HEWeb #DPC6: Building a homegrown university portal with a tiny team

Tuesday, October 10th, 2023

Tuesday, October 10, 2023, 8:30 AM – 9:15 AM EDT 
Andrea Wasiura – SUNY Fredonia and Jonathan Woolson – SUNY Fredonia

Follow our small web team of two on our journey to build a homegrown campus portal in the Drupal CMS we dubbed My.Fred. We’ll cover the steps we took to gather requirements and user feedback from our campus users to build and deliver a stable, simple, user-centric web portal service. Because the simple core of the My.Fred portal can also serve as data plumbing to ingest and export feeds, we are able to extend the portal to serve new campus needs, such as digital signage and PR requests.


  • Asked/watched users to find out what they really used.
  • Searching vs browsing vs bookmarks
    • Goal was to get it down to 3 clicks to get to real services
  • Just 3 sections: List of curated services, announcements, My links (bookmark link)
  • Users can create their own bookmarks from a list of 400 curated links.
    • Killer feature: synonyms (students don’t know the institutional terms)
    • Users can promote their own suggestions
    • Lots of suggestions the first year and then tappered off
  • Final order (all on one page)
    • My links, Announcements, Services
  • Portal still useable before the student logs in. It shows announcements and services, but no custom items.
  • Tracking which bookmarks are used most helps the team decide what it most important on the external website navigation.
  • Students and staff all see the same portal (all users into one role bucket)

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