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Why do I need a mobile app if my website is responsive or mobile friendly?

First, let’s take a look at what a responsive website is.

A mobile friendly, or responsive, website essentially means that the website is easily viewable on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. The content is still the same as the website because it uses the same database for content but it loads to fit the users screen and can be easily navigated and viewed (minimal scrolling and panning). Users search the website for the content they are looking for; it’s reactionary behavior, typically when they are in need of some type of information.

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For most organizations responsive websites are great. Actually, any website designed and built now should be designed and built responsively. But a responsive website isn’t enough. Users today are sophisticated and expect ease-of-use features found in customized apps such as the Visiwick K12 app.

Mobile apps act differently. When users download the app from the app stores, they usually register that installation to their device. This allows them to choose preferences that can be stored in the app.

Stored preferences such as:

  • What school they want to see information for
  • What user type they are (parent, student, staff, community member)
  • What language they prefer to read content in
  • Automatic information such as their approximate location

Having these preferences allows the app to filter content specifically for the user. This increases the chances that they will see information you want them to se

Staff can see different content than Parents, etc. Plus, you can change content based on their geographic location if needed.

Mobile apps are pro-active in that you can use it to push alerts and notifications directly to the user. You can help control the information they see and for how long they see it. For example, for weather related closures, you can push an in-app notification to users for the whole district or specific schools so that they are notified right away. Need to share information about the upcoming board election or bond? The information is served up right to the users. No more digging around to find the information or hoping someone is interested enough to look for it.

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Mobile apps for school districts do not replace responsive websites, they are another important tool to be used for further segmented communication. And remember, as school communities, we need to respond to ways our stakeholders are consuming information. It’s no longer one or the other, it’s a little bit of everything!