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Redesigned Porches to offer improved communications, functionality

1:43 PM  Dec 10th, 2012
by Shannon Shelton Miller

Spring semester will bring with it an upgraded Porches portal for faculty, staff and students.

On Jan. 7, Porches will incorporate the same design as the University’s overall website with increased functionality and opportunities to better inform and connect the campus community within the secure login.

The Porches upgrade takes the University’s portal, launched in February 2010, to the next level, said Sundar Kumarasamy, vice president for enrollment management and marketing.

“It is an opportunity for us to streamline communications and to let the campus community be the first to know the information that defines us as a community,” he said.

Changes will occur to tabs (pages), channels (content blocks) and the login page. To log in, click on the “Porches” link in the footer of the University’s home page or go to porches.udayton.edu. Users who log in to mymail.udayton.edu will be redirected to Porches. A standard University login window will appear and prompt for username and password.

Front Porch will be the first tab to greet users. It will feature an insider’s view story on news and activities happening on campus. A discussion function in this channel will allow users to post comments and ask additional questions about the topic.

A summary of your email will appear in the center of the screen, along with links to your full UDMail inbox and calendar, which will open in separate browser tabs and maintain all Gmail functionality.

Front Porch will also include a profile of a UD community member and a new channel that will display either a poll question or feeds from the University’s social media channels.

While the Front Porch cannot be customized, all remaining tabs can be. If you have previously customized a tab other than the front page or added channels, be aware that the shift in design — from three columns of content to two columns — will mean channels may now appear in a different location on the page. Among the changes:

• Icons once found at the top will be moved. Isidore will now be found in the blue navigation bar on the left side. The top right features a drop-down tools menu, which is where groups can be found.

• Today’s weather will be in the right of the Porches header.

• The academics tab will be called Flyers First.

• Announcements will move from the front page to the UD Daily tab. Personal announcements — those targeted to you because of your status as employee or student or as a member of an academic unit — are now in the My Announcements channel. Campus announcements — those going to the entire community — will be in a channel called Central Mall. There is no change to the way announcements are submitted.

• The UD Daily tab will contain the campus dining menu, announcements and the campus calendar. Banner Self-Service will move from UD Daily to the tools drop-down. All remaining channels will move to My Porch, as will the channels currently found on the Campus Resources tab, which will be removed.

• Video of the Week and Mission & Identity channels will move from the front page to the My Porch tab.

The changes are part of a multistep process to improve the functionality of Porches; the quality and timeliness of campus communications; and the ease and security of accessing the University’s online resources. Future improvements include refining the search function within Porches; in the meantime, A-Z links offer a shortcut. Also being developed is a Craigslist-like service to allow UD community members to post messages, from selling a house to getting a ride home at Easter break.

All suggestions can be submitted through the improved feedback mechanism that will be built into the site for the Jan. 7 launch; look for the blue feedback button to the right of your browser screen.



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