“Digs” – Mobile App Designed To Ease Students’ Life And Save Money Critical Thinking Example
“Digs” is an innovative mobile application designed especially for college students to address a common situation faced by those who live off campus. Its main goal is making students’ lives easier and saving their money and time. It will bring together those people who need to rent an apartment for 9 months of studying only with those who come to the city only for summer. It is a win-win situation that has the potential to attract attention of millions of students not only in the United States, but throughout the entire world wherever there are institutions of higher education. The application will boast a range of benefits for both users and investors alike, as it can capitalize on the rapidly growing multi-billion dollar mobile phone application market to present millions of potential customers with an innovative utilitarian alternative to conventional methods of searching for student housing.
Searching for affordable housing is a well-known struggle for millions of college students throughout the U.S who either decide or are required to search for housing off-campus. While some universities and colleges provide a limited amount of on-campus housing for freshman or sophomores, these campus dormitories are limited in their available space and often leave thousands of students scrambling to find a place to live in surrounding communities. In this situation, college students typically have to sign a one-year lease when moving to off-campus housing due to standard rental regulations in many apartments and housing complexes, but many students are in need of more short term options to accommodate their transient lifestyles which are dependent on the length of university terms. Typical school terms lasts only for 9 months out of 12, which means they have to pay for 3 extra months that they will not use themselves. At the same time, there are those who need only the 3 months of the summer for rent, which means that they can find one another and save a great deal of money. “Dig” will help these students by providing a mobile platform through which students searching for temporary housing can communicate with students in need of roommates or someone to take over the lease of an apartment.
The central idea and core of the project is development of an app designed to connect college students with each other in an effort to arrange ways and take over existing leases. Those students who need housing for just the 3 summer months receive a chance to take over the lease of those who need housing for the 9 months of regular studying. Another case is when a student is studying abroad for only a semester; this app will enable him/her to find someone to take over their own lease.
The idea of such an app and service that it will provide to the users incorporates elements of several existing services already being marketed. There are websites that enable people to take over someone else’s existing car leases (swaplease.com) and there are dozens of home exchange websites, whereby people exchange their homes, either temporarily or in some cases, permanently. In addition, there are numerous websites such as Roomster.com which feature available room and property rentals in a specific region, but websites like these are geared towards the general public and often lack the specific criteria necessary to cater to student housing needs. These projects designed for general public use have existed for a long time and have attracted hundreds and even thousands of monthly users, meaning that there is a constant demand for such service. In addition, Dig would expand upon this market by providing a service specifically tailored to a particular audience demographic, namely college students searching for housing, that fills a gap left by traditional rental services and capitalizes on the multi-billion dollar mobile phone market and rapidly expanding application market.
The main target audience for the project is undergraduate and graduate college students from over 4,000 universities and colleges around the United States. The number of such students in fall 2014 reached the level of 21.0 million students expected to attend American colleges and universities, constituting an increase of about 5.7 million since fall 2000. Every year this number is increasing, as more and more people from around the world are interested in high-quality education US offers to a lot of students from around the world. Statistics on the international students is available in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Trend in increasing the number of international students coming to study in the US from different countries.
The roughly 800,000 students who come from abroad to study at Universities in the U.S, as well as the millions of U.S students who come from the other cities and states to attend institutions of higher education are the primary targets for the app, as they will first of all need the accommodation. It is important to note that each year millions of new students will enroll in universities and colleges throughout the U.S and the average length of a student’s educational career at a university is around four years, which means the scope of the target audience will expand immensely on an annual basis. This rapid expansion of the target audience is also bolstered by the increasing rate of university enrollment among U.S high school graduates, which will only serve to foster a greater degree of application usage. A secondary target could be other people involved with the university, such as visiting professors who need temporary housing or individuals involved in student housing organizations or programs.
The target audience has a set of common characteristics – they are educated, tech savvy, equipped with smartphones, and are generally eager to learn as much as possible about their school and the surrounding communities, including information related to locating affordable housing. These people are united by their dynamic lifestyle and active approach to life. They are interested in new products, which can ease their life and make it more convenient.
This application will be a kind of notice board with certain elements from the social media, as it will connect people interested in leasing an apartment together, and people will be able to view notices of others placed in it and finding the variants that are suitable for them. Then they will have an opportunity to ask some questions and get contacts to start cooperation in the sphere of leasing the chosen housing. For convenience of the users, they will have an opportunity to use filters to choose the months of interest and other characteristics of the flats. In addition, they will be able to view the offers on map to find the convenient location. In this genre, both polysemy and intertextuality can be used to draw attention to the product and show its specific features. One way intertextuality can be strategically employed would be to feature the Diggs application in popular technology review articles or blogs which highlight its uses and provide hyperlinks in the articles which link readers to the mobile application site. Another way that intertextuality could be employed would be to feature the application in a forum or article dedicated to providing students with information on how to search for affordable housing. Polysemy can also easily be employed through catchy advertisement campaigns circulated through popular university or social media based forums which feature phrases such as “Looking for new Diggs?” or “Do some Digging to find the perfect place”. These are but a few examples of slogans which could be used in the description of or advertisement for the application, which will encourage easier recall and identification of the application among the target audience.
Challenges and Concerns
In the course of development and promotion of the “Dig” app, there will be certain challenges that should be addressed and realized from the very beginning. First of all, it is necessary to develop and design the application in such a way that it is stylish and with good usability characteristics so as users could intuitively understand how to operate it and do what they want. In addition to the utilitarian design of the application, developers will also have to compete against preexisting for-profit rental platforms and services, such as roomster.com, by specializing the function of the application to cater to the specific needs of students who are searching for temporary affordable housing. This can be done through providing a service which specifically features short term rental opportunities based on the durations of University terms, as well as a forum through which student renters can communicate directly with each other. As well as offering a In the sphere of promotion, there are also certain challenges, as it is necessary to make use of the places and media spheres where the target audience is most completely represented. Besides, it is necessary to watch for competitors and the ways in which the app could be enhanced.
In regards to the potential for the application to receive negative criticism or become the victim of negative portrayals by either users or advertisement campaigns generated by competitors, it should be noted that the potential network of “active users” would help mitigate such concerns. These active users, which in this case would be millions of students in universities around the nation and world, would mitigate the potentially damaging publicity generated by adversarial advertising campaigns and other media portrayals in ways such as engaging in feedback and communicating with their peers to determine the genuine quality of the application.
The main ways of distribution will be as follows:
Social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) – target audience involves active users of smartphones and social media, which means that in this medium it is very important to provide proper coverage. There will be launched advertising campaigns, profiles and pages will be created and promoted among the target audience.
Mobile Phone Application Marketplaces: the application will be widely distributed through both the Apple and Android based mobile application marketplaces, which has the potential to reach hundreds of millions of students throughout the nation and world.
Technology websites and review articles: writers of popular technology newsletters and blogs could feature the app in articles such as “Best application for students searching for affordable temporary housing”
Blogs updated regularly, especially devoted to topics relevant to the student life and attracting many users on a daily basis is also a good place for promotion.
Teaser campaign will help to attract attention and create visual image of the application.
Press-releases will also be issued to notify the popular media about the release of the new and useful app.
In the case of “Dig” app, there will be used synergy of the media, as it will bring the most effective results in the sphere of interest. An example of how synergy in mass media will be employed to market and distribute the application would be the development of a website for the application which features a summary of the application’s capabilities and links through which users may access and download the application on their mobile devices. Another example of how synergy could be employed in order to capitalize on existing Media industry structures established through consolidation would be to develop versions of the application for both Apple and Android operating systems. In this way, the application would be able to take advantage of the virtual monopolies of the mobile application market established by the Apple and Android platforms to reach the largest potential audience. Capitalizing on media consolidation in the mobile application marketplace can help the app promotion in distributing information about it, as the product is socially useful and interesting. The dig project can be appropriate for the global distribution due to its ability to be adapted to and marketed for specific smart phone operating systems but it should be taken into account that it will be most widely adopted in those places where there are many university and colleges attracting people from abroad.
In short, the Digs application has the potential to change the way that students in the U.S and potentially the world search for temporary housing, which would have a momentous impact on society given that tens of millions of students join University communities every year. The application will definitely have a certain impact on society, as it directly involves communication between people and enhancing their experience of finding new housing opportunities. The app is intended to have positive social impact, easing the life of students around the US. In future, when the application gains popularity and attracts thousands of users, there can arise the problem encountered by the popular notice boards, when there appear fraudulent users and some swindlers, providing incorrect information about some housing, or creating certain other problems. These cases can be successfully solved by proper moderation and implementation of the system of users’ reputation and feedback on their previous deals. Proper research and work with the target audience can considerably help to minimize the possible negative impact.
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