An Overdue Renovation

The first time I clicked onto PAnet, I have to admit, I was a bit shocked. One of the most prestigious schools in the country, and our communication website––the spot where we could supposedly find all the information we would ever need—still sports a… vintage Arial, grey barber-style bars, and “fashionably” uneven spacing. Is this how the internet looked when Zuckerberg’s D.I.Y. project donned the name of “The Facebook” and Apple’s iPod first became a thing? PAnet, a little pocket of space on the internet that has stood still as technology soared into the future.

To be fair, PAnet is still functional. I know how to trudge around its pages and find the Course of Study, how to locate my grades on the dashboard. Heck, I even know how to make my background orange (ceremoniously titled the “Fall” theme). However, in those instances I have no choice but to check the site, and beyond the basics, I have no incentive to do so.

When my computer restarts, I open Chrome and then a series of tabs: Gmail, Google Calendar, and Canvas. I stop for a second on each to check for new emails, load in my calendar, and check all of my class pages. Not a conscious decision but a habit.

If PAnet were a part of this habitual sequence, I’d know much more about the happenings of campus. The music department is hosting a virtual recital? Some intriguing Brace presentations! A healthy dose of the Academic Skill Center’s reminders and a series of other information I wouldn’t know if I hadn’t opened the site for this piece. There’s something about clicking on Campus News and seeing a little popup full of jumbled Arial words that almost burns my eyes. (Seriously, what’s up with the tiny popups? And why?)

I wish PAnet were a regularly open tab, this page meant to connect all of Andover’s community—but it’s just not designed effectively. Functional and nothing more, hence why I’m elated to hear a much-needed renovation is knocking at PAnet’s doors.

All of this is already known by the staff behind the revamp, I’m sure—but this revision must be more than a layer of new paint. I’m no website designer, but as a user I know when there are too many tiny words and sickly beige boxes on my screen. This new iteration of PAnet—whatever its name becomes—needs to be entirely fresh, dividing the information and inducing me to want to click. To know the information I seek is not a series of tabs and popups away. I wish the best of luck to those tasked with this considerably monumental project—colors to choose, tabs to use—but also navigation and usability to consider. I cannot wait to see a wholly new intranet site. Here’s to hoping I won’t flinch when I see it.