UC San Diego Mobile combines cutting-edge design with cost-saving efficiencies
UC San Diego was one of the first universities to implement responsive design, a project that enabled thousands of campus webpages to optimally function on any device on the market.
The University of California, San Diego was one of the first public universities to launch an iPhone app in 2009. Since then, UC San Diego Mobile—which includes more than 20 different apps—has become a powerful tool for students, faculty and staff. Today’s students can view their schedule of courses, get personalized walking directions to class, buy their textbooks and check the menu of the nearest dining hall—all from their mobile devices. USA Today recently included UC San Diego in its list of “5 Colleges with Great Mobile Apps.”
“Today’s students have a deep connection with mobile devices,” said Brett Pollak, director of the Campus Web Office. “Most haven’t known life without them. We have to be on the forefront of this technology so that we can deliver content on the devices that students are using.”
What makes UC San Diego Mobile so robust is its framework design. The Mobile Web Framework is “device agnostic,” meaning it works on an iPhone, Android, the latest smartphone or an older one. Also, any IT unit on campus can use the framework to build and host an app. From a user perspective it’s seamless—an app by Academic Affairs looks the same as one by Housing Dining & Hospitality. To date, there are more than 20 apps by six different IT departments.
UC San Diego Mobile includes more than 20 apps, with apps for TritonLink, campus shuttles, news and more.
Originally developed by UCLA, the Mobile Web Framework is now used by six of the 10 UC campuses. “We’re leveraging resources across the UCs to enhance the framework and across our campus to build apps in a distributed but consistent way,” said Pollak. “By pooling resources, we’re able to keep up with this new era of computing despite budget and resource challenges.”
Since the development of the Mobile Web Framework, other technologies have also emerged to address the rapidly changing computing landscape.
In the past few years, there has been a significant increase in traffic to the UC San Diego home page from mobile devices and tablets. In 2009, the home page was viewed by 22 different screen sizes. In 2012, that number jumped to 523. As a result, UC San Diego implemented responsive design, a project that enabled thousands of campus webpages to optimally function on any device on the market—and makes them future-proof for devices yet to be developed.
Responsive design automatically tailors webpages to the resolution of the device, so the UC San Diego home page looks great on everything from high resolution desktop screens to the smallest phones. It has also been applied to templates in the Campus CMS and is being rolled out to more than 75 sites in that system.
UC San Diego was one of the first universities to implement responsive design, for which it earned a 2012 Golden Sautter Award from the University of California Office of the President. In addition, this technique—as opposed to building a separate mobile view of each webpage and application—has a predicted cost saving of more than $1 million.
Today, the Campus Web Office is already looking toward what’s next for UC San Diego Mobile. “We’ve gotten requests from students to be able to view their grades and course information on their phones,” said Pollak. “In the future, students may get a text message or push notification on their phone alerting them that their grades or assignments are ready, and they’ll be able to access that information directly from their mobile device.”
To learn more about UC San Diego Mobile and to download the app, visit mobile.ucsd.edu.
Kristin Luciani, 858-822-3353, firstname.lastname@example.org