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     jan. 30, 2008

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Portal committee maintains content standards

Designing the look and feel of the myPurdue portal was a significant part of the new student systems’ development. It needed to have enough information to be helpful, yet also be easy to navigate and scan quickly in order to maximize its readability

Requests to post announcements or make other changes to myPurdue are made at least once per week. The process of approving them and maintaining a sense of order on the portal is the job of the myPurdue Portal Advisory Committee (mPAC).

photo of Matt Pistilli“Like any Web site, you can’t have everything on the home page,” said committee chair Matt Pistilli, senior assistant director of Student Access, Transition and Success Programs (SATS). “We need to keep the portal clean and easy to read.”

In addition to keeping myPurdue aesthetically pleasing, mPAC has developed a process for evaluating change requests. Based on current portal content, it has identified six core areas of portal “ownership”: the Office of Admissions, Bursar’s Office, Division of Financial Aid, Office of the Registrar, SATS and Vice President for Student Services. Each of these departments already has content on at least one of the portal tabs, in addition to designated “authors” (one primary and one backup) through which all changes are requested.

To post important announcements on myPurdue and update information in an existing portal channel, an author can often bypass mPAC and work directly with the Student Systems Competency Center. (In myPurdue, a “channel” is a box of information under a “tab”; a tab is major subject such as Home, New Student, Academic and Financial, each of which can contain several channels.)

Although this can be quicker than going through mPAC, content submitted by the authors must still follow guidelines set up by the committee, Pistilli said.

“We won’t alter the basic message, but all content is subject to editing for grammar, spelling, etc., and, again, must not disrupt the aesthetics of the page.

“For example, a 300-word announcement is not likely to be approved, since it would cause the page to be too long, which could discourage someone from reading it. This, of course, would defeat one of the primary purposes of myPurdue: to communicate important information.

“Were something like this to occur, members of mPAC would work with that author to tailor the message into something that would work on the portal.”

Other and more complex portal changes — creating a new tab, channel on an existing tab, or posting announcements from groups outside of the six core areas (listed above) or competency center — must go through mPAC for approval. Pistilli said an online form is being developed to simplify the process of submitting requests for announcements, and should be available in early February.

Since this committee first met in September 2008, it has created new channels on the Academic tab for transcripts and academic history, and added links to Purdue Student Government, purduEBoard and eSidewalk on the Student Life tab.

“We are committed to the continuous improvement of the portal,” Pistilli said, “and this includes listening to the people who use it. So we’re going to conduct focus groups with current students Feb. 11-12 to learn what works well in myPurdue, what doesn’t, and what they would like to see in it.” (The groups will consist of both returning students and new students who started at Purdue in the fall 2008 semester and had no exposure to the old systems. mPAC will conduct focus groups with graduate students at a later date.)

“This kind of feedback will help us make the portal even better.”

More information about the myPurdue Portal Advisory Committee is in the October 2008 ESAnews (now myPurdue News).

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