3 Ways Mobile Apps Rally Voters

 

Election Mobile Apps

A few weeks ago, we released an article about Union County and Monmouth County and their push to increase political engagement. Both counties use our Info Grove service to manage their apps and communicate with local citizens. The mobile apps are used before, during, and after the election process. 14 Oranges partnered with New Jersey counties to change the way people learn about local elections. The county elections have been over for a few weeks now and here is what we learned.  

 

3 Ways Mobile Apps Rally Voters

 

1. Real-Time Election Updates

 

 

The New Jersey counties used their apps to keep citizens up to date throughout election day. Push notifications were sent to inform citizens of polling station hours, and they sent updates as votes were counted. Citizens continued with their day as they received election notifications, keeping them engaged. With the political mobile app, citizens don’t have to refresh a web browser or a social media page to stay up to date; they just use the app.

2. Political Candidate ID Cards

 

 

A common reason why people don’t vote is that they don’t know who’s running and who’s running for what. A mobile app, operated by a nonpartisan body, gives a centralized platform for those running in political campaigns. Each candidate can have a section in the app, controlled by the unbiased officials so that citizens can read an objective overview of candidate bios, promises, and beliefs.

3. Provide the Election Basics

 

 

In addition to candidate ID cards, the mobile app is used to provide the basics, and we mean the basics. The apps answer the obvious questions, such as “Am I registered?” or “Where do I vote?” The political mobile apps make the voting process as easy as possible. Governments need to find ways to take down the barriers of the past, and a mobile app is a solution for the 21st century.

Testimonial

"We wanted to make the app as user-friendly as possible so voters could easily pinpoint the information they were searching for. To achieve this, I worked with 14 Oranges to design a sleek menu that utilizes round icons to organize our elections information. I also wanted to utilize push notifications so voters were instantly informed about the latest election deadlines. The overall goal was to make information more readily available to the public and increase voter awareness and turnout." - U.S. County Official 

 

Podcast

 

Listen here to learn about the political apps in New Jersey, and how it changes election day engagement with active push notifications. Will this trend push to British Columbia?

 

Are you looking to create a mobile app for your county, region, province, state, or city? Contact us today to see how 14 Oranges can help you meet your political objectives.

Cyber Monday 2017: The Rise of Mobile Shopping

Black Friday and Cyber Monday set mobile shopping records

It’s Tuesday, November 28, and the internet can finally take a much-deserved break from the hectic (extended) weekend. Black Friday and Cyber Monday — two of the most significant shopping days in North America — have officially concluded and the numbers prove just how much we love our shopping. As of last night at 10 pm eastern time, online sales from Monday alone reached 6 billion dollars, and that’s only online! Forbes has already stated that Cyber Monday became the single largest online shopping day in U.S. history. Also, Thanksgiving day saw 2.87 billion and Black Friday 5.03 billion in online sales.

All of this is great. People are avoiding the annual Wal-Mart boxing match by doing their shopping online. Online shopping is relaxing and stress-free. When you shop online or on your phone, you don’t have to deal with other shoppers fighting for breathing space. Buying online means buying in comfort, and this has never been easier with retailers focusing on developing sound e-commerce websites and mobile apps.

Mobile, which has traditionally been a place that’s seen e-commerce graveyards, made a statement over the weekend. Smartphone revenue grew 32.2 percent from last year, reaching $1.59 billion, a new all-time high. Overall, mobile represented 47.4 percent of visits (39.9 percent smartphones, 7.6 percent tablets) and 33.1 percent of revenue (24.1 percent smartphones, 9.0 percent tablets) (via Forbes). For purchases made on smartphones, Apple iOS led with average orders ringing in $123, in comparison to Google Android at $110.

What this means for the future of mobile shopping

The stats don’t lie. People are becoming more and more comfortable completing shopping orders on their smartphones and this means that e-commerce companies cannot solely rely on a desktop website to maximize the customer experience. If a company chooses to focus on a mobile-responsive website or mobile app, they first need to consider the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI).

Speed: Make sure your website is fast. There is nothing worse than trying to shop on your phone with an excellent WiFi connection only to sit waiting for the browser to load. If a user is waiting for more than a few seconds, chances are you’ve lost that potential customer. In a previous blog post, we stated that “mobile pages that are 1 second faster experience up to 27% increase in conversion rate.” With online sales on the rise, now is the perfect time to invest in a speedy website.

Alternatively, investing in a mobile app will put the speed problem behind you. Mobile apps are far faster than websites as their data and information are stored right on the phone. With web pages, the products and data have to be pulled from the browser. Further, if you invest in a high-quality mobile app, you should be able to offer offline support so users can build their shopping cart without wifi, and complete the order when they have a connection.

UI/UX: You’ve managed to get the user to your online store, good. Assuming your website speed is in check, now you need to ensure you have the optimal user interface and user experience. To start, make sure your website is mobile-responsive! It’s 2017 for goodness sake. If you expect to get online sales via smartphones with a non-adaptive page, you’re in for a sad awakening. Some things to consider: What is the landing page? How does a user navigate between items and their shopping cart? Does my shopping experience include unnecessary clicks? It helps to imagine the process a shopper would go through from start to finish. If you optimize your mobile experience, you increase your chances of that user coming back for more shopping in the future.

Case Study: From social media to the online store

Social is one of best ways of getting users to access your mobile store. Why? The user is most likely already on their smartphone, making the transition to a website easy. Paid ads can be set up that promote a sale or product and easily transition the user from the social platform to the online store with minimal clicks.

On Cyber Monday, I experienced this situation first hand. On my way to work in the morning, I was scrolling through Instagram only to come across an ad from Peace Collective, a Toronto-based clothing company. From Instagram, Peace Collective caught my interest promoting their massive one day sale. When I clicked on the ad, I was directed to a first-class mobile experience. Peace Collective’s mobile interface is extremely easy to navigate, it only took me a few clicks to confirm my order, size, etc. Their mobile pages are full of eye-catching graphics, and make it simple to filter products according to individual needs. Peace Collective understands how valuable the user experience is, especially when pulling your customers from social media. In the end, I purchased a sweater on their mobile store for just $15 (with free shipping) and even recommended Peace Collective to my friends later that evening.

Mobile Shopping Heading into 2018

If your mobile sales aren’t even near your desktop sales, consider investing time and money into a sound mobile UI/UX. We can expect that 2018 will see continued mobile e-commerce growth, especially as companies recognize the significance of the user experience. Don’t fall behind in the mobile trends, make sure you optimize your mobile e-commerce website before it’s too late!

Michigan & Missouri Education Associations Launch New UI/UX

The Michigan and Missouri Education Associations, in partnership with 14 Oranges, has released their new and improved mobile apps. Members of both associations will notice the apps have been updated to meet the latest system offerings by Android and iPhone. Before, members of both associations had a different user-interface (UI) depending on their device, either Android or iPhone. Using 14 Oranges’ Info Grove Platform, the cross-platform UI design will now provide users on both devices with the same user-experience (UX).

 

OLD Android UI/UX: Missouri (left) and Michigan (right)
OLD iPhone UI/UX: Missouri (left) and Michigan (right)

 

Android users will notice the biggest changes, as they no longer have a “hamburger menu” to navigate between app content. iPhone users, who formerly had a condensed grid that required swiping between pages, now have all buttons located on the main home screen. 

New Missouri Education Association Mobile Interface
New Michigan Education Association Mobile Interface

 

 

Members of the Michigan and Missouri Education Associations will spend less time swiping between pages and searching for information and more time engaging with content. But most important, is the experience and interface are the same across all platforms, including tablets and iPads.

 

Michigan Education Association

 

The Michigan Education Association (MEA) is a self-governing education association, representing about 140,000 teachers, education support professionals and higher-education employees throughout the state. The MEA Mobile App is designed to connect industry personnel to news, advocacy information, events, and resources. Also, the app links members to association benefits, such as “MyDeals” which offers discounts on day to day purchases.

 

Missouri Education Association

 

The Missouri NEA is an advocate for public schools, public school students, and public school employees. The 35,000 members of the Missouri National Education Association are public school teachers, librarians, counselors, coaches, school psychologists and psychiatrists, administrators and faculty in colleges and universities. Association members can use the app for a variety of purposes, such as carrying their MNEA E-Membership card and look up legislators to contact for advocacy purposes.

 

 

Info Grove – Software-as-a-Service Model

 

Info Grove is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) communication platform for member-based associations. With the “SaaS” model, association directors don’t need to worry when a new phone is released or a system update is required. 14 Oranges takes care of updating the apps against the ever-changing system offerings by Android and iPhone for the associations. In doing so, 14 Oranges ensures that apps maintain full compatibility against all platform versions.

Using Info Grove’s backend content management system (CMS), association directors are now able to add and edit content within the app without going back to 14 Oranges, saving them time and money. Directors can now send targeted push notifications with ease and reach members in a timely fashion.

 

Are you looking to transition your outdated mobile application? Contact us today to see if Info Grove is right for you!

 

Monetization of Mobile Apps: Is Freemium Right for You?

How to make money with your mobile app

 

There are many ways that developers can monetize their mobile app, here we look into two of the common methods: 

1) Require the public to purchase the app for an upfront cost.

2) The freemium approach. Where you provide a free app, which provides so much value, that people feel motivated to want more (and then make in-app purchases)

CEO of 14 Oranges, Sylvain Marcotte, sat down with Evolution Radio to discuss this trend and the common ways developers are monetizing their mobile apps today.

New Jersey Counties Use Apps For Political Engagement

Union County and Monmouth County are now using 14 Oranges’ Info Grove self-managed mobile app service to engage citizens politically. Both counties have recognized the need to provide political content on the digital screen of the public’s choice in order to increase engagement.

 

 

Mobile-First Political Engagement

As government communication is becoming increasingly mobile, Union County and Monmouth County have adapted quickly to this transition. Both counties are using the app to provide election-related information to help citizens in a variety of ways. Most important is that they are helping citizens determine whether they are registered and where to vote, view district maps, and review candidates.

How Info Grove Helps Political Communication

The app acts as an all-in-one stop for political events, dates, and information. Union County and Monmouth County will be able to continuously update and add content using Info Grove’s backend content management system. This allows non-technical staff to edit their app and fill it with new content every election year to keep the app up to date.

 

Mobile App Features

Voters can view candidate promises and objectives, review past elections, and access PDF resources. This means that citizens will have improved access to information to help them make informed decisions. Both counties even go as far as to assist military and overseas Americans who aren’t physically present to cast their ballot.

 

Interested in learning how a mobile app can help your political objectives? Contact us today for a free online demonstration!

Best practices for mobile workforce management in government

MetroGrove-WebMobileLogo-512

Ensure staff acceptance

As the digitization of government services accelerates, the strains of this change have weighed heavily on government workers. The senior staff, largely of the baby boomer generation, are being asked to throw out decades worth of paper driven processes in favor of paperless environments, driven by tablet and smartphone based applications. Junior staff, particularly millennials, are surprised by how far behind government systems are from the video games and apps they have grown up using. For millennials moving from a world designed around easy to use, intuitive UIs, to a form and data driven environment can quickly leave them doubting their future in government service.

Sad millennial

“Fear, uncertainty and discomfort are your compasses toward growth” – Barack Obama

With the launch of our Metro Grove service, we have been at the forefront of developing and releasing mobile applications for use by government employees to enhance workforce efficiency. That experience has taught us some of the best practices on introducing new technology to staff at both ends of seniority spectrum, and at a pace that permits the staff to adapt comfortably, without rejecting the change. Here are some of our learnings:

Massive change invites massive failure

One of the first lessons we share is not to change everything overnight. The introduction of tablets or smartphones alone can be a challenge for staff. Getting the right display and system options configured for all users should be the first step taken and staff should be given time to play with the new devices to get used to how they work with familiar apps such as email and web browsers. This comfort with the new devices will then make new applications easier to consume over time, and ensure those services are not rejected due to a lack of understanding on how the new devices work.

Mimic the current paper process

Senior staff in particular will want the new application they use to very closely mimic the old paper processes they are used to performing. In our experience, with building and safety inspectors, we found developing and deploying forms that skilled users could easily move through as if they were filling in the paper equivalents was required. This will help to ensure full technology buy-in by the senior staff.

Listen to the feedback

After the platform and the applications were rolled out, we then began to get suggestions on how to make the service run more smoothly. This feedback included re-arranging data collection fields so they more closely fit with the activities taking place outside the office. As workers started to embrace the technology and the flexibility our solution provided, they became our best references for how to make their own jobs more efficient.

Wizards for Millennials

While the more senior workers knew what data fields and forms they needed to use from experience, more junior employees benefitted from the introduction of wizards that walked them through the process. Leveraging smart, intuitive interface designs, data could be collected quickly, but also checked for range/bounds errors on the fly ensuring clean data collection by new staff.

Magic Moment: Retiring the paper process

The magic moment for the deployment of our mobile workforce service, was when many of the senior workers stopped using the traditional paper-based forms and started using the wizards to collect the data. They had discovered, largely on their own and in conversation with their junior staffers, that the wizard helped to act as a check on the data they were collecting, and was able to remind them when they had forgotten to perform a step. This allowed the supervisors to build the case to end the paper process enshrined in the first iteration of the app and standardize the organization on the wizard-based data collection. This in turn helped to increase the integrity of the data collected and enhance the efficiency of the field processes significantly, which was the ultimate goal of the digital transition in the first place.

BCSA Mobile App

The Metro Grove Advantage

And so we have designed our Metro Grove service to support paced, methodical deployments of mobile workforce management solutions to ensure a sustainable pace of change for government staff. With the ability to customize the deployment, we can support both old and new approaches to collecting data, and help to minimize the impact on staff during the change. This allows senior employees to adapt steadily and realize greater efficiency, while junior employees can make an impact and get the positive reinforcement they need to stay motivated. Change can be painful, but we have designed our service to minimize the impact and ensure a high level of acceptance by our government customers.

CAMA Roundup: Finding the Sweet Spot!

CAMA 2017 Logo

The Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators, or CAMA, met last week in Gatineau, Quebec for their annual convention, and I had a steady stream of booth traffic, all with an interest in mobile-first solutions for solving two municipal issues close to my heart:

  • How to get important information out to citizens in a timely fashion
  • How to enhance the efficiency of government operations
  • Municipal government administrators have a keen sense of urgency. They must temper the expectations of council, and at the same time, marshal the bureaucracy of government to achieve tangible results. As speaker after speaker attested, it’s not an easy job. Even Pinball Clemons, one of the most charismatic and bold speakers I’ve had the honour to enjoy, had to pull out all the stops to share his message of service, and seeking to find the “Sweeeeet spot.”

    PinballClemons-Sweet Spot

    The sweet spot is that moment when the CAO’s job works to everyone’s satisfaction. Council is happy, the bureaucracy is functioning smoothly and citizens are satisfied. He likened it to the swing the Jose Bautista made that preceded the legendary bat flip. After striking out multiple times that game, Jose kept swinging. And when he connected, there was no doubt.

    14 Oranges, to steal Pinball’s baseball analogy, makes bats for CAOs. They are forgiving and easy to swing. They can be customized to add weight, or tempered to be easy to control, but when they are used effectively, we help CAOs hit home runs out of the park.

    Mobile Apps for Political Parties: Engaging Voters, Donors and Volunteers

    Mobile Apps for Politics

    While political parties and politicians are using Twitter and Facebook to reach their target audience on mobile devices, they are finding their message is simply being echoed back to them, or they are being trolled hard by their opposition, making social media a difficult environment to move political dialog forward in a meaningful way.

    Enter mobile applications as a means of engaging the public in a more thoughtful public dialog, linking in capabilities, such as push notifications that allow political organizations to actively mobilize and build their base in a troll-free manner. In this edition of Plugged-In, I share some of my past experience in working with political organizations, and make the case on why more parties, particularly in Canada, should be looking at mobile apps as a measurable means of engaging the public.