24th October 2019

Top 10 ways that digital interpretation can improve your visitor experience

Digital interpretation comes in a bewildering array of forms. It also has a confusing number of names; sometimes its multimedia and sometimes it’s interactive or mobile interpretation. It can be difficult to understand just what digital is and how it can help you.  ATS Heritage has a strong track record of using digital to interpret heritage sites, galleries and museums, taking compelling storytelling and not technology as their starting point. They are experienced in using audio, images, video, animation, 3D content, interactives, games, augmented reality, image recognition and location awareness.

We asked ATS’s Director of Interpretation, Anne Fletcher, for her top 10 reasons why digital can enhance your visitor experience.

Regardless of their size, history or location, most of our clients face similar challenges:

  • How to balance the needs of visitors whilst protecting the fabric, collections and special atmosphere of the site?
  • How to engage and inspire people when there is so much competition for their time?
  • How to tell stories that are relevant, often to people from other countries and cultures?
  • How to reveal the stories of the people who made, owned the collections or who occupied the heritage site?

We’ve found that digital interpretation is uniquely placed to meet these challenges:

Affordable

It is often assumed that digital interpretation, particularly multimedia guides, is too expensive, but we’ve developed a range of financial models and technologies that make multimedia affordable to even the smallest sites. This includes streaming content to visitors’ own phones from an onsite server, the ‘Little Cloud,’ and creating Apps that visitors pay for. 

Unobtrusive interpretation

Heritage sites can transport visitors back to the past and are full of treasures and curiosities from history. This special atmosphere can be lost if there is a clutter of signage, ticket desks and leaflet racks. Digital interpretation is proving popular because it can be contained on a handset and doesn’t require any installation in public areas. Many of our clients have also been able to reduce or remove signage and visitors leaflets too.

Interaction with volunteers and with other people

Many of our clients have been concerned that digital content would replace their volunteer or staff-led tours and talks. We have found the opposite. Really engaging digital content will encourage visitors to look at what is around them, to talk to those nearby and to come off their own devices. In many cases, visitor dwell time has increased because they are more engaged and this has led to more questions being directed at staff and volunteers. 

Telling the behind the scenes story

So much of the daily life of a collection or heritage site is not visible to visitors, happening behind closed doors or before or after they leave. Digital programmes can reveal it and bring it alive to visitors with films of conservation at work, on-screen glimpses behind the scenes, film of objects opening and turning and interviews with the people who work there.

Reaching a variety of visitors

Digital content can be structured to meet the needs of a number of different audience groups, giving them tailored access to stories.  We have developed tours for adults and families in a range of languages, all of which are accessible on one handset. For hearing or sight impaired visitors, the multimedia guide provides an essential vehicle to deliver sign language translations in the form of high definition videos and specially written audio described tours.

Attracting families

Families are an important heritage audience and yet are often difficult to attract. They look for fun, active and sometimes learning based things to do together, particularly during school holidays. We have developed a range of very successful family tours. They use the full range of multimedia to offer children and their parents opportunities to engage with characters from history, take part in spotting competitions and play games on screen.

Telling different stories

Our content has a main narrative supported by themed layers which branch off so that visitors can follow them if they wish. This layered approach means that visitors can choose what they want to see and where they want to go and at the pace they like because all the information that they need is in their handset. It also means that we can tell a range of stories across the site and not a single narrative.

Navigating complicated spaces

Giving visitor’s the confidence to explore and discover a space is essential to a good experience. Multimedia guides can also lead people around complicated spaces and give them glimpses of things that they might otherwise miss.

So to conclude…..

OUR TOP TEN REASONS TO GO DIGITAL

  1. It’s affordable
  2. It’s unobtrusive
  3. It supports the role of your volunteers and staff
  4. It can introduce visitors to the people that work behind the scenes
  5. It can meet the needs of a range of visitors
  6. It can provide interpretation in a range of languages
  7. It can provide interpretation for visitors with disabilities
  8. It can attract families
  9. It can tell a range of stories
  10. It can guide visitors around complicated routes

If we have sparked some interest regarding the use of multimedia in your historic site, we would be delighted to speak with you. Please call Spencer Clark on 02392 595000 or email enquiries@ats-heritage.co.uk

We are holding a one day workshop at Hever Castle on 18th November called ‘How to use multimedia to unlock your best visitor experience’. The workshop aims to offer delegates a unique insight into the world of multimedia and digital technology in historic sites. Please come along and learn some key techniques from our team, the registration link is here:

http://ats-heritage.co.uk/workshop-unlock-your-best-visitor-experience

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