And that, everyone, is how you design a modern mobile application. Trust (no pun intended) the National Trust (in the UK) to come up with a perfectly formed masterpiece of an 'app'. Aiming to completely replace the traditional National Trust handbook, the official National Trust application for Windows Phone melds beautiful photos, smooth operation, context-sensitive controls, maps and much more in a visual treat - in fact, almost an experience. Heck, most of it even works offline (understandably, the maps and calendar events all require a connection) - helpful given that most of the places you're visiting will be out in the sticks and away from 3G coverage. See below for a walkthrough.
Explore more than 550 special places protected by the National Trust throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This app is your guide to memorable days out at historic houses and buildings, archaeological sites and monuments, and stunning coast and countryside. It also shows you events happening throughout the year, so there’s always something new to discover. Download the app now and start planning your next visit.
Find special places: See what’s around you, or search for remarkable heritage and natural wonders across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
See what’s on: Our places host a range of events throughout the year, many for no extra charge. Use the What’s On section to find what’s happening – from educational talks and tours, to art, theatre and live music.
Offline mode: Everything you need to plan a visit is available offline, so you can use the app in our most remote locations.
Save your favourite places: Keep a record of the places you’ve been to, and make a wishlist for the places you want to go.
Invite your friends: Easily share the places you want to visit (or show your friends what they’re missing!) via social media, email or text message.
And here it is in action:
As is traditional in all the best apps these days, on first start you're treated to some introductory panes - and the National Trust isn't exactly short of atmospheric images to use....
Once into the application proper, you're treated to a graphical and swipeable pane of the properties around your current location, sorted by distance. Not obvious in the static screens here, but there's a delightful parallax effect as the various text panes slide around with the graphics.
Once you've found a National Trust property you like the look of, dive into it, with another level of panorama leading you through all the information on it. It's smooth and intuitive.
Even though the application itself is 'only' 48MB offline, each property still has multiple mobile-friendly photos associated with it and these are overlaid with interesting facts - the screens do a good job of drawing you in; (right) the 'Map' control shows where the property is relative to your current location. Oddly, the expected deep link through to HERE Drive+, for directions (these places can be hard to find!) is on an adjacent pane (listed with textual directions) rather than accessed via the map. But only a very minor criticism.
For each property in the directory (and there are hundreds), there's general information to tempt you to visit and then, when there, you can tap 'I'm here' for a more detailed level of information.
As examples, here are detailed opening hours for each attraction at the property, and more detailed information on exactly what's where. Oh, and as you're wondering, that 'Today' banner is a Calendar control - tap it to pick any date and the hours/opening information changes according to the date you've selected - a very nice touch.
Finally, as you leave a property, there's the 'Nearby places' pane again to help you find another nearby place to visit. And (right) the 'Map' control here shows all the properties on a standard map that you can zoom into or pan around as needed - tapping on any push-pin pops up a hyper-linked pane for that property. Tap it to dive into details, directions and photos.