University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Hi Folks-

Taking an informal poll about what CMS you are using and if you like it. Any feedback you can give us about what works and what doesn't would be helpful. 

Specifically we are looking information about Content Management Systems that offer:

-Responsive design

-Integration with the calendar software EMS

-Secure forms

-And one with good support services

Thank you

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Interesting question, and I'll kick off with the first open source option – there will no doubt be others put forward as well.

We are migrating from static HTML to WordPress.

  • Responsive. Check. 
  • EMS Integration... Sorta. (via RSS)
  • Secure forms. Check.
  • Good support services. Check (Easily contracted, as WordPress is a popular CMS.)

We are able to move away from the 'big iron' proprietary CMS vendors more easily than many institutions due to our relatively small scale (1200 students, 4700 pages under management.) and lack of lock-in to an existing vendor.

When I moved to university web work from the private sector, I was surprised to see that proprietary CMSs still dominate in the university market. I've come to understand that there are probably good organizational and historical reasons for that, though I expect to see many more institutions go open source over the next few years, with Drupal, WordPress, and possibly emerging cloud contenders increasingly seen as solid supportable alternatives.

While we've been using WordPress for two years, we will be cutting over our main web site to WordPress later this year. I'll share updates on the process and results here on uwebd.

Have been on Joomla 1.6 since god was a child, now moving ( probably) to Drupal. Wordpress was also considered pretty seriously, but there was more internal comfort with Drupal.

In terms of our reasoning:

  • Forms are part of the Drupal core, I have seen WP form plugins I thought were good, but they all tended to be proprietary.
  • There are a few large scale edu focused theme and module projects, that we may or may not use: OpenScholar, OpenAcademy and OpenFramework
  • Responsive is a function of theme, I am pushing hard for a bootstrap3 based theme.
  • Integration to other data sources is generally very doable.
  • Drupal community is great, if you want to kick up to commercial support Acquia is interesting and there are a few others, someone named SystemSeed has taken over development of OpenAcademy...which seems interesting.
  • While, at first blush, web stats seem to indicate that wordpress is the only CMS in the world, digging in to sites by TLD and traffic volume indicates a much more level field, in edu especially. While its not a popularity contest, we felt that indicated we would be able to find people to talk to and lots of examples of problem solving in our workspace. 

Hope that helps

Drupal has some strengths for larger sites, and has a strong a code-centric culture that seems to be a good fit for many universities looking at open source. I especially like the 'Types and Views' approach to displaying content chunks, which is very flexible. It is a common observation that WordPress appeals to writers, and than Drupal appeals to coders, and in general I find this to be true!

The 'gotchas' with Drupal are that a higher level of coding skill is often required to build and customize a particular feature, and that there is a tendency for busy developers to neglect the admin back-end, which really should be customized to make it friendlier for your writers and editors. I bet Drupal 8 will address some of these issues, as Drupal has a very strong and active development culture.

(BTW: I'm also a fan of Joomla for easy-to-build sites that can still have a good deal of navigational depth. Oddly, my perception is that Joomla seems stronger and better accepted in Latin America and Africa than here in North America and Europe, but that just may be my experience.)

We have been with OmniUpdate (OU Campus) since 2012. One of the reasons we chose OU: When I talked to universities about their CMS, in person or by phone, everyone who was with OU sounded happy. Really happy. And I feel the same.

The support services are top-notch. Our IT team is very small, and they rarely have to be consulted. Most tasks I can complete myself, and when I need OU's support, they are right on it.

To answer your other questions:

- Responsive design -- Yes, they can implement this, but you have to give them the HTML/CSS. We haven't brought our entire site into responsive, but we have one landing page template in OU that is responsive.

- Integration with EMS -- Probably, but I can't say for sure as we opted to use Bedework for our calendar database.

- Secure forms -- Yes.

Hope that helps!

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