A few subtle but significant changes are in the works for The University of Montana’s homepage complex. New and improved tools are available for you to try out now in a beta site.
UM web developers would like your feedback on changes described below. To help the effort, go to beta.umt.edu, use the tools and click on the feedback tab on the left side of the screen to report your experiences.
In addition to the visible changes, the new site is hosted on a cluster of four servers rather than a single server, which should enhance speed and availability.
“We can upgrade one server while the others are in operation,” says Tom Battaglia, who heads up the IT web group. “We’ll have no planned downtime. And we’ll sleep better.”
What to look for
You can log into UM’s central authentication services with your NetID directly from the new homepage. The link is on the tip right between the Directory and Search options. If you are logged in, your name appears on the page. You can click on your name to access secure services like CyberBear, UMOnline and student email without having to authenticate again.
In the future, you will see a notice when you have official messages waiting for you.
The new search tool returns more than just web pages and featured UM links. Now you get People and Places. People results are pulled from the campus directory, while Places are connected to the campus map. The results page also displays results from a UM acronym database, an idea that came from the University’s incentive award program.
The directory tool streamlines the people search process. Two input fields—Last Name and First Name—have been collapsed into one. And search results are displayed on a single page, rather than requiring you to scroll through multiple pages. For UM employees, you can click on the department name to view all of the people who work in that department.
On the current UM homepage, you can choose which tab you want to set as your default, such as “Current Students” or “Faculty & Staff.” The new site will simply return you to the last tab you were on during your previous visit.
Feature stories controls
The navigation for the feature stories at the top of the homepages has been simplified. Now there are arrows on either side of the graphic to allow you to scroll through the features, taking up less space on the screen.
A photo gallery has replaced the postcard gallery. The plan is to allow people to submit photos for possible inclusion in the gallery.