In an effort to simplify access to information about campus business services, a new UCLA web portal and content management system have been developed. Combined, these tools are designed to deliver administrative information and self-service applications quickly and easily to staff, faculty, students, and external users. The portal could replace dozens of independent departmental websites over time.
Four functional areas were chosen as part of the initial phase of the portal project: Human Resources, Housing, Hospitality, and Buying Goods and Services. Several business units came together using common style guides and formats to develop information related to these subject areas. Rather than simply importing content from current web sites, each of these service areas significantly revised, rewrote and reorganized existing information in an effort to make the material more accessible and user-friendly to visitors. Additional tools, resources and helpful links have been added to help meet the needs of the diverse group of portal users. Designated service areas and other departments will further enhance the portal by adding content in future phases.
The portal will offer users many enhancements, including:
- Navigation based on topics and user interests rather than aligning with the scope of particular business units
- Consistent look and feel across information areas
- Faster access to timely and relevant information
- Robust search capabilities featuring a combined search of portal content and other UCLA campuswide web sites
- “How-to” articles, FAQs, contact information, and other resources not previously available.
Unlike many traditional web sites that categorize their content by department or organization, the portal displays information by topic of interest to readers. Related subject matter is grouped together in a seamless fashion, regardless of the source of the information. This allows users to find information that is targeted to their needs quickly and easily.
For example, in the Human Resources section, departmental human resources administrators can find forms, how-to articles and other resources designed to help them do their jobs. Similarly, departmental buyers can easily find policy information and commodity agreements in the Buying section, and students interested in UCLA housing can check eligibility, apply for housing, or make payments, all at one easily accessible site.
The portal’s consistency in look and feel, navigational features, and elements such as forms and links to related information will also assist campus users in accessing needed information more quickly, as they no longer will have to navigate multiple, disparate web sites. As more departments under Business & Administrative Services and beyond join the portal, the campus community will enjoy even more time-saving benefits.
Because the portal’s content management software allows more content contributors to update their information without requiring HTML skills, timely information can be posted on a more frequent basis.
The content management system and portal software product, Vignette, was purchased in a joint agreement with UC San Diego. Collaborative efforts to identify best practices and share content will continue between UCSD and UCLA’s Administrative Information Systems (now IT Services) department, which oversees UCLA’s project implementation.
Several campus service departments contributed content during the initial pilot phase. Readers who access the current web sites of Campus Human Resources, Housing & Hospitality Services, and Purchasing, respectively, will be redirected to the portal site. Over the course of the next year, information contributed by additional central service and other departments will gradually be integrated into the portal, and self-service applications will be added, as will additional functionality such as the ability to customize and personalize content presentation based on an individual’s role(s) at the university. The portal team is also continuing to tune the search engine to optimize its performance and will work with campus webmasters to ensure that their websites are appropriately represented in search results.
The portal is fully integrated with UCLA’s home page. Readers may access the portal from the UCLA home page by choosing the “Business Services” link; they will continue to see the home page’s top navigation bar as they move through the portal’s content sites.
If you have any questions regarding the portal, please contact Greg Partipilo(now Albert Wu), IT Services Portal Project Manager.
Sam J. Morabito
Business and Administrative Services
August 19, 2013