Unifying the Student Experience
CalCentral is a big idea that came to fruition over 2-3 years. It is the University of California, Berkeley's one-stop portal site for all things related to student information and student services, and which serves over 43,000 students, faculty and staff.
Before CalCentral, students had to discover and navigate 15 or more websites to find campus information, to see their student record, to manage their academic life, and to access services.
Services on CalCentral include: admissions, onboarding, calendar, tasks, alerts, reminders, appointments tool, academic planner, enrolling in classes, transcripts, profile data, billing, financial aid, scholarships, campus debit card, grading, advising tools, and more.
I was an early and vocal advocate for making changes to improve the student experience. I ran workshops with students to collect requirements and to research their needs, and wrote the business case for funding support. With input from developers and sponsorship from key stakeholders, I mapped out a vision and an architecture for delivering services that are user-centered and delivered on a platform that aggregates information from many sources. We called this new platform CalCentral. I became the Product Manager, developing service concepts, overseeing design development, doing research with end-users and working with owners of systems to get access to data.
People, a Promise and a Platform
CalCentral was designed from the beginning to deliver the best possible user experience and to support students reaching their academic goals by creating touchpoints that map to their information and service journey needs. We designed and built a lightweight platform using user-centered design and agile methodologies to expose, repackage, and present a user's personal data, sourced from a number of legacy systems. Our promise was and is unifying, simplifying, informing, alerting, and supporting students’ success.
CalCentral is responsive, to map to the usability needs of our students; the application works well on mobile, tablets and desktop machines.
Numerous research methods were used including the evaluation of portals for other universities, design workshops with students and staff, usability testing, surveys and benchmarking, plus 1-on-1 interviews.
CalCentral has become the campus portal, adopted by the Student Information Systems (SIS) project. Students advocated for CalCentral over the SIS vendor's portal, and it has since been expanded to support faculty and staff needs.
The solution was recognized in 2015 by the Service Design Network organization, as a runner up for the Annual Service Design Award.