Approved by CSUSM Mobile App Advisory Committee, July 2016
The CSUSM mobile app is a university-wide tool that makes the campus accessible with the touch of a button. The purpose of the app is to provide students with current and real-time information, offer simplified access to online services, and serve as a continual point of connection to campus. Driven by student input and user feedback, the app will continue to add new services and evolve in both content and functionality.
In 2016, California State University San Marcos engaged Modo Labs of Cambridge, MA to build the university’s first mobile application. Modo Labs has previously developed apps for a number of CSU campuses including Northridge, Cal Poly Pomona, and Fresno as well as other universities across the country including Harvard, Norte Dame, Dartmouth, NYU, Indiana State University and others.
Modo Labs develops mobile apps and offers a mobile platform, Kurogo, that enables universities to build upon the original app as needed, adding new modules. Kurogo is a web-based platform, meaning that users will continuously get new information from the app, as long as they are connected to the Internet. This platform will allow CSUSM to expand the app over time to include more features that meet students’ needs.
To maintain branding standards and ensure a high quality of user experience (including ADA compliance), the Modo Labs app is and will be the only app officially authorized by CSUSM. This is the only app that will carry the CSUSM branding and be identified in app stores online as CSUSM-approved.
Individual colleges, departments, and other campus entities may request to include their content in the CSUSM-approved mobile app via the Mobile App Advisory Committee, but they may not create their own apps.*
*This requirement was approved by the Information Management Steering Committee, July 27, 2016.
The Mobile App Advisory & Implementation Team will serve several important functions as the mobile app expands to include more modules.
The Mobile App Team will consist of members of the Office of Communications, Instructional and Information Technology Services (IITS), and Student Affairs including:
Any proposed changes or additions to the mobile app should be directed to the Mobile App Advisory & Implementation Team at email@example.com.
The Mobile App Team will consider modules, features, and functions proposed by students, faculty or staff at CSUSM.
Before proposing a module or feature, please download the CSUSM app to your mobile device and familiarize yourself with the current available features.
Before writing a proposal, please see the guidelines below and consider how mobile technology could best help your constituents. These guidelines have been adopted from best practices at other universities and colleges.
Adding features or modules to the mobile app may require additional labor, software licenses, or assistance from Modo Labs that goes beyond our current contract. These additional costs will need to be covered by the department requesting additional features or modules.
Connecting with mobile users typically occurs through mobile websites and native mobile applications. Apps can be stand-alone (self-contained software stored on a mobile device) or hybrid (software downloaded and stored on a mobile device that pulls data from remote servers when open). An app can provide key features of a traditional website, but is optimized for a mobile environment and often takes advantage of the unique hardware and features now found on typical mobile devices, such as a gps or microphone. Depending on the goals and objectives, a mobile website or mobile app may not be optimal or even appropriate.
Some mobile applications are meant for the general public, while others have utility only for a small number of consumers. The CSUSM app is designed to be useful for members of the campus community – particularly students, faculty and staff, as well as alumni, visitors.
The CSUSM app is a hybrid app. The university can add information and functionality to the app in the form of new modules, which may contain information distributed by CSUSM, or information distributed by another, third-party application.
Any module developed for CSUSM’s mobile app should demonstrate tangible utility that relates directly to a campus unit or university-related function over an extended period of time. Colleges/departments/offices should be able to answer the following questions for developers:
The primary objective behind developing a mobile application module should not be to increase public awareness of the university or one of its campus units. Traditional paid media used to advertise or promote is vastly more cost-effective at increasing visibility and attracting attention than the development, launch and continuing maintenance of the mobile app.
Adding modules to the mobile app sounds fun and easy, but the developmental process leading to launch of even the simplest app can be complicated. The professional mobile app business is competitive and well-funded and today’s mobile app user base has high expectations. Without a significant commitment of resources both during the development of an app and after its release, the end product will likely be less than stellar. Importantly, a mediocre or poorly functioning feature will do nothing to build affinity for the university or enhance its reputation.
Creation of a mobile module should be a thoughtfully considered part of a larger digital marketing strategy. A well-researched and well-executed mobile app module can enhance CSUSM’s image because it meets a need and delivers value. Conversely, a mediocre app module can be derided for its failings and also can cause wider collateral damage to CSUSM’s other digital marketing efforts by negative association.
All modules must follow CSUSM’s branding guidelines.
The app’s primary audience is students currently attending CSUSM. Secondary audiences include potential students, staff, faculty, alumni and campus visitors. Any new modules, features and functions must enhance the existing CSUSM app experience for those audiences.
The app is not a replica of the csusm.edu website. It is a separate platform. A good module will include content that is curated for the mobile user.
Any new modules or features must provide a seamless user experience. Users should be able to access information in a simple and touch-friendly interface. There should be a minimal number of steps for a user to reach the desired information or to perform a desired task. The design of the module should not impede the user’s ability to read important text, load screens, or navigate between different areas of the app. Touch functions like swiping and scrolling should line up with the mobile platform’s standards.
Users should not need to input excessive amounts of data to access pertinent parts of the app. Any module that requests personal information or requires passwords from individuals will undergo special scrutiny from the Mobile App Team. At no time should users be prompted to share personal data that will then be sold to or shared with entities outside of CSUSM.
In a mobile app, there are four potential types of modules:
As a best practice, the Mobile App Team will be focused primarily on developing Service and Transaction level modules. Informational modules will be considered if they provide a service to the entire student population or campus community. Outside of special events, rarely will static content modules be approved for inclusion in the app, as a statement showing a high value to the student or campus community will be required. Module submission requests should keep these functional levels in mind and the requestor should indicate which level they believe is appropriate for the proposed module. The submission form must also include sufficient information to substantiate the requested classification.
Villanova University. (2016). Information Technology Policy and Procedures. Villanova, PA: Stephen Fugale and UCIT Committee. Retrieved from: https://www1.villanova.edu/content/villanova/unicommunication/_jcr_content/pagecontent/download_1/file.res/mobile_app_development_policy.pdf (June 2, 2016)
University of Massachusetts, Boston. (2013). Mobile App Policy. Boston, MA: Mobile App Advisory Committee. Retrieved from: https://www.umb.edu/news_events_media/communications/web_resources_feedback/mobile_app_policy (June 2, 2016)