The Secret To Mobile School Apps

The Secret To Mobile School Apps image mobile school appsQuestions about mobile school Apps have become increasingly frequent in the past few months:

  • Do I need a mobile App for my school?
  • Mobile school Apps are so expensive – why do we need one?

Mobile Apps for schools have become a big question and with good reason – take the web traffic from my school to it’s main domain: sewickley.org.

During the 2010-2011 school year mobile web traffic accounted for only 3.49% of our total web visits. The 2011-2012 school year saw our mobile web traffic jump to 7.43%. An even more significant increase when you consider that the actual mobile web visits increased from 12,590 to 25,378.

I anticipate that mobile web traffic will only continue to increase leading one to believe that a mobile App for your school would be a good investment. Here’s the secret – I don’t think you need a mobile App for your school.

Where’s the value?

The real question you should be asking isn’t do you need a mobile App but what value your different constituencies would receive by using a mobile App. I don’t think that people want to download and use an App that simply is a repacking of your current web content. If you don’t offer your users additional benefits through the use of your mobile App then they will use it once and never use it again.

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With that said, we are launching a mobile App this September that is being developed by our website provider. The simple reason we decided to launch the mobile App is because the App will allow our parents and students to more easily access their respective portals. Our parents and students use the portals to access homework, tests, schedules, and calendars. The mobile App we are launching provides a better interface for our parents and students and as a result, provides more value to them as well.

Mobile Responsible Not Mobile Apps

Rather than thinking about a mobile App for your school I think you should be thinking about mobile responsive design.

What is mobile responsive design? Here’s a great explanation from Studio Press:

When a website is responsive, the layout and/or content responds or adapts based on the size of screen they are presented on.

A responsive website automatically changes to fit the device you’re reading it on.

Typically there have been four general screen sizes that responsive design has been aimed at: the widescreen desktop monitor, the smaller desktop (or laptop), the tablet and the mobile phone.

Is your school website mobile responsive? That is the question you should be asking yourself.

As more and varied devices are being introduced at a increasingly quick pace I think you should be focusing on making your school’s webpage experience as rich and productive as possible for your entire audience – no matter device they choose to browse the web. Even though we are launching a mobile App this September we do so with the purpose of serving our internal audience and not our external audience.

What Are You Trying To Accomplish?

Making a decision to launch a mobile App for your school really depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

If you are trying to add value to your internal audiences then a mobile App might make sense for you if the App provides the value you hope to achieve.

If you are thinking about your website in terms of marketing and finding new students then I think a mobile App is not the best investment for your school. I think you should turn your attention to mobile responsive design and work in making your greatest marketing asset, your school’s website, easily accessible by all devices, web browsers, and monitor sizes.

Now It’s Your Turn

In most cases I don’t think you need a mobile App for your school. I think you should focus more on mobile responsive design.

But I want to hear from you!

Do you have a mobile App for your school? Is the App successful by your standards? Have you decided to not use a mobile App for your school?

Please share your thoughts below.

Thank you to Dr. Jennifer Morrow, Director of Admission, Corbett Preparatory School in Tampa, FL. for the idea for this blog post.

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