BU website features moving to mobile app

Butler University is launching a new mobile website on Friday. The renovated website is the first phase of the new Butler app tentatively being released this August.

This will be Butler’s third release of a mobile website. The site will have a campus map, a campus directory, alerts, a course directory, a link to Butler athletics, a calendar feed, and other news feeds and alerts, said David Alder, senior web systems analyst, who has been the project leader since the first mobile site was released.

“Mobile devices are much more heavily utilized than desktop devices,” Alder said.

The full app will be in the app stores for both Apple and Android devices this fall.

Instead of developing a new app, Butler Information Technology and the marketing department chose to purchase a license for an app from a company called High Point, which is already used in different colleges across the country.

“We just thought that what  (High Point) had was the best we’d seen,” Alder said. “If we’re going to do it, we might as well do it correctly.”

The deciding factor in choosing a vendor was the app’s compatibility with the PeopleSoft program. PeopleSoft is the software behind My.Butler, which allows students to register for classes, check their final grades, manage their hours for on-campus jobs, check financial aid information and more.

Pending approval by each of the departments, students will be able to use the new app to do the same things they do on the My.Butler website.

They will not only be able to register for classes, but they will also be able to add friends and share class information, Alder said.

“It’s pretty safe because it’s already well tested, but that doesn’t mean we have less testing to do,” he said.

Although students feel positive about having an app to find campus information in one place, some students are skeptical about registering for classes via their smart phones.

“I would rather do it on my computer,” said freshman Marco Rosas, who said he uses his smart phone almost all of the time, mostly for social media and keeping in touch with friends. However, he likes the idea of an app capable of notifying students of what’s going on around campus.

The app’s first phase will not have push notifications, although High Point is starting to release apps for other colleges that include them.

A Butler-produced streaming radio station is in the works to be included with a future version of the app. In the future, Alder said he would also like to see a guided campus tour, a parking map, and the ability to buy parking passes and accept financial aid added to the app.

“We want to make sure we get everything right, so we’re not just going to release everything full-blown right away,” he said.

The current mobile site was launched this time last year and did not automatically detect smart phones. It receives on average 800 visits per month. The new app will offer features that students want, Alder said.

“It would be nice to have one thing you could go to to figure out everything that’s going on around campus,” freshman Rachael Goniu said. Her cousin at the University of Wisconsin uses her campus app to check sports scores, weather and road closings.

“I think it’s just an overall win for the university,” Alder said.

Students can preview and give feedback about the app outside of Starbucks this Friday.