Translating directory information into a digital product or an app that is easy and intuitive for the user is a challenging task. Essentially, the user should be able to find the information that they need, e.g., parent or teacher’s contact information, quickly and intuitively from a school directory app. The three most important aspects to building a user-friendly school directory app are: Information Architecture, User Interface and User Experience.
All these three components are reflected in MobileArq School Directory+. The objective of the design was to make the directory an easy-to-use tool for a K-12 school parent. With the MobileArq school directory, a parent can easily connect with another parent or a teacher/staff within the school community. The organization and the layout of the mobile directory app, as seen by the user, is shown in the attached figure.
Information Architecture (IA): What is the critical information for the user and how should it be displayed andorganized? The end goal of IA is to enable the user to locate and access the information easily.
The MobileArq School Directory App is organized in discrete and highly visible sub-directories, containing most of the school information that used to be included in the print directories. Unlike the print directories, the information within the digital directory is always updated, either by the parent or the Admin via her/her Admin access. The directory also includes important school contact information, e.g., the telephone number for the main office or the school nurse, as well as calendar of school events.
User Interface (UI): The way the user interacts with a digital product is the user interface. This is the part of the digital product that interacts with the users. A good UI is all about function and its visual appeal to the user. A good UI enables user to accomplish tasks easily and intuitively. The user does not want to read pages of instructions – or any instructions. They want to be able to figure it out on their own. An attractively designed software is a joy to use, but only if the customer can figure out how to use it.
Parents are always time-pressed especially after school trying to get their kids to their next after-school activity. They might be carpooling to save time however they are spending more time arranging the carpool, finding the addresses to pick up the kids and drop them off. This app helps parents to find anyone in their school community quickly within seconds using the global search. Parents can search for any one (student or parent) by their last name or first name or nickname. They can even search on event names to find the date of a concert or other important days in the schedule.
The parent directory lists all the families within the school in a alphabetically organized manner. Clicking the family name yields the family information page in which the names of the parents, their contact information and the names of their children are displayed. The parents have the option to either display or not display their contact information in the directory. The student sub-directory groups and lists the students according to their class/grade. The faculty & staff sub-directory is next in the list followed by sub-directory for the PTA/PTO committees.
In addition, the user interface also provides access to the eCommerce portal. This feature/tab enables parents to directly participate in school fundraising organized by the school PTA.
User Experience (UX): The end goal of great IA and UI design is the overall user experience, or UX, which is all about the emotion that people feel while using the product. When a user can easily access the information they need in minimal time using a visually pleasing interface, then the user experience for the digital product is given high marks.
The MobileArq school directory provides parents with a convenience of accessing school information wherever and whenever they need arises. In fact, for a parent on the go, with time at time premium, any school information within the directory can be accessed by the busy parent with a maximum of 2 clicks! But, the MobileArq school directory is more than just a convenience, for parents it can also be a lifeline in emergency situations. Collectively, the mobile directory is a useful and a valuable tool for all parents.