Guest Blog // University of Notre Dame: ND Mobile App Two-Year Retrospective

[This article was originally published on April 19, 2016 on the University of Notre Dame’s mobileND website. It was updated on April 27, 2016 to reflect updated download numbers.]

April 11, 2016 marked two years since the ND Mobile app was released to the public. In those two years the app has continuously increased in both functionality and campus usage.

On this second anniversary of the app’s launch, we are taking a look at how the app has progressed over time, how it’s used today, and what’s coming in the near future.

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Getting Started

The ND Mobile app was primarily designed to meet the present and future needs of the changing mobile landscape on campus. The goal was to have it replace the MIT Mobile Framework-powered mobile web app at m.nd.edu with a platform to serve both native and web platforms, as well as provide an opportunity to expand going forward.

The original ND Mobile app launched with just 14 modules (Webcams was not available on launch day, a Friday, but was added the following Monday). Two icons, Laundry and Libraries, were mobile web sites. The idea at the app’s launch was to replicate the functionality found in the m.nd.edu web app, and grow from there.

Aside from Kurogo being a new platform to Notre Dame, it was new to Modo Labs (developer of the Kurogo platform) as well. ND Mobile was arguably the first app in production to be using Modo Labs’ Kurogo 2 platform (University of Arizona’s app launched the same day). Thanks to the efforts of the marketing teams at both the Office of Information Technologies and University Communications, the app took off quickly and helped to launch what would be a continuous improvement of the Notre Dame mobile experience.

ND Mobile App Timeline

The one thing that is absolutely true about running a campus mobile app is that it is a living, breathing entity. An app is never completely finished, and there’s always more to be done to refine its experience, features to be added and customer requests to be addressed. Here’s a timeline of the app’s past two years:

2013-2014

November 15, 2013 Check Notre Dame partners with Modo Labs on an upcoming campus app
March 19, 2014 Talk Notre Dame attends its first Kurogo Conference
April 11, 2014 Check ND Mobile launches on Kurogo 2.0
April 12, 2014 Download 1,000 downloads
April 14, 2014 Plus Webcams module added
June 10, 2014 Download 5,000 downloads
August 1, 2014 Plus Mobile Printing web app added
August 1, 2014 Plus Campus ID Card module added
August 24, 2014 Download 10,000 downloads
August 30, 2014 Plus First use of seasonal content with Game Day web app

2015

February 23, 2015 Check ND Mobile upgraded to Kurogo 2.2
February 26, 2015 Download 20,000 downloads
March 16, 2015 Plus Transit module, including O’SNAP requests, goes live
April 11, 2015 Clock One-year anniversary
April 27, 2015 Talk Notre Dame hosts the 2015 Kurogo Conference
May 11, 2015 Plus First use of seasonal Kurogo module with Commencement (Publisher)
June 1, 2015 Plus Admissions module goes live
June 10, 2015 Plus FaithND module goes live
August 19, 2015 Plus Indoor Maps module goes live with six buildings
August 24, 2015 Plus Sakai module goes live
August 30, 2015 Plus Added texting of O’SNAP ride requesters
September 3, 2015 Plus Bookstore module goes live
September 6, 2015 Download 30,000 downloads
September 14, 2015 Talk VisitND Challenge announced
September 24, 2015 Check ND Mobile upgraded to Kurogo 2.3
October 9, 2015 Plus Added taxi information to Transit module
October 28, 2015 Talk Notre Dame presents on ND Mobile app at EDUCAUSE
November 13, 2015 Plus Sustainability module goes live
November 20, 2015 Plus Laundry module goes live
December 1, 2015 Talk VisitND Challenge winners announced

2016

March 22, 2016 Plus Faith module goes live, replaces FaithND module
March 28, 2016 Talk Notre Dame attends and presents at Kurogo Conference at CSUN
March 30, 2016 Check ND Mobile upgraded to Kurogo 2.5
March 31, 2016 Plus Alumni & Friends persona goes live
March 31, 2016 Plus Leadership Conference (Alumni events) persona goes live
April 11, 2016 Clock Two-year anniversary
April 15, 2016 Plus Seasonal Senior Transition module launched
April 22, 2016 Download 40,000 downloads

Statistical Highlights

Total downloads (as of 4/24/2016) 40,087
Download platform percentage iOS 78.2%, Android 21.8%
Traffic platform percentage iOS 81%, Android 15%, others 4%
Total sessions 1,412,000
Most popular content (all-time) 1. Dining
2. Athletics
3. Academics
4. Map
5. Webcams

User Engagement

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One of the most important ways in which we measure the success of the app is not just the number of downloads or sessions, but rather in how often those users engage with the app. Google Analytics provides a wealth of data on this (in GA, clickAudience and then Behavior). This data tells us that over the past two years, 89% of ND Mobile traffic is return traffic; in the last year, this has grown to 92%. If we had a huge amount of one-time traffic, we’d see this number be in the single digits.

Screen Shot 2016 04 18 At 6

GA’s user frequency data shows us a beautiful bell curve right where we want it — users continuing to come back again and again. In fact, this data shows us that over the past two years more users have used the app between 51-100 times than have used the app once. In the past year, 49% of users have used the ND Mobile app at least 26-50 times, and 69% have used it at least 9-14 times.

Screen Shot 2016 04 18 At 6

GA also shows us user recency — that is, now long it has been since a user last opened the ND Mobile app. The data tells us that over the last year 57% of sessions are within 24 hours of the last session. In addition, 70% of sessions were within 2 days of the last one.

This data all points to a great trend; users are coming, and more importantly, coming back. Given that there is nothing in the ND Mobile app that users must use, the success is due entire to compelling content. Users come back because they want to, and because there is content valuable enough they keep in the app installed and within thumb’s reach.

Campus Partners

mobileND has been extraordinarily fortunate to develop strong partnerships with a host of departments across the Notre Dame campus in order to bring the best and most useful information to users. These partnerships continue to increase in number and strength, and are a key part of the app’s success.

Current campus partners, and the relevant components of the app, include:

Office of Information Technologies Hosting, service ownership, hiring/managing student developers, mobile printing service
Office of Admissions Admissions Publisher module
Office of Sustainability Sustainability Publisher module, Indoor Maps module
Risk Management Indoor Maps module
Disability Services Indoor Maps module
Hesburgh Libraries Libraries mobile website
Food Services Dining module menus and open/close times, beacons
Fighting Irish Athletics Athletics module content
Alumni Association Alumni & Friends persona, Alumni Events persona, Faith module
University Communications Branding, News module feeds, Calendar module feeds
Office of the Registrar Mobile grades and schedules, Commencement Publisher module
Office of Treasury Services Map module (ATM locations)
Notre Dame Student Government Map module (study spaces), Transit module (taxi information)
Notre Dame Security Police Transit module (O’SNAP)
Transportation Services Transit module (shuttle schedules)
Campus Card Office Campus ID Card module
Morris Inn Calendar module (Morris Inn events)
Hammes Bookstore Bookstore Publisher module, beacons
Auxiliary Operations Beacons
Innovation Park at Notre Dame Kurogo Conference
First Year of Studies 2014 Orientation Publisher module
University Architect Indoor Maps module blueprints
Office of Development Notre Dame Day Publisher module
Division of Student Affairs Student Life Publisher module

Student Involvement

Involving students in the app development process has always been a key element for the success of the ND Mobile app. Very rarely do you have the opportunity to interact with the end user in some a direct and real way. By involving students, they are able to tailor the design and functionality of app elements to their own ideas and behavior patterns. As a result, two of the top ten most popular modules (Webcams and Transit) were entirely student-created.

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Student talent has been leveraged in a variety of manners throughout the app’s lifetime. The Webcams, Weather and Transit modules are completely student-created by Zach Waterson (CS ‘16), Kyle Koser (CS ’16), and Waleed Johnson (CE and Studio Art ’15). In addition, students were instrumental in ensuring the app functioned as expected by performing extensive QA testing, including Mackenzie Kraft and Jack O’Brien (both ITM ’14). This included building a test environment, developing the QA success metrics, and recruiting students to use as human subjects. The results of these student-driven efforts were then poured back into the design of the app to improve the user experience even more.

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Even today, students play a big role in the success of the app. Katrina Gonzales (CS ’16) is managing the configuration and deployment of beacons for data collection and messaging. She will then be able to take the data collection from beacon interactions and present that to university decision makers looking to do more with the ND Mobile app.

Future Plans

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While the app continues to see success and exceed our initial expectations, there’s more to be done. Some enhancements to the app that we will be undertaking include:

  • Addition of VisitND tours to the app
  • Development and rollout of Student Life module in partnership with Division of Student Affairs
  • Expansion of Indoor Maps module to include additional buildings
  • Creation of an event app allowing departments to quickly and inexpensively build event-specific modules
  • Addition of a native Libraries module
  • Addition of a Safety module with various campus safety resources
  • Replacement of Map module with Map 2 module
  • Continued deployment of beacons and development of first targeted messages
  • Usage of Kurogo Messaging Platform (when available)
  • Upgrade to Kurogo 2.6 (when available)
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