Rokwire design team members discussed wellness features available through the Illinois app on the September 5 episode of the Healthy Illini podcast. Mel Fenner, Director of Health Technology, Vanessa Burgett, Design and Research Product Lead, and Jake Fava, Manager of Data and Technology Innovation, joined host Matt Shrock to describe how the Illinois app can support students’ well-being.
Fenner noted that the Illinois app centralizes campus resources with the goal of providing “a one-stop shop” for users. No matter whether a student has just arrived in the country or grew up in Urbana-Champaign, the app can be an informational guide to the available local health and wellness options. “If you don’t know they’re out there, you can’t use them,” he said.
Wellness gains prominence in the latest release of the Illinois app, which includes features such as the Illinois Health Screener. With this handy tool, a user selects a symptom and gets a prompt to fill out a screening test or a suggestion for the next step to take. The feature is based on clinically approved screening tools, and “if you were to talk to a medical professional they would be asking you some of these same questions,” Fenner noted. This guided approach to eliciting information was designed to “direct the student to the most appropriate resource,” according to Fenner.
Students have played a central role in conceptualizing all components of the app. According to Fava, “a huge part of our job in design research is talking to students and listening to them, understanding their needs, and then finding ways to translate those needs into parts of the app.” Students stressed “how hard it can be to prioritize your health and wellness, especially when you’re under these periods of immense pressure,” Fava commented. Daily Wellness Rings were developed to help students focus on themselves. They chart activity goals as simple as stretching or spending time with a friend so that students might “think small in terms of what it looks like to take care of yourself,” according to Burgett. The rings are deliberately separate from academic areas of the app and are paired with to-do lists “so that the Wellness Rings could be a place dedicated to things for them,” Burgett noted.
Because community plays a vital role in well-being, users can also make connections with others who share their interests through the app. Students can communicate easily with other members of a small class project, join the local fan base for a TV show, or post photos of the unofficial Quad mascot—the gray squirrel—through the highly customizable Groups feature. The app also includes wellness challenges from Campus Rec that range from increasing time spent on movement to reaching nutritional goals.
Burgett stressed that any student can “find value” in the wellness features—as well as the easy access to the Illini ID, Illini Cash, real-time bus schedules, sports scores, course deadlines, and other sections of the app. Burgett pointed to customizability as “the heart of the app.” Using its system of Favorites to select content to see regularly, “you can go throughout the rest of the app, discover what has value to you, star those features, and make Favorites your own.”
Listen to the episode in the Illinois app or find it on the Healthy Illini podcast website.