0 to app in 1 week: how to build a great Museum app

Building an app completely from scratch requires the efforts of more than one person, usually a dedicated digital team, which means a whole lot of meetings and back-and-forth collaboration before seeing results. But not all digital projects require complex or time-consuming solutions.

In this post, we show you the key ingredients to getting an app up and running in just 1 week.

Curate stories and highlights of must see items

Digital platforms are incredibly flexible but, in some ways, can be more limited than traditional solutions such as physical guides and placards. It might be tempting to put all of your available content into the app, thinking that it will save time or 'the more the better', but defining the purpose of your app and knowing what visitors want early on will make a world of difference to your final product. The message of your app should be clear. And the story should be engaging.

Questions to consider:What is the story you want to tell? What can visitors learn? How do you want visitors to use the app on-site?

Allow your perspective to change about how content should, and can, be organised. Digital platforms provide a unique opportunity to organise content in different ways to tailor to different visitor needs.

Think of your app as an opportunity to have an intimate conversation with visitors - not just another marketing channel to disseminate information.

Don't overlook the potential of sound and video

One of the best things about digital solutions is the potential for seamless integration of media. Visitors can engage with more than just plain text descriptions and can instead take an audio tour or watch videos. Or all three.

Combining this with beacons makes the visitor experience even more unique - a quick glance at the app can show nearby artworks and stops.

While it is key that you don't overload your visitors with information, it's just as important that you provide them with the right tools to 'fill the gaps' in their journey. Not all visitors will learn or explore in the same way, so just like your museum visitor strategy, your app content should be flexible and accommodating to varied needs. Sound and video is unique to digital solutions but looking at your existing materials as reference - such as printed venue guides - can help to refocus efforts to align with already identified visitor needs.

Make it easy and beautiful to use

What will make your app stand out? Logos, colours and sharp images is a great place to start. But something that's often overlooked in digital projects is knowing the right image size and format to use.

For map overlays, logos and icons, details matter. vector graphics are the best option (e.g. .ai, .eps or .svg files) to avoid pixelation and to allow for modifications to be easily made. Other images can be .jpg or .png images, but should be under 1Mb so as not to affect the loading speed of content on mobile devices.

CMSs generally have cloud-based image management services that automatically resize and compress images that you upload.

Sometimes the seemingly unimportant things can make a significant difference to the visitor experience. The goal is to make it easier for visitors to explore your museum, and that they enjoy the experience.

Launching your app in 1 week?

It might sound far-fetched but it's not impossible. With so many great tools available out there for you to choose from: gone are the days of 6 month long app development cycles.

There are numerous existing platforms that cater to different project requirements — Acoustiguide and My Tours, for launching basic audio guides, Guidebook for facilities and venue guides, and Beaconmaker for a museum wide app with audio guides, maps, highlights and marketing capabilities (such as notifications and beacons).

With Beaconmaker, you have complete control over your app content, at a fraction of the cost. The entire process has been mapped out and designed to align with industry best practices, so that you and your team can spend more time on the content and less on the scalability and maintenance of your app.