Museum Application FINAL

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Brave New World Essay


Kaitlin Buickel

Ray BussolariMay 1, 2014

Assignment 3: California Academy of Sciences App

Conceptual Overview

The main purpose of this application is to inspire visitors at Thursday nights NightLife event at the California Academy of Sciences, who are primarily young adults, to interact with each other as well as the rainforest exhibit. The application allows for visitors to compare their own personality traits to those of various specimens throughout the Rainforest and to have the opportunity to find other visitors with similar personality traits. This creates the potential for increased social engagement and provides a more fun and personalized way of learning about science and nature. This is a social networking, informational, and educational application. The app even allows for visitors to create a customized profile with information about themselves, similar to other social media websites. While the California Academy of Sciences Nightlife event does provide visitors with a forum for social interaction and learning already, the Rainforest is lacking in any type of supplemental technology that could help engage visitors further. This application will provide this technology while simultaneously inspiring meaningful interactions between visitors, which is one of the main goals of the NightLife event. The app will also provide the user with access to basic Cal Academy information, such as ticketing, a map, and a calendar so that visitors can plan their visit.

The name of this app is, Identify Me! - The Cal Academy Rainforest App. The name is in two parts so that people can shorten it to Identify Me when talking about it with other people. The second part gives a more formal description of the app so that users know where it is meant to be used. The name is a play-on-words in that visitors use the app to learn about themselves and others around them, or identify themselves, just like biologists identify specimens in a rainforest. By using the app, visitors are also identifying qualities of the different animals they encounter.

The application is primarily meant to be used while at the museum on Thursday nights since the personality trait pin will be given out for free once visitors have gone through the Rainforest and completed the personality quiz. However, the app will be available at any time, whether it be during normal daytime museum hours or outside of the museum altogether. If the application is not used at NightLife, visitors can go to the museum gift shop to purchase their personality trait pin rather than getting it for free. In this way, the application allows for anyone who wants to learn more about the various animals in the Rainforest to do so as they please and for the museum to earn revenue from the application. Also, since the app does provide additional information about the Cal Academy, such as ticketing, a calendar of events, and merchandising, users outside of the museum can use the app to plan their future visit to the Cal Academy. However, since the application is meant more as a means for visitors at NightLife to engage with each other and the Rainforest, receiving the pin for free gives these particular visitors more of an incentive and advantage to use it while at the event.

The app is hybrid. It is web-based because it pulls information from the Cal Academy website, such as ticketing information, merchandise information, the calendar of events, videos, and a map. However, since the app has access to the phone or tablets various devices, such as the camera and address book, it is also native to the hardware. Also, the main purpose of the app, which is the personality quiz section, does not pull information from online, thus this section is also native. Although the app might run a bit slower than one that is completely native to a device, this should not pose a problem to the user since the app is not a game and does not necessarily need to be fast. Also, since native apps can be quite expensive to develop, the museum will be saving some money by making it hybrid.

The app will be downloadable from the app store, specifically Apple (iOS) and Android. Also, because the Cal Academy has a mobile website, users will also be able to download it from this website via a link to the app. Because the app can be used at the museum or outside of the museum, users will be expected to use their own devices in order to access the app. Since the rainforest does house some free-roaming animals, it would be a challenge for biologists to keep these animals away from, say, a stationary IPad if the museum were to provide one to visitors. It would also be difficult to keep such technology clean and working properly in such a humid, natural environment. Also, since the museum is not charging users for access to the app, having users use their own devices saves them some money in the long run.

The app will be designed for both a smartphone and a tablet since these hardware systems are fairly similar and they can each access the internet. Also, since the museum is not providing visitors with the means of accessing the app, visitors should be able to use whichever type of smart device they personally have access to if they wish to use the app.

The app will use different components of the devices native functionality, such as the camera, audio, video player, GPS, and address/phone book. The camera will allow the user to take a picture of animals in the rainforest and post them, along with their quiz results, to a social media website of their choice. The section titled Contact your NightLife Friends will allow users to see which of their friends from their contact list has the app or is currently using the app, and to then either text message or call them. Because there are videos about different animals available on the app, it also utilizes the audio and video player on the device. Lastly, once a visitor has completed the quiz, they are able to locate other visitors around the museum who received the same results by using the devices GPS system. If the GPS system is not enabled, visitors cannot find one another, thus this function is not always available to every user (particularly since not all visitors will want to have their location displayed). However, users not using the GPS system can still view other visitors customized profiles. Visitors can also interact with each other by seeking out other personality trait pin wearers. The app allows users to share the results of their personality quiz and their customized app profile on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest. They can also take a picture using the native function to upload that along with their results. The app itself is somewhat of an extension of these larger social media sites and plays off similar functions, such as finding friends and building a profile. The sharing feature works in the same way that posting the results of a Buzzfeed quiz would work.

There is no charge for this app. As mentioned above, visitors not using the app at NightLife who want to receive their personality trait pin must purchase it in the gift shop, which will in turn allow the museum to gain revenue from the app. Charging for the app would sway people from wanting to use it, and because the goal is the engage people with each other and with the exhibit space, the museum will want to generate as much of a user presence as possible. Plus, if the app becomes widely popular, similar to other social media websites, the museum could then consider charging a small fee for future downloaders.


1. Digital Engagement Strategy:

Assets Collection; Innovative exhibitions and exhibition environments; knowledgeable leader and creator/director; professional staff; location within Golden Gate Park and proximity to the de Young Museum; unique and established programs that include events such as NightLife, lectures, and workshops

Reach Create a buzz by publicizing on Academys exhibiting website, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram pages; post app images and download on Academys front video kiosks; include app info, link, and images in email campaigns to NightLife

Audience Likely to reach: NightLife attendees; online audience; general visitors between the ages of 21 and 35; Harder to Reach: Younger (10-20) and older (35+) visitors that do not attend NightLife

Metrics NightLife and general audience; engagement on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram; social buzz; web traffic

Channels Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, museum website; web entertainment guides; on-side (video kiosks, posters)

Guidelines Trustworthy; authoritative; educational; welcoming; fun; engagingEngagement Activate: Visitors are activated by the apps challenge to id themselves and engage with the Rainforest exhibit and with fellow visitors; visitors outside of the museum are activated to explore the Academy by taking the quiz and connecting through social mediaInvolve: Social media fans are invited to attend special events, purchase discounted tickets; upload photos/comments to social media outlets; invite others to visit the Academy or try the app

Interest: Share collection; interact with collection/other visitors; meeting and converse with others in and out of the Academy (interest in the Academy is a focal point)Objectives Increase the NightLife community; provide additional avenues of engagement for both NightLife and regular Academy visitorsVision To explore, explain and sustain life; to provide both physical and virtual access to the scientific and natural world; to be a leading visitor, educational, and research authority in the scientific and museum communitiesTrends Increase mobile device usage to enhance engagement with the world around us and wi