B'nai B'rith Beber Camp faced the question - Mobile website or mobile app? - a few years ago. Brad Robinson, Beber Camp's Manager of Customer Experience and Marketing, said Beber Camp began researching mobile opportunities at that time. However, they checked their analytics and found that traffic to their website from mobile devices was very low. Robinson also discovered that app and mobile website development was too time-consuming to make it worth the effort.
But they kept an eye on trends and noticed an increase in the use of mobile devices on their website in 2011; they decided a mobile option was an important way to communicate with parents.
Beber Develops an App
At this same time, Adobe released its Digital Publishing Suite, which offered the ability to create iPad apps. Robinson already had experience with related Adobe software, which diminished the time required to create an app.
They found that an app (vs. a mobile-optimized site) offered some real user advantages as well:
1. Once downloaded, the app can take up prominent space on the user's iPad. Just its presence on the deice keeps the camp top of mind.
2. The "wow" factor. Providing an app can be a differentiator for parents when comparing Beber Camp with others.
So Beber Camp implemented an iPad app for the first time, released in time for Summer 2012. App functionality included:
- Calling the office via Skype from the app.
- Photo albums
- Director's blog
- Summer emails to campers
Key to Success - Iteration
Camp received fantastic reviews of the app from parents in their end-of-year survey. Based on their experience with the app, plus constructive feedback they received from parents, they decided to build Version 2.0 of the iPad app - and introduce Version 1.0 of an iPhone app - for Summer 2013.
"We knew we wanted to be on the iPhone because it increased our exposure exponentially," Robinson said. The new iPhone app takes advantage of the phone's map, phone, and social media integration. The updated iPad app improves on the user experience and integrates more closely with the CampMinder (their camper registration system) mobile-optimized site.
Key to Success - Always Learning
Beber Camp will again review the feedback from their families about the new apps, as well as the usage analytics to determine how to move forward. They realize that technology (and their audience's use of technology) is changing and they need to be nimble to keep up. Their apps will likely change based on what they learn.
And having these apps doesn't rule out a mobile-optimized website. Beber Camp continues to monitor their increasing mobile traffic and has begun plans for a mobile-optimized version of their website to work in parallel with their apps.