Adding a Splash of {sauce} to the Source

Student engagement is about to become pocket-sized thanks to a C4DI company member.

Student engagement is about to become pocket-sized thanks to a C4DI company member.

Sauce is a development team born out of the C4DI that comprises Matt Gibson, John Polling and Jim Wardlaw (pictured left to right). Together they work on web and app projects across a wide range of client sectors, bringing solutions to problems of all sizes. We met up with Matt to find out more about a current piece of work, which will help members of Hull University Union to make the most of their student journey.
 
“Hull University Union (HUU) want to improve  student engagement using a phone application,” explains Matt at their offices in C4DI. “We’ve been tasked with creating an app for WelcomeFest, which will allow the student population to access info on services available to them, view and plan events, and learn about the campus and city.”
 
WelcomeFest was launched by HUU in 2014 in response to student feedback. Replacing Freshers’ Week, the new celebration runs over a three-week period, presenting events and special offers to new and returning students alike, whilst also catering for mature students, parents, and people who prefer daytime and alcohol-optional activity. After two years of WelcomeFest communicating via social media and print, this new digital portal will encourage even more to get involved in a huge range of opportunities and experiences.
 
“The app will benefit users greatly,” explained Matt. “They’ll be able to interact with content much more easily than through a website or handbook. It will be available to freshers as soon as they receive a place at the University, giving them the freedom to acclimatise to their new environment before they even arrive.”
 
HUU’s mission is to enable and drive student participation, providing everything from fun nights out and enriching away days, to advice on welfare, employment and charity work. With an intelligent digital portal in the form of the WelcomeFest app, staff will be able to understand better what students need and want, which in turn will shape the future of planning and communication.
 
The app was commissioned by Rachel Kirby, Marketing Manager at HUU. She said: “This is what students asked for, so we’re thrilled to be working with Sauce to deliver it. We ran focus groups with students and graduates, all of whom said that an app would help members to enjoy their time at Hull University to the full. With access to a What’s On Guide, maps of the local area, bus timetables and much more, they’ll have WelcomeFest in their pocket at all times.”
 
Matt added: “The app will provide HUU with insights regarding user behaviour, such as the popularity of pages, drop-off rate and student feedback, which can then be used to improve functionality and focus. There are infinite ways in which the data can be used to improve the overall user experience.”
 
Due to this app being requested by students, HUU and Sauce expect a strong adoption rate. It needs to be accessible on iOS and Android, so the team of developers are building a hybrid application that runs on both, rather than developing two separate versions. The app also uses mobile notifications to remind students about events they’ve shown interest in a few hours before they start, whilst the local area data will be integrated with Google Maps.
 
Sauce won this project as a direct result of their C4DI company membership. A callout was placed on C4DI’s internal networking tool by a fellow member, inviting interested parties to get in touch. Following a series of meetings with HUU, Sauce were offered the job.
 
Once the WelcomeFest app is complete and in use, Sauce certainly won’t be taking a break. Despite only being a few months old, the company is committed to some very exciting projects. When asked why C4DI membership is so attractive, Matt gave us this explanation: “Any business can apply digital to their industry; the range of opportunities that it offers is mindboggling. That’s what’s so amazing about being at C4DI – you’re right at the heart of the action!”
 
To find out more about Sauce, please visit www.wearesauce.io and follow @wearesauceio on Twitter.