The Top 9 Best Practices of Highly Successful Campus Portals

June 12, 2018  |  by: Jennifer Martinez
Campus Portal
College Portal
Customer Success
Higher Ed Tech

We’ve always said our customers are the best. And that includes their approach to implementing their unique OneCampus solutions. Here are just some of the best practices these campuses have used to provide what their stakeholders want and need. Also included are links to their case studies, blog posts and campus portals for more details.

1. Involve stakeholders early and often. Northeast Iowa Community College conducted a portal review and replace process that included representatives from Marketing, Student Services, and Online and Blended Learning, who shared unique perspectives for design and requirements. At St. Edward’s University, results from usability studies across all users (students, faculty, staff) powered the design of the new system. The portal review process at Notre Dame University extended beyond the Office of Information Technologies and included individuals from the Registrar’s Office, Student Enrollment, Human Resources, Finance and First Year of Studies. And Citrus College led focus groups to discover what attracts and keeps their students’ attention. 

2. Increase visibility of department services and information. The University of Pittsburgh campus portal not only enables students, faculty and staff to quickly find the online services they need but also allows them to discover new services. During implementation, the Pitt IT team worked with departments campus wide to increase their presence in the application. Once departments realized how the service discovery functionality increased their visibility, adoption grew.

3. Give your departments more autonomy. Because of the OneCampus user-friendly and versatile back-end administration experience, St Edward’s University quickly moved to a distributed publishing model for myHilltop. This model enables functional areas to largely to control their own content with minimal administrative oversight from IT, allowing them more autonomy over their business practices. According to product owner Nicole Hill, some of these departments have become the biggest champions of myHilltop.

4. Make it easy for stakeholders to do business. According to Joy Lynam, director of IT web development (retired) with the University of Delaware, OneCampus works the way people work, anytime, anywhere and on any device. The university’s My UD portal allows people to search using their role, specific category or keyword, eliminating the need to visit multiple websites and making it easy to locate forms and web applications. Just one month after going live, My UD had over 51,000 unique visitors, while in the two years since the launch, more than 535,300 unique individuals have visited the portal.

5. Elevate the community experience. At Northeast Iowa Community College, the inherent adaptability of OneCampus to trends and forward thinking provides all user segments with tools to assist them in virtually anything they want to do. NICC end users (students, alumni, faculty, staff and parents) as well as administrators have easy access to what they need. Director of Computer Information Systems Craig Meirick says that the college has been able to give users more resources and better service, providing access to several open resources that were otherwise locked with their previous portal product.

6. Get organized. Like most projects, implementing your campus portal takes careful planning and a thoughtful implementation. Product owner Nicole Hill shared a three strategies used at St. Edward’s University: involving stakeholders at all stages to create allies and advocates, documenting everything (like requirements, roles and responsibilities, and what content to publish and not publish) and getting the data right (because the success of a search-based portal depends on it). It’s also key to set measurable goals. If you know your goals and set measurable KPIs (key performance indicators), you can track your success more easily.

7. Ease transition to new system. Instead of a hard cutover to the new system, the University of Pittsburgh chose to integrate the OneCampus search bar into their existing portal. This approach eases the transition for individuals accustomed to visiting the portal and also provides time to upgrade any services that still rely on the previous portal framework. At St Edward’s University, they first created a preview site to work out any kinks six months before the hard switchover, ensuring the new myHilltop portal launched as a fully functional site.

8. Promote campus-wide to increase adoption. To engage users, Northeast Iowa Community College promoted their MyCampus portal through various college communication channels, including the digital signage across campus, biweekly newsletters and email. Oberlin College sent a communication to all students, faculty and staff with instructions for SSO and a link to OberView. Oberlin also set up tables in different areas of campus to speak with students over the course of two days. At the University of Indiana, involving students who promote the One.IU portal at campus events and on social media helps drive adoption. At the same time, the student volunteers get a lot of feedback they can share with the development team.

9. Provide an immediate feedback loop. At St. Edward’s University, students can rate and review tasks on MyHIlltop, and tell you what they think about them. Are they easy to use? Did they have any problems? Does it make sense? With immediate feedback, the university can tell quicker than ever if something is working or if it’s not. And Nicole Hill, product owner, says that the feedback they’ve received has been uniformly appreciative.  

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