Mobile Application Development Guidelines

Introduction

The growth of mobile applications ("apps") and devices necessitates an evolution in the University of Northern Colorado's (UNC) approach to communication with our audiences. To ensure a coordinated, cost effective approach and a coherent, quality image for the university, the following guidelines are available to assist all mobile app development efforts. All apps branded with a UNC affiliation must obtain approval of the Mobile Guidance Committee. Apps must be published centrally through the university app store accounts to allow users to easily find all UNC offerings and allow the university to remove or replace discontinued apps.

Mobile website development is part of the overall web strategy of Web Communications and all questions regarding technical aspects and identity compliance should be directed to the Office of Web Communications.

  • Mobile Definitions

    A web app is browser-based and device-agnostic and users must have internet access (www.unco.edu) to view the pages. Native apps or mobile apps are downloaded from an app store. A native app is fully self-contained and often incorporates the functionality (e.g., camera, video or global positioning) of a device. A "hybrid" native app also is downloaded from an app store and stored on a mobile device but contains embedded programming that retrieves data from a remote server each time the app is used.

  • University Roles

    A web app is browser-based and device-agnostic and users must have internet access (www.unco.edu) to view the pages. Native apps or mobile apps are downloaded from an app store. A native app is fully self-contained and often incorporates the functionality (e.g., camera, video or global positioning) of a device. A "hybrid" native app also is downloaded from an app store and stored on a mobile device but contains embedded programming that retrieves data from a remote server each time the app is used.

  • Determining Need

    Development of a mobile app can be time-consuming and expensive and campus units should carefully consider the resources required and reasons for developing the mobile app before utilizing resources for its development. Development of a mobile app should be part of a unit's larger digital marketing strategy and should meet an identified need of a university audience over an extended period of time. Mobile apps are intended to take advantage of specific functionalities of a mobile device, such as GPS or camera capabilities, and are not intended to simply repurpose web page content. Mobile users are often looking for specific information for just-in time needs, such as map locations or event times.

    For the university to consider a mobile app appropriate for publishing the university accounts on app stores, sponsor(s) of the app must establish that the work product meets strategic goals:

    • Supports specifically identified objectives and goals of the university
    • Delivers value to one or more target audiences of interest to the university
    • Enhances the overall reputation of UNC
    • Addresses a need best met via mobile app
    • Addresses a need not met by another mobile app
    • Is a responsible use of fiscal and human resources
    • Has a long term usefulness for audiences
    • Does no harm to the university generally or its information technology systems, in particular
  • General Requirements

    Each app has unique characteristics and each project therefore necessitates a conversation about specific needs and requirements. General requirements include:

    • Sponsoring departments must have funding for all aspects of the app, including personnel needs.
    • All apps must comply with copyright and trademark law and intellectual property and licensing considerations before release.
    • Apps collecting data or requiring secure logon meet requirements of the university's privacy policy as well as industry best practices for secure collection of data.
    • Apps must meet university graphic identity standards
    • App must comply with UNC standards, policies and procedures .
    • Apps must meet acceptable industry technical standards.
    • Apps must meet standards set by mobile app distributor
    • Unless prior approval is granted, apps must be free of charge and cannot include advertising
    • Apps can connect with for-profit entities only with university permission
    • Requests for access to university data must be reviewed and approved by Information Management and Technology and, when appropriate, Web Communications.
    • The wording of the app About section must be approved by Web Communications.
    • Exclusivity requests by vendors and third party developers should not be granted.
    • Vendor and third party agreements must include stipulations for continuation or removal of app in case of discontinuation by vendor or third party of university.
    • Projects developed internally must include all relevant development documentation, including source code, graphical assets and audio/video assets, available upon request
    • Projects developed internally must include maintenance and support documentation that addresses changes to the app, core mobile operating system and/or hardware, available upon request
  • Initial Review

    Any proposal submitted for an initial project review should include a functional and technical description of the application. Each project request contains unique elements and will require an adequate timeframe for review. See Appendix I.

  • Development Process

    Throughout the development phase, the UNC developer or sponsor is expected to meet with the Mobile Guidance Committee at identified milestone points. The purpose of the meetings is to ensure that the mobile app aligns with the proposal and allows the involved parties to address any issues that may arise as work progresses.

  • Technical Review

    Once development has been completed and before publication, the app must be presented to the Mobile Guidance Committee for technical review in a testing environment. The review will include but is not limited to:

    • security
    • feasibility of any required UNC data availability
    • method and techniques of execution
    • mobile device impact
    • university technology system impact
    • local and remote data integrity
    • generational device and mobile operating system support
    • adherence to mobile application distributor guidelines and best practices
    • adherence to university identity standards
    • quality assurance testing
    • quality and availability of documentation
    • support strategy
  • Distribution

    Once approved, mobile apps must be distributed centrally through the UNC license for app stores. Web Communications will assist with the distribution of the app to ensure proper placement. Please be advised that each app store has a timeframe for review before the app is approved. Approved apps will be listed on the university's mobile promotion page.

  • Compliance of Apps

    If an app is found to be out of compliance with university guidelines, the university can request that a sponsor facilitate changes or remove an app, remove the app from the approved list, revoke permission to use UNC branding or take other appropriate steps to resolve the problem.

    This policy is subject to revision to address changes in technology as they occur.

*This policy is subject to revision to address changes in technology as they occur.