The Definitive Guide to Mobile Apps for Schools in 2023

minute read
March 15, 2023

The process of creating a mobile apps for your school can be confusing. Learn everything you need to know in our guide to mobile apps for schools in 2023.

The Definitive Guide to Mobile Apps for Schools in 2023

As you scroll social media, chat with friends, or navigate your vacation, most of the time you’re probably using mobile apps on your smartphone. With the increasing amount of time we’re spending online, mobile apps offer a fast, convenient way to consume information. They’re also personalized and remember you when you login. This saves time and makes the experience more enjoyable.

The way you use your phone to get entertainment and information is the same as the parents from your school. And, with the growing number of younger parents, the time they spend on mobile apps is increasing. They are part of a mobile-first generation that expects their information to come in app form.

As we continue to explore the legacy school system vs the modern school of the future , we’ll define the components that will help schools thrive as they transform to fit present times. One of the first objectives for these future-focused schools is launching their own mobile app, fit with their own branding and personalized to each parent with their child’s academic information.

This is what parents have come to expect, and the communication channels you use are playing a role in deciding where to send their child. Through custom built mobile apps and marketing, schools can set themselves apart and become a beacon that will attract the best and brightest, and propel itself as a thriving, modern school.

In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of having a responsive, mobile-friendly website along with a custom-branded mobile app, and how you can use this as a guide to creating your communication plan for your school.

The Modern School Understands the Importance of Focusing on Mobile-First

Understanding why you need a mobile-first experience for your school is the first step in becoming a modern school. While you might be used to staring at your school’s website on your laptop or desktop screen, most parents won’t be interacting with your school’s digital presence the same way.

60 percent of internet traffic comes from mobile devices

Many schools end up designing their websites for desktop first and mobile second, a backwards step when you consider the growing mobile trend. With competition between school districts for enrollment, developing a mobile-first communication and marketing strategy is the best first step to setting your school apart.

At Solved Consulting, we work with over 200 schools to build custom branded apps and websites. We always recommend optimizing your mobile website and launching your app together to create the best possible experience for your students and parents.

How to Use Mobile Apps and Responsive Design for a Foolproof Digital Strategy

It’s important to note that there’s a difference between a mobile-friendly website and a mobile app. You might wonder, why do I need both? And, the answer is that they’re both very important for different reasons. Let’s tackle them one at a time.

1) Mobile-Friendly or “Responsive” Website Design

Your mobile-focused website is also known in web design terms as “responsive design”, meaning the site responds to the screen size it appears on and the needs of the user. Your website’s design and user experience is crucial to prospective students and parents that are deciding where to enroll their child in school. Your website is also instrumental in recruiting new staff. And, considering the majority of internet users access websites via mobile devices, your mobile site should take priority. There’s much more to consider when determining your digital marketing strategy for your school, but having a user friendly website that works across devices is the first step.

2) Mobile Apps

Mobile apps are native apps that live on your mobile device. You most likely use them everyday when you check your email, social media, weather, and just about any other task on your phone. Now, while outsiders might use your website for learning more about your school, the existing members of your community interact with your mobile app.

On your app they can find important updates, news, data dashboards, social media feeds, notifications, and much more. This gives your community an all-in-one home for everything school related.

Should I Build a Mobile App for My School?

Considering the behavior of mobile phone users and the fact that over ⅓ of the average user’s waking time is spent on mobile apps , your school should absolutely invest in its own mobile app. Benefits include ease of use, high engagement rates, and overall user satisfaction. In addition to these benefits, sharing important information between the school and the parents becomes simplified when utilizing mobile apps.

one third of a user's average waking time is spent in mobile apps

Your App Will Be Even More Useful If Your School Fits The Following Criteria:

No matter what, your school will benefit from having a mobile app. But, if your school fits any of the following criteria, you and your community will find extra benefits of having an app in place.

  • You have minimal resources. If you’re like many schools who have limited resources, utilizing your own mobile app will help you do more with less. Mobile apps allow you to create content once, and publish to everyone, all at the same time. You cut down on one-to-one communication and allow fewer staff to get more done.
  • You have a growing number of millennial parents. As we discussed, the mobile usage trends have accelerated in recent years and will continue to do so at a greater rate. These younger parents want to stay informed by the minute, and they want this information in one place. Having to check multiple places for scattered information is no longer acceptable to them. Some will even decide on a school based on their digital scorecard. Enter: your mobile app. You get to deliver exactly what these parents want in one place.
  • Your current communication strategy relies on social media, emails, or other channels. Relying on these channels limits the control you have over what is being said, and lowering your chances of everyone seeing the same information. Be sure everyone receives your notifications through your secure mobile app.
  • Your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices. As we discussed, mobile website optimization is important. But, if you can only invest in one, opting for the mobile app is the right choice.
  • Your student body speaks multiple languages. Having to communicate with families in several languages can be extremely difficult. With your custom mobile app , you can have every bit of information displayed in any language to make communication dramatically simpler for your team.
  • You want your students and their families more engaged. Utilizing an app just for your school will keep your students and their families on the same page with news, updates, and student’s status. You’ll see rates of unhappy parents go down when everything is simplified in one place.
  • Any portion of your community doesn’t have internet access. 7% of Americans remain without internet access . Communities in low-income and rural communities are more likely not to have internet. Having a dedicated mobile app will make access to your school’s information much more accessible for these members.

How to Develop A Mobile App for My School

Once you’ve decided your school is ready to have its own mobile app, you’ll want to research companies who can develop your app and understand what makes a good app builder. As mentioned, not every app developer offers the same quality of product. It’s important to make sure the final product of the app checks the following boxes:

Integration with Your Website, Social Media, and Other Tools

You don’t have time to update every single communication channel. And besides, what’s the point of an app if it only creates more work for you? Having an app will make it easy to update all of your communication channels in one place, creating a consistent narrative, and ensuring the same information is delivered to everyone.

Mobile Data Dashboard

The main goal of your app is to give parents an easy, all-in-one platform to stay on top of their child’s progress. Data dashboard functionality like Solved Consulting’s allows parents to quickly view student assessment and attendance data. You’ll be able to remove loads of back and forth by giving them an easy snapshot of their child’s progress.

Personalized Content

Another advantage of custom apps is that the content is personalized to the user. It will save their login, information, and always display their personalized content. Making this experience as seamless as possible is key to making the most of your app.

Unlimited Push Notifications

You want your app to allow unlimited push notifications. Between 50% and 80% of mobile users have push notification enabled . This allows them to stay abreast of news and updates they need to be aware of. Sending up-to-the-second updates allows you to keep your students’ parents in the loop at all times.

Apple and Android Capabilities

Your school community is made up of some split of iPhone and Android users. Working with an app builder who will provide you with an app for both app stores ensures everyone has access and there will be no gaps in deliverability.

High School Graduation Tracker

With the click of a button, your students and parents should be able to check their graduation progress, track credits earned, and more. This will remove headaches in the future, and improve student progress by giving their families’ insights into their activity.

The Importance of a Custom Mobile App

Now, you might be thinking that signing up with a big name school app maker is your first step. But, be careful. Not every app provider has your best interests in mind. You’ll want to make sure that the company you partner with will build you a completely custom mobile app branded for your school . You’ll want your app to have the name of your school on it, not the name of the company who made it. This gives you more control and brand recognition with your app. It also differentiates you from any schools you compete with for enrollment. Parents love to see a school with its own app where they can manage everything they need in one place.

Learn more about what you get with your own custom branded mobile app .

How to Ensure Your Community Uses Your Mobile App

Okay, so you’ve made the smart choice of building your own mobile app. But, just because you’ve built it doesn’t mean your community will rush to the app store to download it at once. You have to let them know about it, and encourage them to use it. Here are some easy steps to take to ensure your community uses your mobile app:

Run Quality Assurance Testing

This isn’t as complex as it sounds. Test the app yourself, and enlist your staff and a few parents to help. You’ll want to make sure every button and screen on your app is working properly. The last thing you want is to roll out a brand new app just to realize it’s broken. We recommend doing this weeks to months ahead of your launch to ensure there’s no bugs. Plus, this will give you time to fix any problems you find.

Notify Your Community of Your App Leading Up to the New School Year

You can launch your new mobile app anytime, and it’s a good idea to notify your community well ahead of your app going live. But, the best strategy is to time up the introduction of your app ahead of the new school year. This is when you have your students and their parents' attention as they prepare for the new year. This way, you can set the expectation that “for this school year, this is how and when we’ll be communicating.” It gives everyone a chance to download the app, and start using it before the school year gets underway.

There’s many ways to notify your community and roll out your app, but a good strategy is to send reminders on any and all communication channels, and placing a page notification on your website’s homepage. You can utilize similar features like pinned posts on social media as well.

Launch Both iPhone and Android Apps

Any good mobile app builder will tell you the importance of building an app for both platforms. After all, Apple and Android systems are close to an even split in U.S. market share . You don’t want to exclude anyone with your app, and for your mobile-first strategy to work properly, you’ll want to ensure adoption from everyone.

mobile device market share in the U.S.

Prove Its Value with Updated Content

Remember how we talked about the growing trend of mobile app usage? People love them because they make their lives easier. By coming out of the gate with up-to-date content preloaded on the app, it will make it an obvious decision to your community why they should use the app. Plus, research shows that mobile app retention is highest on day 1 and declines over time, so ensuring a positive experience from the start is the best strategy for adoption.

Utilize Push Notifications

Your community is busy. Parents have a million things to do in addition to staying on top of their child’s schooling. Make it easy for them. Sending push notifications is the simplest way to alert your parents and keep them up to date. This will keep them using the app, and make them realize the value of your app early on.

How Solved Consulting Can Help

Solved Consulting’s team is made up of educators and technology experts with decades of experience working with schools to grow through the use of custom mobile apps and websites. We’ve focused on mobile strategy for years, designing custom apps and websites for over 200 schools. Our mission is to help modernize schools and leverage technology to build a better school fit for the year 2023 and beyond.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can improve your school through your own mobile app, check out more information, or get in touch with us to start a conversation today!

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