Developing mobile phone apps

On 30 November I attended the AMA’s Digital Marketing Day and went to a great session about mobile applications led by @LoicTallon of Pocket Proof, ‘an independent design consultancy specialised in mobile experiences for museums’. You can see Loic’s presentation slides here, but here’s a summary of his key points:

Now that everything is possible thanks to the development of digital technologies, we have to ask ourselves what’s worth doing? Remember it’s not about the technology but the experience that you offer.

Here are some links to examples of good apps:
MoMa
AMNH explorer
Museum of London streetmuseum
Mercedes Benz Museum
Tate Trumps
Smithsonian Institute

And some bad reviews for the Lonely Planet city guides apps. These were launched as free downloads in response to the volcano crisis back in April – generating lots of good PR at the time, but as they were just the books in mobile application form they were very usuable.

Be aware that what works with one audience may flop with another

To ensure success, define your objectives clearly at the outset and know your target audience. This will help inform your design brief.

Consider the strengths and unique qualities of mobile technology
Don’t just put a book on an app. Think – why mobile? Why not a brochure or an audio guide?
Mobile is good for supplementary information and interactivity
Mobile is:
–          Personal
–          Digital
–          Connected
–          Mobile! But so is a leaflet or a book, so really think about why you are choosing it
–          Interactive

Manage expectations when developing an app and avoid scope shift for your project
Choose the appropriate level of technology for your organisation’s experience, skills and resources

Keep it simple, stupid!
Pocket proof’s industry survey shows that those who aren’t yet using mobile technologies are more ambitious (and unrealistic?!) about how it can be used

Don’t underestimate how big a job content creation can be – plan it in from the start to allow sufficient time and resources

Plan sustainability from the outset too
–          How can you update content?
–          How can you update branding?
–          Can you migrate the experience to new platforms?

Launching your app is not the end. You need to test, evaluate, develop, market it…
Test and evaluate throughout development and implementation, and measure it against the points above – i.e. experience, objectives, audience, expectation, simplicity – not just numbers of downloads. There is no way to track app usage or link to physical venue visits – though you can set up updates and track interactivity.

And finally – Loic thinks it’s easy to attract sponsorship for apps – so if you think this platform is right for your organisation – find a sponsor and get developing!

The Art of Making Videos – Part 3: Useful links and free resources

And so we end the week with the third and final part of ‘The Art of Making Videos’ series, here at the Audiences London blog. To catch up on Part 1 (The Basic Rules) click here, and to catch up on Part 2 (How to distribute your video) click here. This series has only touched the surface of producing video content for your organisation, and I hope that it has encouraged you to be creative with your resources. Today, I’ll be providing you with handy links to some free service providers who can help you further with producing video content.

Technical

Miro Video Converter, free software that converts video into mobile and other platforms

Miro Player, provides free video player software

Universal Subtitles, subtitling resource for YouTube

Boosey & Hawkes, offer affordable back-music for videos

Resources

 IT4Arts, helps UK not-for-profit arts organizations manage their IT effectively

Openmute, a web resource project aiming to support cultural practice in the information age

Inspiration

Somethin’ Else, a cross-platform media company producing work for radio, digital media and branded content.

The Art of Making Videos – Part 2 : How to distribute your film effectively (and cheaply!)

If you’ve just stumbled across this blog post – welcome! This is the second part of our ‘Art of Making Videos’ series. You can catch up with Part 1 by clicking here. 

Today I’ll be showing you some tips on how to distribute your online video. If you read Part 1 of this series, you will know that the most important aspect of making a video is understanding who it will be shown to. For example, if you want to promote a ballet performance by featuring exclusive interviews with the principle dancers, you would first need to build up a picture of the audience who you hope will end up watching the clip. This can be done through profiling your audience using tools such as Mosaic.

The importance of understanding your audience means that you can adjust the mood and tone of your video. A good example of tailoring a video to suit the end user’s needs are the ‘Super Me’ series of clips, commissioned by Channel 4 to inspire young people to develop better self esteem:

Understanding your audience also means that devising a distribution plan becomes an easier and more effective exercise. But before you begin planning, ask yourselves the following questions:

- Do we have an idea of where our target audience will spend it’s time online?

- What are their likely web habits?

A really simple way to help you answer these questions is by searching for and collaborating with popular independent blogs and ‘twitterers’ who are vocal within your artform. Develop relationships with them and don’t be afraid to ask them for advice in exchange for providing exclusive video content for them to host on their own websites and pages. There are, of course, other ways of publicising your film.

Video hosting sites

The easiest and most common way of publicising a video is through uploading it via a social media site such as YouTube or Facebook. These sites contain a wide range of viewers, many of whom will already be aware of your organisation. It is usually free to upload and watch videos on these sites, although there may be some restrictions such as length of films and quality. YouTube also allows you to build a ‘homepage’ where you can then stream your videos- much like your own TV channel, and provides you with some fantastic Google Analytics-style tools to show you exactly who is watching your clips. Other websites, such as Myspace, also provide a free video hosting service, but be aware that each social network site attracts a different demographic (Myspace attracts a predominantly young demographic, for example).

Labelling

If you do decide to host your video on a social networking style site, the most important factor to take into account is how to label your video. In the case of YouTube for example, you are required to give ‘keywords’ that sum up the content of your film, so that people searching for similar clips online can find your video easier. It’s never enough to just provide your organisation name as a keyword- be as precise as you can about what the clip shows. If it’s a video showing an interview with some principal dancers in a dance production, make sure you mention who those dancers are, what they are performing in, as well as summing up in a few words how you would describe the interview.

Hosting your video on your own website

This may not be as daunting as it sounds. If you don’t want to use YouTube as your video provider then there are now many free open-source companies who provide software that allows you to integrate a video into your website. I will be featuring some useful links in the next part of this series.

How the world spends its time online

Nielsen has published stats that show that for every four minutes spent online, one minute is spent on social network or blog. Mashable, the social media bible, has also reported on the findings and summarises the figures rather nicely…

  • Currently, three quarters of Internet  users worldwide visit a social network or blog when they go online — that’s a 24% increase over last year.
  • Joe Average (the international version) spends 66% more time on these sites than he did a year ago — for example, your average user spent 6 hours on these sites in April 2010, while last year he spent 3 hours, 31 minutes.
  • Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia make an appearance among the world’s most popular brands.
  • I suppose this information isn’t entirely surprising- but it is a reminder that social networks should always be considered as an effective way of creating and keeping communities that could be tailored by arts organisations.

    A little less conversation, a little more action

    Just finished watching the Get Ambition Scotland webinar about Listening Online. You can read more about it on their Ning here.

    It was really interesting hearing Mike Coulter from Digital Agency talk about his top tips for using social media.

    Mike suggested that we should think about creating a ‘little less conversation’ online, and trying to prompt ‘a little more action’ instead. For example, rather than inviting people to tell you what they think online, ask them to do something more active, like post a picture on Twitpic or Flickr.

    To help make the case to your CEO/Artistic Director/board for investing more staff time in social media, Mike played this compelling video with lots of exciting hard stats!

    Some tips to beat blogging stage fright!

    Rather than add this as a comment on my last post about blogging top tips, I thought I’d post again as it’s more visible both to search engine bots and real users trawling these pages, plus it helps keep the SEO of the blog up by adding new posts – there you go, another tip for you!

    Thanks to @markmcguinness for tweeting about this useful post for blogging beginnersHow to Create Your Own Blogger Stage Fright – and then Kick Its Ass (by James Chartrand at Lateral Action).

    And Twitter, that’s a whole other topic to get stuck into “why”s, “how”s and “when”s. Check out what we’ve blogged about twitter by using the tag cloud.

    Teens don’t blog.

    Pew Internet has published a report showing that young people are in decline when using blogs, while their interaction with social networking sites (like Facebook and Myspace) is on the up. Check out the findings here. The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

    In a hurry? Fear not! Mashable have covered the report in a quick and short article which you can find right here. And while it focuses on American teens, it’s still a useful insight into the ever-changing shifts with teen behaviour!

    Get blogging with a little help from the best

    Back on blogging again. So you’ve got your platform, you’ve made it look pretty, you’ve added your tag cloud and your twitter stream… now what? How do you get started with that slightly important part called content? Learn from the best of course. Here are some of my favourite blogs which I think are successful for very different reasons. What can you learn from them?

    For content
    Gnat Gnat – written by my lovely friend DK (so maybe I’m biased…) it taught me a lot about what a blog can be. This is just a collection of words, images, videos etc that make him laugh, make him think, make him cry… things that give us an emotional response that he thinks are worth sharing with the world. Keep it short and let people make their own minds up about what they see.

    For design
    pandemian – it’s a blog, but it doesn’t look like a blog! This showed me that you that you don’t have to stick to the traditional formats

    For business communications
    Mediasnackers – it has the strengths of a blog in having video and images embedded where it makes sense, not where the template demands it. Plus it shows authors of posts, it’s not a nameless faceless webpage, and you can comment! Brilliant for listening and exchanging with your clients and colleagues

    For community building
    Etsy - or “the Storque” as it’s known. This is a place for the numerous craft makers and designers that sell their wares on the website to come together, learn, share and support each other in their artistic and entrepreneurial ventures. I love that it’s public but clearly has the sellers at its heart – after all, Etsy would be nothing without them.

    Please do share your favourites here, and tell us all why they inspire you!

    Exploring potential online audiences

    The first IT4Arts seminar of 2010 kicked off with some really interesting content about how companies and organisations are trying to provide cultural content online.  We heard from:

    • Gavin Bayliss, LSO Live – Gavin spoke about how LSO are moving towards sharing more video content of the orchestra’s work, and an insight into how they engaged new audiences worldwide with the YouTube Orchestra project
    • Robert Delamere, Digital Theatre – Unveiling the new company, Robert gave us an exclusive peek into how Digital Theatre are recording live performances seamlessly, and the high demand for their downloads
    • Joanne South, Arts & Business – Joanne explained a bit about A&B’s current research programme into user-generated digital content and how they’re supporting partnerships between cultural organisations and those specialising in digital technology
    • Tobey Coffey, National Theatre – the NT has been moving on leaps and bonds in how much content it creates for each new show. Toby gave us a whistle stop tour of the process they go through to create digital content for their website before, during and after the creative process
    • Richard Davies, British Library – Richard shared with us the challenged the BL has faced in prioritising and managing the digitising of their (approx) 6 billion pages of literature
    • Fran Birch, The Theatres Trust – the Theatres Trust has been collecting archive images and information about the UK’s theatres for over 30 years. Technology has now enabled them to catalogue and share the data they have for education and heritage purposes

    A fascinating and educational day! If you become a member of IT4Arts you can download the presentations for free from their website, and joining is free!

    Why blog?

    Ok, I’ll be the first to admit it – I was the AL blogging champion and it’s been longer than I care to remember since I last posted anything. It was a busy autumn! And then a lazy December… And as we all know, the longer you put something off the harder it is to get back on it. But here I am! And hopefully I’ll continue to add lots of useful content in the coming weeks (rather than just  be lazy and tweet it – we’re @audienceslondon on Twitter by the way!).

    So why push myself to get blogging again? Well this has been inspired by a couple of clients who have recently been in touch asking “why should I have a blog?”, “how do I write a blog?” and other general good practice questions, so I thought I’d share my experience in the hope to support others going through the blogging journey for the first time:

    MY TOP TIPS

    Why blog? Here are a few reasons why:

    It will likely increase traffic to your website – I’ve been monitoring our web traffic through Google Analytics and I’ve certainly seen an increase directly from the blog

    It’s a simple and quick search tool – a blog is an ideal place to host links to resources and contact details, whilst also easy to tag subjects and themes of information, e.g. “Diversity” or “Access”

    Advocacy – it’s been a great tool for AL to show that we keep an ear to the ground about a number of subjects and work in a broad range of issues within the cultural sector

    Power to the people – blogs are designed (in the majority) to enable comments and discussion on posted topics

    Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Blogs have great SEO (find out why here) this ensures that they appear high in Google and other search engine results pages. If your website is struggling with other sites which have similar content to get that top spot, a blog might just pip them to the post!

    Some advice on how to get started:

    Start internally – this allows your staff to become familiar with the blog and how it works without feeling that the world is appraising the site before you have much content!

    Allow all staff to contribute – everyone has something to say, and most blogs allow multiple users to edit and post. It’s a good tool for internal relations and sharing all the knowledge that you have as a team.

    Have a think about what functionality you want – multiple users? Comments? Tag clouds? There are lots of blog platforms out there so before you create your account have a dig around. Here’s a good guide to choosing your blog platform from Jennine at Independent Fashion Bloggers

    But don’t forget, blogs are not websites, and can never have the functionality of your own custom built site. If you’re a small operation and don’t have the dollar to  get a website built, then a blog can be a good staring place for an online presence. That’s what I’ve been doing with my theatre company – Longshot Theatre, yes it’s real!

    There are lots of sites out there which give advice on starting a blog, but personally I think there’s no better way to learn the ropes than to just get stuck in!

    P.S. This is a bad example of a blog in one way – you should keep it short and sweet!!

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