Central Michigan University now has a new email system and a revamped university website.
Visitors to the university website can expect a flashier look with bolder fonts and an overall new design. In addition, students’ existing Zimbra accounts have all been migrated to Office 365 accounts.
Vice President of Information Technology Roger Rehm said all changes were made with existing staff and cost no extra money to create.
Chesapeake senior and graphic design major Daniel Dunning helped draft designs for the new site.
“I just played a part in helping with the layouts,” Dunning said. “In the initial process, we were looking to create a new design with the bolder colors. So I threw together some layouts and then collaborated with (University Communications). Then, we refined it.”
As far as the website design, Dunning says they knocked it out of the park.
“The old site was pretty bland, and you couldn’t really even tell it was CMU,” he said. “Our main focus was really embracing our brand.”
Dunning received no additional compensation beyond his regular salary as an employee of the office of information technology.
“We’re moving students and alumni as well to a new email system,” said Roger Rehm, vice president for information technology. “The new service, which is provided by Microsoft, provides more storage space for students; it allows us to integrate our directory with the faculty and staff directory, so students will actually be able to look up the addresses of their faculty, and the faculty can look up the addresses of students. That’s not possible with the current email system.”
Some students and alumni were unable to send or receive emails after they transitioned to Office 365, but CMU said the issue has been fixed.
University email accounts previously had 10 gigabytes of email storage space. With the upgrade to Microsoft, that number will more than double to 25 GB.
“The Microsoft Solution is sort of an industry-leading solution,” Rehm said. “I would say alongside Google Mail, it’s probably the widest used, or one of the widest used email systems in the world.”
Rehm also said the new email system, upgraded by the information technology staff, has mobile support so it supports many different kinds of phones, as well as tablets.
CM Life asked students on Facebook what they thought of the technology upgrades. Among the 61 responses we received, 30 of them offered criticism of the upgrades – particularly of the new email software.
The old version was user friendly and easy to send and receive emails,” Troy senior Alexandar Urban said on Facebook. “The new outlook version keeps freezing and is difficult to navigate.”
Others were more forgiving.
“Personally, with the email migration, the Zimbra software was dreadful to work with on all fronts, and although Office 365 is a lot different and loads slower, it is a million times better than what we had,” Troy junior Scott Stewart said in reply to a CM Life Facebook post. “People are so quick to complain about every little change, even if it makes it easier in the long run.”
The university website has also seen changes and upgrades.
“The changes to the website comes about as part of a natural evolution of a website that you would see at any entity, any corporation, any large organization as they look at the web world, look at what they have, where they’re going, how their market is evolving and changing, and what the needs of their customers are,” Sherry Knight, associate vice president for university communications, said. “So, it’s a very natural evolution of our website.”
The most prominent upgrades involve design and technical enhancements, in addition to communication and technical issues.
“The designs will be richer, bolder and more branded,” Knight said. “It will be very much “CMU” in its appearance and the look really fits with our current marketing campaign. It’s made to complement what were doing from a marketing perspective.”
In-line with the majority of our Facebook feedback, Troy junior Scott Stewart is pleased with the website redesign.
“The new design is much better than the old one – it provides easier access to necessary sites and information,” he said. “Although there are currently some flaws that are being worked on, IT truly did work hard to provide a new and innovative site that responded to feedback from the community.”