If you'd like some additional information about the benefits of a school app please check out this article - 6 Absolutely Awesome Benefits of a Mobile App For Schools.
Before you make an app, you need to make sure your school app will work for your school and meet your expectations. The goals for a mobile app can vary from school to school, but ease of access to school information and engagement are the driving forces for most schools in choosing a mobile app.
Public or private, urban or rural, large or small, there are core features every school should have in their mobile app. If a mobile app is done right, it can be your biggest asset for communication and become a self-serve portal for your stakeholders.
Here are six must-have school mobile app features you should insist on from your mobile app provider.
1. Important phone numbers
Many schools have a host of important phone numbers, leaving stakeholders searching for the number they need. What's the number for the main line, attendance, the district or athletics? With a mobile app, parents no longer need to search for phone numbers because everything is there with the push of a button.
2. School calendar
Having a solid calendar feature that is user friendly is a must. In no more than 2 button presses your stakeholders should be able to review what's coming up so they can plan accordingly.
3. Easy to use staff directory
A staff directory is a popular feature that needs to work well. The directory feature should allow you to quickly find an individual and click a phone number or an email button to automatically reach that person.
4. Targeted push notifications
If you'd like detailed info on push messaging and how to use them, check out this article: Push Messages 101.
No one wants to install a mobile app that sends a bunch of one-size-fits-all messages. People do not want to be bothered with irrelevant information. They want an app that keeps them engaged with information that's important to them.
This requires settings to be predetermined based on an app login or the ability for the parent or student to adjust their settings. This needs to be intuitive for the user, and it is important to communicate this when downloading and installing your app.
With targeted messaging your messages will reach the appropriate stakeholders and ensure your messages are relevant...and relevant messaging leads to increased engagement.
5. Latest news, photos and videos
A mobile app gives you the opportunity to promote the latest happenings through words, pictures and videos. This needs to fit into all of your other forms of communication. In a perfect world, you can promote your message from a single spot and it will be shared in all of your channels. Video consumption on mobile devices is extremely popular and will continue to soar. If photos and videos are or will be part of your school's communication, make sure your mobile app can accommodate them.
6. Social media connections
Schools are quickly embracing social media and using it to engage their school families and community at large. While a majority of people have dedicated social media mobile apps on their phones, the benefit of your school app is to make it easier for users to access these accounts. No matter what social media channels you engage in: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever else becomes popular, they should be linked to your mobile app.
With our increasing dependence on mobile apps, now is the time for your school to seriously consider using one as part of your school communication plan. Mobile is a very complimentary and supplementary communication channel that will only make your current communication plan that much better.
We suggest you keep in mind the features you'll need the most and find a mobile app provider who can deliver those.
Your school needs to be on your stakeholder's phones. Just make sure your school mobile app is done right and you have a mobile app partner with the expertise to ensure your success.
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Tim Fitzpatrick is the President & Founder of Rialto Mobile Marketing. At Rialto Mobile Marketing we create marketing systems to help small businesses achieve simple, sustainable growth. We're the bridge between where you are and where you want to be.