MyBGSU advances usability for phones and tablets

Max Brickner and Max Brickner

MyBGSU received a new update on Feb. 8., bringing it into a new decade with some long-awaited improvements.

The 19-year-old application debuted in 2001 and has received a number of updates over the years. This update seeks to improve usability on mobile devices and other touch-oriented computers.

Todd Glick, an application developer supervisor for Information Technology Services, worked on the new update. He cited ease of use, mobile focus and responsive design, as key goals.

“We went out and did surveys of the old application,” Glick said, citing a desire to understand how students were using MyBGSU and how it could beimproved. ITS solicited surveys from students on Twitter in spring 2019 to get their feedback about what improvements to add. 

BGSU wasn’t the only place ITS looked to when designing the new update. 

“We’ve seen the student center for other schools,” Glick said, stating that they met with employees from other institutions to talk about the challenges associated with the design. He also mentioned that Sierra-Cedar Inc., an ITS management company, was brought on as a consultant for the project since they had previously worked on the Penn State equivalent of MyBGSU.

Dominic Serrato, a freshman majoring in digital media production, had a positive view of the changes.

“I like the organization better. Some things have been moved front and center like scholarship opportunities. Canvas being moved to the top right will take some getting used to,” Serrato said.

Ian Ressa, a first-year sophomore in computer science and president of the Linux Club, had mixed feelings about the update. 

“I think it’s a plus that they’re focusing on the most common use cases,” Ressa said.

However, he also noted that he could no longer use Quick Links, a MyBGSU feature that allowed students to quickly search through all features in the application. It remains in MyBGSU, but its utility has been reduced to eight commonly used links.

Ressa also noted erratic behavior he found while attempting to browse the site using tabs. This could be an issue for blind students, as many screen readers use tab navigation as an alternative to mouse or touch navigation. 

Serrato also noted that there was still room for improvement. 

“I think a good idea for it would be for students to customize the layout so that everyone’s page would be unique to them,” he said.

When Glick was asked about the lack of customization in MyBGSU, a feature that is present at some other school’s equivalent systems such as Kent State University’s Flashline, he cited the ongoing cost of supporting users with customized interfaces for its lack of inclusion.