeo apps, if installed on that device.

Need Embedded Audio or Video In Your Tour?

Again, the capability discussed above is included at no additional charge in all Whitepoint authoring subscription plans.

Embedded audio or video in your scape however can be accomplished with our custom authoring and app plans. If you’re interested, reach out and let us know.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

A Smarter Historical Walking Tour: Olmsted Falls

Olmsted Falls

Screenshot from the Olmsted Falls, OH Whitepoint walking tour.

To be fair, many historical walking tours are also architecture tours and vice versa. A look through the Whitepoint tour built of Olmsted Falls, OH reveals plenty of walking tour options that take visitors through years of history, architecture, and craftsmanship in this little known area of the country.

Like any good walking tour, there’s a little something for everybody.

A Historical Walking Tour First and Foremost

Whitepoint shown for Olmsted Falls, OH - historical walking tour on Whitepoint

A whitepoint from the Olmsted Falls, OH historical walking tour for mobile.

When building a walking tour of any area, one of the challenges of course is determining the size and scope of that tour. For the Olmsted Falls tour however, multiple stages are planned for the visitor – eleven scenes in all for the tour in fact – and this provides plenty of material for visitors and residents to organize their approach to exploring the area.

By arranging it this way, guests can break the tour up over a number of days or separate visits. It’s a smart way to do it, and one that we haven’t seen in other historical walking tours built yet on the Whitepoint platform.

Whitepoint Scene Image - Olmsted Falls

Scene image from the Olmsted Falls historical walking tour on Whitepoint.

From churches to historic homes, craftsmanship and culture, there is plenty to dig into on this tour. Much of the content explores aspects of the area dating from the early 1800’s and all is accessible – and engaging – to both children and adults. It also neatly makes connections between history and current standing structures. By utilizing Whitepoint widgets, the tour’s content and scope could be even further expanded with audio and video if desired.

Another Featured Whitepoint Scape

We’re proud to present the Olmsted Falls, OH Walking Tour as a featured Whitepoint scape. To all involved in constructing this historical walking tour, great job! Engaging texts, good content, and interesting subject matter help make this a truly smarter walking tour. We know students, tourists, and your community are getting new perspectives on your home.

As with any Whitepoint scape, the tour is available to anyone on the free Whitepoint app available for both Android and Apple iOS. And, any community can build a historical walking tour of their home – just visit Whitepoint to learn more.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

A Smarter Walking Tour: Art On The Riverwalk

A river and two hundred years of shipbuilding have helped shape the people and unique identity of Milford, Delaware. Now more people are learning about that identity thanks to artists, students, residents, and some corporate sponsors through their Art on the Riverwalk Tour project.

Walking Tour Scape Image - Art on the Riverwalk Tour

Image from the Milford, Delaware Art on the Riverwalk Tour scape in the Whitepoint tour app. The numbers represent the scene points.

Some years ago, one of the ships that had been built in a Milford shipyard in the early 1900’s was rediscovered. The Augusta was restored and now enjoys a new life as a reminder of Milford’s past and also as a new source of inspiration.

For the town’s Art on the Riverwalk Tour project, eighteen sculptures inspired by the Augusta were created – many by artists and students teaming up – and are now displayed along Milford’s Riverwalk.

The resulting walking tour amid these sculptures, along the river, and through the town is creating new ways for locals and visitors to discover and engage with Milford.

A Featured Whitepoint Scape

We’re proud to present Milford, Delaware’s Art on the Riverwalk Tour as a featured Whitepoint scape.

Walking Tour - Sculpture on Milford, Delaware Art on the Riverwalk Tour

Image from the Milford, Delaware Art on the Riverwalk Tour scape in the Whitepoint tour app. This scene image captures a sculpture by Cathy Walls, with a whitepoint for more information.

This smarter walking tour was arranged with each of the sculptures representing a scene along the Riverwalk tour. The whitepoints – opportunities for visitors to get more detailed information about points along the tour – provide alternate views of the individual sculptures, pictures of the artists, texts about the works and links for more research.

The Art on the Riverwalk Tour is available to all free of charge via the Whitepoint app on iOS and Android, whether visitors are walking the river or just joining the tour virtually from the comfort of home.

To all involved in the Milford, Delaware Art on the Riverwalk project . . . Great work! Cities across the world can learn from your example.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

Virtual Touring Software for a Variety of Industries

We’re continually amazed at the variety of businesses and industries that work with Whitepoint’s virtual touring software platform. One interesting idea recently came from a caterer who wanted to use a virtual touring software to showcase their catering displays and menu.

It makes sense – it’s one thing to see a plate of pasta. It’s another to also understand the ingredients in that pasta or to be able to identify it among other dishes in a dazzling display of culinary delight.

Virtual Touring Software for . . . Everyone?

photo of coffee shop display case with lots of delicious options - how could virtual touring software be used?

It’s just a case in a coffee shop right? But what are all of those delicious options? And how can you use virtual touring software to share them with customers?

The fact is that virtual touring software has a place as a digital marketing tool in almost any business or industry. And, this is only becoming more pronounced as reliance on images increases in marketing along with the proliferation of mobile devices. People want image-rich content. And, they want it more and more on their mobile devices.

The big difference is how we define “virtual touring” and the virtual touring software behind it. As we’ve stated elsewhere, at Whitepoint we’re working toward a goal of smarter, more interactive virtual touring geared toward mobile devices.

The need for smarter content in real estate marketing is obvious. But there are tons of other industries and businesses where the need is developing: hotels, resorts, automotive, retail, museums, galleries, restaurants . . . you name it.

How Users Find Your Business’ Tour in the Whitepoint App

Screenshot from Whitepoint virtual touring software

Screenshot from the Whitepoint app showing the search box and “find by category” button on the app’s main screen.

Users need to download the Whitepoint app for iOS or Android. Once they have that, your tour can be accessed by browsing the categories displayed on the right of the Whitepoint app’s main screen.

Additionally, they can search for your tour using the search box in the top right of the Whitepoint app’s main screen.

As an author, you have the ability to categorize any scape you build and to add descriptive text that helps users find it.

Depending on the nature of your business – if your users are in an on-site scenario such as the lobby of a building or in a museum exhibition – a little signage and QR codes can assist them in the two step process they need to follow: 1) Download the app and 2) Locate your scape.

Even More Options for Sharing and Highlighting Your Scape

As if that isn’t enough, our virtual touring software offers the ability to simultaneously provide your tour for users on desktop computers outside of the Whitepoint app.

And, if you sign up for our Premier Authoring subscription plan, you can have your scape featured on the app’s main screen for even easier access.

Curious how Whitepoint’s virtual touring software can be used in your business? We want to help. Reach out here or contact us at Whitepoint

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

#EdTech in Action: South Asheboro Middle School

With a little help from technology, students at South Asheboro Middle School – as well as their community – have benefited greatly from the efforts of enterprising staff at their school.

EdTech in Action

Walking tour app and EdTech

Students at South Asheboro Middle School created a Whitepoint scape to guide others on a walking tour of their historic downtown. Above, their custom scape image – with scene points – depicts the town.

Featured recently in a community publication, their story is an excellent case study in how education technology tools can enrich student learning.

As Barry Barber, technology facilitator at South Asheboro Middle School, states in the article:

From researching the history of Asheboro at the public library to taking a tour with a local historian, the students have learned a lot . . . Putting together the information into a mobile app has given our students real-world experience in collaboration, creative thinking, and problem solving.

A recipient of a small education grant in 2014, the group has spread their technology purchases across disciplines, stretching the value of those tools and maximizing their educational application.

But, at the heart of any effort like this are good people that make things happen.

A Featured Whitepoint Scape

We’re proud to present the Historic Downtown Asheboro walking tour – built by students at South Asheboro Middle School – as a featured Whitepoint scape, available in the free Whitepoint app on iOS or Android.

Good work students and educators!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

A Content Management System for Smarter Virtual Tours

We recently had a project come through that specified data storage requirements. The resulting discussion got us thinking again about Whitepoint as a content management system for smarter virtual tours.

Smarter Virtual Tours Can Mean Lots of Content

Statue as stop on virtual tour - content management system helps organize information.

For this stop on a virtual tour, you might have a number of related links for more information. This is where a content management system helps.

Constructing and managing a virtual tour kicks up a good bit of content of different types. What we’ve found from experience is that the gathering of all that related content can be the most burdensome aspect of virtual tour construction.

In a Whitepoint virtual tour, what is largely stored are images and other content associated with data points (whitepoints). These points are the aspect of the tour most likely to change, move around, and get updated.

As a result, Whitepoint acts as a content management system to help you keep those whitepoints in tact and available for future use wherever necessary. For example, you have the option to delete whitepoint information entirely or save it for the future. This comes in handy especially in situations such as museum tours – where data points are likely to shift in the space periodically.

Here’s One Way a Content Management System Helps

It isn’t so much that audio and video files need to be stored and managed, it’s that each data point has attributes that need to be managed. This is where the difference lies between a content management system and a system for file storage.

For example, each data point consists (hopefully) of an image, text content, and other information. For each of those data points, our content management system provides for multiple social media tie-ins as well as what we call a widget. A widget can be a link to an audio or video file on a Vimeo or YouTube account, for example. Keeping all of these associations organized and reusable is not only convenient, it’s a headache and time saver.

Whitepoint (As Content Management System) + Dropbox (As File Management System) = Virtual Tour Construction Bliss

Content management system for smarter virtual touring - an image of a city at night.

Lots of different images in your virtual tour – the city at evening or the same city at daytime, for example – are tough to keep track of.

Generating content is a headache for most organizations. With virtual tours especially, different types of content can come from lots of different places – different people, desktop computers, or mobile devices.

As a result, a shared folder on Dropbox works extremely well for collaborating on virtual tour projects (Whitepoint does support authoring by teams, by the way). We’ve also shared some ideas on file naming conventions to use in these scenarios.

The expectations for virtual tours are expanding, and it isn’t too much to expect more when you’re building one. A content management system for smarter virtual tour content is a good place to start.

What are your expectations in a content management system when building a virtual tour? Have you found a file sharing tool you like? Tell us!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather