What Makes a Native App Successful? There are over 200 native applications in the federal government with various download numbers. Are the ones with the most downloads the most successful? Is the one with fewer users who are more engaged more successful? It depends on what you are trying to accomplish. David Cooper, the Mobile Application Development Lead with the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) and member of the MobileGov Community of Practice, said during a recent DigitalGov University (DGU) webinar, that while vanity metrics such as page views for websites and downloads for apps make you feel good, they don’t tell you anything about how users like your app or site.
Mobile Gov Community Of Practice
Structuring your content for portability across media platforms gives your agency the ability to not only place your message on other properties, but gives you the assurance that your information will always be up-to-date across multiple platforms. This ability is never more important than during an emergency, whether it is a natural disaster or a health crisis such as the Zika virus disease. Three members of the Open and Structured Content Working Group discussed all things structured content during the “Creating Portable Content with Structured Content Models” webinar earlier this year.
It’s not a secret that mobile Internet viewership is booming, but according to a ComScore report released last June, 49% of the audiences for the top 100 digital properties are now mobile-only. Additionally, during the third quarter last year, Gartner reported PC shipments fell 7.7% while IDC Research reported a 10.8% decline. The switch to mobile will continue, and for government websites, the trend is no different. For this reason, it’s important to optimize your mobile experience.
It’s Saturday night: Do you know what your mobile app is doing? Securing your mobile device is hard (no matter what day of the week). And there are numerous threats that can be posed by the apps on your device: an app could be spying on you, stealing your money, stealing data or reconfiguring the settings on your device. Security and privacy are part of the six Mobile User Experience Guidelines developed by the MobileGov Community of Practice.
A penny saved is a penny earned. But spending your pennies on mobile development is necessary to meet 21st century needs. Regardless of how you plan to create that awesome anytime, anywhere mobile experience, it’s going to cost you. While the most obvious parts of the mobile price tag for native app development are initial development and launch, the long term maintenance of the app must also be considered.
Adobe released its quarterly Adobe Digital Index report this month, which showed websites that aren’t mobile optimized are seeing more than double-digit drops in traffic from Google’s organic search referrals. This is after the leading search engine announced it would start penalizing websites, after April 21st, that weren’t optimized for mobile—also called “Mobilegeddon.” Microsoft’s Bing search engine also made a similar announcement, indicating that mobile-optimized sites would receive special benefits in its search results.
It’s a beautiful day in the DigitalGov neighborhood, and we want you to be our neighbor: no red sweater required. The strength of digital government depends on robust collaboration across agencies, offices, and disciplines. The virtual federal neighborhood collaborates through numerous communities of practice, each of which promotes the open exchange of ideas and resources. Communities have already made a big splash in 2015, and for this month’s DigitalGov theme, we’ll highlight those efforts.
Mobile-friendliness is a must for government. We know there are a number of agencies who have mobile-friendly digital products that we don’t know about, and they deserve their day in the sun. We need your help to find them. So today, at the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit you will find the MobileGov Community of Practice Expo Table, where we are kicking off the Great Federal Mobile Product Hunt. The mission of the hunt is simple—find the mobile apps or websites not listed on the registry.
Smartphones make up 75% of the mobile market—which makes mobile-friendliness a must for government agencies. With the recent update to Google’s search algorithm, or what some are calling Mobilegeddon, the case for building a mobile-friendly site becomes even stronger. For many government organizations, responsive Web design (RWD) has been the answer to their mobile question. While RWD is by no means a panacea, it can provide agencies with a way to reach their customers on many devices with one site.
Mobile apps meet real world needs. App development is not a homogenous process, however. Apple and Android devices are overwhelmingly dominant in device ownership and app development. So, we examined the Federal Mobile Apps Directory for iOS and Android offerings. We noticed a predominance of iOS applications: 170 apps were available on iOS, while only 93 were available on Android. So, we wondered: what makes federal app development iOS-centric?
ComScore reported last week that smartphones now make up a whopping 75% of the mobile market. That’s up from 65% just one year ago. This means three-quarters of Americans over the age of 13 now have smartphones, and they are accessing government services with them more and more. This is an undeniable fact because earlier this month the White House announced the Digital Analytics Dashboard. The announcement noted the importance of mobile-friendliness, stating that the Dashboard showed 33% of all traffic to federal sites over a 90-day period came from people using phones and tablets.
DigitalGov University has hosted some great events over the last year in partnership with Data.gov, the MobileGov Community and 18F to bring you information on opening data and building APIs. This month we’ve rounded up the events over the past year so that you can see what’s been offered. Use the comments below to offer up suggestions on what else you’d like to see on the schedule.
Practice makes perfect. But in the mobile world, it’s testing that makes products better. For federal agencies that have developed their own apps or mobile-friendly sites, the CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program offers a simple way to collect feedback on compatibility testing. Since the program’s inception in March 2013, eight federal mobile websites (including responsive design) have been tested by 65 federal employees from 41 agencies. The benefits are twofold: agencies receive actionable feedback about their mobile websites, and testers gain valuable knowledge about mobile websites that they can share with their own agencies.
Innovative wearables, stronger wifi and more 3D printing have been among the many projections for the future of mobile in 2015. Whatever comes to pass, we can be certain that the anytime, anywhere user will develop new habits and desires based on new trends. Government must accelerate its customer service approach with anytime, anywhere efforts to keep up. Here’s what I see agencies will have to do to keep up and–just maybe get ahead–in 2015.
Performance Analytics for Social Media Decision Making. Creating Adaptive Content. Usability Testing. These are just some of the areas of programming we are putting together. After taking a look at the most widely attended events in 2014, we decided to gather ideas we received from community and program leads for our 2015 events lineup through DigitalGov University (DGU). We’ve identified primary needs in each community, but this is just the top of the line-up because we will continue to offer just-in-time training on the things you need when you need it.
In mobile app development, if you aren’t making it multilingual, you miss providing anytime, anywhere information and services to important mobile-only audiences. Regular DigitalGov readers know that we’ve touched on Hispanic mobile trends before, including the high rates of mobile usage among Hispanic millennials. Today, we’re highlighting five Spanish language apps from the Spanish Version of the USA.gov Federal Mobile Apps Directory hosted by Gobierno.USA.gov, Aplicaciones Móviles. Multilingual app development is one way federal agencies meet the diverse needs of the U.
Phablets, the popular term for smartphones with screen sizes from 5.5 to less than 7 inches, increased in popularity this holiday season. According to Flurry, 13% of new device activations in December were phablets, jumping from 4% in 2013. Back in October, the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicted that “phablets” would outship tablets in 2015. Flurry backs up the IDC report finding that the holiday growth in phablet adoption came at the expense of both full-size and small tablets, whose activation percentages dropped to 11%.
QR codes, apps about whales, bullying and railroad crossings, challenges of responsive Web design and mobilizing charts and tables were the things you were most interested in this year. We publish mobile trends every Tuesday and feature a government mobile app every Thursday on the mobile channel of DigitalGov. In addition, we do recaps of MobileGov Community of Practice events and other community articles in between. This year we published 281 articles.
Smartphones are changing how organizations do business—they are more than just smart Web browsers. As I noted last week, purchases from mobile phones have dramatically increased during the holiday shopping season. The infographic from IfByPhone demonstrates how people are using their smartphones not only to buy things and research products, but also to open emails and access social media. Users also still call organizations on the go. 87% of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices to shop.
In the mobile world, every second matters. Mobile users are a finicky bunch. They want their information anytime, anywhere and quickly. As members of the MobileGov Community of Practice have noted last year, mobile user experience is about emotion. If that emotion is not happy, you will lose the user. For this month’s DigitalGov user experience theme, we decided to talk about how speed can be a key to a user’s happiness.
Is it a phone or is it a tablet? The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that “phablets,” the popular term for smartphones with screen sizes from 5.5 to less than 7 inches, will outship portable PCs this year and tablets in 2015. Specifically, total phablet volume will top 318 million units, surpassing the 233 million tablets forecast to ship in 2015. Further, IDC expects phablets to grow from 14.0% of the worldwide smartphone market in 2014 to 32.
Making tables, charts and graphs mobile friendly is like squeezing 10 pounds of sugar into a 5 pound bag. Mobile Gov Community of Practice member Debra Fiorrito from the Defense Accounting and Financing Service recently highlighted this challenge in her responsive Web design implementation. The challenge also came up during a call with the Federal Mobile Crowdsource Testing Program when discussing photo carousels. David Fern, from the Social Security Administration, Clair Koroma, from the Department of Health and Human Services, and Beth Martin, from the Federal Aviation Administration, researched the topic to see what current approaches there are and found eight ways organizations are making charts and graphs mobile friendly.
Sign up now to join fellow MobileGov Community of Practice members for Tech@State’s Mobile Diplomacy conference on Friday, October 3, 2014! Your attendance will let you participate in a variety of panels, ignite and breakout sessions about mobile development relevant to all digital government innovators. Members of the Mobile Gov Community of Practice from the U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Labor, Department of Defense and other agencies will be presenting on panels like “Mobile First: Design & User Experience” and “Best Practices in the U.
The International Data Corporation (IDC) is forecasting a strong outlook for smartphone sales during the remaining months of 2014. They predict more than 1.25 billion smartphones will be shipped worldwide before the end of the year. Just 24 hours after going on sale last Friday, the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus broke prior Apple presale records with 4 million units purchased. Reading these stats I couldn’t help but ask, “Are we at a mobile tipping point?
Roughly 1 in 9 (11%) websites have adopted responsive Web design, according to research conducted by Guy Podjarny in January. While the number has risen in the last 7 months, I know you’re probably a little underwhelmed by that number. But if you are one of the agencies that have gone through the process of developing a responsive site, you are aware of the challenges that can often get in the way of progress.
Imagine open source code, publicly available to share, that jump starts your agency’s mobile development efforts. Pretty neat idea, huh? Well last year it became a reality with the Mobile Code Catalog. This idea was the brainchild of Mike Pulsifer, who, as the Technical Manager for the Division of Enterprise Communications, Office of Public Affairs, at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), is responsible for developing and publishing the DOL website and mobile applications.
Those cutting edge folks over at Census have raised the bar again! Not only do they have three mobile apps that use their own APIs, but now everyone who visits Census.gov is presented with an overlay promoting America’s Economy, Census PoPQuiz, and dwellr. Clicking on the overlay takes you straight to their mobile products page. Overlay advertising is just one way to promote your mobile products. Your public affairs office is key to ensure you promote to social media and other channels that will alert your users and relevant communities.
A recent Trends on Tuesday post cautioned against becoming another statistic in the treacherous, desolate wasteland known as the App Graveyard. Thankfully, there is some research that shows the likelihood of your app being banished to its grave is receding. Trends indicate that not only are app retention rates rising, user engagement is increasing. According to data collected by Flurry, the number of times apps are launched per day have increased significantly.
When it comes to Web and software design, the pen(cil) is often mightier than the Design Suite. What I mean is: Tech is cool, but don’t fall under its spell. It’s often when you remove the technological layers between you and your thoughts that the best ideas sprout. You’ve heard of great ideas that started on bar napkins, right? One way that low-tech beats high-tech is when it comes to conceptualizing early-stage design ideas.
As it’s time to return to school, the Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families is helping parents and teachers prepare anytime, anywhere. Head Start Resources, an app available on iOS and Android, is a gateway to tools and resources for those associated with or interested in the program. With the app, users can access: The latest and greatest in Head Start News and updates, The nearest Head Start locations with a map feature that utilizes geolocation, Links to their website via a search function, with resources pertaining to Performance Standards and information about the Head Start Act, and Help by utilizing the “Contact Us” section, featuring a phone number, email, office hours, and an interactive form.
Resources like Theresa Neil’s Mobile Design Product Gallery book and Mobile-patterns.com describe, and provide examples of, common features mobile developers can implement and tailored further to satisfy their users. As mentioned in this week’s Trends on Tuesday, customizing apps to meet users’ needs is a crucial part in maximizing user experience. Today, we wanted to highlight how some agencies are implementing search, maps & geolocation and custom navigation to better their mobile product’s user experience.
Apps that are downloaded, used a few times and then never used again, are considered part of the “app graveyard.” In fact, 95% of apps are discarded within a month of download by users, according to Smashing Magazine. By focusing on creating a great user experience, you can make sure your agency apps are used consistently and don’t end up in the app graveyard. Smashing Magazine lists some “Lessons Learned From the App Graveyard” that government agencies should heed.
Approximately 70% of American households have a fixed Internet source of 0.2 megabits per second or greater, according to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Measuring Broadband Across America Report that analyzes the digital divide in the U.S. Up 15% in the last decade, this increase in Internet subscription source has significant impact on how citizens are receiving, utilizing, and sharing vital information. There were two interesting highlights for mobile implementers:
Washington. You can say a lot of things about this town, but one thing is clear: Fourth of July is our holiday. No one rocks Independence Day quite like we do, thanks to the hardworking people at the National Park Service who manage our National Mall and help stage a blockbuster fireworks celebration there that rivals any around the globe. Coming to “America’s front yard” for the festivities? The NPS National Mall app is a must-download.
Here’s a statistic that might surprise you: 28% of Chief Information Officer (CIO)s in the private sector admitted in a survey they don’t have a plan for mobile technology. They cited compliance issues as a factor preventing their organizations from taking the necessary first step. Now, you may be wondering, “Does my agency fit in that category?” Two years ago, the Digital Government Strategy required agencies to start planning and implementing anytime, anywhere strategies.
How We Did It Last November, as part of revisiting the state of Mobile Gov, government mobile innovators identified a need for guidelines to help create amazing and engaging mobile user experiences. We convened a group to workshop around elements of mobile user experience with the goal to develop user experience practices for government. We then asked you to set priorities and help hone a set of useful, actionable user experience guidelines and recommendations that agencies could adopt.