K.I.S.S: Why simple solutions work best for heritage apps


3 minute read
Jo Reid

Jo Reid

Chief Executive Officer

Arts & Culture

Heritage businesses are the perfect match for immersive apps, and we’ve worked with dozens of historic sites to create experiences that enhance visitors’ environments and change their perspective. Often, the organisations we work with believe they need to include the latest technological wizardry in their app to make a splash – if the Joneses next door are using AR, then they need to too.

But high-tech is not always the answer. Done well, simple, well designed apps can be just as effective as their more complex competitors, and by their very nature, more cost-effective.  

High-tech, complex

We’re not going to argue against the benefits of AR, VR or beacons — the tech is gorgeous, and offers a unique experience for visitors. However, as with all latest technologies, these things come at a price, and heritage sites, unlike huge corporates, have budgets to think about.

Our argument is this: the tech is just a means, not the end, and the experience of the visitor matters above all else. It’s entirely possible to enhance visitors’ experiences using simple ‘tech-free’ app features which won’t break the bank.

Less technical, less stress

The key is to consider the objective you’d like to achieve with your app, then seek the most effective, manageable solution.

Don’t be afraid to think old-school. Rather than using complex beacon systems to help users navigate an exhibition, host a colour-coded map on their smartphone. Our recent app for the Moses, Mods & Mr Fish exhibition at The Jewish Museum did just that, with coloured exhibition boards matching coloured sections in the app. Users knew to refer to the pink content on their smartphone when presented with a pink board. From this map, we offered additional visual and textual content to enhance visitors’ experience – a straight-forward solution requiring minimum effort to use.

It’s possible to draw visitors’ attention to details in a room without sophisticated AR and VR, too. Simply upload a photographic gallery of the details, as we did with our Bristol Opening Doors app for The Architecture Centre. Visitors will then hunt for the details for themselves.

Co-creation = clever content

Knowing when and where to scale back an app can be tricky, and two heads are always better than one. As part of our co-creation process, we work closely with clients to work out which technologies and features they need based on their objectives. Insight into target audiences and our experience of building heritage apps results in apps that are genuinely intuitive and engaging – not needlessly complex.

Simplicity, according to Leonardo Da Vinci, is the ultimate sophistication. No amount of flashy technology will turn poor content into a successful app. Imaginative, easy-to-use features can be better value and more effective for heritage apps of all types. So before being put off by the high cost of high tech, take a look at all the successful apps that use tech-free solutions and remember: it’s great content that makes great software.

Calvium build beautiful, intelligent apps for forward-thinking brands. Working closely with heritage, engineering and agency groups, we provide award-winning app development that drives customer engagement and boosts innovation in business. For more app insight, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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