A recent report out from the Pew Internet and American Life Project provides hard data on the growing prevalence of smartphones in the daily lives of Americans and points to the need for all institutions to go mobile with their online operations to tap into this influential group of people.
The key finding of this study was that 35 percent of the adult population in this country owns a smartphone and 83 percent of all adults have some kind of cell phone. This represents a huge portion of the American public using mobile devices on a regular basis.
Among smartphone users, a full 87 percent use their smartphones to go online, with 68 percent going online in a typical day. And the majority of smartphone users tend to be part of a more influential demographic. They live in suburban or urban communities, have college degrees (48 percent), have incomes over $75,000 (59 percent) and are younger.
The take away for colleges and universities from the study should be that the portion of the public they are trying to attract, specifically young adults and their parents use mobile devices regularly, want to access mobile content easily and will look for mobile content for your school. To increase your mobile device presence, consider optimizing your content for mobile use including your interactive map and maximizing your geo-location presence.
With at least one-quarter of smart phone users using their phone almost exclusively to access web content — and most of that 25 percent under the age of 30 — institutions should be optimizing their online content for mobile devices. Many mobile devices don’t display traditional websites very effectively and for the smartphones that do, it still requires a lot of scrolling around and resizing on the screen.
Mobile optimization goes for your university map as well. Mobile users will most likely access your interactive map while on campus and smartphone users will find an easy to read mobile interactive map an attractive feature of your website. nuCloud is in the final stages of releasing a mobile friendly version of our interactive campus map platform.
Additionally, it’s not a new story that Android has taken over the top spot from iPhone in the smartphone category. Although you want to make sure you are optimized for viewing on both of these platforms, if you are limited in testing resources you probably want to spend them on Android at this point. Sorry to all the iPhone people out there.
Increasingly, smartphone users also turn to geo-location applications on their phones. This includes Google Places and sites like Foursquare that allow users to check in at their locations. Your institution is already on Google Maps, but unless you have purposefully created your Google Places profile, smartphone users may not see your school as a marker on the site. Additionally, universities and schools, which often overlook this step, need to claim their venues on check in sites like Foursquare, Facebook Places, Yelp and other review sites so mobile users can broadcast their presence at your school.
Smartphone use will continue to rise. Institutions who tap into the power of the mobile market will find themselves reaping benefits more quickly than those who ignore this demographic.