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Do You Have an Education App for That? You Might Not Need One

By Melissa Butensky, User Experience Director

The conversation goes something like this: “Everyone is asking for an app—we should really plan to build an app this year.”  “OK – great! What kind of app did you have in mind?”  “Something engaging—people are always on their phones, and that’s where we need to reach them.”

How can you tell if you really need an app, as opposed to a mobile-compatible website?  There’s no one answer that fits all, but here are some qualities to take into consideration:

In qualitative user studies that MMS has conducted, educators and students alike cited convenience as a major advantage of an app over a mobile website. The ability to click an icon and get right to work removed the perceived barrier of opening a browser, finding the website, and logging in. An app may be a good fit if your goals are best achieved by frequent or repetitive tasks over time.

Apps are great for triggering reminders right on the phone, rather than relying on emails or text messages.

Offline access
An app can store data on the user’s local device so that it can remain functional when offline. Mobile websites can’t do this.

Choosing an OS
To maximize your audience, it’s best to build an app that works well and is available for Apple iOS, Google Android, and MS Windows. If budget only supports one OS, and broad reach is important, a mobile website may be a more efficient solution.

App glitches will happen—and need to be addressed on a regular basis, for all supported devices. Consider how users will report issues, and ensure there is ongoing development support to address them.

App stores allow people to rate and review apps. It’s best to regularly monitor comments and ratings on all three major app stores to get feedback, address any issues, and plan for future enhancements.

Above all, before wrestling too much with the question “to app, or NOT to app?” make sure your objectives are clearly defined, and do some user research to help guide your decision.

If you have questions about whether or not an app is right for your product or program, or could use some guidance on creating an online experience that is right for your users, MMS Education can help. Call us today at 866-382-6116 or fill out this form to see how MMS Education can help you reach, engage, and measure impact in the PreK-12 education market.

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