New Student Website A One-Stop Resource
When Michael Furtado gets up in the morning, the first thing he does is turn on his computer and click onto UConn's new website for current students. "It's my home page," he says.
"I check my links - ESPN, CNN, and weather.com - then I check what's happening at UConn," says Furtado, a junior majoring in physical therapy who is an RA in Northwest.
Furtado is one of the rapidly growing number of students who are using the website, www.students.uconn.edu, which was launched at the start of the school year. It offers a wealth of information that is easily accessible and tailored to students' needs.
As the semester unfolds, more students are heading to the site, many - like Furtado - making it their home page. That's because everything a student needs is there "in a nutshell," says David Martel, marketing services manager for university communications. "We created the website with student input and wanted it to be a one-stop online resource."
A click of the mouse takes students to a University phone directory, activities calendar, dining hall menus, bus schedules, weather reports, movie channel listing, and national news headlines. A feature that students find particularly convenient is access to Husky Mail, PeopleSoft, and WebCT directly from the website, instead of having to go to three different ones.
The website was developed after six months of research - including student focus groups - testing, and revising. Previously, there was a student page with hundreds of links, but it was not so closely tailored to students' needs.
A daily bulletin board of information called "Did you know ..." offers students information ranging from football ticket sales and U.S. News & World Report rankings to computer virus alerts and emergency notices such as class cancelations. The information is updated twice a day.
The "Did you know ..." section is an important way the University can disseminate information to students, says John Barry, director of university communications.
"We wanted to build a page that centered on what students wanted, and in doing so create an effective mechanism for the University to communicate with students," he says.
Once Furtado has sifted through the calendar, he shares information with the students he oversees in Northwest. "It makes it easy for me to pass along information about what's happening on campus," he says. On this day, he's checked the "Did you know ..." section of the website, and was happy to find the SUBOG drive-in movie highlighted and a blurb about an upcoming concert at Jorgensen.
Wade Rifkin, a junior majoring in communications and psychology, also uses the website as his home page.
"It's got everything you'd want as a student at UConn," he says. "It takes from all the different sources and brings it to one easy-to-use page."
Larissa Santoro, a senior majoring in communications, likes the accessibility of the phone directory. "I can get right on it, instead of going to Google [a search engine]," she says. She adds that "everything is more accessible." She used to rely on posters to find out about campus events, but says "now everything is right there."
Erin Wenzler, a sophomore majoring in business marketing, says the site is "much more user-friendly." She heads for the weather link every day, and also uses the UConn movie channel listing and the phone directory.
Barry says the student website is a model for future web pages. "We hope to create similar pages customized for faculty, staff, prospective students, and parents. The key to their effectiveness is to include information that is of the highest priority for the targeted populations.
"With the number of hits to www.students.uconn.edu regularly exceeding 30,000 a day," he adds, "we're off to a very strong start."