Title:If Mobile Is the Answer, What Was the Question?
Authors:Hugh Wallace, Dafydd James, Loic Tallon
Publication:MW2012: Museums and the Web 2012

The challenges of delivering a meaningful 'mobile' experience for an institution are not always technology-related. Securing cross-departmental stakeholder investment and ensuring alignment with the institution's core mission have been key for National Museums Scotland and National Museum Wales in developing a framework for their mobile programme. This paper will explain how these organisations sought to overcome organisational challenges from the outset; pushing forward ideas and taking a common approach to planning mobile projects that can be adopted by other institutions. National Museums Scotland and National Museum Wales have many similarities in their structure and set-up. Both operate a main base out of their respective capital cities (Edinburgh and Cardiff) and have a mix of specialist rural and urban-based museums. Since 2009 the proportion of online visitors from mobile devices has increased significantly for both organisations; taking this on board alongside in-gallery research and predicted market trends, both have begun developing a programme of mobile interpretation using the same user-focused approach. For the National Museum Wales this is about making information accessible, as well as creating a link between historic buildings and collections in a rural setting at the National History Museum at St Fagans. For National Museums Scotland it's about bringing new interpretation and innovation to the recently-reopened National Museum of Scotland. Importantly, neither approach has focused on technology in the first instance - workshop sessions have concentrated on getting the right people to take a balanced view of audience needs and create design briefs that tie closely to each organisation's strategic objectives. Both projects have their specific challenges and the session will explore what led them to take certain decisions, what the outcomes have been to date, the broader implications for developing mobile products in terms of cost and impact on the museum technical infrastructure, and the lessons they feel will benefit other museums looking to develop their own plans.