Titan Online’s user interface received a new look over a month ago, and students are warming up to the new changes of the campus wide platform.
The new layout sports numerous widgets where students can decide what they would like to see upon logging in, such as options to view any academic holds, campus news or even parking availability.
A new night mode that can be enabled as well. Titan Online’s new look focuses on accessibility, while also adding customization to visibility, which aims to improve the experiences for mobile users.
“The new portal user interface is mobile friendly and highly customizable from a user perspective,” said Rommel Hidalgo, the associate vice president for the division of information technology. “With this increase in mobile responsiveness, we are hoping students, faculty and staff will use the portal more often, knowing that their mobile devices can access the full functionality of the campus portal anytime, anywhere, anyplace.”
Upon the debut of the new portal interface, some students had originally expressed discontent with the update, though they began to grow familiar with the new interface with time.
For Hailey Hathaway, a fifth-year civil engineering major, re-learning the new user interface took some time in the beginning.
“That took me quite a while to figure out and just really break the habits of four years of going through the same thing,” Hathaway said. “But after getting that down, it was pretty quick.”
In the case of Bianca Cervantes, a fifth-year physics major, she said she learned the new interface in a single afternoon. Out of all the new additions of this update, she said the customization features were her favorite additions, and make navigating the platform much easier than before.
“Instead of clicking through seven different tabs, you can just get the facility features right away, and I need those,” Cervantes said. “The customization ability of the portal is a huge benefit. It's my favorite part right now.”
Hidalgo said this recent change is part of the Information Technology Department’s effort to update the platform every two years, though the COVID-19 pandemic had slightly delayed this planned change.
Prior to its rollout on Oct. 4, the new platform was available to beta test, in which the department gathered feedback and applied any needed change before its public release.
Hidalgo said this new user interface had been in development for several months before it became available for beta testing.
The department announced the change by email on Sept. 21, Titan Online would experience a temporary outage to apply the new layout in the following days. Beginning Oct. 1 and ending Oct. 4, Titan Online was inaccessible, which included class searching and degree auditing services.
Hidalgo said the update had a few issues at launch, an example being that students were unable to find the Student Center option due to its rebranding as Student Homepage, which was quickly remedied by renaming the link Student Homepage (Student Center). This was only one instance where users found themselves lost with the new layout, a sentiment echoed by students at launch.
For Hathaway, she recalled the common complaints of her friends and peers when it came to registering for classes. Since the registration system also received a fresh update, users who were unfamiliar with the new layout were left to struggle.
“The biggest thing was looking at their schedules and picking their class schedules. That's what I heard was the worst, it was trying to find things,” Hathaway said. “Everyone was having trouble trying to find things.”
Cervantes said that navigating the new homepage was a matter of trial and error, as she said she needed to play around with the platform to figure out what new buttons led to the places she needed to go. That had caused difficulty on her end, she said.
However, despite the rocky launch of the platform, the IT Department is working to gather student feedback and improve the platform moving forward.
“As we get more feedback from our students, faculty and staff, we will continue to adjust and tweak the portal and other systems,” Hidalgo said. “A year or two from now, we’ll most likely be making plans to update the portal skin again.”
Hathaway said she loves how sleek the overall appearance is, though she believes that the update wasn’t a necessary one.
“I don't personally think it needed the update. I think that now that it has, it's offered more opportunity, but I didn't think it was broken to begin with,” Hathaway said. “There are new things here that are giving kids opportunities and things like that, but I don't think it absolutely was dire.”
Hidalgo said the IT Department will be updating the portal over the course of the next year or so, up until the eventual development of the next major update.