Launching on 14th September, in time for the new 2020/21 academic year, the University of Southampton’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Blackboard, has had a makeover. The new homepage design has been implemented to improve the look and usability of the site, without course or module designs being affected.
These changes were implemented following research conducted through student and staff focus groups to discover what they wanted to see on the site and what they wanted to avoid. The overarching themes of discussion included:
- A clean and modern homepage, without the use of too many colours.
- Easy access to current modules and other relevant information, like timetables, information from schools and the library.
Following this brief, students could submit their designs for the new Blackboard homepage to a competition. The winner was Adrianna Jezierska, a final year Marketing student, whose modern and clean design impressed the judges. She designed her version of the site after her own experience of using the site and frustration at some of the functionality, particularly surrounding access to modules. Her experience arguably reflected the points raised by the focus groups, which she then implemented into her winning design.
The new look of the homepage and functionality was launched on Monday 14th September. There will also be further developments to the site over the coming weeks, however, these will not impact users, which is important with the start of the new academic year very soon.