A redesign of the San Diego State University WebPortal that emphasizes student priorities.
The journey of this personal redesign began at my freshmen orientation. There, incoming freshmen were tasked with developing my academic plan for my first semester at San Diego State University (SDSU). Eager to begin my journey, I hastily logged into the SDSU WebPortal only to be met by empty screens and a confusing site structure. This experience sparked my curiosity with how I could potentially redesign the WebPortal to be more user-friendly.
A year later, as I explored the idea of a career in UX design, I was eager to start my first project. Remembering the experiences my peers and I have had with our WebPortal, I instantly knew what my first project would be: redesigning the SDSU WebPortal.
After logging into the WebPortal, you are greeted with the following dashboard below. Right off the bat, there are a couple of design choices that have areas of improvement such as the abundant white space on the right-side of the page. After exploring the website more, I noticed a couple of other areas of improvement such as the empty footer at the bottom which also happens to change on various occasions on different pages.
While the menu is on mainly on the dashboard, I wanted to create a separate section to highlight some of the areas that could be improved upon.
Menu options lead to the same page which can confuse users about the navigation choices that they made from the menu. For example, My Class Schedule and My Registration both lead to My Registration.
After I conducted my initial analysis of the SDSU WebPortal, I sent out a survey to peers of mine to gather some of their thoughts and experiences with the SDSU WebPortal. Here are some of the responses I received:
Based on the survey I conducted, 82.4% of participants utilize their desktop/laptop to access the WebPortal.
At the start of my project, I debated on creating a mobile WebPortal app to help student’s accessibility to the WebPortal itself. Based on these findings however, I decided to move forward with a desktop design.
These were the main features that users utilized from the WebPortal:
Viewing Class Schedule
Registering for Classes
Viewing Degree Evaluation
These findings helped me pinpoint what features I wanted to focus on in the overall final design. For example, I created a class schedule section on the dashboard as it was one of the most utilized features from the WebPortal according to the survey I conducted.
If you could change anything about SDSU’s WebPortal navigation, what would it be?
After gathering and compiling my research, I created an affinity map to help me summarize the key insights that I discovered based on the responses of my survey.
Working off my affinity map, I jotted down some solutions that could be included within my redesign of the WebPortal.
I decided to create a user flow to layout the website's information architecture. I began by jotting down all of the current menu options and the menu options that could be added. Then, I grouped them all into separate categories to organize all of the options users could navigate to within the Webportal.
After creating a user flow of the redesigned website, I then designed low fidelity wireframes to help visualize my ideas and get a better idea of the framework for each page.
I created a new menu that categorizes previous options under 4 categories: Academics, Finances, Campus, & Enrollment. These categories create a hierarchy for menu options to help users quickly navigate options related to one another.
The new dashboard strives to use the whitespace from the previous dashboard with usable features like a daily course schedule for the student, course information, and a place for users to add their favorite links from the WebPortal.
The new course catalog aims to simplify a two page process into one page to improve efficiency for users. This change also allows users to see their course filter options while viewing their available course selections.
Creating a redesign of the SDSU WebPortal all began in my freshmen orientation. A year later and I was able to come back to this idea and turn it into a reality. While I have had a handful of UX design experiences where I have been able to work in teams, this project was my first “solo” project. This project helped my passions in UX flourish and helped me learn that I have a long way to go in terms of learning UX design.
One of the biggest things I learned from this project, was learning that some ideas that I can come up with as a designer aren’t necessarily the right ideas for the user. When I first started this project, I had so many ideas that I thought would create a better WebPortal. For example, I wanted to integrate other frequently used tools that students use that weren’t in the WebPortal already like the Student Account Services (financial aid). However, upon surveying fellow students, many didn't see the need for this integration. Situations like these made me continue to step back and remember who I am ultimately designing for; the users.
The biggest development that I would like to focus on with this project, is getting the perspective of the SDSU faculty and staff. I was able to curate this redesign in the perspective of the student users, but I was not able to get the full perspective of the faculty and staff users who also use this WebPortal. If I were to continue with this project, I would like to further develop my user research to encompass this additional perspective.