It is no secret that the adoption of mobile technology is growing at a staggering rate. Research firm KPCB (www.kpcb.com) notes that mobile traffic as a percentage of global Internet traffic has grown at an exponential rate over the past 5 years and will continue on that trend. [For their full 2013 Internet Trends report, see http://www.slideshare.net/kleinerperkins/kpcb-internet-trends-2013]
So, what are we doing to better support mobile devices, you ask? Well, plenty.
First, for a couple of years now, we’ve had a mobile-friendly interface designed for current students, which is available at http://m.sju.edu. The most current version of the “M dot” site, as we refer to it, that was re-launched this fall, was built using responsive web design techniques that automatically adjust the content of the page to best fit the size of the device. Currently there are links to the new shuttle tracker system, SJU dining hall menus, the Blackboard system, and library catalog search, among other services. We are closely tracking usage and are make changes and additions based on usage and feedback from users.
We have also just recently developed and launched a mobile-friendly version of top-level pages on www.sju.edu optimized for prospective students. The new design, available at http://i.sju.edu, which also uses responsive techniques, allows prospective students to get to the information they are looking for more easily using mobile devices, especially smartphones. While this does not give them access to the full site, it does allow them to get some information easily and hopefully get them “hooked” on SJU and they can return to the site later from a laptop or desktop to get more info.
Moving forward, we intend to make the entire www.sju.edu site mobile-friendly. There are two strategies that we are investigating currently, using responsive design for all pages and developing mobile-specific templates. There are pros and cons to both, which we are evaluating with a goal to select one direction and then plan on when we could have the site updated. It is still too early in the process to be able to put a specific date out there, but we definitely are trying to do it sooner rather than later.
Lastly, we know that a large part of being mobile is to have a native app, i.e. an app that is available from iTunes for Apple devices, Google Play or Amazon for Android-based devices, and the Windows store for Windows-based devices, and launches directly on the device as opposed through a browser. These native apps are the ultimate goal as they are typically what people think of when thinking mobile.
Currently, we are evaluating a number of mobile platforms that facilitate more rapid development and easier maintenance of apps than if we built them ourselves from scratch. We hope to move through the evaluation process this spring with an eye toward possible implementation over the summer. We really would like to launch a native mobile app specifically for current students sometime during the 2014-15 academic year, if possible.