Passport to the Hills is an ambitious app developed by Fife Coast & Countryside Trust and made available for Android and iPhone devices to help users “explore and discover Fife’s amazing countryside”.

The ‘Passport to the Hills’ app is part of an ambitious project that was created through the Living Lomond Landscape Partnership. The LLLP multi-million pound project aims “to re-connect people with the living legacy of the Lomond and Benarty Hills through a range of community based activities, volunteering opportunities and projects”.

The project partners include, ON Fife Cultural Trust, Fife Council, Fife Coast & Countryside Trust, Falkland Centre for Stewardship, TRACKS, Portmoak Community Woodland, Forestry Commission Scotland, Markinch Heritage Group, Kinross Museum, Woodland Trust, and Benarty Community Forum Group.

Features & Tests


On the Play store the app boasts many features including the claim that it is packed with “lots of ideas and lots of things to do with your family outdoors”, it also suggests that users can use the app to “learn more about the surrounding areas” and “take photos of your adventures”. Sadly, the official description for the app is over-hyped by the developer with the app failing to deliver on many fronts.

  • Basic profile options.
  • Activities suggestion list.
  • Award system.
  • Bluetooth messaging system.

The app is well designed in terms of visual appearance, yet on the three devices we tested the app with, the graphics obscure some of the content and most importantly obscures the button which allows users to complete ‘an adventure’. There is also an issue of the main navigation menu not functioning consistently across devices.

The app despite boasting “lots of ideas” contains very little. Users are asked to ‘Pick an adventure’ which falls under 11 categories: Go on a picnic, roll down a hill, build a den, hold a scary beast, make a stick trail, create wild art, find fossils and bones, track a wild animal, build a bug hotel, find a geocache site, or go birdwatching.

Opening the section on birdwatching, users a presented with a graphic of nine birds, none of which are clickable to bring up further information on the birds, sadly a missed opportunity. Choosing the ‘roll down a hill’ adventure, users are given a step-by-step guide on how to roll down a hill with special notice for the user to avoid, bumps, poo and cliff edges! Each ‘adventure’ although nicely designed, lack any real substance, content and interactivity.

The app fails to deliver on many fronts and offers very little interactivity with the end user.

Examining the website, the design is visually well done. Site visitors are greeted with a large interactive map, multiple areas have been marked that can be clicked for further details and downloadable content, mainly maps and guides.

Beyond the initial functionality of the site, the website boasts 94 pages of content in the site map, covering walks from all across Fife and Perth & Kinross. Sadly, the pages are very much incomplete, with 53 pages returning a ‘404 – not found’ error. Looking closer at the remaining 41 pages, five of those either have no content or dummy content as a placeholder. Out of 94 pages, only 36 pages bring any worth to site visitors, and with an extremely high number of 404 errors facing site visitors this could impact on engagement rates.

Conclusions

Both the app and website started as an ambitious project and shows potential to be an innovative tool to help encourage families access the countryside across Fife and Perth & Kinross whilst educating young children of the wonders of our local environment and wildlife habitats. Sadly, the project fails to deliver on any of the initial premises for the app and website, and what is left is a poorly executed and delivered project that fails to deliver on the claims made by the Living Lomond Landscape Partnership.

Passport to the Hills
Summary
The premise behind the app is a good idea but poorly executed and very limited in scope and content. Overall the app could have achieved so much more but fails to deliver. Since we were unable to test the app 'in the field' to check the bluetooth interactive elements, we have been generous in our scoring.
15 %
Poor
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