Current and future Ferris students can expect new designs of the university website and MyFSU in the next several months.
The new MyFSU will be more intuitive and catered to the needs of current and future students, faculty and staff.
“Over the years, it’s just been stagnant,” said Vicky Deur, Applications Project Manager who is in charge of MyFSU, “so we know that the look and feel—there’s so much on it, it doesn’t make sense where to find things. Most of you [students] are so used to it, you just do what you need to do, but we’re going to redesign it.”
In order to determine what changes will be most helpful for those using MyFSU, surveys and focus groups were held in January for students, faculty and staff to offer their input and describe which resources they most frequently use. The goal is to make the MyFSU homepage less cluttered. Many of the tabs will be given more succinct titles. For instance, the “Academics and Services” tab may be relabeled simply as “Student,” and Blackboard will be accessible by clicking on “Blackboard” rather than “FerrisConnect.”
IT Services has also enlisted student participation in the project. The new icons and graphics featured in the new version will be student-designed.
“We are still currently in the design phase of the project, but we expect to have a more finalized version of the site in April,” said Susan Cherry, manager for ITS. “The go-live date is still to be determined, but we expect to take the new version live at the end of May. We will be conducting a survey to determine some of the best ways to communicate with the campus community in order to inform them that the change is coming, particularly over the summer break. When we take the new version live in May, we will have all of the essential resources ready to go. This includes all of the information that students need and regularly use such as registration, e-bill, financial aid, scholarships, and so on. However, we will be continuing to add more resources throughout the summer.”
The goal is for the updated system to be up and running at least 2 weeks before orientation so that incoming freshman will start out using the new system. Before taking the update live, ITS plans to conduct usability tests to ensure that students can easily figure out how perform important tasks and find the information they need.
“We’re nervously excited, because there’s a lot of work to do between now and May,” Deur said. “We’re getting a lot of people’s input on how to design it and I think it will really be better for the students.”
Many of the changes to the main university website will not take effect until the beginning of the 2015/16 fall semester and will be more focused on recruiting future students.
“We’re going to be doing a lot of focus groups with current students and prospective students on campus,” said Ted Halm, Web Content Manager. “The site is going to be student-centered. It’s going to be emphasizing student enrollment and also public communications. Right now, our homepage is kind of a file cabinet that serves the entire university. We hope to change the emphasis of the site and also modernize the look. It’s about 5 years old now and it’s in need of a facelift. Technology has come so far in 5 years that designs from 5 years ago just don’t look up-to-date.”
The web content staff has contracted Donoughe Design to assist them in redesigning the website and creating a new look. The goal is to use the homepage to showcase the university in a positive light in order to attract potential students.
Though still in the early planning stages, this will be the largest update to the Ferris website since its creation in 1994. The redesign will involve making the website more friendly for students with hearing or visual disabilities and designing it to be compatible with mobile devices.
“We have 138 users of the Ferris website on campus that we supervise and train and edit their content, so our day is really busy,” Halm said. “We are publishing right now as many as 150 new or updated pages everyday to the Ferris website, so our challenge is to continue to assist our 138 users in keeping their content going and maintaining the website as it is and at the same time working on the redesign. We are very busy with our website and we’re very proud of it and we just want to make it better.”
To learn more about the website redesign or provide your input, visit ferris.edu/web-redesign.