Partitioning Your App: Multi-Role/Multi-Location Apps


  • Emil Morrow, Georgetown University
  • Melissa Harts, Pasco-Hernando State College
  • John Ayers, Pepperdine University

Partition your app to create unique, personalized experiences for different users and different campus locations.

Melissa Harts, Pasco-Hernando

  • Pasco-Hernando is on the West Cost of FL
  • We have five different locations, all within about 30 minutes of each other
  • We have over 16,000 students
  • We are now a STATE college, not just a community college
  • We’ve experienced massive growth, and our app has helped us manage that.
  • Initially, we just wanted to HAVE a mobile app.  I came from the K12 sector, and I had no idea how to build one!
  • Thankfully we had Modo Labs, which offered a package that met our needs.

Persona Strategy

  • INITIAL:  most stuck with the default persona…about 85%; students were the ones who chose that.
  • AFTER:  we really wanted personas to meet those folks we were targeting.  We worked with each area to build out the materials in that persona (alumni, student development, etc.)
  • FUTURE PLANS:  authentication (persona vs modules), personalized content, distinct landing pages, push notifications (sparingly), blogs/newsletters, student contests, community partnerships, student clubs (i.e. Mobius Literary magazine), we’re going also ask our students what they want.
  • What makes our personas distinct?  Other apps (i.e. Canvas); other devices for information.

John Ayers, Pepperdine

  • It’s tough to follow a student panel!  What we’re trying to do is serve up the right content at the right time to the right people.
  • We’re located in Malibu, have satellite programs, about 8,400.
  • Mobile roadmap:  mobile-friendly web sites; unified mobile app (UMA – Unified Mobile App), and specialized native/web apps
  • We’re championing a “one university” strategy.
  • The UMA provides everything in the same box.
  • We looked at role-based and school-based personas
  • School-based content is specific or dynamic based on what’s going on at the time
  • Alumni experience:  we have about 20-30 screens that a student worker put together for us via the Kurogo app.
  • We’re thinking about an admissions experience as well for our Undergraduate team.
  • Shared a school-based personas graph.

Emil Morrow, Georgetown

  • Deeper, richer experience > More Utility > Greater Satisfaction
  • Practicality:  GU is a complex org; main campus, law, continuing studies, Qatar
  • Context:  multiple types of end-users; INITIALLY:  welcome, current students, new students, alumni; NOW:  student and staff, new student, alumni; FUTURE:  investigating by school and department
  • We chose to merge some of our personas.  INITIAL:  New students and alumni; CURRENT:  current students (retired this one), students, faculty and staff, Prospective students (GAAP).
  • We have a part-time designer who helps us build icons and such.
  • FUTURE:  still TBD.  We’re trying to understand the end user.  Tasks versus information, spread across stakeholders of students & staff, new students, prospective students, alumni.
  • We’ve been pretty successful with our push notifications because of the partitioning.  When the Pope was in town, we were able to send a note out to JUST the prospective students, which was really great.


  • Do you find good uptake among prospective students?  EMIL:  we’re not using the app to sell the school.  We use it during the GAAP weekend.  JOHN:  on recruitment side, if someone comes into our app, they’re going to end up at a mobile responsive web look.  MELISSA:  we’re just targeting students to see what they’re looking at.  We’re using it to market to them.
  • What’s the difference between locations and personas?  EMIL:  we follow the app convention, basing it on the location the user is at, then you pick a persona.  JOHN:  we landed at a “school-based” persona.  Our business school doesn’t necessarily sync up as nicely because we have spread-out locations.  MELISSA:  we started out as location-based, but ended up with personas.  ANDREW:  with location, you can geo-fence locations.
  • Is there a way to automatically select a persona for a user?   ANDREW:  most schools do manual selection, but if you have a system that can provide user attributes, you can drive users toward a particular persona.  EMIL:  only one of our campuses (the main one) uses multiple personas.  With GAAP, we do provide instructions for selecting this persona.  JOHN:  we initially used a “lead capture” process when people initially downloaded the app.  MELISSA:  our users self-select.


By Paul Schantz

CSUN Director of Web & Technology Services, Student Affairs. husband, father, gamer, part time aviator, fitness enthusiast, Apple fan, and iguana wrangler.

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