This semester has already brought several overhauls in Bowdoin's technology infrastructure, the latest of which include a redesign of the Student Gateway.
The Student Web Advisory Team (SWAT) is in the research and development phase of redesigning the Student Gateway Web page and the Student Digest.
SWAT is working to improve and simplify these two important information resources, which reportedly lack organization and are not always effective. The group began preliminary meetings last year and Connolly reported that the group began fleshing out a new prototype for the Gateway during its first design session last Saturday.
According to Associate Vice President of Communications for Marketing and Publications Robert Kerr, the Gateway was designed by a student six or seven years ago outside the purview of Information Technology (IT). When it was built, the movable, customizable widgets and news feeds were state-of-the-art interfaces. Now, the page is prone to glitches and Kerr reported, "the only person who really knows how it works isn't at Bowdoin anymore."
The Student Digest divides postings into two broad, often disregarded categories of "official announcements" and "general community interest." Items are placed on the digest in the order they are received, which Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) President John Connolly '11, who is working on the redesign team, says is detrimental because it encourages posters to use catchy, often misleading subject lines to grab readers' attention.
The team's goal for the redesign of the Gateway is to get back to basics. Connolly said the team is currently determining what the most important features of the interface are. Connolly said the group is asking questions like, "What are the links students use? What are the links that they always click on? What is it that you absolutely need?" The team plans to use this student feedback to structure a new Gateway that is "a static page of what people need."
For the Digest, SWAT imagines a tool that is well-categorized and more useful for students. Connolly explained, "you should be able to see what [are] events, what are announcements from administrators, what is the ride board, what is lost, what is found, what is for sale. And things should be sorted in some sort of meaningful way once they are in their categories."
All students interviewed by the Orient registered complaints about the current design of the two resources.
Carole Lewis '11 said that many of the images on the Gateway have "been the same three out of the four years I've been here. All of the of [the] content seems really irrelevant."
Lidey Heuck '13 described the Gateway as "overwhelming and cluttered," but said the Gateway would be useful if it were streamlined.
Kenny McCroskery '13 expressed frustration at the Digest's lack of organization: "there are a lot of duplicates, and people lie in the titles so other people will read their posts."
SWAT holds open meetings every other Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. in the conference room of Sargent Gym. Both Kerr and Connolly encouraged students who are interested in being a part of the redesign to attend.