Review: National Portrait Gallery App


The Portrait Competition App is a companion piece to the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit on a portrait competition held in late March. After giving the app a test run on an iPad, here’s my review broken down into simple Q & A.

Please note this post is being written under the duress of my memory. All of my recollections as to what are good and bad may not be exactly what is in the app. Again, the duress of memory.

Q: How would you expect to use this app?

A: Optimally, I would expect to use this app in concert with viewing the exhibit portrait’s in person, since I live in Washington, DC. However, I realize that a positive aspect of this app is that person’s hundreds of miles away can be with the exhibition digitally through the app.

Q: Is it easily navigable?  Are there design aspects that are difficult to understand or work with?  Could they be done differently?
A: For the most part, the app was easily navigable and seeing the portrait on an iPad are splendid. However, I did find two things annoying with the application. Firstly, the paragraph sizes with some of the portraits were much too long and ill-formatted.  Secondly, information concerning the materials used to make the portraits was difficult to access and, I think, should be noted directly underneath the portrait.

Q: In what situations would you take the time to listen, watch, or read this content?
A: Personally, only if I were in the NPG, but I also don’t own an iPad or smartphone, so I’d never be able to use this without the aid of a friend. So, in my case this would clearly be a social experience.

All and all this is a pretty snazzy app and I wish the Basketball Hall of Fame had a similar one on its inductees. Or at least something where can all admire Carmelo Anthony’s magnificent portrait.

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