Find, Buy and Store Digital Tickets from Your Smartphone
Hayden Zywina’s Smartphone App Lets Users Search University Events, Purchase and Store Tickets and Add the Event to Calendars from the Palm of Their Hand
Hayden Zywina of Orofino capitalizes on activities both inside and outside the classroom at the University of Idaho.
“U of I has a lot of great activities for students,” Zywina said. “The problem is finding out about them. Students can’t find all the information about events on campus in one place.”
Zywina, ’21, management information systems (MIS), learned to build apps and solve real-world problems in a class at U of I’s College of Business and Economics. Zywina and a team of students developed UI Ticketing, an app letting students find campus events, purchase and store electronic tickets and add events to their U of I calendar from the palm of their hand.
“Apps take a lot of information, like campus events, and organize it to be useful. Building an app is trial and error, but that’s what makes it fun,” Zywina said. “You can try anything. It’s not a chemistry lab where one wrong move burns down a college. A wrong move in MIS just means your app won’t work.”
Building Apps with Visual Code
Zywina’s app uses visual coding, a series of blocks rather than script. The size, shape and color of each block identifies the information tagged to it. He drags and drops the blocks and data into place until their visual code produces the results he wants.
User login information is one type of data tagged to a block. “Having this data on the right block, and dropping that block into the right place, saves users’ login information to the app,” Zywina said. “This lets them open UI Ticketing without entering a username and password every time.”
Ticket options are another type of data tagged to blocks. “This information tells UI Ticketing that events are either free or require payment,” Zywina said. “The data says tickets can’t be both, so seeing both free and payment options at checkout, regardless of the event type, was confusing."
Playing Virtual Hide-and-Seek
Selecting a free event, Zywina tapped the payment option at checkout. Nothing happened. Zywina realized that data tagged to blocks only inactivates ticket options; it doesn’t remove them from the checkout screen. They would have to be hidden.
Trial and error in a digital game of hide-and-seek led Zywina to an answer. “Tagging additional data to a specific part of an event’s block, and dropping that block back into its place in the visual code, hides inactive ticket options. They just disappear.
Finally getting it right is such a rush. It’s my code, so the answer isn’t in a book. The answer’s in my head. I’m teaching myself and that’s rewarding,” Zywina said.
Creating User-Friendly Experiences
Zywina’s attention to details like user login information and ticket options make UI Ticketing uncomplicated and easy for app users to navigate.
Building an app is trial and error, but you can try anything. It’s not a chemistry lab where one wrong move burns down a college. A wrong move in MIS just means your app won’t work. Hayden Zywina
“I spent hours dragging and dropping login information blocks into the code. I couldn’t get them in the right place and would have to login, drag and drop again,” Zywina said. “I could’ve submitted an app that didn’t save usernames and passwords between uses, but that’s not user-friendly.”
The easiness of Zywina’s app stands out to U of I’s Chief Information Officer Dan Ewart. “It’s always valuable to hear what students want from their experiences with technology,” Ewart said. “Giving students easy access to event tickets improves engagement with fellow students and the university.”
U of I is currently implementing a new event ticketing system. “It’s exciting seeing new technology help us plan student events that are both safe and fun,” Ewart said. “When students take the initiative and use their creativity and expertise to solve problems, things really move forward.”
Published in June 2021