A new University website and accompanying student portal is tentatively scheduled to launch this winter.
The utexas.edu redesign began in 2013. Since then, UT has teamed up with Springbox, a local design agency. An official timeline of the project and its projected release date have not been made available.
The new website will have an updated Google Map and iTunes app and a new Android app that is currently being developed by computer science students, according to Michael Horn, director of digital strategy.
Horn said one of the biggest changes for the site is that it will be formatted for smart phones and tablets using responsive web design that adjusts to the screen size of different devices.
“What we’ve done on an almost page-by-page basis for the redesign is look at how that information should be displayed on the smallest screen and then on a full desktop size,” Horn said.
Horn said he and his team are working to simplify the home page.
According to Horn, the home page will utilize white space and images to modernize the site. He said there will be basic promotional information targeted at an external audience of prospective faculty, staff and students.
“Our research showed that what current students are really doing on the home page is using it to get to other services they need,” Horn said. “They’re not stopping to read all of the content.”
Related promotional sites and student resources, such as the “Be a Longhorn” site, will match the format of the University home page as much as possible, according to Michael Caldwell, assistant director of admissions.
“We’ll definitely still provide that functionality,” said Caldwell, who is overseeing the Be a Longhorn redesign. “The look and feel may change a little bit depending on what happens with utexas.edu, but the process won’t change significantly.”
A student portal, a site unique to each student, is set to launch alongside the new utexas.edu site. The portal was developed in response to recent Senate of College Councils and Student Government resolutions asking for an improved website.
“The vision is that this is the first thing that current students do,” Horn said. “They don’t go to utexas.edu on a regular basis. They go to this portal. That’s their home page.”
While the UT home page is focused on an external audience, the student portal is personalized for its internal audience, similar to UT Direct.
“The student portal is going to provide this interactive experience for our students,” said Carolyn Connerat, associate vice provost and sponsor for the student portal. “It’s going to take the existing functions that students use every day, like getting to the registrars information or financial aid or their calendars, and put them into a new responsive design that will work on their phone, tablet or laptop.”
According to Connerat, the student portal team is working to find a vendor to help execute the project.
“Once a vendor is chosen, and [we] start to move into [the] next stage of finalizing the requirements and implementing the expectations, we will definitely … be involving students in process,” Connerat said.