Apps under the surface. Problems with Cultural Heritage apps

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Daniël Stiller
Willem Frans Beex


Apps for mobile devices are being made with the goal of telling the story of cultural heritage to general public. If they actually reach the target audience or if the apps are being used often, is not clear. This is particularly of relevance in the Netherlands as most apps are partially or completely financed with public money and being made for municipalities or other local government-organisations.

The authors noticed and encountered several things concerning cultural heritage apps. The apps are often anything but good or perfect in function and presentation. When looked at the download-data, it becomes also clear that many apps are not very often downloaded and installed.

When researching why this is the case several observations were made. From the local government-side there seems to be a lack of understanding of what could or should be achieved. This happens because goals are not being set, target audiences aren’t being thoroughly researched, etcetera. Sometimes the main goal was simply to build or have an app that displays and tells the story of a Cultural Heritage site. Often a company or department gets a set of parameters and simply builds an app around it. Furthermore the promotion of apps is relatively spares after the initial presentation. Often it becomes just a small message on the appropriate website and nothing else.

Not everything mentioned above can be remedied, but a better understanding of which goals an app should have and what can be achieved combined with better promotion can lead to better apps and a better use of them by the general public. That leads back to a better return on the (often) public spending for making the app, not to mention of raising the awareness of the specific Cultural Heritage presented.



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How to Cite
Stiller, D., & Beex, W. F. (2017). Apps under the surface. Problems with Cultural Heritage apps. Studies in Digital Heritage, 1(2), 326–343.
Special Issue "Cultural Heritage and New Technologies 2016"


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