By Marcus Whitman, Staff Writer and Keri Luise, News Editor
Screenshot by Keri Luise
Towson University has been working on a new myTU webpage, an updated hub for important links for students and staff, as part of a university-wide initiative to improve TU’s digital experience.
“The university has been exploring ways to transition to more simplified and digitally-accessible technologies for several years,” said Sean Welsh, Associate Vice President of Communications and Media Advancement. “The new myTU portal is a part of that.”
The new webpage was being tested with a beta version available for preview before the full launch. According to Welsh, the new webpage is now currently updated.
The page has a more visual style layout compared to the old version and the preview received positive feedback from students before the full launch. According to TU computer science major, Emily Vogel, the new layout feels very user-friendly.
“The old one had a lot of links and was very cluttered and all that,” she said. “The new one, I mean it’s going to take people getting used to, but…from a usability standpoint, it is very usable.”
The new myTU has a section for users to select links located in boxes with corresponding icons, whether it be Blackboard, OneCard, webmail, Peoplesoft, and more. It also includes a section to the side entitled “Latest News” and another section for “Additional Links.”
“This overarching, multi-year effort focuses on replacing dated apps and systems with simplified, standardized and mobile-friendly versions of what we use today,” Welsh said about the new site. “This is not solely a technology project, but more of a holistic approach to improve the digital experience for TU’s faculty, staff and students. As our physical campus advances and improves, our online systems need to keep pace as well.”
According to Dan Fricker, Solutions Analyst for the Office of Technology Services at TU, this project, “which includes StudentApps, the new myTU site, and faculty/staff portal,” has been in the works since July 2019.
“Project team members have worked more than 1,000 hours (and counting) to improve the digital experience for the campus,” Fricker said. “More than 75 individual users from TU have been directly involved with the project including members of OTS, Creative Services, Digital Strategy, Marketing and Communication, Office of Human Resources, Financial Affairs, and various subject matter experts across campus.”
TU pre-nursing major Jazmin Techie-Mensah thinks that the new layout is better than the original, but one thing she would like to see added is a “daily events” section to the myTU webpage. Currently, events are located at https://www.towson.edu/calendars/.
“I think they could add what’s going on that day, every day,” she said. “If someone were to log on to see what’s happening, if there are any events on campus and stuff.”
According to Shauntia Mclean, a TU business administration major, the new page is “organized and accessible, especially for a college student.”
“I feel like students would interact with this more than the other view,” she said. “It’s more interactive, more chic and you have the pictures and everything. It’s more visual. I want to interact with it, I want to see.”
According to Welsh, the new myTU look and feel is an attempt to modernize user experience without feeling too much of a drastic change.
“The campus can still access all the info they need, but in a more intuitive way,” he said. “The myTU modernization project is the beginning of a broader vision and multi-phased effort to provide a more personalized digital experience.”
Fricker said that during this modernization period, a majority of the original links were retained and a few more have also been added on.
“The vendor assisting with the project helped design the site with the consultation of our brand team, making sure the site accurately reflects the new TU brand,” Fricker said. “The placement of the links and tiles on the page are based on click statistics of the current usage.”
Noah Shannon, a TU computer science major, also has given positive feedback to the new site.
“I think it is nice,” he said. “I like how everything is compact in one space. I can click on anything and I know specifically where things are. I don’t have to click on a thousand different menus to find the one thing I want.”
From just the beta testing stage of what TU students had seen for months, many felt that this site was off to a good start. When it came time for the full launch for the new myTU page, not much of anything was needed to be changed or added.