myNorthridge portal gets new look

Britten Fay

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CSUN has launched the latest “myNorthridge” portal in an effort to enable more efficient access to daily resources and a better guide to graduation.

The new portal was designed to be more intuitive and includes tab navigation, quick links and a mobile website.

Dr. Mary Ann Cummins Prager, associate vice president for student access and support services, said years of complaints from students led to the change.

Prager said navigation and personalization were the two main difficulties the “myNorthridge 2.0” team hoped to overcome with the new site.

“Clearly we weren’t communicating effectively,” Prager said. “Holds or actions against students often went unknown or unnoticed, buried somewhere on the portal. It was hard to find information or students didn’t have the information they needed and they didn’t know why their portal couldn’t be tailored to just them.”

Art Tersaakyan, philosophy major, said the portal was complicated and had too much on one page.

“My first time using it, it was kind of hard to figure out,” said the 22-year-old. “I’d like to see it simplified.”

The portal team, comprising staff from various CSUN administrative offices including Student Affairs, Information Technology, Admissions and Records and Financial Aid, began meeting regularly in the fall of 2009 to meet these needs and revamp the website.

These officials wanted to be able to use web 2.0 technology, a more user-centered design, to make it easier for students.

The new portal features a check list on the first page that will show essential information specific to the individual student, as well as a new button look, similar to the iPod or iPad.

“Generally, we want the portal to be similar to technology and websites they currently use,” Prager said. “We didn’t actually eliminate anything from the old portal, we just re-organized.  All the old information is there and we added new things.”

A few suggestions were the need to register quicker with fewer pages and clicks, to find out how much they owed in tuition and fees, what their grades were and quick access to Gmail and Moodle.

“When you go to the student portal, you’re going to see general information,” said John Darakjy, assistant director of financial services in the university controller’s office. “If you really want financials, you can hit the financial matters link or the account balance icon to the right.  It takes you to all the financial information you’re going to need.”

Despite its aspirations, the portal revision is not a hit yet with all students.

“I don’t like it,” said 20-year-old Leticia Miranda, political science major. “They need to update their instructions and I don’t really see a search option. What has really bothered me is the instructions for the degree progress report are for the old portal.”