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: 497

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


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.



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.


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.



Latest Activity

Kevin Kinder commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"What’s the most influential resource for getting prospective students to attend your institution? Find out in our latest blog post!"
13 hours ago
Kevin Kinder commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"We are proud to announce University of the Sciences as the newest institution to join the OmniUpdate family!"
16 hours ago
Lisa joined Rik Williams's group

Maps and Mapping

For the discussion of the Mapping of University campuses and facilities from static images to groovy Google mashups.
Kevin Kinder commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Don’t miss this week’s blog post on best practices for implementing a CMS!"
Nov 18
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Make your virtual environment easy to access with universal design! Learn how to make a meaningful impact on your site visitors' experience in Higher Ed Live's episode this Friday. "
Nov 17
Mark Trenchard commented on Mark Trenchard's group Adobe AEM
"Welcome all.   There is an active EDU forum on Google Groups!forum/dayedu and an annual meetup in San Diego at Evolve.  I usually host an EDU get together annually at Adobe Summit.   We have been…"
Nov 16
Caryl Westerberg is now a member of University Web Developers
Nov 16
Douglas Geiste commented on Mark Trenchard's group Adobe AEM
"Hello! We are in the process of a redesign at Quinnipiac University and it will be launched on AEM. Glad to see there's a group for AEM here. I would like to hear what your pain points were/are for your AEM implementation. Curious as to who is…"
Nov 14
Douglas Geiste joined Mark Trenchard's group

Adobe AEM

Users, developers, and leaders that use Adobe AEM (CQ5) for a web experience platform.See More
Nov 14
Jay Massey posted a discussion

Web Content Strategist Position at the University of West Florida

 University Marketing & Communications - Web Services at the University of West Florida invites applicants for the full-time position of Web Content Strategist at the main campus in Pensacola, Florida. The opportunity:The University seeks a results-oriented individual with strong organizational and communication skills who works well in a team environment to assist in assessing content opportunities that will achieve measurable strategic goals by maximizing the impact of onsite and offsite…See More
Nov 13
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"We’re attending next week’s AMA Symposium in Chicago! We’d love to hear about your digital marketing needs, so swing by our booth for a chat. #AMAHigherEd "
Nov 12
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Tune in to Higher Ed Special Edition tomorrow at 1PM (ET) to hear OmniUpdate’s Shahab Lashkari speak on web performance best practices! "
Nov 12
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Another webcast on Thursday, coming right up! Tune in to Higher Ed Live’s Marketing Live channel on November 12 at 1PM (EST) to get valuable insight on how to strategically communicate with college-bound students and parents online! Our own…"
Nov 11
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Registration for the 2016 OmniUpdate User Training Conference (OUTC16) is now open! It’s an event you won’t want to miss. Check out our exciting lineup of sessions, workshops, and fun. Register today! #SpotlightingInnovation "
Nov 11
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Introducing our new Digital Marketing Specialist, Kevin Kinder! Connect with Kevin on the OmniUpdate Community Network and check out our latest blog post to learn more about his role in the company. "
Nov 10
Eric L. Epps joined Paul Branham's group

Community Colleges

Discussions and such pertaining to the unique situations that present themselves to Community Colleges.
Nov 10
Eric L. Epps joined DNI's group

Cascade Server CMS

For folks who use (or are interested in) Hannon Hill's Cascade Server CMS productSee More
Nov 10
Profile IconEric L. Epps and Christopher Spires joined University Web Developers
Nov 10
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Ready to get social? Register today for our webcast this Thursday, November 12 at 11am (PT) to hear Noelle Seybert from Pepperdine University speak on how to use social media as an effective marketing tool. "
Nov 9
Michael Nielsen posted a discussion

Web/Social Media Trends

Do you feel the general research abounding on the web regarding the use of technology is accurate or applicable to higher education?What general trends have other schools observed in regards to student, prospective student, faculty/staff, etc., usage of your university websites, social media (Facebook/Twitter, etc), email, texting (technically the last two might be defined as social media, but are typically perceived separately by end users), etc.? What tends to be the most used by your…See More
Nov 9

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


© 2015   Created by Mark Greenfield.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service