My role: user experience, user interface, html/css/jquery mobile prototyping
This whole project was basically the opposite of mobile first design. Responsive web design was a relatively new concept, and there were some pretty serious technical hurdles to applying it to the existing computer focused web product. Mobile apps were also much more widely used than mobile web sites at the time. Rather than adapting the entire existing portal and all of the modules to play nice on a tiny screen with touch gestures, we decided to use a mobile framework to create a new mobile optimized companion product.
We created a customizable menu system to allow our institutions to deliver the same content and tools in a similar fashion to their desktop sites, but were always looking for ways to keep the hierarchy as “flat” as possible and require the fewest taps to get to each item. From there we prioritized all of the modules by usage and critical function on campus and created a mobile optimized interface for each of them. We saw that our customers typically created defined areas of their intranets for students and faculty containing all of the relevant modules for each of those personas. Instead of forcing them to recreate those groupings manually, we introduced the "Student Center" and "Faculty Center", offering a simple way to add the whole collection of tools for each, ordering the portlets within them according to the most common usage. If they had specific needs, they could add the whole "center" and then customize within it, but for many schools, just adding it gave them exactly what they needed.