In today’s digital world, the University of Lethbridge's online presence is just as important as the physical campus and will soon see some advancements.

“Our current and prospective students have grown up online. Our alumni, donors, faculty and staff are highly connected. Our stakeholders and community expect the same seamless experience from digital sites and services at the University of Lethbridge as they do in all their daily online interactions,” says U of L Provost Dr. Andy Hakin.

In an effort to position the University to address these expectations, Executive Director (Advancement) Tanya Jacobson-Gundlock and Chief Technology Officer Darren Schell are coordinating the efforts of the Strategic Communications and Digital (Web) Services teams and making plans based on an approach called Digital 1st.

The first three priorities being pursued are:

·       Redesigning the main ulethbridge.ca homepage;

·       Developing a faculty/staff intranet;

·       Beginning to plan for the next generation of the student portal.

“The sites will complement each other but they serve different audiences and needs,” says Jacobson-Gundlock. “The homepage, ulethbridge.ca, is a place of first impressions. It’s focused on external audiences, is marketing driven and action/outcome oriented – enabling prospects to apply (for admission or employment), community/alumni to engage and to facilitate donations.”

The new homepage will be an ongoing evolution, advancing through continual user-testing.

“The key thing to remember is that we’re designing the homepage to address the needs of our external audiences and it’s going to evolve as we gather feedback from these groups. Measurements will drive the changes made at each iteration,” says Schell.

By focusing the public website and declaring the primary audience as external, content for faculty and staff will be transitioned to an internally accessible intranet site that is designed specifically for the needs of these groups.

“The vision is to build a comprehensive internal communication platform that will support the University’s commitments to the People Plan in the digital space,” says Schell.​

​The technology powering the current ULink student portal will soon be at end-of-life, and University Advancement and IT Services will soon be working with the Student Affairs team to engage with students and plot the course toward the next generation digital communication platform to serve our student body.

As we embark upon this journey, Jacobson-Gundlock and Schell have one overarching message: “As a university community, we are in this together.”

The University community and stakeholders will be kept informed and consulted throughout the fall semester and into 2020. Questions about the Digital 1st project can be emailed to digital1st@uleth.ca and information will be updated on https://stories.ulethbridge.ca/digital1st/ and highlighted in UWeekly.