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USF Mobile Strategy

Purpose

The University mobile strategy prioritizes and outlines next steps to develop university content for mobile devices.  The university supports mobile web technologies that enable information to be readily accessed and shared regardless of the mobile device.  Mobile requests are reviewed and prioritized based on their alignment with this strategy and with University of San Francisco Vision, Mission and Values.

Technology Guidelines

When selecting a technology platform, the following requirements need to be followed:

  • Device agnostic: designed to be compatible across relevant mobile devices
  • Technology platform independent
  • Conform to modern web standards: W3C web & mobile best practices
  • Allow for a unified and branded mobile presence

Strategy Recommendations

The university is building its mobile presence on the following technological platforms:

  1. USF websites:  Responsive web design (RWD) is recommended for the mobile presence for all university websites. 

    This is applicable if the content utilizes any form or combination of text/html, photos, or video to display information, and/or forms for data entry and collection.  RWD allows for web pages to automatically resize and present optimally on whatever mobile device is used.

    *All USF websites within the University Web CMS will eventually have RWD applied with the next redesign.  An interim mobile-friendly solution was implemented in July 2013 where all web pages display optimally in mobile phone devices. Externally hosted websites will need to be addressed on a case by case basis and are dependent on vendor capability.
  2. Official USF mobile app umbrella:  USF’s chosen mobile framework constitutes a hybrid technology approach of leveraging platform native iOS and Android SDK with HTML5 web support. The development process and maintenance require extensive resources and elevated cost. 

    This is applicable for building when the mobile presence adds a layer of value by harnessing the functionality of a mobile device (phone, camera, geo-location, address book, gyroscope, etc.) to interact with the user, when a log-in is required to access certain information, to make the functionality available in app stores, or when there is special value offered by off-line availability of the (downloaded) content.

    Depending on the complexity and requirements of the mobile app, the development work will go thru a review process and potentially be outsourced.

    **The University is currently re-evaluating the Official USF mobile app environment and the technology is changing in 2013.

    2.1 Affiliated mobile apps

    In some cases, a third-party vendor may have a mobile app that is appropriate for a short-term need or to solve an immediate gap. The requestor should present the mobile app for consideration through the Mobile Assessment process.  If the Web Policy Steering Committee classifies the app as an “affiliated app”, the app will be allowed to use official USF branding but will not be part of the Official USF mobile app umbrella.
  3. USF Mobile Publications:  Printed USF publications can be made available on mobile devices, if the client requests it.  Responsive Web Design is the recommended solution for efficient and coherent presentation of printed material on mobile, as well as the web. In some cases, the development of a mobile app may be justified. The solution to pursue depends on the functionality that the client aims to include in the mobile version of the publication.
  4. The client manager, Web Communications and Services, and the Publications team assess requests from clients to establish if the request justifies app development. The client covers the cost for the app development, unless an existing agreement between the vendor and USF already exists.

    3.1 Selection of vendor for app development

    If the assessment of the client request supports the development of an application, OCM will recommend a vendor to develop the needed functionality and help the client set the scope of the project. The OCM client manager will be in charge of coordinating review cycles with clients and the units within OCM.

Roadmap

The following are the priorities for new mobile development:

  • Mobile web: Admission content that specifically guides students at all levels and parents of undergraduates through the admission process from requesting information to applying.
  • Mobile app: Campus tour
  • Mobile publications: Admission and Development publications
  • All other USF web content and publications

Audience Guidelines

The audience priorities are identified below. The intended audience for the development of mobile functionality should be clearly identified.  Mobile development work is costly and must appeal to and reach critical mass for any of these audiences. 

  • Prospective students at all levels and parents of undergraduates
  • Current students
  • Alumni/Donor relations
  • Faculty/Staff

Oversight

The Web Policy Steering Committee will provide governance and review all mobile requests.  Requests can be for consideration of new mobile technologies, websites, and apps.   All mobile requests need to be submitted through an Office of Communications & Marketing request form.

Assessment Process

As the first step in the process, the questions below must be answered for any request to receive consideration.  Additional questions and analysis (financial, measurable results, security, etc.) may need to be done to move the request through the process and to monitor effectiveness.

  • How does the initiative support the mission of the university?
  • What value will the initiative add to the university?
  • Who is the audience and how does the development respond to the needs of the audience?
  • What are the goal(s) of the development and how will progress towards goals be measured?
  • Is the initiative sustainable?
    • Who is the owner?
    • Who will maintain the site/app?
    • How often will the content need to be refreshed and reviewed? 
      (annually, at a minimum)

Student Initiated Projects

USF student mobile projects are encouraged and viewed as an essential part of the academic learning process.  Due to the limited scope and short-term nature of student projects, these will not be included in the official USF mobile presence.*  Professional staff resources for student projects are limited and can be provided typically only to serve in a consultative role for initial ideas as well as for project critiques upon completion.   

*Ideas for enhancing official mobile apps are welcomed and should follow the normal request process for consideration.

Glossary of Terms

Responsive web design (definition from www.whatis.com):

Responsive design is an approach to web page creation that makes use of flexible layouts, flexible images and cascading style sheet media queries.  The goal of responsive design is to build web pages that detect the visitor’s screen size and orientation and change the layout accordingly.

Instead of having to build a special mobile version of a website -- which often requires writing new code from scratch -- developers can simply build multiple style sheets for the same web page and perhaps even associate different images with each of the style sheets. As a result, HTML code can be repurposed instead of having to be rewritten, which saves considerable development time.

Mobile framework:

Mobile frameworks provide guidance on the application development process.  Building on a prebuilt framework enables faster development time with built-in integration routines to services, resources and end-user functions.