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You Spoke, We Listened: New College Websites Go Live Next Month

This article appeared in a January 2017 issue of the student newsletter.

For the first time ever, all the colleges of DCCCD will share a common website design and navigation.

Introducing the Unified Student Experience (USE) website! Going live next month, the USE website will offer students consistency as they move back and forth between the district and college websites.

You can also learn more about the USE website project below.

Project History

Last year, DCCCD launched an important study to examine what it was like to be a student attending a Dallas Community College. This districtwide research included 70 students – each sharing their experiences with admissions, advising, financial aid, classes and much more.

One common theme that emerged was students want consistency as they move from college to college, especially on the colleges’ websites.

By Sept. 2016, the USE project emerged. The project goal is to ensure a unified web experience for every student, at every district location, every time.

Website Look & Feel

The USE website has three key objectives informing its look and feel. All three of these objectives work to deliver students a unified experience no matter what Dallas Community College website they are visiting.

Objective #1: Common Navigation 

This means as students move from one college website – such as Richland College  –  to another –  like Eastfield College  –  information can be found in the same location. "Student Life" will be always be at the top right. And contact information will always appear in the website footer.

Ashley Horton, who currently takes classes at Brookhaven and North Lake College, thinks the new navigation will benefit students.

"I see how [consistency] would help future students attending different DCCCD colleges become familiar with where everything is on each of the websites, instead of having to dig on each different site to find what the student needs." 

Objective #2: Consistent Content  

The USE website will feature districtwide content – like the admission process, which is the same at each location – and college-specific content – like the hours for the Testing Center, which differs depending on which college you visit. The content that an individual user sees will depend on what college they've selected (in the top right), or essentially what section of the USE site they are in.

Objective #3: Common Design 

To keep navigation light and clear, The USE website uses white space and icons to create a visual design that isn't word-heavy.

"We are trying to keep the student at the center of what we're doing," explains Luis Merino. "That includes lots of user testing to find out what's the best, clearest, easiest way to get students answers they are seeking."

Merino is one of the designers who is working on the new USE website. The new designs were based on feedback from students and college marketing staff.

"Based on those discussions, we came up with our design requirements," says Merino. "The design needs to make students feel welcome and comfortable. The structure and navigation play a big part in that."

The Target Audience

The USE website will be oriented for new and prospective students, with much of the information for current students relocating to myPortal (which requires a DCCCD Student Email to log in). 

Project Timeline and FAQs

Employees around the entire district are teaming up to launch the USE website this February.

 "We know fine tuning will be needed after the website launches," explains Gina Federer, one of USE project leaders, "but it's the first step in giving students the consistency they're seeking."

Frequently Asked Questions

Curious what the new USE website means for you?  Below are a few FAQs to help answer any questions you may have.

Q: What should I expect to see when the USE website goes live?
A: From a visual standpoint, you will immediately recognize that all of websites are now aligned and have common navigation.

In regards to content, all the key content that new students need will be available at launch, including schedules, registration, etc.

The current websites will remain accessible with an alternative URL while additional content migration takes place (for example: and

The colleges of DCCCD will continue to update and improve the new USE site after the February launch.

Q:  Will there be photos of students like me on the new website?
A: Yes. During user testing of the website, the designers learned that current and future students prefer images of real students over purchased stock images.

Q: What will the main navigation links be?
A: Great question. You can see mockups of the website here [PDF - 9 MB].

You’ll notice at the top of the page, below the large logo, the following tabs:

  • About
  • Apply & Register
  • Classes & Degrees
  • Paying for College
  • Student Resources
  • Student Life

Also, above the large logo, you’ll find key links to:

  • eConnect
  • eCampus
  • myPortal
  • Email
  • Employee Directory
  • Donate
  • Our Colleges

This final link, “Our Colleges” allows you to quickly change what college website you are viewing. Each college website is part of the parent website with common navigation and design.

Q: Where will student clubs and organizations be listed on the new website?
A: You’ll be able to easily access those from any page. Click “Student Life” in the top right.