Visitors and apps: ever the twain shall meet?

Whilst it may well be quiet on the excavation front, work has been going on in the form of two visitor surveys. Although the surveys have collected a lot of useful data about visitors to Arbor Low, their visiting patterns and their interest in visiting archaeological sites in general, there was another side to the surveys – gauging the potential for the use of a QR code around the Peak District which would help visitors find this blog and of course Arbor Low.

The full details of the first of the visitor surveys can be downloaded now, and the second is, as they say ‘in press’! In the first survey 80% of visitors to Arbor Low had a smartphone or tablet, and a similar proportion of visitors said they would have liked more information about the site while they were walking around it. Curiously, the two groups were not the same people, but hence the interest in publicising a QR code!  In the light of this we field-tested a QR code with visitors during a second survey, and the results were disappointing. While 85% of visitors had smartphones or tablets just 5% of these had a QR code reader already installed. There were further problems for those lucky few with a QR code reader, with reception/connection to the web being described as “patchy” at best. Of course, the problem of connecting to the web in rural locations is nothing new, what is concerning is the visitors perception of QR codes and their use. For many such codes were little more than yet another means of advertisers intruding into their lives, or that the code accessed a site which simply repeated something they had already seen. Implicit in this is that none of the visitors were aware of the use of both ‘apps’ and QR codes by a range of heritage organisations such as EH and NT which provide varying amounts of information on sites.

The question for these organisations is what degree of market penetration is there? It may be true that online provision of information at some sites such as Stonehenge, which now has an interactive may on-line (, may well prove popular should word of its existence get out. We here at ALEP would love to hear from you if you use it. is it what you would expect? How useful is it? Did you use it on site and if so what was reception like? In short, how was it for you?

We are always interested to hear from you how heritage is accessed both in the real and virtual worlds. If you want to read more on this, down load the visitor survey, have a read, then get in touch! The next instalment will be out soon with more interesting findings – until then its bye for now!


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