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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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.

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How to Add Descriptive Content to Whitepoint Virtual Tours

Helping people make virtual tours smarter is what the whole Whitepoint platform is all about. Therefore, one of the most common questions we get from users is how to add more descriptive content to our virtual tours.

Makes sense, huh? Here are some ideas on how to do that.

Whitepoints are the Data Points

First off, the best place to add descriptive content – whether textual and / or a link to other even richer content is within the whitepoints of any scape (our word for a Whitepoint virtual tour).

Golden Gate Bridge scene image, Whitepoint virtual tour

This is a scene image from a Whitepoint virtual tour of the Golden Gate Bridge.

As discussed elsewhere in this blog, whitepoints are the aspects of any scene image that require more detailed information.

For example, if you look closely in the accompanying image of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge – taken from a scene in an actual scape – you’ll see a whitepoint. Your virtual tour user could tap that point on his or her mobile device and get your ideas or more information on the steel used in the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Another Opportunity for Descriptive Content

Currently, our scene image editing and authoring capabilities do offer a field for text-based descriptive content. But, as our authors have noticed, that text does not yet display in the scapes. Future plans for scape display do utilize that content. It is not yet being used beyond basic search capability. So, it is helpful to add that information, just don’t think something is broken if you can’t view that text.

Descriptive content in Golden Gate Bridge Whitepoint virtual tour scene image

This is the same scene image from the Golden Gate Bridge Whitepoint virtual tour. More descriptive content has been added graphically to the image.

If you believe scene images like the accompanying Golden Gate Bridge image are deserving of text content, it’s easy to accomplish. Simply add the text when editing the scene image before your upload.

In our testing, we’ve found that sizing the scape image to about 900 pixels wide x 500 pixels high first, then adding your text is the best approach. This way you can judge what looks best in text vs image size.

Whitepoint Virtual Tours as Presentations

Taking it a step further, this is how Whitepoint virtual tours can actually be used as presentations.

Whitepoint virtual tour as presentation tool

This is an actual scene image from a Whitepoint virtual tour used as a presentation. The scene image features text, and whitepoints offer opportunities for more information.

In the accompanying image, you see a scene image that utilizes only text – this is simply a graphic that was uploaded as a scene image. In this example, the whitepoints are intended as jumping off points for more detailed exploration of a particular phrase or idea.

. . . kind of like a smarter virtual tour of a concept.

Updated July 20, 2016.

Do you have a question about authoring your Whitepoint virtual tour? Maybe you need to get started as an author? Please, share your questions with us – we look forward to hearing from you.

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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!

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5 Tips For More Meaningful Content When You Create a Virtual Tour

Pictures are great. Sometimes the 360 degree spin-around can work too. But many places, properties, and products require more than just pictures when you create a virtual tour.

We recently explored the topic of virtual tour marketing as a tool for business and the many subjects that virtual tours can be based on. Regardless of your subject when you create a virtual tour, here are some ideas to remember about the quality of your content.

And, whether or not you use Whitepoint to create a virtual tour, these tips will be of help.

First, A Few Words About Products and Places as Tour Subjects

Create a virtual tour of a car dashboard

This dashboard may be old, but it’s still confusing – when you create a virtual tour, images alone are no longer enough.

A picture of the back of a Blu-Ray player doesn’t explain much. How about the dashboard of a Ford Fusion?  An ice cream counter? The different restaurant options at a resort?

You may not have to create a virtual tour based on any of the above. But, each of these subjects illustrates the potential for rich, meaningful content when you create a virtual tour.

With easy access to information via mobile devices, consumers are demanding a level of detail that goes beyond what was offered in the slideshows of the past. If you are selling something – whether a place, product, or experience – and you want to create a virtual tour, you have to remember this fact.

5 Tips for More Meaningful Content When You Create a Virtual Tour

  1. What are the aspects of your place or product that customers ask about repeatedly? A simple picture may not suffice. Can you use data points to communicate more in-depth information? In the Whitepoint virtual tour framework, those data points are called whitepoints.
  2. What are the aspects of your subject – whether it’s a place or location – that cause the most guest services or customer service headaches? When you create a virtual tour, you may need to get feedback from staff or even customers to identify these aspects. You may need to either dedicate more images to that aspect of your virtual tour or try thinking in terms of data points (whitepoints).
  3. What are the features of your place or product that cause faces to light up? Odds are when you’ve described your product or destination, there was a specific part that got a distinct and positive reaction from your listener. Be sure to focus on that when you create a virtual tour.
  4. Does your subject photograph better at a particular time of day? Is an aspect of it more appealing at a specific time of day?
  5. What are the angles that best showcase your subject? Certain aspects of your destination or product may be more easily explained when displayed in a certain position or from a certain angle. Your team and customers may give you better insights on this.

Hopefully these tips help provide new ideas – or at least new perspectives – on how to improve the quality of content when you create a virtual tour. After all, it isn’t just about taking pretty pictures anymore.

Do you have any ideas to add? We’d like to hear from you.

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Is Virtual Tour Marketing a Tool For Your Business?

Virtual tour marketing is an obvious tool for the residential real estate industry. However, there are other areas where virtual tour marketing can help catch new eyeballs and new revenue.

Virtual Tour Marketing: What Is It?

First, let’s define virtual tour marketing as using images and technology to capture the interest of potential customers for a place, event, or product.

For years, putting linear style photo tours online so the tours were viewable on desktop computers was enough. Now, more and more, mobile devices are responsible for a large portion of total web traffic. Imagine how much of it is on demand traffic while in a retail store or in front of a travel destination. Therefore, we now have to make sure that mobile devices – phones and tablets – are included in the technology part of our definition.

Virtual tour marketing can help market products as different as messenger bags and laptops.

This messenger bag and Chromebook both have a lot of features. Despite the dramatic differences between these types of products, virtual tour marketing can help engage customers with both.

Again, virtual tour marketing always comes to mind in the real estate market. In fact, virtual tour marketing is now an expectation of customers in that industry. And, along those lines, anyone in the hospitality industry has come to realize the value of customers “seeing” properties online or on mobile devices.

Therefore, hotels, resorts, casinos, and restaurants are all great candidates for also putting virtual tour marketing to to work.

Virtual Tour Marketing for Products: It Helps Capture Customers

Consumers are educating themselves and purchasing more and more online. If you sell something, it’s important to find new ways to get the information to customers that they need. As a result, tours of products are playing more critical roles in winning customers.

For some time, pictures online were enough to differentiate a product offering. Now, there is more competition in winning customer attention. Bicycles, electronics, medical devices, and cars are just as deserving of a “tour” as any place or property.

In addition, products like these often require that consumers educate and familiarize themselves after the purchase as well. Virtual tour marketing can also be a tool used to educate existing customers and keep them coming back – product orientation and tech support are both areas where virtual tour marketing can play an ongoing role in customer engagement.

This is why we do what we do at Whitepoint – we can help make virtual tour marketing not only smarter, but more effective.

Do you have ideas on how virtual tour marketing might impact your business? Let’s discuss . . . 

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How to Create a Virtual Tour With Whitepoint (Part 2)

In Part 1 of How to Create a Virtual Tour With Whitepoint, we covered some of the basic first steps in gathering content for a smarter virtual tour using Whitepoint. In this installment, we’ll walk through the steps in using the Authoring Panel and making your tour available on both desktops and mobile devices.

First, A Bit About Authoring Accounts

A museum, like the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco shown here, could be a scape, a scene, or a whitepoint when you create a virtual tour.

Think about it: A museum, like the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco shown here, could be a scape, a scene, or a whitepoint when you create a virtual tour.

Our Basic Authoring provides more than enough features to meet the needs of most looking to create a virtual tour.

We offer a variety of account options for additional features and capabilities if you find that you need them. Regardless, our Basic Authoring account is a great place to start for most.

Starting a Scape In the Authoring Panel

Remember the scapes, scenes, and whitepoints we discussed in Part 1 of this series? You’re going to want to have at least that scape image handy.

When you log in to the Authoring Panel, you have a number of places you can go. But, for our purposes here, we’re going straight to “Start a New Scape.”

Among the first questions, you’ll be asked if your scape is to be public (available to everyone) or private (available only with a password). Most are public.

You can always change “public” vs “private” later. And, later, you’ll see that no scape goes live until you say so anyway.

Previewing Your Smart Tour Content

One helpful trick is to set your scape to private until you’re ready for the public to view it. This is helpful if you’re building your scape over a longer period of time and want to do so in privacy while maintaining the ability to preview it during construction.

Uploading Your Image Content

Next, you are prompted to upload your scape image. Once you do that, you will be moving on to uploading scene images.

You will be asked if your scene is a new or existing one. Most scenes are new if you’re building a new scape. Later as you manage your smart tour content, you will see how this question helps you save time by incorporating content you’ve already created.

Once a scene image is updated, you will be prompted to plot a whitepoint on that scene image. Most scenes have whitepoints, so you simply click where you want to plot your whitepoint.

However, if your scene does not include a whitepoint, that is OK – just click “cancel” on the left hand side of the screen, and return to the main authoring screen.

You will see your new scape listed under the “Personal Scapes” or “Team Scapes” menu item.

Don’t Forget Your Texts

Key content opportunities exist under scapes, scenes, and whitepoints. These texts can be added / edited under the “Details” tabs of scapes, scenes, and whitepoints.

To access the details tab for scapes: Click “Edit Scape Details” in the scape’s main tile view.

To access the details tab for scenes: Click the pencil icon in the desired scene’s tile in the scape’s main tile view.

Descriptive content is key when you create a virtual tour.

All of the descriptive information that appears for whitepoints is handled via the “Details” tab for that whitepoint.

To access the details tab for whitepoints: First, click the “View Whitepoints” button in the desired scene’s tile.

You’ll see a menu of available whitepoints for that scene on the right of your screen.

Discovery and Going Live

The “Details” and “Visibility” tabs for scapes (just click “Edit Scape Details” in the scape’s main scene tile view) include all of the information you need to make your scape available to and discoverable by the public.

Under the menu item “Discovery” via the “Details” tab, you can add key search phrases as well as categorize your scape.

Availability / discoverability is key when you create a virtual tour.

The availability of your scape as well as public versus private access of your scape is handled via the scape’s “Visibility” tab. Your intentions for visibility are critical when you create a virtual tour.

Under the “Visibility” tab, you can change the status of your scape – available (active) or not available (inactive) – as well as manage public access of your scape.

There you go. That’s how you create a virtual tour with Whitepoint that’s smarter and able to be delivered via tablets, iPads, phones, and desktop.

But you might not want to stop there. Anything in a scape can be edited and updated at any time in the future. When you return to your scape, you’ll see the scenes displayed in their individual scene tiles in the main scape view. They can be re-ordered if necessary, and each can be edited or deleted by simply clicking the pencil or trash can icons respectively.

The key area you may find yourself revisiting most is the whitepoint dialog accessed by clicking “View Whitepoints” at the bottom of each scene’s tile. You’ll see a list of associated whitepoints appear on the right of the screen.

Do you still have questions about any of the above? Have you run into any problems? Let us know – we want to hear about your projects and help when you create a virtual tour. Comment below or reach out at our contact page.

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How to Create a Virtual Tour With Whitepoint (Part 1)

How to create a virtual tour - It begins with a good overview image.

How to Create a Virtual Tour With Whitepoint, Step 1: Have a good overview image to introduce your scape. You’ll probably want to plot each of the scenes on your scape.

On this blog, we tend get into the nuts and bolts of virtual tours, mobile-friendly tours, and related topics. It’s time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture: How to create a virtual tour with Whitepoint.

We’ll assume for the purposes of this blog article that you’ve already selected your subject for your virtual tour.

The first steps in how to create a virtual tour are actually about gathering the necessary content.

1. Have A Good Introductory Image

This can be an overview image – such as an aerial style map or even a graphic that you’ve created. About 900 (wide) x 500 (high) pixels is best.

2. Select Your Scene Images

Whitepoint breaks virtual touring down into scenes – so if your scape is a park for example,  a scene might be the visitor center or a dock at the lake. Again, about 900 x 500 pixels works best.

You’ll have multiple scene images depending on the size of your scape. Go ahead and consider the order in which you want those scenes to appear in your scape.

You’ll be able to plot where these scenes appear on your scape image (number one above) if they are shown there.

3. What About Greater Detail? Whitepoints.

Whitepoints are what enable you to provide greater detail about your scape. You can highlight these as they appear in each of the scene images. So, for our park example above, if the visitor center is a scene, perhaps restrooms, the water fountains, and a concession stand are whitepoints in that visitor center image.

Gather pictures for each of your whitepoints – about 500 x 500 pixels works well. And, be ready to share a couple of sentences to describe each of your whitepoints. You also have an opportunity to provide a related link.

You might want to put a rough outline together of the above and organize your content before logging in to the Whitepoint Authoring Panel.

In Part 2 of How to Create a Virtual Tour With Whitepoint . . .

With good content gathered, we’re well on our way in this first part of How to Create a Virtual Tour With Whitepoint. Next, in part two, we’ll run through the steps involved in logging in to the Authoring Panel and putting that content to good use.

Updated July 28, 2016.

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Avoiding Problems in Building Virtual Tours

Virtual tours have been around for years, but they still pose a lot of pitfalls for both web designers and users.

Coachella is a perfect opportunity for multiple virtual tours.

What does your audience expect? Music festivals like Coachella provide perfect opportunities for virtual tours. What tents are those? How much to ride the ferris wheel?

In truth, the concept of “virtual tours” is becoming outdated and redundant. Why? More and more, a tour delivered online is becoming the expected standard. People of course still travel with a real live tour guide in a tour group, but that is becoming rare. Visitors are more likely now to use a mobile device on site to guide their tour – be it in a museum or on a walking tour. And, people like the convenience of self-guided touring.

Then of course, there is still the paper map, but let’s not go there.

Audience Expectations

Regardless what you call it, potential customers and visitors have come to expect some sort of curated, image-based representation of the place or thing you’re talking about. Real estate agents were likely the first to realize that not having such a tool meant fewer buyers and listings. Businesses across other industries are quickly learning a similar lesson.

As always, ask yourself who your audience is and what content they’re looking for.

The Pitfalls of Virtual Tours

For our purposes in identifying pitfalls to avoid, we’ll refer here to the concept of curated, image-based walkthroughs as virtual tours.

Flash Plugin Required

Flash technology’s days are probably numbered, and they have been for a while. Virtual tours that rely on the user having a Flash plugin are problematic largely because you avoid the segment of users that for one reason or another don’t have the plugin. Estimates of those numbers are all over the map. Security issues with Flash further complicate plugin use and adoption.

And, the question that has been around since the beginning of Flash applies – what content do you do for those that don’t have the plugin?

Not Enough Useful Detail

Many virtual tours are glorified slideshows. There isn’t anything wrong with slideshows – they serve a purpose. But, as technology has evolved, the expectation of a tour is that it will provide richer content and detail about the subject matter. And, that’s different than a slideshow.

What are ways that detail about certain aspects of virtual tours can be shared with users beyond simple captions?

360 Tours Can Be Cool, But . . .

Ask yourself if the 360 tour is really desired by your user or if it is just something cool the boss wanted. A view of the Sistene Chapel in a 360 panorama is one thing. A 360 panorama of the real estate listing at 201 Main Street is another.

360 panoramas can cause big problems for users on mobile devices – processing, bandwidth, and delay. On large monitors, they can arguably cause dizziness and upset stomach. The question to ask is what does your audience really want? And, do you have to start with a 360 panoramic tour?

Virtual Tours and Mobile Device Compatibility

The importance of compatibility with mobile devices can not be overstated. As a recent article by Rebecca Borison in Mobile Marketer stated, mobile devices are replacing the PC in countries like the US.

Marketers, business owners, and museums that focus purely on desktop-based virtual tours are potentially making a huge mistake. It would likely be better for most to sacrifice some bells and whistles in virtual tours to maximize compatibility across mobile and desktop.

. . . And Of Course, Cost

Effective virtual tours don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, they don’t have to cost anything. Like the Whitepoint framework, free tools for different approaches to virtual tours exist.

It’s also important to realize that professional photographers and specialized hardware are not usually required. Remember: You’re going to want to keep your tour up-to-date with fresh content. Uploading a new photo or tweaking some text in-house will keep things fresh. Calling in – and paying for – an outside party to do so may not be in your budget.

Keep those virtual tours compelling and fresh.

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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