Wednesday, September 1, 2010

DOs and DON'Ts of building a great virtual tour

My office just launched our first multimedia virtual tour, complete with 360-degree photos, audio and video clips from our beautiful campuses. My web editor did a fantastic job of managing the project, and I'm thrilled with the results.

In a tight economy where fewer prospective students can afford to travel to potential graduate schools, a good online tour can improve your recruiting efforts with long-distance prospects. Multimedia features can provide a rich glimpse of life at your institution and transport students into your campus experience. Here are my tips on developing a great virtual tour:
  • DO start with great photography. Any online tour, multimedia or not, requires great photography. You can have all the technical bells and whistles in the world, but if the photography is weak, you might be better off not having a tour at all. Our 2008 redesign of our website included a photo tour with large, striking images of campus, and such tours can usually be designed in-house with the same images you use for other marketing materials.
  • DON'T just consider higher ed vendors. Even though we found our vendor has done some work for a few higher ed institutions, most of their work had been for hospitals and travel destinations. The quality of their work was very competitive with the major higher ed tour firms, but the prices were within our budget.
  • DO plan your photoshoot carefully. In addition to following the typical rules for photoshoot planning, consider the implications of working in a different format. A traditional photo that showcases an entire building and expansive horizon might not work in a 360-degree format, which may make the building look small in proportion to the sky and other natural features.
  • DON'T add technical bling for its own sake. A talking cartoon tour guide or student voiceover might seem cool at first, but such features can get annoying very, very quickly. If multimedia features don't add meaning to the experience, don't add them.
  • DO consider off-campus locations. As I already mentioned, virtual tours can be very important for prospective students outside your geographic area. By definition, those students will need to know more about life outside your campus. Highlight attractive areas in your local community, and include hotspots that show more details about professional, cultural or recreational opportunities.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great way to actually attract students to a graduate schools.
    Tips for graduate students