Virtually there – creating effective online experiences

Old Royal Naval College

Many museums are reaching out to their audiences by exploring alternative ways to tell their stories in a memorable way. Here, ATS Heritage highlight what makes a virtual tour stand out and drive engagement.

Top tips for creating the perfect virtual tour

  1. What is the purpose of this project – ask yourself: “12 months after launch, what would deem this a successful project?” Are we
    measuring visits/shares/engagement? Think about and measure your success criteria.
  2. Who is this for? Who are your audiences and what are they looking for? Do you need to create versions for types of audiences
    (adult, families, international), or have a variety of interpretive styles in the single design? Be careful not to be everything to everyone, this approach can dilute some great ideas.
  3. What platform should you use for your virtual tour? Native app, web app or website? We’d suggest you keep this question in mind as you work through this list. Two key questions will be which is the most accessible for your visitors (it needs to be easy for your visitors to access and share), and which is most financially sustainable (not just in initial design and build, but hosting and support).
  4. Set the scene to the experience and don’t assume technical knowledge of the visitor – think about opening with a high-quality
    introduction video to tease the highlights and ease-of-use (use this video as promotional content too).
  5. Digital wayfinding (or user experience) is as important in the digital world as it is in the physical – make sure the interface and the tour is easy to follow and consider the use of graphics, maps, audio and text to guide your visitors through the experience.
  6. Content should be engaging, entertaining and ideally suitable for all age groups. Explore the use of copy, audio descriptions, video
    and background sounds to create a truly immersive experience.
  7. Give the visitor a purpose to be there, a short/bite size, high-quality virtual tour will give visitors a better user experience than a large “able to go anywhere/everywhere” with little or low-quality content that creates visitor fatigue and disorientation.
  8. Consider giving visitors a goal to complete in the virtual tour. This can be as simple as ‘find a particular item’ but that simple extra level of engagement will increase the time spent on the tour, which in turn, improves your SEO ranking.
  9. Promote your virtual tour across social media channels and spread your posts out to highlight different aspects of the tour each day.
    Make sure that visitors can easily share and link to the virtual tour (ideally from within the tour experience) so it can be easily promoted across social media channels.
  10. Create a tour that is consistent with your brand. Always apply brand guidelines and avoid generic templates. Although this is a digital
    experience, you will want potential future visitors to conclude their tour with a positive perception of your institution.

Get in touch with ATS Heritage to find out how they could help you.

Pictured: One of ATS’s favourite recent tours is the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College, check it out at