Before they set foot in their first class, incoming college students face a maze of requirements and resources that will be critical to their success. So-called “student supports” abound. Yet forty percent of first-year students don’t return the following year, and a growing number report information overload as they navigate campus life amid newfound independence.

Perhaps with good reason. Today’s students are “over” email—and university websites just aren’t intuitive to the touchscreen generation. The nine in 10 undergraduates who own smartphones are probably familiar with the xkcd about it. College-aged Americans check their devices more than 150 times per day. So it should be no surprise that a growing body of research suggests that mobile solutions can play a critical role in enhancing the student experience.

But with an explosion of campus apps for academics, extracurriculars, and events, going mobile can create an even more fragmented online experience. The risk of “app fatigue” looms large for student affairs professionals.

5 questions to ask before your university goes mobile

Here are five questions institutional leaders should ask—and answer—when evaluating the potential for mobile solutions.

1. Is the mobile app native?
We’ve all had the frustrating experience of using a smartphone to navigate a page that was designed for a computer. But when designing native mobile apps, developers start with the small screen, which leads to simpler, cleaner platforms that get rid of the clutter of the desktop browsing experience.

(Next page: Ask these questions before you go mobile)

About the Author:

Danial Jameel is co-founder and chief executive officer of OOHLALA Mobile, which partners with colleges and universities to develop custom mobile apps designed to increase engagement and retention. In 2015, he was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in education. Jameel began his career in student affairs at the University of Toronto.

Haider Ali is the director of product marketing and insights at OOHLALA Mobile. He has more than 12 years of experience working in higher education administration, including the creation of a Business Intelligence Unit at McGill University.


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