Basic Elements of Great Local Guide Apps

Basic Elements of Great Local Guide Apps

You want to make your guide the best source of information out there for travelers who want to learn about your town and what it has to offer. In order to do this there are several basic elements that your guide should follow.

Organize like your life depends on it…

What with technology constantly evolving and the population always a few steps behind you want to make your city guide as easy to use as possible. This all comes down to organization. You need to separate all of your content into categories and subcategories that make sense. Your app should be a clear pathway through the forest of information and not a potholed overgrown deer trail. Travelers want something easy to use, so do your best to appeal to that need.

Interesting Content

You want your app to be engaging and interesting. Keep your information short and sweet, no long-winded explanations about a historical tree. You want to include just the most interesting facts and bits of trivia that only a local would know. It’s a good idea to include a link to another website that has more information, this way people can choose to learn more.

Remember to double check your content! Be sure that it is true, relevant, and up-to-date. This is crucial when it comes to contact information. Check out the websites of different businesses and be sure that the phone numbers and addresses are correct. Make sure you update any information that is time sensitive, such as theater and venue showtimes.

Engaging Photos

Not only do you want your app to have good information you want appealing images to excite your app users. Perhaps they weren’t too excited about going to that park but then they saw the picture of the giant sequoia tree tucked away near the Japanese Garden and they immediately jumped in their car. You want to choose photos of good quality and that best show off your city. When travelers see the beauty of your town they will want to experience for themselves and that’s what photos are for.

Location, location, location…

Say you’re traveling and you’ve heard a lot about this specific beach that you want to check out, but you’re having a really hard time finding directions. When you finally learn how to get there you discover that the drive is almost three hours long and it’s already noon. There goes your plan for a picnic on the beach. Now, imagine the same scenario but instead you whip out your phone and find the beach with the help of a city guide. The creators of the app were helpful enough to give you directions to this magical place, and with the location aware setting on your phone you’re able to see that, with little traffic, you can be at the beach in just under three hours. You pack up your picnic and head out.

This is why finding the correct addresses is extremely important. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to find a restaurant or a cool store and not being able to find the address. There are also many places where you can find the latitude and longitude of areas that may not have addresses. Google Maps is a great resource as well as latlong.net. If you are creating an app about outdoor recreation latlong.net will be a huge help. Your app is going to be traveler’s local tour guide they keep in their pocket, so you want them to see where all the local trails, parks, and scenic drives are with the little to no searching.

Don’t Destroy Your City Guide With Boring Content

One of the most important things to remember when creating content for your mobile city guide is that you need to keep it interesting. A nicely designed city guide app can quickly fail if it is filled when boring content. Remember, you are not writing a research paper on the history of your town, you are providing cool and interesting local information. It’s also important to keep in mind that people are reading this information on their smartphones or tablets. No one is going to take the time to read a 10 page bio about a historical fountain. App users are are thirsty for the highly useful and highly relevant local information.

Doing the Research

So how do you go about creating great content for your city guide app? Let’s start with the research. Read as much as you can about the topic at hand and then pick out the most interesting facts and leave it at that. Your mobile app has the potential to become the spark of interest that will motivate people to check out that historical fountain.

Find The Coolest Stuff

Next, you need to decided what type of information you will include in your mobile guide. To begin with, make sure to cover all the basic information such as where it is, when it was founded or made, and a few interesting facts about it. You can also include local history, trivia, or insider tips that share something with your reader which they might not know unless you told them. Sometimes including tips or insight that only a local might know will make your app even more interesting and intriguing. For example, “sunset can offer visitors a scenic view and a great photo opportunity.” Your goal is to keep the app short and sweet. You don’t want people to wade through paragraphs of irrelevant information in order to find the cool facts… that’s your job. Find all of the coolest and most interesting stuff and then put that into your app.

Think Long Term

Last but not least, when creating content for your app, make sure that content will remain valuable and interesting for years to come. Boring and outdated content will award your app with negative reviews and poor download rates. If your app does offers time sensitive information, be sure to keep this information as up-to-date as possible. Keep track and schedule routine app updates. We also encourage you to go out and visit, and become personally engaged with the topics you are promoting.

SAMPLE APP POST:

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Toothpick Trail

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Directions: From the center of town, head southeast down Siskiyou Blvd to Tolman Creek Rd (the intersection has a blinking yellow light). Take a right on Tolman Creek Rd. After 1.2 miles the road turns to a one lane road with turnouts. At 1.7 miles the road will fork, be sure to take a hard right. After 3 miles from turning onto Tolman Creek Rd. you will arrive to the trailhead.

Background: Toothpick Trail, the third and last trail discussed here that is part of the Ashland Watershed Trail system, is a well- known spot just a short drive from town that is quite popular with hikers, mountain bikers and dog owners. The trail is about 4 miles round-trip and has an elevation gain of roughly 300 feet. The trail starts off with some incline for about 15 minutes, but then flattens out for a large majority of the trail. About half way along the trail there is a bench and an opening in the forest for a beautiful view of the higher reaches of Mt. McLoughlin. There is a trail map at the top of the trail in the event you’d like to continue your hike along either Lamb Mine (rec- ommended for beautiful views) or Caterpillar Trail. The latter could lead you all the way back into town via either the White Rabbit (this will drop you south of town to Park St.) and Alice in Wonderland (this would lead you towards downtown) trails.

Conclusion:

Anyone can create a city guide but can you actually make it cool? Creating highly relevant and interesting local city guide apps take time.  Not only should it be engaging to your audience, it should also act and serve as valuable resource which will turn your guide into a go-to resource.

Building a great city guide is easy and you can do it!