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: 487

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

Julie Fradette left a comment for Dan Bashaw
"Hello Dan, Thank you for the plugin suggestions! I will be testing them out in the days to come. After everything I've read, I now feel confident that Wordpress will be a good choice for us. :-)"
5 hours ago
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Learn how you can create an online magazine in OU Campus in today's blog post! "
yesterday
Dan Bashaw left a comment for Julie Fradette
"Hi Julie, I use a plugin (https://wordpress.org/plugins/page-links-to/) to set up simple page redirects. Using it at our root site to link to a deep page or an external page gives a 'short-ish' URL. brescia.uwo.ca/give/ is an example that…"
Wednesday
Julie Fradette left a comment for Dan Bashaw
"Me neither :-) But when I tried to send you a message, it notified me that I could only message you if we're friends. I was curious about your experience with Wordpress as a CMS for your University website? We're a small University as well…"
Wednesday
Dan Bashaw replied to Dan Bashaw's discussion Migration to WordPress
"Hi Julie, My experience has been very positive. We are now running several WordPress multisites, and if I could encapsulate the results it would be: Much improved editing experience for departmental users compared to other CMS. Much reduced…"
Wednesday
Julie Fradette replied to Dan Bashaw's discussion Migration to WordPress
"Cara, your links have been extremely useful. We're seriously considering migrating to Wordpress over the summer. We've used TYPO3 since 2009, which is another open-source CMS. I appreciate all the comments posted so far, but I wonder what…"
Wednesday
Dan Bashaw left a comment for Julie Fradette
"Hi Julie -- I had no idea we could friend people here! :)"
Wednesday
Mark Mazelin replied to Mark Mazelin's discussion Website Translation Services
"Thanks Dan--this is helpful. As we evaluate options, I'll let you know if we'd like to pursue the SocialChine route. --Mark"
Tuesday
Dan Bashaw replied to Mark Mazelin's discussion Website Translation Services
"Given a relatively small volume of pages, it is probably best to handle this manually, ensuring that your workflow triggers a translation when the English version of the page changes. With this approach you can use either local translators, or…"
Tuesday
Profile IconBen L., John Nathan Parker and Jeffrey Green joined University Web Developers
Feb 27
Mark Mazelin posted a discussion

Website Translation Services

I've been tasked with getting some of our website translated into Spanish and Chinese. We had some pages translated into Spanish several years ago, but since multi-lingual was not part of our workflow, the content on those pages quickly became out-of-date and were just recently removed from the site.Do any of you have pages translated to other languages? Do you use a 3rd-party service to do it, or someone on campus with those skills? Or an automated service like Google translate?For those of…See More
Feb 27
Michelle L. Monti replied to Michelle L. Monti's discussion Questioning the Value of College Holiday Videos
"Thanks for responding, Erik! I agree and like your point about it being a different kind of piece without a call to action. Those projects have their place, but is sometimes hard to justify carving out the time for them."
Feb 27
Erik Hagen replied to Michelle L. Monti's discussion Questioning the Value of College Holiday Videos
"We did one in 2012 and 2013, but not 2014. We initially got caught up in the buzz because everyone was doing them, and it seemed like a fun idea. But this last cycle we were so busy with other projects we couldn't justify carving out the time.…"
Feb 27
Erik Hagen posted a discussion

Dynamically adding text to a PDF

We're looking for a service or tool that will let employees create their own business card and have a press-ready PDF sent to our print shop. Ideally the employee would type in their info into a form, and that text would be dropped into a predefined PDF template. I know this falls under the "web to print" industry, but I haven't found any workable services yet. Thanks!See More
Feb 27
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Otero Junior College has gone live with their new responsive website. Design by our partner Donoughe Design. Great work!! www.ojc.edu "
Feb 25
Nursalim Hadi posted a discussion

Web Developer - College of Business - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

WEB DEVELOPER Information Technology College of Business University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignSearch ExtendedThe College of Business seeks a Web Developer responsible for the College's web design. The primary focus for this full-time, non-tenured academic professional position will be to leverage available web technologies and services (including a Web CMS), extensive technical skill, and strong independent judgment and decision making skills to architect and implement web sites that…See More
Feb 25
Nursalim Hadi is now a member of University Web Developers
Feb 24
Amber Klaus is now a member of University Web Developers
Feb 21
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Looking forward to working with our newest customer Merced College. Welcome to the OmniUpdate family!"
Feb 20
Kevin Hanselman posted a discussion

Webmaster at The Sage Colleges

The Webmaster manages and maintains all aspects of The Sage Colleges’ website, www.sage.edu, as well as Sage’s online presence and e-communications, in order to provide a successful online interaction for our audiences with Sage and to support key enrollment and advancement goals. This full-time administrative position reports to the Senior Director of…See More
Feb 20

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