Through our pursuit of ultimate app-iness, we found some common themes:
First, (even though this seems a little silly to have to say) the app needs to WORK. Visitors have to be able to download it, access its content in a timely manner, and follow through on the advertised features.
Next, we need to know it’s available. It is not necessarily assumed yet that every museum has an app, so the institution needs to make sure they are getting the word out there. Along that same point, it is important that the advertising matches the content of the app. It was no problem that the National Mall app did not create anything new and flashy because it never claimed that it would. However, it was pretty frustrating that Natural History’s did not follow through on creating a Neanderthal image.
Finally, there needs to be a point to the app. Apps are trendy but not always substantive. When our mentors came to our seminar a few weeks ago, Elissa Frankle (Social Media Strategst at USHMM) made a point to say that the Holocaust Museum didn’t want an app for the sake of having an app. It needed to add to the museum experience and it was only after careful consideration and research that they created an app. And as we can see from Madeline’s overall 4 rating, it succeeds!
As a whole, it was definitely interesting to take a close look into these apps from a consumer perspective. While our rating rubric was not grounded in “authoritative” research, we based it on exactly what we, as informed and dedicated museum visitors, look for in an app. We might be slightly more biased than a typical tourist, but hopefully our comprehensive look into these five apps provides a good foundation for what kind of apps are already out there, and what features are truly standing out.