A profile photo of Matt wearing a blue baseball cap

Matt Modrowski

myHome at Ithaca

2007 - 2009

Ithaca College


As the campus community was migrating online, Ithaca College was looking for a way to collect their Internet-based services under one banner. But existing enterprise portal solutions didn’t quite measure up due to technical limitations and lackluster usability.

I was hired to lead the charge on research, design, and build what resulted in myHome at Ithaca: a lightweight web portal that aggregated campuswide systems and third-party websites on user-customizable pages.

Case Study

myHome at Ithaca

My contribution

  • Product strategy
  • UX research
  • Product design
  • Front-end development
  • Back-end development

The team

  • VP of Web Services
  • Manager of Web Services
  • Me
A screenshot of the myHome at Ithaca web application

In 2007, due to the emergence of sites like Google, YouTube, and Facebook, the students, faculty, and staff of Ithaca College had just begun to expect a refined web experience when accessing online resources like their email, campus news, or course information. Existing portal platforms, like SunGuard, Oracle, and uPortal, that could aggregate these types of services required substantial technology infrastructure changes and lacked the sophistication and modern experience our users expected. We wanted something better.

Screenshots of portlets users could have on their myHome at Ithaca pages

That spring, the Director of Web Services entrusted me with researching, designing, and building the platform Ithaca College would use. The “lightweight portal” I developed allowed users to create custom homepages that integrated both on-campus web services as well as popular third-party websites. For example, students could access their BlackBoard courses alongside their latest Facebook news feed. Throughout this process I spoke with members across the campus community, truly building the application with the community.

The site launched in August of 2008, quickly gaining a foothold with the campus. In just 45 days, nearly half of the student population was actively using the site alongside nearly one-third of the faculty and staff. One year later, I released a mobile version and integrated a new social networking engine much to the delight of the nearly-80% of the campus that logged in every day.

A screenshot of the 'Add Content' interface that allowed users to add portlets and pages to their dashboard

These were very early days for both web and mobile development, especially in the higher education field. I was proud to present my technical work and the success we found at Ithaca College at the HighEdWeb conference, Ithaca’s Ed Tech Day, and the 2009 Portal Conference.