The Western Portal is terrible

Written by: Quinlan Wedge | Photo Editor

I despise the Western Portal, and I know I’m not alone. My writing class this term focuses on tensions with digital media, and the most common complaint from fellow students is that the Portal is terrible. 

The long list of problems includes poor design and difficulty accessing financial aid, class registration and housing information. We are tired of jumping through hoops to get anywhere and having difficulty navigating an outdated interface — one with irrelevant additions, crowding, improper use of space and lack of direction and clarity. 

I designed a plan to make the portal and its systems more simple and accessible. I reorganized all content into simplified sections — including an archive for outdated apps and programs. I redid the application bar and made simple redesigns of the mismatched icons — adding an edit button to customize the apps to individual preferences. I added overviews of important things for students to keep track of and made other additions and deletions. 

Students must be able to find what they need quickly; this allows them to manage their time easier and work more efficiently.

There are still things that can be done to further redesign the portal. It would be wise to gather a panel of students to learn what the biggest problems are and what students need most. The portal needs to be made with students in mind, and it needs to be much more user friendly. 

I believe that less attention is paid to the portal than other parts of the Western online programs because the portal is only for people who are already paying to go to Western. Priority is likely given to things prospective students and donors see, not to current students. 

Several transfer students in the class, coming from Chemeketa Community College and Portland Community College, say that the Western portal is the worst they have experienced. One suggested that Portal designers should ask what students need and what they can do to get the students there. This does not seem like too much to ask. 

Students pay tens of thousands of dollars to attend Western; the systems they interact with daily must be more accessible.

I understand that computer programming is nuanced and complex, but other local colleges are able to do it well, so why can’t we? If we pay staff to work on Portal programming and computer services, we should have better website design focused on the students whose tuition goes toward staff pay. 

Contact the author at