Virtual tours mean different things to different people. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of different types of virtual tour.
Google Street View Virtual Tours
- Simple and fast to make and publish,
- Hosted by Google for free, (probably) forever,
- Work on all devices and browsers,
- Future proof – in fact Google regularly develops the user interface,
- Can be simply embedded on other websites for free,
- Work with Google Cardboard out of the box (virtual reality),
- MOZ has published evidence that Google tours may have SEO benefits.
- Users can only navigate via the Street View arrows – they don’t know where they are going within locations that are new to them, and may miss important parts of a large tour,
- Businesses are obliged to show parts of their locations they might not want to show because they connect two important areas,
- Google control when your tour will appear on their properties – for instance they recently removed a button giving users one click access to tours from search results pages.
- There are ways to mitigate these problems. Drop us a line if you are interested in a Google tour and how it can work for you.
- Tours can be made to look exactly as you like. The 360 images are the same, but the way you navigate and the information shown in overlays can be unique to your business.
- Can include branding – logos and colours for instance.
- Can include sound and moving elements.
- Can include people posed in whichever way you wish.
- 360 images can be shot from anywhere (for instance drone). (Any 360 image not shot from around chest height will not be included in a Google version of your tour.)
- Can be outputted as HTML5 or even Flash.
- In summary, custom tours can be made to be highly interactive and memorable and be created to be part of your brand.
- Must self host or pay for hosting (albeit inexpensive).
- New interfaces can be confusing to users, no matter how well designed.
- May need updating in the future as web browser technology develops.
- No interface to be learned – the virtual tours just plays in the same way as a normal video.
- Can be played in any video player or uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo.
- Video files can of course be emailed.
- Can be shown in video player when offline.
- Not interactive in any way
- The only way to advise users of content is with separate text, for instance in the “video description” on YouTube.
- As with all online video, will people watch to end? These videos generally are not quite as dramatic as, say, Breaking Bad 😉