New WUSTL Reader app launches to small audience
The new WUSTL Reader app brings together articles from university publications ranging from the Record to Washington Magazine. The full publications are also available through the app, and users can share and bookmark articles. As of Tuesday afternoon, 1,059 users had downloaded the app, with 511 of those opening the app on a regular basis.
The idea for the app came from Ebba Segerberg, director of communications for the College of Arts & Sciences, who wanted to create a newsstand-style app for A&S Magazine but recognized that the annual publication would not generate enough content for an app. Instead, she and other University officials formed a committee to combine content from publications across campus into a single app. The app itself was developed by an app creation company called RareWire.
The app, which is curated by a daily editor, divides content into categories such as “Culture” and “Policy” to allow readers to read material based on their interests.
In addition to bringing together existing content, Segerberg said she hoped the app would serve as an outlet for content that doesn’t fit into an existing publication.
“We saw that there was also potential here for people who don’t have a regular publication…but who occasionally want to contribute an article or a thoughtful blog post. That is also a way to provide content,” Segerberg said.
Segerberg also expressed hope that the app would find an audience outside of the University community, although current marketing is focused on the Danforth and medical school campuses.
“We kind of saw that there was a public service component to [the app] because the wider community can come here and read about things that they can trust and that they can access for free,” Segerberg said.
Although the app has been available for download since June 29, Colleen Lyerla, executive director of creative services for the Office of Public Affairs, described the summer as a soft release that acted as the app’s beta period. Official marketing efforts for the app started at the beginning of October, according to Director of Integrated Marketing Communications Michael Spear.
An update to the app is expected within the next two weeks to improve performance and fix bugs. An Android version of the app is in development, but no release date has been set.
Many students have yet to download the app, however, and others have not heard of it at all. Some have indicated that they aren’t planning on downloading it.
“This is the first I’ve heard of the app, but I don’t think I would even use it,” junior Pratik Khanna said. “I prefer to read the stories in print.”
Senior Stephen Rubino said that if he had a smartphone, he would definitely be interested in the app, but he had not previously heard of it. He suggested that it might be valuable for allowing readers to bounce between multiple different campus publications.
Sahil Patel contributed to this report.