Apparently we have an mobile app vendor on a fishing expedition around campus. He’s dangling shiny objects and looking for bites. This probably happens a lot, and it’s generally bad news for your college.
If this were, say, the 19th century, I could totally see app vendors being snake oil salesman, going from town to town vending miracle tonics that cure whatever is wrong with you. It’s no coincidence that app vendors almost never contact any college’s web communication office — they don’t want to talk to those who think about content, audiences and goals for the web on a professional basis. Instead, they fish around the fringes, trying to sell their Miracle App that can, well, cure your boredom and need for a shiny object.
When the conversation turns to mobile apps, two main questions tend to follow:
1) Will this provide a mobile solution to a particular problem or meet a specific goal? If so, then consider exploring it, but be wary of overpromising and underdelivering on the vendor’s part.
2) Wouldn’t it be cool for my office to have an app? No. Just no. Do not pass Go, please don’t pay a mobile vendor $200.
Our college explored and released a mobile site which, by all research, is the more reasonable way to address things like user need, content delivery and tasks people would handle on a mobile device. But apps — for the right task, the right price — are not totally out of the question. Once we learned the apps vendors were on the prowl, we’ve started discussing some kind of app policy. I’m not a huge fan of policies, but I feel like there should be some kind of check before someone bites on that shiny object and gets reeled in at great potential expense. Plus the consistency of things like names, logos and colors are important … as well as the hub-and-spoke model to let users know where they can go for other campus-related tasks.