In 2002, USF created the well-used student portal USF Connect. Thirteen years later on March 16th 2015, USF made the official switch from USF Connect to a new and improved portal, MyUSF.
The USF Leadership team approved the transition of USF Connect to MyUSF in February 2014, as it was decided that there needed to be a change in both function and format. The project officially started in June of 2014.
Marlene Tom, USF’s Senior Web Communications Director, explained that the transition of student portals is just one small part of the overall transition of the web design project for the university.
According to Tom there are two components to the website redesign. “We’re splitting the current usfca.edu website into two pieces: one is going to be a marketing website, which will be launched in June, and the other is an intranet site that is specifically going to be for internal use of resources,” said Tom.
Previously, students and faculty would log into USF Connect to navigate links that could provide information on grades and financial aid information, and even direct them to external sites such as Canvas. The instrumental difference between USF Connect and MyUSF is that MyUSF is set up as the new intranet that will provide information to students and will eventually be the home for current students, faculty and staff. “MyUSF will provide students, faculty and staff with information about things such as CASA or Human Resources, as those things pertain to the internal community,” explained Tom.
Although MyUSF is a new and improved portal, USF Connect will still be in use. However, it will not be used in its current capacity. The way that students access grades or search for their classes is still in the USF Connect system. The standard tabs such as “Student,” “Learning Technologies,” and “USF Calendar” will now no longer be in use.
“The whole back end part of the USF Connect is still going to be in place. What we changed up was the presentation,” said Tom.
In order to create the new portal to the liking of the USF community, the web design team planned focus groups last fall where current students and faculty were able to express their likes and dislikes regarding the new portal. In addition, they released a soft launch of the MyUSF site back in January so that users could test out the site as well as communicate what they did and did not like.
“We ended up getting a tremendous amount of feedback, and because of that we made many changes from January to March,” remarked Tom.
When asked her opinion on the new website design, junior Emily Tam said that she liked the new layout. “It’s really easy to navigate and I can really find anything I want very quickly,” said Tam.
Although Tom has received both positive and negative feedback, what he has found is that the people who have utilized the site to the fullest have found the site very useful.
“What I’ve found is that those who have embraced the new site and have implemented the customizable favorite apps and bookmarks love it, but those who haven’t don’t like it as much as they haven’t adopted it yet,” said Tom.
“I love how I can customize what I want to see on my account. It makes my student portal so much more personal,” said junior Jaki Lee.
According to Tom the cost of the transition was very minimal. The web design team paid solely for consulting as most of the money is going towards the marketing side of the website redesign. Most of the work was done solely by the web design team and members of ITS.
This transition from USF Connect to MyUSF is just Phase I of a two-part plan, and there are more changes to come.
As of now, all students get one student-landing page. However, eventually there will be customizable student landing pages based on your College, and whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, branch campus or an online student.
“Lets say you are a part of the college of arts and sciences and you are an undergraduate student,” explained Tom, “eventually when you log in you will see the custom content that is specifically for you in your college and in your major.”
In addition, the web design team is working on the student life websites that are hoped to be launched in June, such as CASA, Career Services, One Card, etc.
MyUSF is a site that has been created focus on personalization. It is for this reason that Tom believes this site to be a great improvement from the old USF Connect. “We wanted to present the information the way that the USF community wanted to receive it,” said Tom.