School Apps

Mobile Apps vs. Responsive Websites for Schools

January 29, 2020

A note from Digistorm: This post was originally published in March 2017. We've updated it to include more relevant information.

Mobile apps and responsive websites are two communication tools that are widely used by schools around the world. If you're staring down the barrel of a website redevelopment project you might be wondering if you need to bother. After all, 85% of adults in Australia use a mobile phone... so why not develop an app instead? 

In this post, we'll look at the benefits of having a functional mobile app at your school and the benefits of having a responsive website. Spoiler alert: we believe that every school should have both. Here's why.

You have two target markets

Like many businesses, schools have two distinct target markets with very different needs: prospective families and your existing school community. Your objectives for both groups will vary significantly. For prospective families, your goal will be to provide them with the information that they need to enroll. For existing families, your goal will be to keep them engaged with the school and with their child’s academic progress. These separate goals mean that you will need to use different tools to communicate effectively with both groups: websites for prospective families and apps for your existing community. Let's look at each one separately.


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Use websites for a broad reach

Let's get one thing off our chest: it would be strange to have an app without having an online presence that doesn't require a download. For schools, an on-brand, functional and user-friendly website is your best advertisement. When parents are looking to enroll their child in school, they don't visit the app store — they head straight for Google

A responsive website is designed to scale and function across any device, from your mobile phone right up to a large desktop monitor, displaying content, images and videos in a way that is easy to read and access on a smaller screen. The key feature of websites is to provide general, public-facing content to your widest possible audience.


Use apps for deep engagement

Apps, on the other hand, are built for a very specific purpose and for a subset of your audience. In the case of school apps, your purpose is deep engagement and your audience is your school community — particularly parents. School apps tend to be used as a daily source of information, updates and reminders.

One of the more important features of apps is the ability for users to set their preferences after they've downloaded it. General app functionality includes the ability to set up their own triggers for push notifications and choose the topics for which they'd like to subscribe to receive information. This keeps parents engaged by providing them with only relevant, targeted information about their child's class, year level and extracurricular activities.


Want to get the most out of your school app?

Check out our post, 5 Ways to Make an Impact With Your School App


So mobile apps vs. responsive websites — what’s the verdict? We say both! Want to get started on a new app project or start developing a custom website? Contact us today! For more information about what a school app can do for your school, check our resource: A Beginner's Guide to School Apps.