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LETTER: New cmich.edu flawed in many ways


Regarding Monday’s article “Delay in cmich.edu redesign will not cost CMU more than contracted $550,000,” there are a number of errors of fact.

“The delay in the Central Michigan University website redesign will not cost the university more than its contracted $550,000, Vice President for Information Technology Roger Rehm said last week.”
Roger lied; the delay has cost more than the contracted amount. Just because the work is being done by CMU staff instead of consultants, it doesn’t mean that it has no cost.
“Initially tabbed for an August launch, the project was delayed after the number of pages needed to be migrated bloomed above 50,000,” the story said.
The delay wasn’t caused by an increase in the number of pages that needed to be migrated. The incompetent running the project failed to learn the true scope of what was involved before the contract was signed. As it turned out, large numbers of pages that were to be migrated were actually not migrated, as Blue Chip wasn’t prepared to deal with dynamic pages. Much of the work that they were to do was dumped off onto various I.T. staff throughout the university, causing delays in other projects.
“One of the key aspects of relaunch will be Central Link, a new and improved version of the CMU Portal, where students will be able to access grades, Blackboard and email, among other options," the story said.
CentralLink may be new, but it’s far from an improved portal. It’s a terrible design in many ways. The most glaring deficiency is indicated by the training video that eats up much of the page. A portal that requires training to use is inherently flawed; it should be intuitive for anyone who has basic web browsing experience.

Another design failure is the sloppy pseudo-calligraphy that makes it look like “CentralOink”, which would be a more fitting name for it.

Also, instead of there being a cohesive visual design, it looks like everything was slopped under a half-baked menu system. (It was.)

 “Rehm said the new site is more efficient compared to the old web environment, where users would have to log in separately for Blackboard and email access," the story said.
Rehm is ignorant of the current system’s capabilities. Once users log in to iCentral (which was always an idiotic name), they can click the corresponding link in the upper right corner, and it’ll go there with no need to re-enter credentials.

If Renee Walker wants some feedback, here it is: She’s incompetent when it comes to web design, as she demonstrated back in 2007, reinforced with her ‘help’ with Mount Pleasant’s website redesign, and capped off with this travesty. She’s been a failure at managing the project; people who could’ve provided valuable input were excluded until after terrible decisions were made, and then were kept in the dark as to what would be required of them. Despite my negligible direct involvement in this project, and my peripheral location in the organization, I was able to identify the mid-August ‘deadline’ as pure fantasy when I heard of it last spring. It’s ‘funny’ how the launch was only called off less than two weeks from that deadline, and it’s now taken nearly eight months for it to finally be ‘ready’ to launch (into the nearest garbage can.) Thanks to the failures of Walker, Rehm and Blue Chip, CentralOink is lousy portal and a giant waste of time and money. The money that went to Blue Chip would’ve been put to better use converted into dollar bills and burned to fire the boilers in the power plant.

To address Monday’s editorial “EDITORIAL: Why add new website onto end of semester stressors?” the answer is that Walker and Rehm are clueless, failing to see that the timing is a disservice to students. Launching at this point in the semester is worse than the three hour graduation ceremony in the wind, rain and cold that was inflicted upon graduates who chose to walk two years ago while the Event Center was undergoing construction. At least with that, there was no adverse impact on academics.

Finally, I’ll add my own unanimous vote of no confidence in George Ross, Gary Shapiro and the Board of the Untrustworthy. They should pile into a tiny vehicle, along with Walker, Rehm, Heeke, Wilbur and Yatz, drive down to Lansing to pick up Rick Snyder, then head off to find a third-rate circus in need of their services as clowns and/or midway game hucksters.

Sincerely, Andrew Wittbrodt Programmer / Analyst IV (also two-time graduate and current graduate student) Central Michigan University
Disclaimer: I speak for no one other than myself; no one speaks for me other than myself. This was written on my own time, using resources available to me as a student.

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