THOUGHT LEADERSHIP FOR HIGHER EDUCATION SINCE 2001: Reach out to us.
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Iphone with the number six, symbolic of six reasons why mobile is important to colleges, universities, and schools.

Making sure your audiences can get to vital information about your institutionwherever they are and whenever they want itshould be a top strategic priority of every college, university, and independent school. One way institutions can support this goal is to make sure they are providing audiences with web sites optimized for mobile viewing and use. If your institution doesn’t have a mobile site, here are some reasons why it should be a critically important priority in 2012. If your college, university, or school already has a mobile site, the sources below should help create a case for adding more content and utility next year.

Traffic to institutional sites from mobile devices is rapidly increasing.
Source: The College of William & Mary
Some institutions, such as the College of William & Mary, have seen as much as a 500% increase in traffic to their mobile sites in the last two years. A growing number of people are finding value on college and university mobile sites.

More smartphones are being sold than desktop computers.
Source: PCMag
It’s old news that smartphones are outpacing the sale of desktop computers (with tablet sales on the rise as well). This means that how and where people access the internet is changing. As the way people access content changes, colleges, universities, and schools need to be prepared to address strategic goals and visitor needs on smartphones.

A vast majority of smartphone users use their smartphones to access the web.
Source: Pew Internet
84% of people who own a smartphone in the US use it to access the web. I included this statistic to add some context to the previous one, since some people might wonder if smartphones are primarily being used for verbal communication and apps.

There is a “mobile-only internet” contingent on the rise.
Source: ondeviceresearch.com
There is a growing population of people who only browse the internet on mobile devices. This seems to be truest in developing countries in Africa and Asia, but many colleges and universities are looking to build a global brand. By implementing a site that looks great on mobile devices you are decreasing the chances you will alienate people who never browse the web on a desktop machine.

Mobile access to the internet will eclipse desktop internet access as soon as 2015.
Source: idc.com
While some of the other statistics in this post hint this is where we are headed, the data here is pretty explicit: we will soon be living in an age where more people are accessing the internet via mobile than on desktop computers. Now is the time to deploy a first-generation mobile solution, start measuring how people are using it, and iterate the site effectively over time.

The innovators are now developing for mobile experiences even before they touch the web site.
Source: daringfireball.net
It’s not to say this should be a primary consideration, but many companies outside of higher ed are now developing for smartphones or iOs first, and then developing for a desktop website experience. The demands of code and site development are starting to follow the conventions of devices sold to access the internet. For a more expansive version of this philosophy, check out the book Mobile First by Luke Wreblonski.

Lastly, I’ll round these facts with something that is not a statistic, but rather a tactical consideration when building a case for a mobile site: cost. It costs a fraction of a full site relaunch to do a mobile site, usually because the information provided is more transactional and self-contained in a mobile environment than it is in a sprawling college or university site. If you’re thinking about how to prioritize web or marketing budgets, consider that mobile is both future-friendly and comparatively affordable.

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Doug Gapinski

AUTHOR - Doug Gapinski

I'm a user experience strategist and designer who has worked on web projects for higher education (Ivy League universities, community colleges and everything in between) for more than seven years. Find me on

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