Can you please provide a brief description of your organization and the role that you play there?
We’re a very large college that awards degrees on a university level. We have around 16,000 to 18,000 students. I’m a lecturer at the college.
What is the name of your application, and what is its main purpose?
We have built a few. We wanted to build a very low-cost and quick-to-market pilot that we could get to students before they start college. It was a bit of acculturation for international students before they came to Ireland. We wanted to get an app that would give them all the information they needed for the course, the content, assessments, accommodations, and entertainment. A very comprehensive informational tool for international students.
Please describe your role in the initial app development process and your current engagement with app development or content updates?
I pretty much ran this. We wanted our program to have a more technological slant. My background is primarily IT [information technology]. I previously worked at a mobile phone network, so I was very familiar with the mobile apps industry and mobile Internet. I also ran the development piece, and I had designers do the design work.
How would you describe your app development skill level, such as beginner, some coding experience, expert, or so on?
Intermediate. I teach coding, but I’m not a developer. My background is large-scale architecture. I’m very familiar with native apps, and the time it takes to build one.
What was the business challenge your school was facing that incited the need for a mobile application, and what was the business goal that you were hoping to accomplish?
We were looking at advancing the technology channels for our students before they came into the program, but primarily we wanted to acculturate our international students that were coming to Ireland before they left their home country. Rather than waiting for them to arrive in Ireland, we wanted the means to reach them, and the mobile app was one out of the five channels that we put in place.
For what app platforms did you want to build an app? Did it matter to your business whether the app was a hybrid or native app?
Our apps are available on Android and iOS.
Did your school have a formal selection process for deciding on a mobile app development software? Was your school considering other software or possibly a mobile app development service provider?
We found AppInstitute by chance. We wanted to pilot an application and, in the education sector, there isn’t usually a large amount of capital available for large outlays. We wanted to pilot something that was quick to deploy. A lot of the services we found online required a subscription. We weren’t really in the position to do that yet because we needed to see what gain we could get out of it first. We did a lot of research, and we stumbled upon a news article about AppInstitute and figured we would give it a shot. Of all the ones we looked at AppInstitute had a low-cost model with incremental charges, they were the best one we came across.
About how long in terms of hours would you approximate it initially took to have an app ready for publication?
It was more a phased approach. Initially, the learning curve was actually quite steep but very short. It took me about a day to learn the CMS [content management system]. We actually deployed very quickly after that, about two to three weeks.
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
Can you share any success, metrics, or overall results of your application since publication?
We’ve done quite an extensive study of this app, and it’s actually been published in a conference paper in Madrid. We found that the app gave a better impression to students of our program. Our program is very well known in Europe, and especially in Ireland, but maybe not so much outside the EU [European Union]. The app gave a very positive impression of our program to our students before they came here. Also, the information around emergency numbers, contact details was really useful as well. Those were the two major pieces of feedback we got from our students. We were so impressed with the organization, and word has gotten out on our campus around how effective the app is. Other lecturers are talking about it as well.
Have you found it necessary to consult any of the tool's available support resources? Was the support useful and accessible?
A few times, really just to get information and a little bit of help here and there. There weren’t any problems with the app when we were deploying. If there were any questions, we would engage with their support team. They were incredibly helpful. I even got a phone call back from them when we had a problem deploying the app, and they checked it out for me. They were very efficient and very polite. The support structure itself is excellent. They’re very one to one and very personal.
Were there any software features or tools that you were really impressed by, or of which potential buyers should be aware?
The nicest feature for me, and the easiest one to use, was creating HTML-based Web pages. Getting content in there was really easy. They had a wide variety of modules that you could plug in, you have a nearly infinite amount of combinations that you could have come out of that. The plug-and-play modularity was very useful, and also the range of HTML pages that you could put together for content was very useful.
Looking back, were there any areas of the software that you felt were not intuitive or that you feel could be improved upon?
Some of the modules are difficult to use. I get the impression that the interface is geared to an iOS, so it didn’t translate very well into Android. We had more complaints about the usability from our Android users than we did from our iPhone users. It could be nice to be able to change the modules depending on which platform you’re going for. That was the only major issue we had.
We have a few quick questions and, for each question, we ask you to rate the software on a scale of one to five, with five being the best. What would you give the software for quality of features available?
What you give the software for ease of use in the development process?
For support, as in responsiveness, communication, and resources available?
For cost, as in value for your money and the time dedicated to development?
For overall usability and satisfaction with the software?
Four and a half.
How likely are you to recommend the software to a colleague?