How do you reach the parents? You meet them on the desire path, that’s where
OK, so what’s a desire path?
A desire path (sometimes also referred to as a desire line) is an unplanned path created literally as a consequence of the repeated use over time by humans, animals or traffic. You’ll see them everywhere you look. On the school field it’s the daily shortcut pupils take straight across, despite a perfectly good tarmac route around the edge. In the winter when the ground’s covered with snow, it’s the paths we all create together rather than following pre-determined routes. And if you think about the way you shop in supermarkets, it’s all down to the science behind desire paths and the understanding that the big brands have about our behaviour.
But what’s this got to do with school to parent/carer communication?
Desire paths are an important part of design. Primarily used in architecture, paths are placed where the designer expects people will walk. It’s understanding human nature. But this logic can be applied to communication too. If you need to get information to parents, then make sure you’re delivering it on the medium they’re all choosing these days – their ‘desire path’.
mobile is now the primary way of accessing the web and 80% of that time is spent ‘in-app’
Back in 2014 mobile overtook desktop as the primary way people access the web and studies have shown that in the UK 80% of that time spent online is ‘in-app’. Read more here. In other words, parents are on their phones, using apps. Ordering takeaways, booking an Uber, chatting with friends and generally running their lives. A school app can fit easily into their life, enabling them to keep up with what’s going on at school, without needing to change their daily routine. If schools want improved engagement, it’s best not to prescribe the way parents and carers have to connect with them. Rather, they have to react to the changes in the way we all behave now that we have this powerful technology in our hands. By way of an example, just look at what’s happening to national newspapers as sales decline and consumers increasingly switch to digital platforms.
It’s important that using a school app is not seen as a ‘nice to have’ luxury. Times change and so does peoples’ behaviour. Younger parents and carers don’t as a rule, read bits of paper and like all of us who have busy lives, quite often forget to check your website on their PC when they get home. Even delivering the school newsletter by email as a PDF is not ideal with all that pinch zooming and scrolling around.
An important message pings up on their phone, one tap from them and they’re reading all about it on your app
Using a school app means you get the information out to parents in a way that’s hard for them to miss. An important message pings up on their phone, one tap from them and they’re reading all about it on your app. If it’s an important event that they need to remember, again one tap and it’s in their personal calendar. Parents will have no excuse for saying they don’t know what’s going on at school, because with mySchoolApp it’s all there – on the phone in their hand.
So if the phone is the ‘desire path’ what does this mean for our school?
In short it means:
- increased parental engagement
- better attendance at school events
- children that are prepared for activities
- and as an added bonus potential savings for your school too
By using the advanced technologies included within an app, schools can cut out the need to subscribe to mass text message services by using free push notifications to deliver instant messages to parents. Delivering letters home via the app saves print and paper costs. And replacing the production of the school newsletter with a constantly updated news feed saves time in the school office. In fact, there are many ways that mySchoolApp can streamline school to home communications and save precious school budget.
Why not give it a go yourself…