Web Portals


  • Jody Couch, Program Director, Student Administration Systems, University of Texas at Austin
  • This is a Constituent Group Discussion
Jody:  our campus is currently on a mainframe-based ERP and Portal.  She then went around the room and asked some “campus demographics” questions, i.e. what kind of schools are you from, what kinds of systems are you using, etc.

What is the Most Useful Thing About Your Portal?

  • Single Sign On
  • Access to registration, payment, viewing grades.  Students want more purposeful uses for the portal – a platform for actionable tasks.


  • When students are involved in the design of the portal, adoption rates go through the roof; we find that they often “live in there.”
  • How many groups are using student input?  Many accept student input via UserVoice, focus groups?
  • Killer features?  Adding other constituent groups, a “My Checklist” feature, parent portal.
  • Anyone else grown beyond students?  Most said yes, and many said they support alumni too.
  • One or multiple portals?  Seems like a mixed bag, although role-based views makes this question a bit superfluous.
  • Who is doing customizable portals?  A couple are, but there are concerns about overhead.  Some provide a single customizable tab, others allow for movement of pagelets.

How many are allowing for customizing content within the portal?

  •  CA Community College is using uPortal with an angular front-end “recommendation engine” style approach.
  • Others are using their content management system to pull content in.
  • Some put all their stuff that would normally live on the portal on their public sites.

What are positive / negative learnings about the usage of your portal?

  • Many are using it as a bookmark farm so they can get to email and other services.

What are people using for SSO?

  • Mostly CAS and Shibboleth.
  • For some, it’s a “carrot-and-stick” approach for granting access to putting your stuff on the portal.  SSO seems to be the “killer app”

What do you hate about your portal / wish was better?

  • Self serve password resets are needed!  For those that don’t have, they make up the bulk of some orgs’ ticket requests.
  • Person in charge of network security makes it hard for changes.
  • Mobile-friendliness

What’s Your Mobile Strategy?

  • Responsive web design
  • Put some functionality into a mobile app
  • Our mobile app functions as a portal
  • Some doing both an independent mobile app AND portal

What About Accessibility?

  • We learn via the school of hard knocks!
  • Use students with disabilities for testing
  • We do accessibility testing like security testing

Support Models?

  • Some do not have full-time dedicated staff to support their portal
  • I have 2 full-time Luminis developers that deploy on a 6-week release cycle
  • We have a LifeRay intranet to engage employees and we’re looking for an organizational home for it, but are having trouble.  Does anyone have a blog from the provost?


  • Are people moving to cloud yet?
  • Very few are hosted off-site, CA Comm Colleges is working with Unicon on hosting uPortal at AWS.
  • rSmart is another option.
  • CampusEAI is not as great a vendor as we were led to believe when we first contracted with them.
  • Folks on Datatel sound like they’re not receiving the same level of support they used to.
  • Luminis 4 to 5 migration question:  did anyone else look at other options?  There doesn’t seem to be a clear path forward.  Luminis 5 only handles 500 concurrent users, so you’re gonna need lotsa servers!

By Paul Schantz

CSUN Director of Web & Technology Services, Student Affairs. husband, father, gamer, part time aviator, fitness enthusiast, Apple fan, and iguana wrangler.

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