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Illinois State University launches first mobile app

Students walk on the Quad

One of the ads that will be used to promote the new Illinois State University App.

What time does my dining center close, and what’s on the menu? When is that career fair? What time is kickoff on Saturday?

Every day Illinois State University students search for answers to questions like these. Starting this semester, students will have a better way to find what they’re looking for, using something that’s probably already in their hand—their smart phone.

The Illinois State University App launched this summer, available for free from the App Store or Google Play Store. The app, available to all Redbirds, is the latest push toward making Illinois State online resources mobile-friendly.

“We wanted to provide a platform where you’re just 2 clicks away from the information you need,” said Arturo Ramirez, M.S. ’01, ’07, director of Web and Interactive Communications (WEB), which spearheaded the app.

Once you download the app to your device, you’ll download “Guides” for topics and events you’re interested in. There are 10 Guides already available, including a general ISU Guide, Homecoming, Campus Dining, and the Career Center. Athletics recently launched its own Guide, featuring schedules, ticket information, and more. The College of Applied Science and Technology and CTLT have already used Guides for events.

The Move-In Guide has been among the most popular, with thousands of downloads. New Redbirds and their families could easily see lists of what they could (or couldn’t bring), maps, and find hall-specific instructions. Users even received a real-time update after a last-minute parking change occurred.

It was so successful that Housing is now planning to launch its own Guide that will be available year-round.

App screenshot

A screenshot of the new Illinois State University App.

“It certainly helped to get everything in one place,” said Stacey Mwilambwe ’94, M.S.E. ’96, director of University Housing Services. “Most students live or die by their phones. They’re never 2 inches from them. We need to meet them where they’re at, and right now that’s the device they use.”

This is Illinois State’s first universitywide app, and it’s already been downloaded more than 7,500 times by students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The app’s launch comes in response to changing expectations among Redbirds as they look for information about ISU online. They want it anytime, anywhere.

In response to more and more traffic from smart phones and tablets, WEB has created around 100 mobile-responsive websites across campus, with more on the way.

“We’re keeping track of what kind of information people are trying to look for on their mobile devices. Not just which pages are getting the most traffic. But what terms are they searching? What are they trying to find?” Ramirez said. “That’s what’s going to really drive content on the app.”

The app, which was built by a vendor, is paid for through cost-sharing among the ISU partners who have their own Guides. One of WEB’s biggest partners has been the Division of Student Affairs.

“Student Affairs is excited to be able to communicate with students on their mobile devices, as they have indicated that this is a preferred method of communication,” said Katy Killian ’92, M.S. ’14, chief of staff for the Division of Student Affairs.

“The app provides us with another way to communicate with students to provide them with important information about safety and security, housing, dining, health and wellness, involvement opportunities, advice from the Career Center, activities in the Bone Student Center, and much more,” Killian said.

Learn more about the app and find links to download at IllinoisState.edu/App.

Ryan Denham can be reached at rmdenha@IllinoisState.edu.

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