How can apps enrich your location?


4 minute read
Alumni: Kieron Gurner

Alumni: Kieron Gurner

UX & Design Lead

Digital Insights

Getting people interested and involved in public spaces, historic buildings and other open areas can provide great opportunities for any business that operates around that space. But, for visitor attractions; the cost, upkeep and management of exhibits and displays can be off-putting. In our experience working with clients, like the Tower of London and Tooting Common, we’ve found that a great long-term solution is with GPS apps, giving visitors an experience to remember.

An Enduring Experience

With any kind of attraction, displays and exhibits help to engage visitors and can tell stories that immerse them in the history of a place, but managing quality exhibits throughout a year can be time-consuming and costly. These exhibits also come with a lifespan, and have to be removed when they become out-of-date.

Apps, however, can provide magical experiences for your visitors, needing very little maintenance and lasting indefinitely. You can create experiences as invisible layers on top of your physical attractions, providing hooks to other activities that your organisation provides.

One major benefit of using an app to deliver your content is that it can be used by people around the world – even if they’re not on location, you can use your app to promote your organisation globally. If you design your app to include an “Armchair” mode that can be accessed from anywhere, you can spread your reach, and deliver your content to a worldwide audience.

Visitors can download your app months, or even years after you first launch your campaign, accessing the same experience, and as long as you design your app with the long-term in mind, you can create a beautiful experience that will last.

For two of our clients, we designed games that encourage users to explore somewhat unused spaces, providing GPS triggers across the locations. As you move around, new parts of the narrative became available, and you’re taken further by completing tasks that required visiting specific parts of each location.

Case Study: Lost in Tooting

Lost in Tooting is based in Tooting Common, London, and invites users to join the Common’s mascot, in an outer-space adventure. You can explore the physical location, answer questions about your environment, and have the chance to win a physical badge when you’ve completed the game, promoting business for the local Cafe in the process. This combination of storytelling and real-world engagement created a new kind of narrative for the park, and giving people a fun way to see new sides of the park.

We developed the game concept in a one-day App Sprint, and created the app in the few weeks that followed, showing that you don’t need large production budgets and schedules to create a magical experience for your location.

Case Study: Escape from the Tower

The  Tower of London wanted a way to get visitors to lesser-visited parts of the Tower, so together, we came up with Escape from the Tower – a game that uses GPS to trigger chapters of a story as players progress through the tower.

The game invites you to retrace the historic escape routes of four former prisoners, including Guy Fawkes and a Polar Bear. Players visit the virtual prisoners in their former cells, and after hearing the story behind their imprisonment, follow the prisoners on a journey to escape, avoiding virtual guards and answering quizzes along the way.

Players of the game got an engaging experience, learning some of the colourful history of the Tower by putting them at the heart of the adventure. The campaign got new footfall to the less-used parts of the Tower, and is still available to download and play, years after the initial launch.

So, whether you’re looking to get a head-start on your competition, or just searching for new ways to engage your audience, apps are becoming more and more feasible as an option to strengthen and broaden marketing reach for all kinds of organisations.

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