Student Input, Testing Behind Evolution of MyUTEP
Last Updated on October 23, 2018 at 12:00 AM
Originally published October 23, 2018
By Jesse C. Martinez
MyUTEP, the helpful online hub that provides Miner students, faculty and staff with an array of academic, social, financial and technological resources, received subtle upgrades this summer that launched officially in the fall 2018 semester.
The system enhancements included updates to logos and graphics as well as the implementation of tutorial videos to help users navigate the system. The design focuses on such aspects as good color contrast, adequate font sizing, subtitles for videos, and images with text versions for non-visual users.
Members of The University of Texas at El Paso’s Enterprise Computing team called MyUTEP an evolving platform that they keep up to date based on the latest technologies and user habits.
Luis Hernandez, director of enterprise computing, said one of the most important aspects tied to the upgrades was the testing to ensure user accessibility to programs such as Blackboard (a course content delivery platform), Goldmine (a student information system), student email, the University Library and more. The electronic information hub, which started more than 10 years ago, averages about 11 million visits per year.
“(Testing) is a top priority,” Hernandez said. “Our custom application software development team focuses on accessibility from the start. It all begins with layout design, then development and internal testing.”
Among the faithful users is Isaac Valencia, a graduate student who is pursuing his master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling. Valencia, who is visually impaired, uses a screen reader to access MyUTEP for Blackboard, Goldmine and his email.
Valencia said he appreciated how Enterprise Computing strives to update MyUTEP, and to test the new software to ensure compatibility with assistive technology.
Hernandez said his team uses NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) to test software for screen reader accessibility before they launch a new application. All UTEP labs use NVDA.
Anaiz Ramirez, a junior microbiology major, said she uses MyUTEP to access external applications such as Blackboard. She said the site is simple and straightforward.
Ramirez admitted that the only part that confused her was the “home button.” She was among the users who thought clicking the home button would direct them to the MyUTEP homepage. It instead took them to the University’s homepage. As a result, Enterprise Computing changed the button to a more intuitive UTEP logo.
“Changing the home button was the best thing,” Ramirez said. “It makes it a lot simpler instead of logging back in (to MyUTEP).”
Hernandez said that one of the most highly requested features was to give students easy access to printing services. Now, students can easily find printing locations, see their print credit balances and learn how to print from a mobile device.
Carlo Martinez, a freshman engineering major, said he was very pleased with the website.
“It’s not confusing,” Martinez said. “Once you log in, (the site gives) you everything you need. You don’t need multiple clicks to get to email or Blackboard.”
Hernandez said the recent MyUTEP update was in the works for several years. Enterprise Computing surveyed hundreds of students while a handful of other students participated in accessibility testing.
The director said he was grateful for the positive responses to the upgrades and said his team continues to do usability tests to enhance the website experience. He shared that there are imminent plans to enhance the “Important Dates” and “Upcoming Events” on the homepage.
“Usability testing is a continuous process,” he said.