Website launch comes up short with campus community
A week of emails and instructional videos preparing the Central Michigan University community for the new cmich.edu launch was considered unsuccessful by a many.
The new design of cmich.edu is being blamed by students and faculty for adding frustration to an already stressful time of the year.
Muskegon junior A.J. Balkema said he is not a fan of the website and called launching the new system Monday, with finals approaching, irresponsible and rushed.
“I don’t like that they switched it this close to finals,” he said. “I think they should have waited until summer. It is bad timing, there is a lot of stress already because of finals (and) we don’t need any more. It took me about 15 minutes to find the (portal) connection link.”
University Communications and the Web Task Force have said the April launch date was determined based on the effect it would have on the university community and its operations. CMU, based on user feedback, sent out an email Monday saying iCentral would remain accessible through the end of the semester. Links to both Central Link and iCentral were provided in the message.
The public website, cmich.edu, was unavailable for much of Tuesday as IT officials worked to correct an internal error.
In a previous story, Vice President for Information Technology Roger Rehm said iCentral was to be replaced by Central Link when the new website was launched. Because of the launch date, the Web team discussed leaving iCentral available throughout the project, but the final decision to leave it up was made over the weekend. The primary driver for the decision was feedback from students regarding the timing of the launch.
Charles Hastings, assistant professor of anthropology, said he has not tried the new website and called preparations for the launch, a string of video announcements sent via email, a waste of time.
“I find this way of easing us into the new website by email and videos a week before extremely annoying,” he said. “I don’t have time to watch videos.”
Hastings said Sarah Buckley, coordinator of marketing and events for the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences, sent an email Monday alerting CHSBS faculty and staff about external pages, which do not match the internal pages and there were some missing links on the college home page. Her email also informed CHSBS that they were working with OIT to fix the problems.
Midland sophomore Cory Brzak said he was confused by the organization of the home page. He said he didn’t see the purpose to launch on Monday and called navigation on the site ” horrible.”
“It is not organized well at all,” he said. “You have to search to find the portal and it is the weirdest set up. It just looks strange.”
In a statement from the Web Task Force team via University Communications, “the launch of the web environment went very well and performance of the environment more than met (our) expectations.”
CMU’s help desk received 375 calls Monday, 118 of which were directly related to the web environment. Comparatively, the help desk received 311 calls the previous Monday, April 2, and 282 the Monday before that, March 26.
Mount Pleasant junior Krandall Williams logged in Monday to check out the new site for the first time and said she liked what was done.
“I like the layout,” she said. “(There are) general things I noticed that weren’t working, but I like the site.”
She said there are going to be some issues with the new website, but it isn’t a reason to scrap the launch.
“I think people know by now how to get to Blackboard and email,” she said. “Today’s launch shouldn’t hinder too many.”
Hamburg junior Stephan Rose said he hasn’t noticed anything wrong when accessing the portal, but said he doesn’t go to the cmich.edu landing page.
“I skip going to the homepage,” Rose said. “I access cmich.edu/portal and find everything fine. I had no issues with the site (Monday).”
Port Huron junior Shawn Garska said the new website has a good layout, but now it’s about becoming familiar with it and learning to access everything.
“I am having some trouble,” Garska said. “I am finding that the locations of links are missing. … (They) probably should have waited before launching the website.”
Auburn sophomore Kristy Brandt was on the website Sunday during its soft launch and was unable to access email and other class material, but said she was able to get to everything on Monday.
“I am on it right now and I have been finding everything I need,” she said. “What really bugs me is that the old URLs that I have in (my) emails and such do not work anymore; they just send me to the cmich.edu homepage.”
Some CMU faculty are also avoiding the new site, asking the same question some students are about the launch on Monday: Why now?
Christopher Tycner, associate professor of physics, said he is busy preparing his classes for exams and hasn’t been on the website.
“I don’t know why they did this now and didn’t wait until summer,” Tycner said. “What’s the rush; why now? I think it would have been nice to know why they wanted to do the launch now.”
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