RESEARCH & STRATEGY
Delaware River Waterfront Corporation
Building on earlier work, the DRWC team reached out looking for ways to further engage waterfront visitors through a mobile experience beyond their website in the form of a mobile app. We wanted to make sure an app was the right solution for DRWC and allow research to drive the work going forward, as apps can be a costly solution with little value and low reward.
We encouraged DRWC to partner with us on an exploratory research and strategy project that would allow us to first understand how and why visitors are using their mobile devices before, during, and after their visit to the waterfront, which would help to identify opportunities that would achieve their goals—both online and offline.
- A series of on-site interviews and site observations to better understand how individuals are using their mobile devices before, during, and after their visit
- Designed and installed physical signage that helped us explore the following:
- Will people engage with a physical installation?
- If so, will they share their images as prompted to?
- If so, which through which channel do they prefer to share in?
- Interviews with key staff and managers of the main parks along the waterfront
From this research, we found that an app would not be the right investment for the organization—as there were no immediate needs or problems it would solve.
We did, however, find and recommend opportunities worth exploring and investing in:
interactive, physical interventions
People were lining up just to take part in taking pictures from the signage we installed—they’re hungry for being a part of something and interacting with the space, give them these opportunities!
A surprising number of people we spoke to were first-time visitors and found about the parks through their friends images taken there. Additionally, we found many people “researched” the parks before their visit simply by scoping out images from people who have checked-into the parks. We felt this was an opportunity to create accounts for each of the parks and meeting people where they already are to provide announcements, event information, facts about the parks or opportunities to engage with visitors through asking or answering questions.
“DRWC” and “Delaware River Waterfront Corporation” was almost never recognized by the nearly one hundred visitors we interviewed at the parks, and often to confused with the Delaware River Port Authority. When we spoke to the staff at several parks, they mentioned the number one question (besides “Where’s the bathroom?”) is “who is responsible for this?” We suggested their team undertake a brand refresh to create a brand that connects and resonates with the people visiting the waterfront, and maximize its presence and visibility within the parks.
One of the biggest challenges the organization faces is that their parks are distributed throughout a long stretch of the river where each park is not visible from another, so many people do not realize that there is more than the one park they are in. Additionally, a major highway separates the city from the waterfront. Creating signage or other creative way-finding would help draw more people to the parks and encourage them to visit more than one.
The individuals we spoke to mostly heard about the waterfront park they were in through word of mouth, social media, a blog or event website, or literally just walking by. Few individuals recalled visiting the DRWC website. For information, most people recalled checking Google Maps for directions or Google to search for hours or other information. With this in mind, we reminded DRWC that it is important to not only to be updating their own website but to be actively reviewing and editing information elsewhere on the web.