The University of Arizona
The University of Arizona revamps its online student center with Skuid
Today’s university students are digital natives who expect seamless and intuitive online experiences. To better serve its students, the University of Arizona built an easy-to-use student portal. With Skuid EXP, the university completely retooled the student center’s front end and streamlined processes based on end-user feedback.
from students and leadership
for a more streamlined processes
With Skuid EXP, we had a lot more flexibility to get the user experience we wanted.
Darcy Van Patten
Executive Director, Digital Transformation and Student and Academic Technologies
The University of Arizona (UArizona) is a public research university that serves more than 45,000 tech-savvy, digital-native students. Their online student portal needed to deliver the kind of streamlined interface and easy-to-use functionality that users expected. As more and more aspects of student life went virtual, the university’s portal had to keep up.
UArizona already had systems to power the back end but wanted better integration with the front end of the student center. Plus, they wanted to add to the portal’s capabilities, offering different engagement capabilities such as academic advising and events management. The university’s existing software wasn’t up to the task, so they started looking for a flexible solution to bridge the gaps, streamline workflows, and create a top-tier user experience that accounted for student needs.
And they didn’t want to simply reskin the design – they wanted to optimize and future-proof the portal. “When I think about platforms that have been live for decades, the user experience is fairly short-lived. We needed to have the flexibility to update that front end much more quickly than what a back-end platform might allow,” says Darcy Van Patten, executive director, digital transformation and student and academic technologies.
UArizona turned to Skuid EXP to modernize and streamline their existing system. They also turned to their students for input, asking them to share feedback, highlight problem areas, review prototypes, and test new designs. Van Patten says, “We spent a lot of time working directly with students, they were part of our process from the very beginning. Doing things like card sort exercises and focus group usability testing to make sure the navigation was easy to understand.”
One area of concern in the current portal was the high number of clicks it took to complete many of the workflows. As part of the new experience, the university combined multi-step processes into single interactions. “That’s my favorite example, where we were able to make it easier for students to take the actions that they need to take without going through a bunch of different screens and clicking a thousand times,” says Van Patten. They also improved the student center’s overall look and feel by incorporating university branding and a mobile-optimized, responsive layout.
The university released the updated student center in July of 2020 and saw immediate success. Feedback from both students and leadership was positive, and the system proved particularly valuable due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “We know our students are digital natives. They expect a personalized experience, and they expect it to be of good quality. Especially now, as we have more of our students interacting with the university digitally due to COVID-19. The quality of their experience becomes even more important because that’s how they experience their relationship with the university,” says Van Platten.
Students appreciated that all of the critical information they needed – around enrollment, tuition, etc. – was right at their fingertips. One student, Richaunti Williams, said, “I found that the new updates to the student center website made navigation extremely easy. It’s convenient that all of the information I typically go on UAccess to find is right on the homepage across the navigation bar. The drop-down menus are great and make finding what you need that much easier!”
With Skuid EXP, the entire redesign process was speedy, secure, and seamless. “In many cases, Skuid’s expertise offered us solutions, proactively, to challenges that we hadn’t even yet identified,” says Van Platten.