The university has several projects underway that are aimed at improving the consistency and functionality of Portland State’s web sites, including a facelift for Banweb and a redesign that will give departmental home pages a more uniform feel.
MyPSU, a student home page set to replace the current Banweb, is scheduled to launch in April. MyPSU will allow students to check their grades, sign up for classes, access the university e-mail system, read postings and information about their majors, read and leave group postings for clubs and groups and a host of other functions.
The site will use the same format as Portland Community College’s MyPCC. Students will be able to set the site up however they like.
“The page will be tailored to you,” said Nathan Angell, Portland State’s lone webmaster. “You can customize your site to what you want to see.”
The task force for integrated marketing, a committee charged with facilitating a redesign of the university’s image, will work to standardize PSU web pages. Headed by Sockeye Creative Incorporated, a new logo and standard web site will be designed. The local design firm is also working with graphic design students to develop new ideas.
“We are realizing how important the web is, so we’ve decided to develop a new way,” said Cassie McVeety, chair of the task force and vice president of university relations.
Angell said he thinks a school the size of PSU needs more uniformity in how it develops its web pages. One of the major problems is that home pages often vary in structure and functionality from department to department. The school of philosophy’s home page may look very different than the school of business, which can cause confusion.
“We’d like to bring more coherence to everybody in the community,” Angell said.
Angell said that other universities in Oregon have already taken these steps to make their web sites easier to navigate. “When you go from page to page, you can see the name of the college at the top,” Angell said. “At least there’s that consistency.”
Other members of the task force said the university could do a better job of marketing itself if it had a more recognizable logo.
“It can help develop the perception in the public’s eye,” said Julie Smith, project coordinator of the task force. “It can help increase the giving to the university as well as enrollment.”
In the past, each department has had to pay a fee of $500 a year to design and maintain the web page for each link. According to Angell, this cost is very cheap in comparison to contracting out a company to design it for them.
However, charges can add up quickly for a department with several pages to design. McVeety said the task force has submitted a proposal asking the university to fund these web site upgrades rather than make individual departments foot the bill.
“We think the web is one of the most important things for us to fund centrally,” McVeety said.
However, university departments will not be required to conform their pages to the uniform design. The university uses a system called Saga to publish and manage web site content. Saga sites are very much like individual web sites, but they all are linked to the PSU homepage. Anyone with basic knowledge of web design could insert the basic characteristics of the PSU web site with this program, Angell said.
As of now, there is no plan to require schools, groups, or clubs to update their web pages. The capability is there, but the university still allows for individuality on its web site. “Here are the resources,” Angell said. “It’s not like you have to do this.”