The State Of Mobile Higher Ed Websites: Who’s reacting?
It hard to ignore the fact that just about every tech company is coming out with their version of a tablet and/or smartphone to feed consumer's insatiable thirst for portable technology. And it's widely understood that these mobile devices are web enabled and popular with not just adults but people of all ages. As a company who makes websites for the higher ed industry we wanted to see what the reaction has been to all these devices. Have colleges and universities reacted by optimizing their websites for these small screens?
I was inspired by the February 2011 blog post by Dave Olsen(no relation) who conducted an in depth analysis of the mobile higher ed landscape and posted the results on his thorough and informative blog Mobile in Higher Ed. Dave found many interesting facts, the most interesting of which was that as of 2011 9% of higher ed institutions had a mobile website presence. Since the mobile revolution (or whatever you call it) is in it's early stages I wanted to take another snapshot of the mobile higher ed landscape one year later.
What defines a mobile website?
For the purposes of this survery I defined a mobile website as any website that is developed specifically for a mobile device. Mobile devices are basically anything that is handheld, has a touchscreen and is connected to the internet like smartphones, tablets and e-readers.
How many Higher Ed websites are there?
According to my research there are roughly 4,336 higher ed institutions in the US with a website. There are likely more but if they don't have an easily found website then they most likely don't have a mobile website so I feel I can safely omit them from this survey.
Typing in each site by hand on my mobile phone obviously isn't practical but using a computer to do all this work is. Using a script I wrote I was able to scan each desktop website with my computer to see if it had a subdomain that would indicate a mobile website (searching for responsive design websites was not feasable for this survey). The way I went about this was to take the insitutions website, say "inst.edu" and test it for known mobile sub domains. I tried all of the folowing
All told I found 640 of the 4,336 or 15% had some sort of mobile presence. An increase of 65% is certainly a sign of significant interest in in one year from when Dave Olsen conducted his research is a significant increment.
Just because you had a mobile website didn't mean you wanted it to be found. Universities like Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill and a few others have mobile websites but aren't using them. When you visit duke.edu or unc.edu on your smartphone you will see the same website you see on the desktop. However, if you go to m.unc.edu or m.duke.edu you can see a mobile version of their website. I suspect these mobile versions were created hastily and didn't fulfill the need of there visitors. That being true why is the University not using a mobile website at all?
If I were to conduct another survey next year I expect I would get another significant spike. What do you think?comments powered by Disqus