Since its debut in March 2020, the University of Utah’s first centralized smartphone app, MobileU, has changed remarkably, from numerous improvements to new features based on student feedback.
In 2021-22, UIT’s MobileU team improved the app design and navigation, added more department pages, implemented new features, improved content, upgraded the Modo application and mapped out opportunities for new features for first-year students. MobileU helps connect U of U students to campus life, news, events and resources on the go.
Suzanne Wayment, University Support Services (USS) associate director for Product Management/Student Systems, and Barb Iannucci, director for USS Content Management & Usability, lead the MobileU team, with support from Kariann Hibbard, senior business systems analyst, and me in my role as senior user experience designer.
All app changes were driven by a usability research plan made possible by the Content Management & Usability team. Starting in 2021, I began conducting MobileU usability research every semester using a range of techniques, including field study interviews, task-based testing, card sorting, tree testing and heuristic evaluation.
What we learned:
- Students have a big wish list for more features
- App navigation needed improvement
- We needed to add new and missing content
- First-year students are the primary audience
Let’s dive into the way the MobileU team implemented student feedback and look more closely at what we updated.
New features: Each semester, we add new features requested by students. In 2022, we added an Athletics section, integrated Student Homepage (CIS) screen, integrated Campus Directory, and quick links to Athletics, MyClassMap, and Events on the homepage.
Content: We continue to add new information about the Graduate School, Athletics, Basic Needs, RedPrint, mental health crisis services, and fraternities and sororities, as well as featured articles with timely news and resources. It was exciting to have these groups approach us, and we are always looking to work with more departments.
Navigation: We updated the homepage menu and reorganized categories and screens based on student feedback. We renamed homepage categories to be clearer and added missing content, reorganizing and moving important information like Academics and Student Life to the top of the navigation menu. The changes resulted in more traffic to the pages that we moved higher.
First-year student experience: Through a journey map research exercise, we charted the social and academic experiences of first-year U of U students and brainstormed ways in which MobileU can support students through the obstacles they may face. Our next priorities are developing in-app communication channels and adding personas for a customized content experience.
Recently, we completed the long-awaited upgrade of MobileU to a new version of the Modo app-building platform. Our team looks forward to using the many features it has to offer. Some items have been on our wish list since 2020, when we first launched the app, and we are excited to make additions that positively impact the U student experience.