Bruges is a historic medieval city in the northwest of Belgium. Known for its history, architecture and culture, the city is entitled as Unesco World Heritage and it is one of the most visited cities in Belgium. In order to let visitors and inhabitants discover the wealth and diversity of Bruges’ heritage, the city created a mobile application called Xplore Bruges. The app contains themed routes around the city and in museums that users can download in different languages to experience the heritage of Bruges at their own pace.
The different tours on the app contain rich and interesting content about the heritage of the city, but the app didn't seem to be performing as expected. Moreover, due to some technical difficulties, the future of the app was a bit uncertain, since the city had to decide whether they would rebuild it completely or think of another way to offer the content. Already thinking towards a new digital strategy, this seemed the perfect opportunity to figure out what to do with the app. We where asked to conduct research and formulate strategic advice for the future of the app and how it could fit within the digital landscape of Bruges.
We first conducted in-depth interviews with the different stakeholders to understand the complexity of the digital landscape of Bruges and what everyone’s expectations for the future were. We took the streets of Bruges and through cultural probes and short interviews we learnt how people plan their time in the city, how they discover what the city has to offer, and which channels and touchpoints they normally use. We also shadowed the users at different spots in the city: a museum, a church and the tourist office; to experience first-hand how the interactions between them and the city happen. After an extensive research phase, we grouped the different users and developed personas. These personas were the starting point for a co-creation workshop, where together with the different stakeholders we developed user journeys of the ideal visitors’ experience.
After an extensive research phase we found out that visitors of Bruges prefer getting lost and finding easy accessible information when they stumble upon something they find interesting than following a pre-defined route. We also learnt that not only a digital strategy is important, but also that analog touchpoints are still very valuable. With this in mind, we designed a concept to help the city integrate the content of the Xplore app into their new digital strategy. We took into account not only the needs of the visitors and citizens, but also the wishes of the different stakeholders and the different possibilities for the future. We delivered advice and a plan of action on how to approach it from an organisational point of view in the most efficient way.
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