Portals play a significant role in the modern campus experience, offering a searchable, user-friendly way for students and staff to quickly access the services and information they need. Many higher education institutions still rely on outdated legacy portals, which lack the features to deliver resources, tasks and information to website visitors quickly, on the device of their choice.
An examination of the key differences between modern next-generation portals and standard legacy portals provides insight into how colleges and universities are changing, and what features portals need to keep up.
The Impact and Limitations of Legacy Campus Portals
Legacy campus portals are often difficult to use and maintain, and in many cases lack the same features and benefits as modern campus portal service providers. Some of the common pain points associated with legacy campus portals include:
- No (or poor) search capabilities
- Expensive to maintain
- Not customizable, or requires extensive manual customization
- Not mobile-friendly
- Cluttered interface
No (or poor) search capabilities
Students today expect a Google-like search experience; however, legacy portals often have no (or poor) keyword search capabilities. The lack of an effective search function makes it difficult for students and staff to find what they are looking for—especially as quickly as they desire.
Expensive to maintain
Legacy portals typically are not cloud-based and often need significant upkeep that consumes precious IT resources. Substantial IT involvement is costly because it demands increased man-hours for maintenance and technical support of legacy systems. Complex maintenance also impedes operations, increasing portal downtime for maintenance and updates, and making it less readily available.
Another issue with legacy campus portals: The school cannot easily customize the look and feel of the interface to reflect the school’s brand, or make updates to colors, look and feel over time. In many cases, if customization is possible, it likely requires extensive knowledge of coding that staff may not possess. Plus, significant coding is required each time a custom update is necessary.
A number of legacy campus portals can prove either difficult or nearly impossible to use on a mobile device, where students and staff members most often access services. When a portal is not mobile-friendly, students are much less likely to use it on a regular basis. Providing a mobile-friendly experience is essential for increasing retention—especially with the COVID-19 pandemic increasing dropout rates due to the inability for students to access on-campus resources and services.
Most legacy campus portals are far from user-friendly, with a cluttered interface that students and staff find difficult to navigate—especially those with varying technical abilities. A cluttered interface that’s hard to use is less likely to capture user interest and can increase IT burden due to an influx of support tickets. Additionally, students who are new to college and struggling to feel successful have an even greater barrier for accessing services when the college portal is difficult to navigate.
Enhancing the Student Experience with a Modern Portal
As an alternative to a legacy portal, a modern, cloud-based campus portal like OneCampus overcomes all of these challenges and more, enhancing the student experience and making services more accessible.
The key features and benefits of a modern campus portal include:
- Keyword searching
- Branding customization
- 24/7 mobile access
- User-friendly interface
Google-like keyword search capabilities for service discovery empower students to find what they need quickly in one centralized location. A seamless and intuitive search functionality appeals to more users and increases the likelihood of using the portal.
Unlike most legacy portals, OneCampus is a cloud-based solution that is both inexpensive and simple to maintain. OneCampus requires minimal IT involvement, greatly reducing the operational burden and associated costs. For example, Indiana University manages OneCampus, a next generation, cloud-based portal with more than 100,000 users with just one full-time employee (FTE).
Branding customization features enable campus administrators to custom-tailor their portal to add colors, images, and logos that mirror the school’s brand. With custom branding capabilities, schools can offer an experience that’s consistent with their website and other digital channels.
24/7 mobile access
One of the biggest benefits of OneCampus is the ability to access it via any device, whether from a smartphone, laptop, or tablet. The mobile-friendly, responsive design aligns with modern user preferences, offering users instant access anytime, anywhere.
OneCampus has a solid user interface (UI), with an intuitive design that offers a positive digital experience. Portals with a great UI attract more frequent users, and they also provide better service to those with varying technical abilities.
A modern campus portal solution can be transformative for higher education institutions looking to improve the digital experience for students, faculty, and staff. Schedule a demo of OneCampus to see how it can be implemented in as little as 6 weeks.