MyGW replaces GWeb portal

One of GW’s most frequented Web sites received a facelift this summer.

GWeb, which has been the primary information portal for the University community since 1999, was replaced by myGW on August 1. The revamped site promises personalized customization, greater convenience and more efficient communication services for students, faculty and staff.

The rollout of the new myGW portal marks the completion of a three-pronged, multi-year makeover of the University’s Web site. The purpose of the portal is to bring together the information services previously divided among GWeb, GWired and the school’s main homepage.

“One of the major suggestions we heard from all the different constituents was to make one Web site where all faculty, staff and students could go for all their information,” said Kerry Washburn, director of administrative applications for Information Support Services. “Many told us that it was previously difficult to find what they were looking for since they had to use three different sites.”

She added, “By creating myGW, we now have a one-stop shop where all internal constituents can go to find any information that they are looking for about GW.”

The Web overhaul was intended to give each of GW’s three sites a specific function. GWired will serve as the school’s student activities site while the main page is geared toward the external community, namely parents and prospective students. MyGW is meant to function as an umbrella site servicing current students and staff.

ISS directed the project in conjunction with the Web Steering Committee, a team of University officials appointed to provide oversight for the endeavor. The group spent a year conducting interviews and gathering feedback from all facets of the GW community on how to improve the existing GWeb portal. Committee members worked closely with their own constituencies to come up with specific proposals.

The new design contains several features meant to personalize the portal. One significant addition is “My Action Items,” a tool that displays communications from the University directly on a user’s homepage. By selecting which departments or offices they would like to receive alerts from, users can view the messages relevant to them while filtering out the others.

“Everyone who logs on to the portal has the ability to customize the page to their own needs. They only see the information they want to see,” said Deborah Snelgrove, executive director of Student and Academic Support Services and co-chair of the Web Steering Committee. “It’s no longer about blast e-mails and blast messaging.”

In addition, users may equip their homepage with selected links and graphics according to their own interests. MyGW also boasts better organization, including separate pages to display information related to academics, news and events, student life and tools and resources.

Students interviewed had mixed reactions to the portal. Some appreciated having the ability to give the site their own personal touch.

“I love it,” sophomore Diana Mantall said.? “I have mine customized already.”

Others seemed indifferent to the new site. Junior Eric Jesse said the new features would be of little use.

“It doesn’t seem much different, just prettier,” Jesse said. “I’m not great at computers, so I probably would have no idea how to customize it.”

Those involved with the project said the myGW portal is in its earliest stages, adding that its true capacity will not be realized until it is embraced fully by the University community when classes start in September.

“We won’t know the success of this until the first department really tries to use to send out their message,” Snelgrove said. “Right now it’s more of a soft rollout versus a hard rollout.”

-Brian Weiss contributed to this report.

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