App or Website?

by Kristen Abell

As college campuses continue to assess their websites, they find that more and more of our users are accessing sites through mobile browsers – smartphones, tablets, etc. (duh). What this calls into question, though, is what direction do we go from here? Do we invest our resources in a mobile app, or do we build a website easily accessible on mobile devices? A few thoughts to consider…

The majority of users on mobile devices access their favorite sites through apps (think Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.). They are used to the speed and ease of use of these apps. Most of these sites have created apps to be used across a variety of platforms – iOS, Android, etc. They highlight the most important aspects of the site for any user, and they turn them into buttons or easily used functions. This sets a fantastic example for universities in what mobile users are looking for when accessing a site on their device.

Quickly becoming more popular than mobile websites these days are responsive design sites – sites that adjust to fit the device on which they’re being viewed. These have a lot of potential for users to continue to be able to access all parts of the site, and once a responsive site has been implemented, it’s much easier to make changes to than a mobile app. In addition, for those users that are less familiar with using apps (believe me, they’re actually out there), this provides a more friendly interface.

One of the biggest challenges to universities is the breadth of audience and user functions required by their sites. They are providing information for students, future students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff and community. They are often large and unwieldy sites branching across a variety of departments and academic units. They also often use tools for registration, data-tracking and other applications that may not have ventured into the realm of mobile-friendliness.

So what is the best path for universities to take? What does your institution do? Do you have other thoughts on the mobile app vs. responsive website debate?

App or Website?

Linkage Love

By Kristen Abell

Much like Jess a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been taking a small hiatus from the internets – well, not Twitter and Facebook, of course – mostly just not reading blogs or news. Amazing how having multiple projects and meetings sucks up your time that way. Anywho, I still managed to find a few random stories/posts that I found interesting or entertaining in some way. I can’t say that there’s any thread that connects these, but maybe you’ll find something you want to read.

Thanks to a tweet by a friend of mine, I stumbled across this incredibly amazing post on gender discrimination in the workplace by Julie Payne-Kirchmeier. This is one of the more interesting ways I’ve seen someone go about proving a gender discrimination complaint as being completely and utterly founded. So worth the read if you have a minute (or even if you don’t).

If you want to read something that makes you feel incompetent as an adult, check out all these amazing kids and what they’re doing with technology in this post. When they mention that third graders are building applications, prepare to be amazed.

Feeling overwhelmed by email? Courteous.ly will tell others when your heaviest email times are. I can’t tell if I’d appreciate this or not – I’d probably like it more if I could use it with my work email. Then again, I’m not sure some of my colleagues wouldn’t enjoy sending extra emails during heavy email time just to mess with me.

Okay, I’m not the bigest gamer chick, but I do enjoy me some video games from time to time. And how can I resist a new Lara Croft: Tomb Raider game? The rest of the stuff I can take or leave, but I’ll never pass up anything to do with Lara Croft.

If you’re looking at how to turn your blog or website into a mobile app or site, this post has some fantastic tools and resources. As a matter of fact, guess what I’m going to be playing with over the next week?

And finally, although I have not procured an iPad 2, I’m digging on this ingenious app that uses the cover to serve as a study tool. This is where true creativity and brilliance combine to use a tablet in new ways.

Hope everyone has made it through the week so far. Happy hump day! (I have to admit, I HATE the term “hump day” – so this will probably be the one and only time you’ll see me use it.)

Linkage Love