Visitors, apps, post-visit experiences … and a re-think of digital engagement Part 2

as kids 6Following from my (somewhat) popular and slightly controversial tweet at #MWA2015 this is the second post that looks at what visitors thought about a post-visit experience (the first focussed on mobile apps).

Post-visit experience – is there one?

Most respondents reported being less keen to interact or engage with the museum post-visit for a range of reasons.

1. I’m too busy / don’t have time:

  • “People lead very busy lives these days”

2. Just want the experience of being at the physical museum:

  • [we] have the experience and not worry about it after we leave, we just move on to something else.”
  • “It wouldn’t be for me as I get a lot here and don’t feel the need to do more”
  • “For us it’s about the experience on the day. Once I’m home I move on to other things”

3. We’d just use Google:

  • “The reality is that kids will go on to Google to find out more [so] why not put your resource there?

4. Prefer to get information beforehand:

  • “We’re exhausted after the visit – but before the visit is critical. [we] use the website for what’s on”

Yes, I want a post-visit experience:

  • Extends the visit
  • Allows you to focus on real objects during visit then read more at home: “Many people have best intentions [to read text] during a visit but forget or are too busy”
  • Museum volunteers were the most enthusiastic: “I can tell / show my friends”
  • Reference material for my future work at the museum: “I can revise on the train on my way to work”
  • Use as trigger for further research

Overall those who had visited MONA (Tasmania, Australia) were more enthusiastic…

Post-visit activities suggested:

  • More in-depth content
  • Adult content for those who visit with children and couldn’t have their own experience while at museum

“More depth information that you wouldn’t do if only here for a couple of hours”

“Mobile is good when out and about, when home I want a big screen and keyboard”

  • History and links, for example promote an upcoming talk and then after give them links to books, etc.
  • Curated links – they trust that the museum will give them good ones, rather than having to Google themselves
  • Unlock special content when you get home – just for members, or just for those who went to a particular experience / exhibition
  • A guidebook: “If it really interested me I’d look in the shop for a thin guidebook. I’d like to sit and read and then refer to it later.”
  • Children’s activities: “An educational game for my child, but only if they want it”
  • Social connectivity: “Ability to make comments to other members or to the museum”

Although, with social connecting participants recognised that the two-way conversation happens on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram rather than a museum website, and that’s where they expected to go to make these connections.

So, what could this mean for digital engagement?

As a long-term passionate advocate for digital technologies in museums I was somewhat surprised and a tad disappointed at what I saw was a slightly negative response to apps and post-visit digital engagement. However, as this conference (and many others I have attended and blogs I have read) has kept reinforcing it’s not about the technology – it’s about the content and providing a great visitor experience, and if a technical solution seems the best option for visitors, then go for it.

I hope this is useful – please feel free to comment and share your experiences, research, observations below, or tweet me @lyndakelly61. I look forward to continuing the conversation.

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