Website review

Students and staff react mixed to redesign of university website as it undergoes an overhaul | Texas A&M University-San Antonio

The redesign of the Texas A&M University-San Antonio website that took place before classes resume this fall has drawn mixed reactions from students and staff.

The new website launched on July 5 but had been in the works since spring 2021, web services manager Jim Meyer said. Several teams at this university – such as information technology services, the web team and the marketing and communications department – ​​worked on the update, and an unnamed third-party design company worked on “the appearance” of the website, Meyer said.

Senior director of communications, Brance Arnold, said the website redesign was a three-phase process. The first phase consisted of “migrating” the content from the old site to the new template using content management software.

“Now we’re in phase two, which is really the content review,” Arnold said.

He explained that every area and department at the university has content on the website and is currently undergoing a “high-level review” that ensures its content is “current, up-to-date and accurate”.

Meyer said, “We are currently working with an external contractor to help us with the UX and UI (user experience and user interface) parts of it.”

Arnold said this phase should be complete by October 26.

“Then we’ll move into phase three, which is really fine-tuning the design of specific pages as well as looking at the architecture of the site,” Arnold continued.

This phase will improve site navigation with the help of a third-party provider.

Meyer said the third-party contractor held focus groups to improve the organizational structure of the website. He also said that the web team embeds accessibility by employing external services that rate pages and the site for accessibility.

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Students and staff respond

The library’s senior associate, Alex Calvio, often uses the university’s website for work, and he found the new website difficult to use, “even as a university staff member.”

“It’s crowded,” Calvio said. “It is difficult to find the original spaces that were dedicated to certain subjects.”

Calvio helps students navigate the library’s website daily, answering their questions and directing them to other services that might better help them. Even though it’s his job, Calvio said the new website makes it difficult to find links and resources that have helped students before.

“Especially with the library, we have a lot of databases,” Calvio said.

Like Calvio, Brittany McCoslin, a writing tutor for the Writing Center said she “had a really hard time” finding what she was looking for.

“When I originally search for ‘library’ it kind of gives you this long list of other links. Previously I could just scroll down and click on ‘library’ but now I can’t find that at the bottom” , McCoslin said.

McCoslin also said she would add “quick links on the main page to commonly used places.” She added that it would be especially helpful after it took her about 30 minutes to find a link.

However, not all student feedback is negative. Katie Rodriguez, a senior kinesiologist, said the redesign was “more enjoyable.” Rodriguez uses the website primarily to pay tuition and register for classes.

“It’s a little messy, but I think that’s just because it’s a brand new site,” Merten said.

“It was a bit confusing at first,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like once I start using it more, it’ll probably be easy again.”

Echoing Rodriguez’s sentiments, story lead Dylan Merten said the new website isn’t “that bad” and “it’s just going to take some getting used to” with the redesign.

“It’s a little messy, but I think that’s just because it’s a brand new site,” Merten said.

The only thing Merten would change would be to have tabs for frequently used links at the top of the web page, as they did before the redesign. Merten said it was because it got a bit confusing at times when scrolling.

Meyer would like students to appreciate the room for new visual content.

“It’s a much nicer, more dynamic website,” Meyer said.

Finally, Arnold added that one of the main goals is for the website to “reflect an authentic view” of what it is to be a university student, professor or staff member.

To provide feedback on the website, Meyer suggested calling the ITS Helpline at 210-784-4357 or visiting the ITS home page to submit a ticket.

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