Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Mobile by Design

The current Mobile by Design principles are available for download [.pdf]

Introduction

The Mobile by Design information is intended to support technology project proposers in ensuring appropriate levels of mobility consideration are accommodated within projects.

This information provides an outline of key mobility dimensions along with indicators on the acceptability of the various levels of mobile capability.

Context

Most industry reports indicate that within the next two to four years, the majority of technology based traffic will originate from mobile devices. To ensure CSU is able to support the increase in mobile users, a CSU Mobile Strategy has been developed to help drive the University towards development of the necessary mobile capabilities.

The CSU Mobile Strategy promotes the core principle that University services will be accessible on any device, from any location.

Considerations

Web Responsiveness

Not all web pages are created equal.  Some web designs are smart and automatically adjust to the context in which they are being used (known as "responsive") while other pages are fixed regardless of the device used to access it.  Some websites require add-ons (e.g. Adobe Flash) to function and some older systems do not support web use at all.

Web pages with specific design characteristics potentially limit the number of devices that can access the page and its content.  These designs restrict the number of users who can access the information and as such are not given preference over alternatives that maximise user access.

Rating Capabilities Description
Best Responsive web The system can be used across a broad range of mobile and desktop browsers.
Good Desktop web (multi-browser) The system can be accessed by a broad range of desktop browsers and may support some mobile web use.
Unsatisfactory Desktop web (limited browser) The system can be accessed by a limited range of desktop browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer only) and supports very limited, if any, mobile web users.
Unsatisfactory Desktop web with add-ons (e.g. flash) The system can be used by a limited range of desktop devices and is unlikely to support mobile browsers.
Unacceptable Desktop application The system can only be used on specific desktop systems and cannot be used on a mobile browser.

Web vs. Mobile App

The CSU Mobile Strategy advocates the position of "everything responsive and a few things mobile app". 

A responsive web capability is industry best practice because it maximises usability across the widest possible range of devices.  In some circumstances, "app" functionality will provide superior user experience, however, it does limit the range of devices that can be supported and is typically more expensive to develop and maintain.

Rating Capability Description
Best Responsive Web + Mobile App The system can be used across a broad range of mobile and desktop browsers and has device specific value-added capabilities within a mobile app.
Very Good Responsive Web The system can be used across a broad range of mobile and desktop browsers.
Good Desktop Web + Mobile App (Multi-Platform) The system can be used on a desktop browser or through a device specific mobile app with support for common mobile platforms (e.g. Android and iPhone).
Satisfactory Desktop Web + Mobile App (Single Platform) The system can be used on a desktop browser or a device specific mobile app with support for a single platform only (e.g. Android).
Unsatisfactory Mobile App Only The system can only be used on device specific mobile apps.

Mobile App Platform

Preference is given to apps that support the widest range of users.  It is predicted Apple will remain the dominant mobile device over the next two years and a significant provider over the strategic timeframe.

Rating Capabilities Description
Best iOS + Android Versions of the mobile app exist for both iOS and Android devices.
Good iOS (multi-device) The mobile app supports a number of different iOS devices (e.g. iPhone and iPad).
Satisfactory iOS (single device) The mobile app supports a specific or limited range of iOS devices (e.g. iPhone but not iPad).
Unsatisfactory Android The mobile app supports Android devices only.
Unsatisfactory Other The mobile app only supports a mobile platform other than iOS and Android.

App Costs (Who Pays?)

The Mobile App environment is commercial in nature.  While the Mobile Strategy advocates the active use of mobile technology and mobile apps, care must be taken to avoid situations where the student may perceive the need to personally purchase an app as being critical to their academic progress. 

The bulk purchase of mobile app licenses by CSU allows for student use of paid apps without incurring personal costs.

RatingCapabilitiesDescription
BestFree AppA mobile app exists and is free for CSU staff and students.
Very GoodPaid App enabled through CSU funded discounted purchaseA mobile app exists that requires payment which is centrally managed by CSU.
SatisfactoryAs above without discountA mobile app exists that requires payment which is centrally managed by CSU.
Not PreferredPaid App student purchased (non-mandatory)A mobile app exists that requires student funded payment.  The app is not mandatory and there is no impact on academic progress.
UnacceptablePaid App student purchased (mandatoryA mobile app exists that requires student funded payment.  The app plays a central role in learning and teaching and has the potential to impact academic progress.