5 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Your Interactive (Without Sacrificing the Visitor Experience)

BY Jeff Peden

We produce interactive experiences for a broad range of budgets–from simple video jukeboxes with a handful of choices to museum galleries packed with touchscreen activities. Our clients always expect quality work with a high production value, but ultimately budget limitations are also always a factor in settling on the final solution.

During the course of conceptualizing and estimating a solution (in what we call the Discovery and Definition Phase), the following five areas will play an important role in calculating the final overall cost of your project. Understanding and planning for these issues will help you get the best interactive experience for your money–without compromising the end user experience.

1: Know how to distill your story
Focus on effectively communicating your story and inspiring your visitor to dig deeper beyond the screen. A narrow focus on a key theme will result in a less complex and more engaging experience for your visitors. By showing restraint on how much you expect the visitor to get out of his or her time at the screen, you will place more emphasis on the core take-away. By carefully distilling and crafting this core message, you will motivate your visitors to continue exploring your subject once they walk away. As you’ve probably guessed from the the title of this post…an interactive experience crafted around a narrowly focused story is not only more effective, it is also less costly to produce.

2: Limit the scope of functionality
The most common questions we hear start with “Can we also include…” We carefully work with our customers to make certain we avoid scope-creep that easily leads to unnecessary complexity, mixed messages, or multiple interfaces–all of which make cha-ching noises when compiling your project estimate. When we look back over our history of interactive projects, it has been those that are simple that have had the most impact and success. A recent example is our StoryBuilder interactive, which just won a Best in Show award for its innovative use of technology to engage children with the simple joy of creating with blocks.

3: Organize and format your own content
As a full-service, creative studio, we are happy to capture, collect, organize, reformat and rename your digital assets. However, like any other profession, we have to bill for the time to complete this work. Many of our clients prefer to minimize this expense by taking responsibility for providing text, images and videos based on our project specifications. This content can be wrangled through internal resources or by soliciting the help of well-trained volunteers or students. For content-rich interactives such as artifact galleries or map-based photography collections, this approach can yield significant savings.

4: Plan the three W’s of updating content
When will you need to update your content? What pieces of content will need to be updated? And who will have the time/ability to make any updates? These are important questions that guide the development of the back-end administrative or CMS capabilities of your interactive application. Being honest about your internal capabilities and how often you will update your interactive can save unnecessary investment in the creation of a user-friendly admin interface. Keep in mind, the inverse is also true–a strict commitment to an editorial calendar and to using internal resources makes an admin interface a very smart investment for lowering your outside expenses for ongoing content updates.

5: Invest now to extend the life of your hardware
We always encourage clients to purchase the best hardware they can afford. Commercial-grade equipment comes at a premium, but our experience shows that it will pay-off over the lifetime of your installation. It is also wise to plan for future programming enhancements by spending extra on computer processing power, solid state hard drives, and the next generation of screen resolutions. For large-scale installations, we also recommend you purchase spare equipment. Having “spares” on-hand will minimize any disruption in your visitor experience due to hardware failure. Spare equipment will also help your defer the cost of re-working cabinetry as screen models vary over time.

As you can imagine, there are dozens of other variables that contribute to the cost of an interactive application. The five listed above are fairly easy considerations when it comes to optimizing the visitor experience within a set budget limitation. When you are ready to talk about your particular project, feel free to contact us for a friendly chat about your needs and potential options.

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