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Native-Apps vs. Mobile Web

By: Annie on Feb 7, 2019 2:21:00 AM
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According to a Nielsen study, 97% of Millenials and Gen-Zers own a smartphone. While that number might seem high, consider the demographics in question. People belonging to Generation-Z have grown up in a post-9/11 world. They have never experienced life without internet, have never used a rotary telephone, and finding a floppy-disc in their parent’s desk drawer would be the equivalent of an archaeologist finding a dinosaur fossil in their backyard. 

So why are some campuses still not on mobile?

The answer is they are, but not in the right way. Back in 2013, Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook’s mobile strategy relied too much on HTML5, rather than native applications. While referring to a claim made 6 years ago seems outdated (even for higher education standards), some colleges and universities are still struggling to adopt a native mobile-app on their campus.

While Facebook’s motivation for going mobile was to increase revenue, a campus’ motivation for adopting a native-app is a bit more altruistic. These mobile platforms not only provide a better user experience, are faster and more reliable than mobile websites, they offer features that students truly need to help them stay organized and interact with their school. 

Why do today’s students need more help?

One question we’ve gotten several times from multiple administrators is “why should we pander to this demographic’s need to be coddled?” We don’t see this method of helping students as coddling, but rather supporting them in an increasingly hectic environment. In a previous blog post, we outlined how today’s students are being bombarded with more information than any generation before them, making even simple, daily tasks overwhelming. The individuals who raise the aforementioned concern didn’t grow up in a world of hyper-information which is why they never experienced the need for such a system of support.

Becoming a mobile-only generation

What is most surprising about this generation is that an increasing number of today’s students are not just mobile-first, but are mobile-only. In the span of 1 year (March 2014 - March 2015), the number of desktop-only users in the US dropped nearly 10%, making smartphones and tablets “our primary access point to the internet.” 

Why should campuses go mobile?

By giving students access to all the tools they need to succeed in one native mobile app, admins will encourage long-term usage of the app, ensuring student-engagement on campus. Admins can also send targeted messaging to student quickly and easily, ensuring that students are receiving the information they need, when they need it most.

While implementing and managing SIS, LMS, CRM and other system integrations to mobile is complicated, campuses always have the option of outsourcing their mobile-app development to a qualified mobile partner. To learn more about choosing the right mobile-partner for your institution, read our previous article: “Not All Platform Developers are Created Equal."

Final thoughts:

Web apps and HTML5 may be quicker and easier than building a native mobile app, but if students don’t use them, what’s the point?

Want to learn more? Download the full white paper here.

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