We’d planned the stops, we’d drafted the scripts and we’d chosen the sound effects. Now we needed to test our finalised product.
Four members of our group went out to Breary Banks on a sunny Friday morning, armed with scripts, questionnaires, and dictaphones with the simple aim of making sure our audio guide worked. We wanted to ensure that our directions were clear, that the emotions could be felt for every stop, and if any improvements needed to be made. In order to test out our audio guide we wanted to take people who weren’t too familiar with the site itself. However, because this was just a pilot test we didn’t have the resources to take up members of the public. So we decided that the people who were working on the excavation at Breary Banks would form our pilot group.
Our plan was simple. Two members of our group would take up a group of two testers and read out the script for each stop. In order to ensure that our directions were correct we would stagger the start of the tour to ensure that tour 1 was out of sight the moment tour 2 would be at stop 1. Once we had read the script we would then ask the questions that formed a part of our questionnaire and note down the answers. This would tell us whether each script was doing what we wanted to achieve for each stop. This format would be replicated for all eight stops, before we would take our group aside and record any other thoughts they had about the audio guide including anything they would like to improve or get rid of.
By the end of the day we had given a tour to four groups, three of which were students and one where the excavation leader had decided to join us. For the student tours, the feedback was quite similar. They liked the emotion, which was present for many of the stops. They enjoyed interacting with the landscape, especially when the script explained the story behind certain features. We also had aspects we needed to improve on. Many students wanted Stop 7 to expand on the hospital story as they felt it needed to be fleshed out and some people were unsure about a direction in Stop 4. The excavation leader had a few comments on our archaeological facts and his comments were instrumental in helping us improve the directions in Stop 5 and 6. This feedback helped us make final changes to our scripts before we started recording the final product. None of this would have been possible without the participation of our test group.
On the coach journey back to the University of York, we were now ready to make any necessary change before we embarked on the greatest journey of all, the recording of our audio guide. As you finish reading this post, spare a thought for the other half of our group who spent their Friday working on the brochure when a power cut hit King’s Manor…