You Will Not Believe Tour Company Blog

Real News about Fake Audio Tours of Real Places

December 11, 2011 10:59 am

Building a Responsive Web Application

Taking fake audio tours from your mobile device

The You Will Not Believe Audio Tours site is optimized for mobile devices. You should have no trouble whatsoever going to Hollywood Boulevard, for instance, loading up the You Will Not Believe site, and streaming Todd Waldman’s hilarious (and kind of horrifying) tour of the famed street. There are further instructions about streaming tours on our help page, but to be honest, you shouldn’t need them. You just load the Web site and click the stream button. It is that easy.

For most users that is all you will need to know - the YWNB tours work on your mobile device. The more nerdy among you, however, might be interested to know that I built the site using a web development technique called responsive web design.

Responsive web design

Responsive web sites are those which display their content differently depending on the size of the browser. They are not separate sites as some mobile web sites are, but instead the same exact site displayed in a format appropriate to the size of the browser on which the user is accessing it. Responsive web design was devised by Ethan Marcotte, whose book on the subject provided the inspiration and guidance for the You Will Not Believe site.

The idea is that a layout appropriate for a large desktop display — three columns maybe, or with a large wide logo — simply doesn’t work on the small screen of a mobile device. And while we can pinch and zoom, these are imperfect and somewhat irritating experiences.

Using a relatively simple combination of CSS media queries, however, and a fluid layout (percentages instead of pixels), the web developer can target the size of the browser, saying “when it’s larger than X, use a three column layout (or whatever); when it’s smaller than X, go down to a single column and replace the logo with a less wide version (again: or whatever)”.

This isn’t the place to get into the details of the CSS as they have been very well documented elsewhere, most especially in Marcotte’s book.

Building a responsive web application

In the case of You Will Not Believe, there are three main layouts: Large (for desktops), Medium (for iPads or really small computer screens or people browsing the site in the late 1990s), and Small (for iPhones and other mobile devices).

You can see the different layouts simply by reshaping your browser; or, of course, loading up youwillnotbelieve.com on your mobile device.

Large

You Will Not Believe Audio Tour Responsive Design Large

Three column layout; logo floated to the left of the title

Medium

You Will Not Believe Audio Tour Responsive Design medium

Keep the three column layout; move logo and center title

Small

You Will Not Believe Audio Tour Responsive Design Small

Switch to a one column layout

A responsive web

While I fully intend to build a native iPhone application for the You Will Not Believe tours (prepare ye for an upcoming Kickstarter project), I very much appreciate and adhere to Marcotte’s vision of a responsive web. The nature of the You Will Not Believe tours requires a pleasing mobile web experience as much as it does (and possibly even more than it does) a pleasing desktop experience.

The You Will Not Believe Tour Company was built with the mobile web in mind for sure; but even more it was built due to the mobile web’s very existence. As more and more people can access the web from mobile devices, the content and ideas we distribute through the web can evolve. The idea of fake audio walking tours is funny on the desktop. It is funnier if you can actually take the tour.

November 29, 2011 5:20 pm

Welcome to this fake tour of this real place…

I have always enjoyed audio walking tours - whether in the museum, art gallery, or former maximum security prison. Unlike a movie or a radio play, you get a story while in a real and actual place.

As much as I enjoy audio walking tours, however, it is high time we take this story-telling medium away from the museum and historical societies! I am proud to introduce the newly founded You Will Not Believe Tour Company - maker of totally fake audio walking tours of totally real places.

What is a fake audio walking tour?

A fake audio walking tour is a walking tour with totally made-up or otherwise inappropriate material; and where your tour guide is a professional comedian.

For instance, Kasper Hauser - the always-to-be-trusted San Francisco comedy troupe - leads a tour of the California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium. Aquarium Docent Tom Bandy (played by KH’s James Reichmuth) is leading his final tour of the aquarium. Unfortunately, he has his adopted son Ozman Bandy (KH’s John Reichmuth) with him; and Ozman is on mushrooms. You haven’t seen a tank of jellyfish until you have seen it with a guy freaking out on mushrooms.

That is a fake audio tour of a real place.

Kasper Hauser leading a fake audio walking tourKasper Hauser leading a fake tour of the real Steinhart Aquarium.

In addition to the tour of the aquarium, the You Will Not Believe Tour Company currently also offers tours of:

How to take a fake audio walking tour

Register with the tour company - it is free and only requires an email and password.

Choose your tour and then you have three options:

  1. Just listen on your computer - it turns out fake audio walking tours are nearly as funny when listened to at home.
  2. Download the mp3 file and put it on your audio device. Go to the spot indicated on the map and hit play.
  3. Go to the spot on the map; bring up the Web site and stream the tour. Works just fine over 3G.

If that is still confusing to you, read our help page

Future tours and plans

Of course, there are a lot of real places which can benefit from a fake tour and we want to hit them all. Next up are a tour of the Portland, Oregon Zoo with Scotty Iseri and New York’s Central Park with an unnamed but sure to be very special tour guide.

Plans are also underway to build a native iOS application for these tours.

I hope you enjoy these fake audio walking tours. Follow me on twitter for updates; and contact me with any ideas and questions.