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.

The Art of Making Videos – Part 1 : The Basic Rules

Can you remember the last time you watched something on the internet? The chances are that you probably can, and that it was pretty recent. Thanks to websites like YouTube, it’s easier now more than ever to upload and watch videos online. I couple of weeks ago I went to a really interesting session on producing video content for online and mobile platforms, hosted by Openmute for the Art of Digital London programme.

By the end of the session, I realised just how important it was for arts organisations to make the most of the opportunities which video hosting can bring- whether to enhance a website experience, to market a certain performance or to just spread the word about something. I took down too many notes so I thought I would share some with you, and will host new topics on here through the next few days. Today, we will focus on the basic rules behind producing video content.

Before you begin embarking on a video project, ask yourselves:

– Who is the target audience, and where will they find your film?

– What are the objectives for the film? Is it to inform, is it to boost awareness of something, or to promote a production?

In trying to answer these questions, think about these tips:

– Length of your film- the general rule is not to exceed 5 minutes. If you think you have too much footage then produce two different versions – one can be 20 minutes long and one can be a condensed 3 minute version.

-Particularly for arts organisations, it is so important to convey the fact that downloading and watching a video is not the same as witnessing the experience in real life.

Explain your production rather than just showing the highlights. Film some audience feedback, or interviews with actors and directors. This grabs the viewer’s attention and arouses curiosity much more than having all the good bits served up on a plate! It’s important to mention here that there are always copyright issues when it comes to broadcasting artistic output (be it a performance, or even the music used as a background). Also be aware of the fact that even though a musician or actor may allow you consent to use their material in a video, this may at times still be unlawful, so always consult with the relevant unions prior to undertaking any sort of filming.

– And one last tip: avoid trying to intentionally create viral videos- these very rarely become star attractions, and your audience are savvy enough to realise if something has been staged.

A great example of an organisation demonstrating these guidelines are the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, who I have featured on this blog before. Check out their famous video below- I hope it inspires you!

That’s it for today. Next, we’ll be looking at all the different ways to distribute a film online.

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.

    Digital trends amongst children

    Apparently …

    • Half of 5-16 year olds have Internet access in their own room (49%)
    • Six in ten children now have their own PC or laptop (59%)
    • The proportion of children social networking online has doubled since last year

    Statistics produced by CHILDWISE, a research agency specialising in children and young people.  If you’re interested, their trend data report drawing on data from 1997-2009 is available to buy from www.childwise.co.uk

    Theatre + Cinema = Success?

    An article published on the BBC website yesterday reported on the success of the National Theatre’s recent cinema screenings of Phedre, a play starring Helen Mirren. The article claims that in a Nesta report, the cinema audiences ‘were more “emotionally engaged” than those watching it in the theatre.‘ Aside from the emotional connection that cinema has created, the article goes on to explain that ‘the cinema screenings reached out to “low income audiences”. One-third of cinema audiences had incomes of lower than £20,000 per year, compared with just over one-fifth in the case of the theatre audience.’

    You can check out the Nesta  report, called ‘Culture of Innovation’ here.