ZolkC has it's latest app featured on Silicon Republic.
ZolkC has it's latest app featured on Silicon Republic.
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.
One of the key points we're always keen to stress during pitches, proposals and presentations is that it is never technology for technology's sake. It is about choosing and using the right technology in such a way that it will deliver (and hopefully exceed) the desired visitor experience. It is all well and good packing your solution with the latest functionality, but if it is just there 'for show' then it shouldn't really be there at all.
We should never forget that a handheld solution - whether audio or multi-media - is just a small part of a larger visitor experience and it needs to be designed and developed in such a way that it dovetails perfectly with all other experiences onsite. For example, how will the device work alongside fixed A/V installations? Can the device be used to compliment a visitor's interactions with costumed actors, visitor centre staff and tour guides? How are visitors engaging with the physical environment and can the device improve upon this? Will this solution suit both an individual and those visitors who are part of a coach party?
We recently spoke to a client about how we could improve the existing interpretation for an outdoor walk. Having studied visitor behaviour it became clear that although many were satisfied with the existing interpretation of the key features close to the walking route, there was a desire to find out more about the landscape that they could see in the far off distance. We concluded that an Augmented Reality (AR) interface would be a simple and effective way of bringing this information to the visitor without detracting from the current experience or spoiling the landscape. In essence, the visitor would simply hold the device towards the landscape they were interested in and touch the onscreen tag to trigger the relevant content. The AR wasn't the focus of the solution, it was simply a means of allowing us to deliver an enhanced and improved onsite visitor experience.
When designing a solution we spend a lot of time in the early stages working alongside our clients looking at the bigger picture as all sites have different needs, different visitors, and different desired experiences. In our experience one size doesn't fit all and taking the time at the beginning of a project to consider the overall visitor experience is a key element to creating an amazing onsite experience.
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