MyUA: Portal to nowhere
I spent a good portion of Sunday night trying to use MyUA. There’s a story about the portal in this issue (page 4 if you want to read it), and I was curious about how it worked. In theory, I think it could be really useful: one site to log into instead of three or four? Sounds good. In practice…I don’t really mind typing in separate addresses for webmail and blackboard and UAonline.
Once I googled “My UA,” and got over the discovery that I had a UAA e-mail account through UAA, it only took a couple of minutes to get into the portal. Using it, however took a lot longer. Seeing my e-mail seemed like one of the most useful aspects of the site, so I initially clicked on the e-mail center. After a few hours only partially spent on the site, a cursory reading of their help info, and a lot of re-reading, re-setting my cookie and pop-ups and refreshing, I hadn’t made any headway.
Initially, I wasn’t too worried. The reminder to “Notice the box indicating failure to authenticate to mail server – this is normal at this point,” was pretty reassuring. But despite changing my browser settings, and the browser entirely, I never made it to the next step, where a window was supposed to pop-up asking for my password. So I gave up and decided to try one of the other tabs. The student tab was easier to use – there were no instructions on how to use the e-mail center and a list of working links took me to a variety of UAF sites. However…. that’s all it was, a list of working links. And they were links that I’ve already memorized.
On the upside, once I logged into MyUA, I was able to access UAonline without typing in a new username or password, and I could easily navigate between Aurora Magazine, my student account and the UAF events calendar.
I know this wasn’t a complete experiment. Had I tried this during normal business hours, the OIT help desk might have been able to suggest a way to fix the e-mail center before I had spent so much time on it. And if I tried the website before memorizing the url’s for each UAF site that I regularly visit, it might have been faster to just to learn how to navigate MyUA. But even if all those things had worked, I don’t think I’d be a convert. The three-column design and color scheme really don’t speak to me. They’d need to work on the design as well as the functionality.
My preferences aside, enough resources have been devoted to the site that I think it needs to be fixed, not just scrapped. There’s still plenty of potential utility in the site, and I hope some version of it – perhaps redesigned and reprogrammed – will go live and be well received. But this version isn’t for me. It took a little too much effort to get started, and I don’t actually mind having a dozen browser tabs open at a time.