Montpelier is one of the hidden gems of America's colonial historical sites. Home to the fourth President and one of the constitutional framers, the estate has seen centuries of history. Today, the location has emerged as an educational center, museum and active archeological site. To showcase the estates diversity, Montpelier wanted a multimedia tour app, an iPhone app to compliment their aging audio tour system. Oh, and due to Montpelier's location, cellular and wifi data couldn't be counted on.
The lack of a data connection meant that Montpelier tour app would be operating under a pretty major constraint - dynamic content and granular location data were out of reach. The lack of precise data shifted the experience from one of "where you are" to that of "what do you want to explore?" Tapping into the concept of exploration, we gave the user two different ways to move through the app and the estate - the first a stylized map, the second a list view. Users who were actually at Montpelier could easily jump to any audio tour stop via a stop input interface.
With our methods for digitally exploring Montpelier created, the next step was dealing with the wealth of content at our disposal. Visitors on site at Montpelier really had two tours to choose from - the mansion or the estate. Again, the constraint became the guiding factor, and the app was architected in a way that content could be arranged identically for the Montpelier Mansion and Estate tours, allowing users to seamlessly move between the two.
The final step in the process was to strip away as much design as possible. Through an iterative, and challenging series of sessions, each element of the user interface was examined. INM wanted to see if we could make interactions simpler, cleaner and more intuitive. We also wanted to maximize the screen real-estate dedicated to showing off some of the really stunning photography. The result was an app that felt familiar but got out of the way of the user, increasing exploration without burdening the user.
Montpelier's Tour App launched with great success, acquiring over 700+ downloads in its first month, in addition to a Feature in Apple's "New & Noteworthy Education Apps" Directory.