When was the last time you left home without your smartphone? Chances are, you turned right back around to retrieve it! Smartphones and mobile apps are engrained into our daily lives more than we even realize. In fact, research shows that the average user spends nearly five hours per day using mobile apps.  

From navigation to banking, fitness to entertainment, there’s an app for virtually everything and everyone — but is there one for your school? Today’s families are digital natives that expect easy access to information anytime, anywhere. As a school, you can meet their expectations with a dedicated school app. Keep reading for an introduction to school apps and learn how your community can benefit from a custom-branded app.  

School Apps 101 

First things first: what is a school app? 

A school app is a centralized place to share communications and important information about your school. Instead of asking parents to search your website or check their inbox to stay informed about their child’s education, they can access everything they need in one mobile-friendly place. And, since parents are already accustomed to using mobile apps, they won’t need much training or guidance. All they need to do is download your school app, log in (if required), and voilà!  

It’s important to note that a school app does not replace your website, even if your site is responsive and optimized for mobile. While both mediums are valuable, they cater to two different audiences. A school app is designed to keep current families connected and engaged to your school while your website is meant to attract and inform prospective families.  

Your school website is often the first place a prospect will go to find information about your school. It should highlight your unique selling propositions and guide them towards inquiring, applying, and ultimately enrolling at your school. Your school app goes a level deeper to provide news, daily schedules, and other information that current families may need. 

Benefits of School Apps 

Wondering if a school app is worth your while? A dedicated school app benefits everyone in your community — not just parents. Here are three top reasons to consider a custom-built app for your school.  

Simplified Communication  

Schools often struggle to keep parents informed without overwhelming them. With a school app, you no longer have to wonder how many emails to send or worry about information overload. Everything they need to know is in one user-friendly place, available 24/7. This streamlined communication can help you nurture parent relationships and make sure nothing slips through the cracks.  

Even more, school apps can be customized to meet your community’s specific needs. Assess your current communication strategy and identify any areas where an app could reduce friction or answer frequent questions.  

Effective Newsletters 

Some schools still send hard-copy newsletters or notes home with students. How do you know that parents are actually reading (or even receiving!) these physical documents?  

With a school app, you can easily digitize your newsletter and send a push notification to alert parents of its publication. Plus, you can trust that your newsletter is being delivered on time and to the right location.  

Notify Users in Real-Time 

If you have a smartphone, you already know that push notifications are an effective way to grab attention. This type of alert looks like a text message when it pops up on a user’s phone screen. It can be used to deliver time-sensitive information and encourage users to take action.  

Here are some examples of push notifications your school might use: 

  • Important reminders 
  • Weather delays 
  • Sporting event cancellations 
  • Event changes 
  • Safety announcements 
  • Health warnings 
  • Early releases 

If you’ve ever needed to quickly send an important update to your school and trust its deliverability, then you’ll find value in push notifications. 

How to Choose a School App 

Not all school apps are created equal. If you’ve decided that a school app is the right investment for your community, make sure you do your research to find the best team to build your app. The right team of developers and UX designers will take the time to understand your school’s unique communication needs, goals, and business priorities. Here are three things to consider before choosing an app provider. 


What information do you want to share within your school app? Your communication goals will determine which modules to include in your custom-built app. As the experts, your app team should provide guidance and help you decide what features and functionality best fit your school’s needs.  

Common school app modules include: 

  • Calendar of school events 
  • Individual student schedules 
  • Attendance updates 
  • Media galleries 
  • Social media feeds 


You also want to consider the look and feel of your school app. A great app is intuitive to navigate and serves as an extension of your school brand. Look for an app provider that offers both strong design and strong development capabilities. This will help you build an app that reflects your school brand and provides a positive user experience.  


As the central hub for school communications, you need to make sure your school app can integrate with other software like your student information system or learning management system. This will ensure that updates in one system are reflected universally and help avoid any inaccurate information.  

Look for an app developer that has experience with app integrations and, even better, has existing partnerships with other software systems. 

Marketing Your School App 

We’ve covered the ins and outs of building a school app. Now it’s time to talk about marketing your school app and getting people to download it. After all, your app is only useful if it’s used! 

As with any new system, school-wide adoption will likely be a gradual process.  

Launching a New App 

A well-coordinated launch is the secret to a successful school app. As your app moves into the final stages of development and design, think about how you want to promote it to your community.  

Focus on the value a school app can provide for each member of your community — we’ve given you some ideas already! Then, craft a marketing campaign that highlights these key benefits and encourages families to take advantage of this new communication channel.  

Think through how to promote the app on your school website, social media, and emails. Be sure to provide a clear call to action with instructions on how to download and properly use the app. 

Digging into School App Data 

Once you’ve officially launched your school app, you’ll be able to see how people are using it through back-end app management tools. However, if you want to go beyond basic information like downloads and installs, you can learn even more about your community’s app usage with a Google Analytics integration. 

Google Analytics can show you: 

  • How many people are using your school app 
  • What devices are being used to access your school app (Android or iOS) 
  • Which modules are most popular on your school app 
  • Live heat maps of user activity on your school app 

This information can help inform future app developments and allow you to keep improving your school app in alignment with your community’s needs. It can also provide transparency into when people are using your school app to help your marketing and communications team plan push notifications and other important updates in a timely manner.  

Building a School App with Digistorm 

Now that you know the basics of school apps, you can decide if this communication channel is right for your school. Interested in learning more? Digistorm Apps are custom-built by an expert team of app developers and UX designers with powerful integrations and security standards. Book a demo to see our capabilities and learn how Digistorm Apps can transform your school communication.