10 Steps for Creating an Audio Guide for Your Museum

If you’re looking for ways to engage your visitors and take your museum experience to the next level, consider creating an audio guide. This can be a smart way to provide additional information about the exhibits while adding an interactive component to your visit. Visitors can explore the exhibits at their own pace — and in the language of their choice. 

In this article, we will discuss 10 important steps for creating an audio guide for your museum, gallery, or library.

1. Decide on your goals for the audio guide

The first step is to get clear on why you’re creating the app. Do you want to offer multi-language content? Improve accessibility? Provide a richer experience? Educate your visitors on a specific topic?

The good news is that, while creating audio content can be time-consuming, you don’t have to create an audio track for every item in every exhibit. You can create audio content for your main exhibit and text content for the smaller ones—all in the same app. If you start by listing your goals, it’ll be easier to make decisions later.

2. Choose an audio guide app builder

Next, it’s time to choose the platform you’ll use to build your audio guide. When building a museum app, you don’t need to code it from scratch. An app-building platform allows you to add your multimedia content with no coding required. This can cut the costs (compared with custom app development) by 90%. Keep in mind that you can also get funding to help your museum cover the costs of the app builder’s monthly or annual fee.

STQRY is an easy-to-use platform for building apps, like this example of the Chihuly Glass Walking Tour within the Tacoma Art Museum app.

Tacoma Art Museum app

3. Strategize the structure of your tour (or tours)

No two museums are alike. One museum might have an audio guide app with one tour and 25 stops. Another museum might have three different tours, each with a dozen stops. 

Consider the size, layout, design, and overall organization of your museum when deciding how to break up the content into tours. 

Make sure to talk with all app stakeholders about your plan before moving onto writing your audio scripts. It’ll be a lot easier to create the app if you have stakeholders review important stages of the project. 

For example, the Walt Disney Family Museum offers one main tour of the gallery with audio tracks that feature Walt Disney’s voice.

Walt Disney Family Museum app

4. Write and review the audio scripts for each tour and stop

With your tour plan and outline in place, you can move onto writing the audio scripts. To create an amazing audio tour, consider these elements:

  • What are the stories that will elicit emotion from visitors?
  • What are the important details?
  • What are the common questions that visitors ask?
  • Will you have multiple voice actors, or just one?
  • What length should each script be, based on its importance and location in the museum?

Most museums create audio tracks that are 2 to 5 minutes in length, while audio guides designed for driving tours might feature longer tracks.

5. Record your audio

Now it’s time to record your audio. If you’re hiring voice actors, they should have their own studio and recording tools to protect the quality of the audio that they produce for their clients. 

When creating your own audio, you’ll need to invest in some good-quality equipment. This includes a microphone, a digital recording app, and possibly some soundproofing materials if you live in a city or noisy area. Once you have the necessary equipment, you can begin recording your audio guide. Try to avoid background noise as much as possible. Record in a quiet room or space. If you have to, record in the late evenings when background noise interruptions might be less of a problem.

6. Edit and add audio effects

Once you have recorded all of the audio for your guide, it is time to edit. Cut out any mistakes, pauses, or filler words. You may also want to add music or sound effects in certain places to make the audio more engaging.

Audio editing services are typically pretty affordable, so consider reaching out to an agency or find a freelancer on a site like Upwork or Fiverr.

7. Gather text and imagery for each tour and stop

Each tour should have its own text description and cover image. For the highest quality audio guide, you should provide a short text description, audio transcription, and image for each stop on the tour as well. This not only improves the accessibility of your content, but also makes it more visually appealing. 

The Walt Disney Family Museum app

8. Customize the design of the audio guide app

Now it’s time to customize the design of your audio guide app. This includes the welcome page, the welcome page image, menu navigation, and the main color palette. Building an audio guide app is, fortunately, easier than you think, because the building platform you choose should offer the ability to easily customize the welcome page, menu, and colors with just a few clicks. 

Brattleboro Words Trail app

9. Set up geo triggers if desired

With STQRY you can set up geo-triggered content with bluetooth beacons or GPS geofencing. When visitors walk past a beacon on a statue, for example, the app will give them a notification to open up that content. Or, they can set it up to autoplay as they walk along. This is a good fit for large museums where visitors might wander and take their own path, or for museums that want to have fewer stops, for example to have one stop for each room or small exhibit. 

However, many museums can simply offer the tour content, and allow visitors to navigate through it on their phone without geo triggers.

10. Include museum and membership information in your app

Because visitors will be using your audio guide, it’s a viable communication channel available to your organization. You should create a page in your app for important museum information, such as your hours, gift shop location, and membership pricing. You can even embed your membership payment processor directly into your app to drive purchases. 

Creating an audio guide for your museum can be a great way to enhance the visitor experience. By following these steps, you can ensure that you create high-quality recordings that will engage and inform your visitors. 

To create a beautiful audio guide app with no coding required, check out STQRY.