ZolkC has it's latest app featured on Silicon Republic.
ZolkC has it's latest app featured on Silicon Republic.
Wherever and whenever it happens, being in the right place, at the right time is always a satisfying moment. Take that into the interpretation & storytelling world, add the 'right content' into the mix and you've created an incredible visitor experience.
The right content, in the right place, at the right time is something we should always aim for when designing a handheld guide experience. If a visitor is to fully engage with a site they need it to be an incredibly satisfying onsite experience, and a major part of that is ensuring that it's as easy as possible for people to access the relevant content. A frustrating experience is one where the visitor is having to flick through a paper guide to find the content, or thumbing through the tracks on an MP3 player to match it to the item or exhibition they're currently viewing. A satisfying experience is one where the handheld device automatically delivers the visitor the content, leaving the individual to enjoy the sights and sounds of a site without having to take a time out and fiddle with a book or audio player.
Location triggered content - whether indoors or outdoors - is an amazing experience. The content coming to the visitor rather than the visitor having to search for the content means that even those who are technology shy can still fully engage with a site and share the same experience as that enjoyed by a visitor who likes to interact with technology. Our award winning Culloden Battlefield guide is a great example of the power of location triggering. At Culloden, a key National Trust for Scotland property, visitors simply place the guide around their neck and head out onto the moor. As they walk along the pathways the device uses GPS to trigger each piece of location specific content - exactly where it needs to be played, each and every time. This seamless delivery of content allows the visitor to enjoy the scenery and connect with the unique environment in a way they would never be able to do if they were having to hunt down marker posts and insert numbers into a device. In fact, an added benefit of using location triggered content is that markers and interpretive panels can be kept to a minimum, leaving a site clutter-free.
Location triggering is just one means of enabling an incredible experience through content delivery. However it's a technique which isn't appropriate for all sites. At those sites where the visitor is required to drive the content through input selection, simply by making the most of software intelligence and carefully planning the user interface it is still possible to minimise the interruptions caused by searching for content and deliver a heightened visitor experience.
We've already taken a look at how important the scriptwriting process is to the creation of an engaging and entertaining handheld tour. The next step is to actually create the content and, as with scripting, there are a number of things you can do to ensure your final content will keep the visitor hooked throughout their visit.
Although this is something you will have already considered during the planning process, you need to think about the full media spectrum and not just using audio to deliver your stories. With a plethora of multimedia devices now available and video production being more affordable than ever before, many sites can now make use of powerful visual components to help visitors connect with their experience. Historic recreations, archive footage from newsreels, as well as talking heads and animation are just a few of the ways that video content can be used to enable a visitor to improve their understanding of a site. In fact, with careful consideration of the overall visitor experience, a mix of audio and visual content can truly enhance the experience in a way that a traditional audio guide would struggle to do. The audio element of your content should be used to push the visitors gaze out into the real world and interpret the sights that they can see with their own eyes, supported by video content that is able to show crucial parts of a story which a visitor is rarely able to see. This can be used to great affect in wildlife interpretation. The handheld device can direct a visitor's gaze to where the brown bears live, but unless they're extremely lucky they won't see the bear cubs playing. However, using video footage this is now possible and thus helps to deliver a complete interpretive visitor experience.
Once you know how your stories are going to be delivered it's time to get into the detail and begin selecting voiceovers and actors. Someone in your office may have a great voice but it's more than likely that it won't sound as good when chosen as the voice of your tour. A lot of people opt for using a colleague because they don't know where to look to find a professional voice, or perhaps they perceive the cost to be sky-high, but that's not the case. There is an element of 'you get what you pay for', but there are a lot of fantastic voices and actors out there waiting to work with you. Your chosen production studio can help you source the ones that are right for your project and will also help you negotiate a fair price. The difference a professional artist can make to the final piece is immeasurable.
When casting actors and voiceover artists think carefully about the characters and the voices they're being asked to represent. Consider the age, experience and background of each character and make sure the key elements are reflected within your chosen artist. Also, think carefully before casting your narrator and the handheld guide's instructional voice as they should be a clear reflection of your attraction's brand, as in essence they will be the personification of your site.
Sound effects also play a major role within the storytelling process. They help create and flesh out a scene, painting a picture that is instantly recognisable to the visitor. But try not to get too carried away with SFX as over-use can lead to a cluttered and incoherent audio track. Rather than trying to recreate each detail, carefully choose the effects which best support and help to drive the narrative forward. In our experience, when it comes to using SFX, less is more.
Aside from SFX, production drones and music are also key storytelling components. Music can conjure up a range of emotions (i.e. happiness, sadness, anxiety and fear) and thus add a depth of context to the words and images it supports. It's also great for setting a scene. Using a distinctive piece of music from a time period can instantly transport the visitor back to that period, capturing their imagination in a way that just isn't possible with words.
Careful scripting and well crafted production can create an incredible handheld guide experience. If you get your script right, and ensure it's delivered in the ideal means for the overall visitor experience, users will feel as if they have truly connected with your site and have got everything they wanted out of their visit, and hopefully, a whole lot more!
The essential ingredient of an engaging and compelling handheld guide is a well written script.
At my school there were some teachers who delivered lessons in straight facts, whilst others brought learning to life by shaping their subjects into stories - making facts real, relatable and relevant. Like school pupils it can be argued your visitors are also looking to learn, but don't forget that primarily they want to be entertained. They don't just want to know the facts, they want to hear the stories. These stories enable a visitor to connect and engage with a site in a way that just isn't possible through the dry delivery of cold hard facts.
But before you reach the storytelling stage you need to take a look at the content that you're planning to build the script around. A crucial element to writing a tour is to keep the content simple. It's important to work out which are the essential pieces of information your visitors need to know, and try to also think about what your visitors would like to know. Once you have sieved through your content take a look at how you can deliver these stories so to strike an instant chord with the visitor, including ways you can make detailed content palatable. I think my favourite example of this is related to Loch Ness in Scotland. The Loch's deepest point is 755 ft, but despite this being an impressive number it's only when you are told that that's enough water to submerge London's BT Tower do you get a real sense of the scale of the figure.
Using a variety of characters within your script is also a successful way of engaging with visitors and plays a major part in the storytelling process. Seeing historical personas come alive and tell their story in person is more compelling than a narrator simply delivering an individual's timeline from birth to death. Building oral history into your script is also a great means of telling a story. Hearing from someone who fought in a war for example, or an individual who worked within a country estate and sharing their experience first hand is an incredibly powerful way of connecting your visitors with the story of a site.
Finally, think very carefully about the language you use within the script as the choice of wording sets the overall tone of the content. Through careful wording it is possible for characters and the content they deliver to sound conversational and friendly, or just as easily, authoritative and trustworthy. Each site is different, and one specific tone doesn't work for everyone. So think about the image you portray at your site and try to reflect that image in the tone of the language you use in the scripting process.
There are a number of techniques that can be used within the production process that also play a major role in storytelling and we shall touch upon these next time. But to ensure that your story is real, relatable and relevant for your visitors it all begins with a carefully crafted script.
Every handheld guide should blend into the background and become a seamless part of the overall visitor experience. An essential part in ensuring that this happens is creating a user interface for the guide that is truly intuitive and takes a minimal amount of explanation on handover by the onsite team.
The easiest way to ensure that your interface is intuitive, is to use interfaces that exist in the wider world to create a framework for your site’s handheld guide. We are all using mobile phones, PCs & tablets in our day-to-day lives for work and pleasure. Through this use we all have expectations on how we expect a device to work. We expect to be handed a device and for it to work in a way that is familiar to us from the very start.
If you fail to base your interface design on existing models - it can have a detrimental affect on the overall visitor experience. The time taken to become familiar with a new interface eats into the visit-time, and delays the user from getting ‘stuck in’ to the exhibit or attraction - which of course is the reason why they’re there!
There are a couple of simple design and structure rules which we like to adhere to, which includes using recognisable icons, as well as standard functionality. Button images for functions such as play, stop, skip & back should look like the buttons we all see each and everyday. Sure, tweak the design here and there to fit in with your brand or a certain theme, but do not be tempted to reinvent the wheel!
Using an induction movie at the beginning of the tour is a great way of reinforcing to the visitor that they’re more than likely already familiar with how the guide works. It also helps to build their confidence in showing that they’re in charge of the device and in complete control of the content it delivers. When visiting your site the visitor should perceive themselves as being in control of the guide, rather than being a slave to technology.
ZolkC Limited is a limited liability company incorporated in Ireland Reg No. 447977. Reg Office: ArcLabs Research & Innovation Centre, Carriganore, Co. Waterford, Ireland
© Copyright all information of ZolkC 2012 Design by