University Web Developers

University Web Developers

If we adopt a CMS, what else should we have in place before choosing one, assuming we should have one at all? What kind of problems will it not solve for us? I am with a small private college (under a thousand students) with limited human and financial resources. Most of our staff and faculty are 50ish, and not Web-savvy.

Our current website is built and maintained in the traditional way with Dreamweaver. We want to empower people to create their own content, and I wonder if there is some way other than a CMS so that they can have the basic necessary permissions to do so.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has been through this decision making process or could point me in the direction of how to find out more about how to create such a process.

Tags: college, content, decision, management, private, process, small, system

Views: 494

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Just FYI, the University of Northern Colorado took advantage of Stamats service to conduct a survey of how we create pages. what our infastructure needs are and what we'd like a CMS to do. There is a user and an IT questionnaire. They then narrowed the choices down to the top three to five vendors. I had several good conversations with them aboutthe results so they don't just send a document and cut you loose.  It was very helpful and reasonably priced.

Roona Johnston

Universite of Northern Colorado

Michael,

There is one other approach that hasn't been mentioned and that is driving your pages from "business data" in a dynamic way. This allows for the vast number of derivatives of a basic directory page with out having to maintain 50-100 individual directory pages. We have done this with curriculum information, directory information, and financial information when possible. It is a lot of work to set up the infrastructure to do this but the benefits are phenomenal if you have the support of a great IT staff and some decent programmers. 

I created a custom built CMS to to aid in the other content that is static but most people don't use that interface they just contact the webmaster for their changes because that happens much more rarely because of the data driven pages.

William,

 

This intrigues me; thanks for your reply. Can you show me published examples of your CMS in curriculum, financial, and directory information?

I'm currently in the position of evaluating both CMS and other solutions for our website, which is also an ecommerce site. Our current website is here: Wayne State University Press. We're currently moving to a new title management system that has the ability to feed content to a website database, so that will also play a part in our decision.

Are there any other University Press folks here, and if so, what are you using to run your websites? Currently we're on a homegrown university CMS system which offers very little in terms of flexibility. We've hacked it to pieces getting it to do what we need it to do. I'm open to any suggestions at this point.

One of the most important considerations is determining whether and what kind of CMS you need is a realistic number of expected users, as in content contributors and reviewers.The number of pages isn't particularly relevant as a decisive factor for relatively modest-sized sites. A site that's manageable with only a small number of developers and/or contributors might be better managed with some sort of version control system than a full-blown CMS. Nearly any CMS will add a significant amount of overhead and complexity that primarily gets in the way for a small development team unless they happen to be using a dynamic system (Drupal, WordPress, etc.) that has what are usually considered as CMS capabilities as a part of its core functionality. The comfort level of contributors with HTML and CSS are also important considerations.

The more people contributing content, the more robust your CMS likely needs to be. As you scale up in number of users, you're more likely to need features such as workflow management, adaptable and sophisticated metadata capabilities, flexible templating, the ability to incorporate dynamic content, versioning, multi-site management, internal search, and other features more likely to be found in enterprise level systems. Once you go in that direction, you'll also committing to a lot of other things including training, oversight, governance, system configuration and updating, and user administration.

In addition, the most closely that your chosen CMS can be configured to conform to your existing business model and workflow, the more likely users are to embrace it. The simplest CMS that will meet the organization's expected needs for the next five years or so may be the best from a users perspective. The vendor's reliability, lifecycle, support, size, pricing, and so forth are all important. In the end, if the users hate it, the content isn't updated or looks bad, or the content that the system generates doesn't work well for the end users of the content, the CMS may not be worth implementing.

Glenn,

You have mentioned a couple of open source solutions that are the exceptions to adding "a significant amount of overhead and complexity that primarily gets in the way for a small development team".

Could you elaborate on this? Perhaps compare these with purchased solutions. I assumed that installing extensions to open source solutions would be more complex and, at least to pay the developers at a university, require more overhead.

 

My reference was primarily to "out-of-the-box" open source software that could meet your needs with standard plug-ins, themes, and templates, etc. Some of those solutions are now quite highly evolved and well supported so they can do quite a lot without significant code-level customization. They can provide some of the features of an enterprise-level CMS with a lot less expense and complexity. There's still a need for installation and maintenance for upgrades and backup if hosted locally, but most of the interaction of site developers, content contributors, and content reviewers alike can occur at the application level and tends to be fairly user-friendly.

If you need significant customization or unusual functionality, your choices will really need to depend on the situation. It's not necessarily harder to customize open source software. In many cases, it may be easier actually, but complex needs may point in the direction of proprietary solutions if it can be clearly demonstrated that they will meet the specific needs that outstrip easier, simpler, and less expensive solutions.

RSS

Elsewhere

Latest Activity

Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Have you seen The University of South Alabama's new online course catalog? It integrates with Banner. Looks sharp! Check it out. "
Wednesday
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Congrats to Oklahoma City Community College on going live with their new responsive online course catalog! "
Monday
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Curious about what's going to be in the 2015 E-Expectations Report? Get some hints in today's blog post! "
Aug 20
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Big congrats to Butler County Community College on going live in OU Campus last week with their new responsive site. Looks amazing! Check it out: bc3.edu "
Aug 20
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"HUGE shout-out to Hope College on going live in OU Campus with their new responsive site, which Includes a course catalog, calendar, directories, news center, and much more! Check it out: hope.edu "
Aug 18
Howard Hanna posted a discussion

Cloud Providers: Acquia or Pantheon?

We're considering moving a lower-trafficked site with a fairly vanilla Drupal install to a cloud provider and are wondering whether to go with Acquia or Pantheon.Which would you choose?See More
Aug 18
Profile IconJanine Sazinsky and Cynthia Rodriguez joined University Web Developers
Aug 14
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"#OUTC16 dates and location have been announced!! Get the scoop on our blog! "
Aug 13
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Southwest Mississippi Community College has joined the OmniUpdate family. Hip hip hooray!! #weloveourcustomers‬"
Aug 11
Howard Hanna posted a discussion

Site Search: Evaluating and Testing

Amherst College is considering switching the search engine we use on our website (Drupal) from Google Search Appliance (GSA) to Google Custom Search Engine (CSE). We are considering using Google Tag Manager (GTM) for A/B testing of GSA and CSE. We are configured to seamlessly switch between the two search options.Does anyone have ideas, resources, or a checklist you've used for testing the site search and gauging relevancy?If not GTM for A/B testing, any recommendation on what else to use?All…See More
Aug 5
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"New post up on the blog by OmniUpdate CEO, Lance Merker! Check it out: Three Takeaways from #eduweb15 "
Aug 4
Phyllis Treige posted a discussion

UX Analyst at University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Communications Department in the UW-Madison Division of Information Technology (DoIT) is looking for a full-time User Experience Analyst to join our team.  The opportunityWe’re redefining the experience of higher education at UW-Madison, from improving the course enrollment process to designing tools that support advising to overhauling the MyUW portal.  We need someone who is driven to understand the challenges our users face, to help untangle thorny process and technical ecosystems, and…See More
Aug 4
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"We're so excited to add Lake Tahoe Community College to the OmniUpdate family! Welcome aboard!"
Aug 3
Profile IconKendra Smith, Dan LeGate, Matt Kacskos and 2 more joined University Web Developers
Jul 31
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Congrats to Snow College on going live in OU Campus with their new responsive site! Check it out: www.snow.edu "
Jul 30
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Get the scoop on snippets in the new post up on the blog! "
Jul 29
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"New blog post from Kate Browne, Technology Trainer at Illinois Wesleyan University! The Welcoming Website Part 1: Accessibility and Universal Design "
Jul 22
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Nevada State College went live in our OU Campus CMS! Check it out: nsc.edu http://nsc.edu/"
Jul 20
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Exciting news! We've released 10.3 of OU Campus which includes OU Marketplace! Read all about it in today's blog post. "
Jul 17
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Bard College at Simon's Rock's website has a great new look! New design by Lipman Hearne. Check it out: simons-rock.edu "
Jul 14

UWEBD has been in existence for more than 10 years and is the very best email discussion list on the Internet, in any industry, on any topic

About

© 2015   Created by Mark Greenfield.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service