University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Hi, we're nearing the QA phase of our DotCMS implementation on campus. Our web department is just me and one other person. We're semi-technical & soon to be learning a lot more. I'm planning the next leg of this project and I'm wondering about other people's experiences. I'm just wondering if anyone has any great strategies for getting campus users working in the system? Who did you start with? Did you plan everything in detail or just dive in fearlessly? What did you do that you wish you had done differently?

I'm really excited and simultaneously a little overwhelmed. Any general thoughts or feedback about the time when you were getting started with DotCMS would be great.

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I feel your pain. Our web office is just me, and I am responsible for pretty much EVERYTHING dotCMS related (though I did manage to farm out the user training at least, to my boss and her assistant, heh). It sounds like you're starting a lot like I did. When we started, I had experience with small PHP CMSs, but never something of this scale and power, and I'm certainly no Java developer. But I just dove in head first, and didn't have any problem swimming in the deep end. It's really a marvel of a system in terms of learning curve.

With users, we tried to start with a small core group of more savvy user first. We also have a person in each college responsible for all their departments' web sites, so training those users is really up to them (as is deciding if they want the department to have any control over the content). I make it a point to never show people things that they don't need to know, and I try to make good use of groups to control their back end interfaces. YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST SHOW PEOPLE THE "PASTE FROM WORD" FEATURE IN TINYMCE. I cannot stress that enough, if your users are anything like ours. Tell them, tell them again, and remind them frequently.

Honestly, our process hasn't worked terribly, and we didn't do a lot of planning with it. As I mentioned, we just started with savvy users, and some of them are happy to help others. Then we started working our way through offices. Usually the smaller ones first, moving on to bigger ones. As we hit bigger ones, we concentrate on the most important info, and use redirects to pick up requests for old pages and forward them on to the old site until everything is converted. I've been in the process of making little tutorial videos to help refresh people on common tasks. I tend to NOT show people macros, unless I know they can handle it. As easy as macros are to use, if they can't handle basic HTML, I have no reason to believe they can handle macros, so save on the confusion later and just avoid it. Tell them YOU can do it for them in a jiffy. Odds are, the time it takes you to do it right will be less than the time wasted between them trying to do it themselves, and the support you end up giving to fix it later.

As we get further in the process, I print out my URLRewrite.xml file (where I manage redirects to the old server for unconverted areas) and see what is and isn't done. I just start cherry picking from there to see which ones we can bang out the fastest.

I also try to make myself very available to help out other dotCMS users, so feel free to contact me directly if you ever have any questions or need some help.
Thanks so much for the advice. It all makes a lot of sense & I was already thinking along these lines for some of my strategies so that makes me feel good about where I am. Good advice about not letting people know more than they need to. I've already made a misstep in that area. :)

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