Peering Into “The Portal”
Is it possible to construct a GO link to usurp all GO links—a comprehensive, definite link that captures the campus’s online community in a single webpage? Over the past summer, the College’s Communications worked in collaboration with Web Application Development with this very goal in mind. Their result?
Apart from amalgamating campus news, events, blogs, dining menus, along with many other student and faculty resources, the new “Portal” service marks Midd’s first significant foray into mobile technology. Again, open a new tab, and type go/mobile into your browser’s address bar. Looks familiar, right?
According to LIS’s Joe Antonioli, the “Portal” concept came about following three separate discussions:
1) A need for customized homepages. The Portal service allows members of the Middlebury community to subscribe to and arrange information in a way that they prefer.
2) A need for a mobile website. Middlebury’s current website boasts rich content and an equally nuanced interface; consequently, it is cumbersome to navigate on a smartphone device.
3) As well, Antonioli cited the fact that “faculty, staff and students’ pages receive a high amount of traffic, but the links are rarely clicked on, and most visitors leave the pages immediately.”
Online and available to the Middlebury community for the past month, “Portal” has, by all accounts, proven to be a success.
“Most of the feedback has been very positive and geared towards the mobile site. The dining menus and the calendar are very popular. We see a lot of visitors looking at those features,” Antonioli said in an e-mail to MiddBlog.
Others, though, have asked why Portal is not an app.
“By using mobile-web technology, we can be certain that the information will be viewable on any mobile device that has a smart browser, and removes the need to make sure the service is updated every time there is an iOS update or a new flavor of Android,” Antonioli continued, “this does not mean that Middlebury will not have an app in the future, it means that there is less work while Middlebury figures out how it will communicate in a mobile environment.”
New features and developments continue to change the Portal service on a daily basis—for instance, a new Course Catalog module was implemented into the webpage’s interface during the time it took to write this article. And no doubt, as the College dips its toe into the vast mobile-web waters, the improvements and modifications will become only that much more frequent.