Small Web Team: When Buying a CMS Makes Sense (Part III)

by Carol Clements on July 17, 2014

Picking up where we left off last week with Part II of this three-post series, let's look at the third reason an institution may prefer to use a reliable commercial web content management system (CMS) if they have a small web team.

Who's in Charge: "It's Not My Job (or Content) and Apparently It's Not Anyone Else's Either"

stressedThis scenario may happen over time when web content management has been added to an individual’s or department’s responsibility list through a process known as “job creep.” The web used to be seen as a task or project belonging to either IT or Marketing (or perhaps split between both). There is only a minor reference to it in their long list of responsibilities. Then one day they realize they’ve been ambushed. They find themselves accountable, perhaps unofficially, for what’s happening on the web and how it looks and works on mobile devices, without sufficient background, authority, budget, staff, and perhaps desire to take it on. Everyone expects them to do their full-time jobs and make their part of the website amazing… yet no one cares how. These people need help! So, support is key. This case study from John Cabot University in Rome, Italy is an example of this scenario and explains how important it was for them to receive help from the OmniUpdate support team to achieve their goals.

Needless to say, the effective management of a higher education website (or sites) can hardly be considered a short-term task or project. There is a lot at stake. As shared in the 2014 E-Expectations Report, a poor prospective student or parent experience can negatively affect his or her perception of an institution and desire to enroll. This is just one of many types of consequences. So it’s critical for an institution to get their website brand and content renegades under control. The OU Campus™ CMS is the ideal tool for this task. Romana Amato, Web Strategist at Saint Xavier University, said, “We are launching a new design and website, but we’re also re-doing our branding. None of this would have been possible without the tools and resources that OU Campus provides.”

One objection often raised to implementing a new CMS is content migration. For some, the thought of migrating content (perhaps again) from whatever solution is currently being used to a new CMS is a reason for angst. Not so says Daniel Martinez, Web Supervisor for California State University Channel Islands (CI), who shared his thoughts on this in a recent case study. For CI, the real time savings came from working with OmniUpdate. The support staff helped them create a master customizable template (one template that can look like several different designs). The support staff also customized the OU Campus content migration tool for CI’s needs and over 300 pages were migrated in less than one minute. With a staggered migration plan, CI was able to move more than 30 sites at a time. So, don’t let the possibility of content chaos due to migration scare you away from doing the important work that needs to be done to achieve your site goals.

checklistEffectively managing the content also means establishing protocols, responsibilities, roles, and communication strategies for all parties involved. The content management tool for this higher ed job must fit the needs and skills of the people using it. It’s got to be easy and fast for users, with multi-browser preview capability and quality and accessibility controls to ensure compliance and prevent embarrassing styling or publishing errors. It must provide Marketing with tools for effective visitor engagement, communication, and tracking. It must scale effectively for administrators, providing the functionality needed to quickly implement new sites and wrangle in problematic web pages. It must have an open API and system integration capabilities for developers to build upon. It must offer remote authentication, single sign-on, server and platform independence, and both cloud and server deployment options to fit into any IT environment. And, it must be built and continuously updated using the latest web standards to enable your institution to keep up with changes in web technologies, student behaviors, and education priorities without being forced to replace the CMS to make that happen. (I’ll my save thoughts on the RFP process for another post.)

With the input from our many higher ed customers, we feel we’ve built a CMS that is well-suited for diverse needs of colleges and universities both today and in the future. And, this goes well beyond managing just content. C. Daniel Chase, Lead Web Administrator at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, offered some insight on this last point. He said, “I am a technical guy, so I appreciate OU Campus being built on XML and XSL. I understand the flexibility that it gives us; there is no dependency on any particular page type. We can create anything we want.” For more information on his technology story, check out The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga testimonial video.

For more information on why OU Campus is ideally suited for colleges and universities with a small web team, please contact sales@omniupdate.com.

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