[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.
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:
|November 15, 2013||Notre Dame partners with Modo Labs on an upcoming campus app|
|March 19, 2014||Notre Dame attends its first Kurogo Conference|
|April 11, 2014||ND Mobile launches on Kurogo 2.0|
|April 12, 2014||1,000 downloads|
|April 14, 2014||Webcams module added|
|June 10, 2014||5,000 downloads|
|August 1, 2014||Mobile Printing web app added|
|August 1, 2014||Campus ID Card module added|
|August 24, 2014||10,000 downloads|
|August 30, 2014||First use of seasonal content with Game Day web app|
|February 23, 2015||ND Mobile upgraded to Kurogo 2.2|
|February 26, 2015||20,000 downloads|
|March 16, 2015||Transit module, including O’SNAP requests, goes live|
|April 11, 2015||One-year anniversary|
|April 27, 2015||Notre Dame hosts the 2015 Kurogo Conference|
|May 11, 2015||First use of seasonal Kurogo module with Commencement (Publisher)|
|June 1, 2015||Admissions module goes live|
|June 10, 2015||FaithND module goes live|
|August 19, 2015||Indoor Maps module goes live with six buildings|
|August 24, 2015||Sakai module goes live|
|August 30, 2015||Added texting of O’SNAP ride requesters|
|September 3, 2015||Bookstore module goes live|
|September 6, 2015||30,000 downloads|
|September 14, 2015||VisitND Challenge announced|
|September 24, 2015||ND Mobile upgraded to Kurogo 2.3|
|October 9, 2015||Added taxi information to Transit module|
|October 28, 2015||Notre Dame presents on ND Mobile app at EDUCAUSE|
|November 13, 2015||Sustainability module goes live|
|November 20, 2015||Laundry module goes live|
|December 1, 2015||VisitND Challenge winners announced|
|March 22, 2016||Faith module goes live, replaces FaithND module|
|March 28, 2016||Notre Dame attends and presents at Kurogo Conference at CSUN|
|March 30, 2016||ND Mobile upgraded to Kurogo 2.5|
|March 31, 2016||Alumni & Friends persona goes live|
|March 31, 2016||Leadership Conference (Alumni events) persona goes live|
|April 11, 2016||Two-year anniversary|
|April 15, 2016||Seasonal Senior Transition module launched|
|April 22, 2016||40,000 downloads|
|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%|
|Most popular content (all-time)||1. Dining
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.
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.
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.
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|
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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)