Going Mobile at UC Riverside
We use our smartphones to check everything — our texts, our missed calls, the weather, what day of the week it is, our e-mail … all this information is available to us within seconds at our fingertips. We're spoiled with the ability to quickly Google whatever question we may have that day, and it becomes frustrating when that information isn't available.
The Recreation Center at the University of California, Riverside, constantly had their phones ringing off the hooks with questions from the students —"What classes are available today?" "What time is spinning?" "What days a week is their yoga?"
Recreation marketing manager, Dusan Stancic, said that students could only see scheduling information inside of the Recreation Center or on their webpage — which wasn't mobile responsive. Stancic used both his marketing experience and background in computer science to craft the perfect idea for a mobile-friendly, regularly updated schedule: an app.
"We have large TV screens with the schedules inside of the Recreation Center," said Stancic. "So, I thought, what if we took the data we are already using on the screens and convert it to an app? That way if they're in their dorm room or not on campus they can see what's happening. Look at the demographic, they're students, they all have mobile apps, wouldn't it be great for them to be able to see what's happening right now, or next week, or in a few hours in the Rec Center?"
Stancic said he had a vision for the app and he refused to settle for anything less — making him the lead project manager on launching the application for the university's Rec Center. While he knew what he wanted, it took around three years for him to find the right developer, or someone that could translate his vision into an application.
"Finding developers was a chore, I went through a lot of developers and vendors, trying to figure out what they could do, and they came up with their own idea and design and a lot of cookie cutter solutions instead of developing the work for it," explained Stancic. "I provided sketches, I knew a little something about coding with my computer science background, so I spoke with an actual coder instead of just a salesperson, and I said 'listen, I have this thought for the design, I can give you a wireframe, but I need someone who can take the code, interpret it, and build out the specs for my app."
The application touches on all the programs that are offered in the Recreation Center, let's you register for the class online, adds the class to your schedule on your mobile device, has a built in QR code reader that lets students update how their workout went on the app and shows featured photos from different programs offered at the facility.
"A lot of apps for other schools had a very static front face, click-on-a-button feel," he added. "We wanted to have a feel similar to Instagram, where we have photos of our student base using our center, that way it hits home to students, who can then say they're featured on the app."
Stancic explained they use social media to recruit students to the app, and after their official launch of the app in December, they used a marketing campaign to promote the app on campus that included videos on Facebook and Youtube, ads on the digital screens on campus, a print campaign with the slogan, "Fit Happens at Your Fingertips."
"Fit happens is the brand," Stancic said. "It shows, we're edgy, we're fun, we wanna have fun, you should have fun too — so download the UCSRC mobile app."
Since December, the app has had 1,200 downloads from the Apple store and around 500 from the Google store.
"We're getting great feedback from students and staff who use the app," said Stancic. "They say it's such an easy tool to use, pretty to look at … we went to a conference and showed the app off and people fell in love with it, students like that they have the information right there, the front counter at the Recreation Center likes it because instead of getting a guide out they can see what's happening within the next few days."
Expert advice: "My advice would be, don't just go with the cookie-cutter solution, let your vision be known to the developer, don't settle, find one that will give you what you want without taking an arm and a leg off of you. Find someone who has a little background in technology that can guide the process and make the vision a reality," Stancic said.
The application is available in the app store and is called "UCRiverside Recreation."