Seton Hill University introduces MySHU

Posing with two memorable Star Wars characters are (from left to right) Ben Shoemaker, Noel Wasil, Wes Byerly, Luigi Scognamiglio and Nick Brink. The MySHU development team worked to give SHU’s Griffin’s Lair a new look. Photo courtesy of the MySHU development team.

Seton Hill University’s Griffin’s Lair was updated on March 13. The change to the intranet, which is used by students and faculty daily, was a necessary change for the MySHU development team to continue growing as a university. It still has the same applications, links and content that are familiar to faculty and students, but now has a different look.

“We really aim to take a best practice approach. We looked at the various platforms that were available for development,” said Melissa Alsing, the chief information officer at SHU. The color scheme of red and yellow was discussed as well as
design elements.

According to Alsing, red can be associated with error and yellow indicates a warning. “These aren’t conducive to a good site design and we wanted to improve upon that.”

The team that created MySHU encourages more feedback. “We want it to be a useful tool and we want it to be something that people use,” Alsing said. “We are also determining the next phases for development so that feedback will weigh in on the next steps.”

A lead programmer and analyst who helped create MySHU, Nick Brink, said, “We’ve explored different ways to get feedback. We also have the opportunity to survey people with a list of things that we may prioritize in the future.”

As for how many people worked on this project, programmer and analyst Ben Shoemaker said, “It takes an army.”

“Then we have had the support of the rest of our team. We have a bunch of interns and work studies that have helped, with different focus groups, information gathering and even marketing that weighed in on some of the design and helped out on some of the usability stuff as well,” Shoemaker said.

According to Alsing, creating the new directory was more of a challenging than expected.

“We set up a new search platform. Right now it’s just the directory, you can search people in it,” Shoemaker said. “But it’s actually an entire index platform that allows the search for other things in the future. It will help you find documents and forms.”

According to Brink, the directory alone took roughly 40 hours or more to complete.

“It was a great experience, a great learning experience for us. We dug into a bunch of different technologies that we haven’t necessarily played with before,” Shoemaker said.

The team planned MySHU in two to three phase projects. According to Alsing, the first phase focused on the “home page, directory and a lot of behind the scene work that people might not see.” Students and faculty can expect the rest of the existing applications and pages to be converted onto the newer software in the upcoming phases.

According to the team, these changes will take time. MySHU was a big change for students and faculty. “Giving them time to adjust is probably a good idea,” Shoemaker said.

Shoemaker also mentioned that there are benefits that no one will see. “It will help us rapidly develop other applications in the future at a pace that there’s no way we could have done with Griffin’s Lair because of the framework that we chose. That will be a big benefit.”

“I have to complement [the team] for spending a lot of their own time off hours working on this project, troubleshooting things and learning a new platform without having classroom training,” Alsing said. “They took the initiative to do that. I’m very appreciative.”

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