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Mobile experiences in museums

Lindsey Green, What we know about mobile experiences in Museums after 6 years of research, Frankly, Green + Webb, 19 August 2016

As part of Frankly, Green + Webb, I’ve carried out research and evaluation on mobile experiences for over 20 cultural organisations. Last week, I was contacted by a previous client who had been approached by a company offering a free guide app that could, they said, help the organisation generate revenue through downloads. But would it?

My response was a summary of some of the key insights and patterns we’ve begun to identify from this work.

As these are such fundamentals and consistent throughout our findings, I thought it might have wider use for people either considering creating a new mobile experience or needing inspiration to improve the usage/experience for one.

I’m going to use the customer journey as a model because we find it a good way to make sure you don’t miss what’s important for the visitor. Laura shared this model in a Museums and the Web paper with the Met in 2015.


Many people in museums feel mobile is the perfect solution to providing visitors with access to information without cluttering up the space with lots of signs. Unfortunately, mobile experiences with little signage, no hardware and no staff promoting are also by definition invisible.

Getting visitors to use a service means doing a really good job of raising awareness that it exists. To do this, map out what happens to the visitor before they have to make a decision about using the guide. Make sure, no matter where people come from, there are at least 5 points in that journey where you have made them aware the service is available. In marketing, online, in a queue, in the entrance, in the space where it will be used. Chances are they will miss three and then see at least two.


As organisations used to delivering meaning over information, it seems ironic that when it comes to delivering services we often resort to providing nothing more than information.

The problem is, by simply announcing the availability of a service, we leave visitors to guess how it might help them and often all they have to draw on is preconceptions. Which may bear no relation to the reality.

When you look at how you are marketing a mobile experience answer these questions:

  • Can audiences understand what the experience or outcome is that you are offering rather than just the functionality of it?
  • Do you know what audiences actually want and value? For visitors this tends to be not only learning but getting the most out of their time and energy
  • Do they know it’s definitely aimed at them?
  • Is it compelling and valuable enough to audiences to get them to invest the time, effort and/or money to download and use?
  • For an app, do they feel they will use it multiple times? Data suggests audiences download very few apps and that they can’t imagine using repeatedly.

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