The Pursuit of APPiness

Welcome to The Pursuit of APPiness, our blog’s spot for reviewing and assessing museums’ mobile apps.

In today’s tech-reliant society, people, including museum visitors, have become accustomed to having information at their fingertips. So, how are museums keeping up? We want to explore this question by delving into the new frontier of museum apps.

In order to analyze the apps in a uniform way, we created an evaluation tool that we will use for each app. This tool looks at four main categories for each app: General, Content/Interactivity, Accessibility, and Design.

In the General category, we identified four main purposes that museum apps can aim to achieve:

  • Bring content to audiences not visiting the museum (distance learning)
  • Link visitors to more in-depth information and/or interpretation on objects of interest
  • Mobile information desk (provide general information also available in other locations)
  • Provide enrichment activities related to museum/exhibit content

For each app, we will examine which purposes the museum intended for the app and how well the app serves these purposes.

In the Content/Interactivity category, we seek to answer the following questions:

  • Is the app intended for use within or outside of the museum?
  • Is the app designed for use with a particular exhibit or the entire museum?
  • Does the app give users access to content beyond what is available/on view at the museum?
  • Does the app enhance the user’s (visitor or distance learner) museum experience? In what ways?
  • Is the app interactive? Does it generate new content unique to its user?

The Accessibility category examines how easy it is for users to discover, download, and use the mobile app.

The Design category includes the aesthetic appeal and ease of use of the app’s user interface, as well as how well any other forms of media (including audio, video, photos, etc..) are integrated into the app.

Here’s a copy of the evaluation tool we’ll be using: museum apps eval-page-001

In the coming weeks, we will be reviewing 5 apps at different DC museums and parks using this evaluation tool, along with narrative assessments and commentary in relation of these four categories. Join us as we explore and analyze the new and exciting world of museum apps!

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