Content Management System FAQs
What is a content management system (CMS)?
A content management system (CMS) is software used to manage the content of a website. It provides capabilities for multiple users with different permission levels to create, modify, review, publish, remove, and archive specific areas of content on a website. They can also add images and multimedia files, and create content schedules. All these tasks are accomplished through a set of procedures and established approvals programmed into the CMS to manage work flow in a decentralized, collaborative content authoring environment.
Why is Messiah changing to a CMS?
Over the past several years, the need for Messiah College to migrate its web presence to a content management system has been well documented. Both the offices of ITS and Marketing and Public Relations have articulated to their senior administrators that a CMS initiative would benefit both their teams’ efficiency and the College as a whole.
What are some of the benefits of a CMS?
We currently use Adobe Contribute for website content editing at Messiah. Contribute allows site owners to do simple content editing. Contribute is relatively easy to use for non-technical users but it has significant drawbacks.
A CMS will provide the following added benefits and improved functionality:
- With our current system, Contribute, the same content cannot be used in multiple places on the website without copying and pasting / reposting it in each individual area, which frequently leads to inconsistent and/or inaccurate information throughout Messiah’s site.
- With the content management system, content created by messiah.edu content authors easily can be selected by other messiah.edu content authors and automatically reflowed onto their own areas of messiah.edu because all content is stored in a database.
Banner database integration
- Contribute does not integrate with our Banner database.
- The content management system selected for Messiah College is an Ellucian (formerly SunGard Higher Education) partner, which facilitates the integration with Banner. This will not necessarily benefit content editors; however, in the future it will allow the public website to show public Banner data such as department directories, course catalog and other institutional information that may be helpful to site visitors.
- Currently, web content editors must have Contribute loaded onto their PCs and need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection to access the webpages remotely. We have experienced connection issues with accessing webpages via VPN, especially when using a Mac.
- With a content management system, web content can be edited and updated, anytime and anywhere an internet connection is available. Users with specifically assigned roles and permission levels can log-in and update specified areas of a website directly through the internet, wherever an internet connection is available.
- With Contribute, including interactive content features within a website is cumbersome for the average web content author and always requires assistance from the College’s web team and possibly ITS.
- With the content management system non-technical content authors can manage, create and edit website content containing some types of interactive features including social media, slideshows and targeted content based on visitor interest with relative ease. The system also uses drag and drop / point and click interfaces for ease of adding various content components (known as 'widgets' in Jadu).
- Content scheduling capabilities do not exist with Contribute. Content cannot be preprogrammed to appear or be automatically deleted on the site according to a predetermined schedule
- Through the content management system, content can be created in advance and “hidden” for future use and/or scheduled to be removed on a specified date.
- With Contribute, content, once edited, is essentially overwritten and there is limited ability to view, compare or rollback to a previous version or archive content aside from traditional backups.
- The content management system allows content editors to go back and look at or revert back to past content on their sites; see what was changed, when it was changed and by whom.
Workflow and content approval
- Currently, content creation and edits have no “built-in” reviews or approval processes before content is published to the web.
- The content management system allows for the establishment of various roles and permissions to facilitate systematic reviews and final approval processes for all content before that content is actually published on the website. These procedures are part of the CMS collaborative workflow environment, which helps to ensure accuracy of content across the site.
Updating universal elements
- With the content management system our web team can make quick and universal updates to key institutional elements across the entire site; examples of such elements include the institutional information that appears in the footer of the website; site-wide navigational links, branding elements, overall site layout etc.
Improved search engine results
- Currently, search engine optimization (SEO) is done via a manual process whereby keywords are chosen and then hand-coded into the metadata (coding/hidden content) of each page.
- The content management system helps to automate and simplify this process. The CMS requires content editors to provide appropriate metadata to describe and tag pages and images before they can upload them into the system. Search results also are more robust and faster in the CMS because of the way content is handled and organized in the system.
Online forms module
- Currently, forms used on websites require extensive forms programming by either the web team, ITS, or both.
- The content management system comes with a forms module that web editors can use, minimizing the need for most forms programming to be done by the web team or ITS.
Other improved features
- More easily accessible website statistics and reporting
- Spell checking
- Drag and drop / point and click interfaces
- Friendly URLs
- Better accessibility for visually impaired visitors
What CMS did the College purchase and how/why was it selected?
A CMS vendor, Jadu, was evaluated by a Messiah College cross-departmental group, many of whom had been members of a Messiah Web Leadership CMS task group, which represented various campus offices, departments and organizations. Among others, this cross-departmental group included Messiah’s CIO, director of print and web communications, director of information services, a programmer/ analyst, web services manager, and web content editor.
After two on-campus visits with Jadu representatives and several follow-up email conversations, the group determined that the Jadu CMS met, and in many ways exceeded, the CMS requirements outlined in the Web Leadership task group’s initial report. Additionally, both Messiah’s information technology and web communications teams affirmed that the Jadu CMS is a product they both can successfully work with and support.
What will having a CMS mean to me if I maintain my department’s web site?
Will I need to install new software on my computer?
No, the Jadu CMS can be accessed via the internet from a web browser.
Will I be able to update my pages from home?
Yes! You’ll be able to log-in and update the areas of a website for which you are responsible wherever an internet connection is available. The Jadu CMS is cross platform and cross browser compliant.
When will the CMS project begin? What is the schedule for completion?
Implementation will be done in phases. The first phase has been completed and involved preparing the servers, building the templates and migrating content from several specific areas of the website (such as the homepage, admissions site, academic major pages). Following this initial phase, other areas of the website will be brought online but the details for migrating these other areas are still being mapped out. Content migrations will be ongoing for an undetermined period of time and should appear relatively seamless to website visitors. Ongoing communications to the campus will keep the campus community apprised of the CMS migration plan and its progress.
Who will be involved in the CMS project?
The initial team involved resources from ITS and Marketing and Public Relations. Following this initial launch of a few limited areas of the website, other areas of messiah.edu will be scheduled for migration into the CMS. Most new websites requested from this point forward will be built in the new CMS and those requesting to have their existing sites migrated into the CMS will need to contact the web team to schedule a project initiation meeting where a project plan, schedule and resources needed will be discussed.
Will Messiah’s website look different?
Because of the size of Messiah’s site and the amount of time we anticipate it will take to migrate a site of this size into the CMS, there will be only minimal changes made to the overall look of Messiah’s site at this time. This strategy will help ensure a more consistent and cohesive visitor experience throughout the complete CMS implementation.
Do all Messiah College web sites need to be moved into the CMS, or can we leave our office’s / department’s site the way it is now?
After the initial migration phase has been completed, all requests for new websites will be built in the CMS. Other areas of the website will be brought into the CMS over a period of time. The details for migrating these other areas of the site into the CMS and the exact timeline for this, however, have not yet been determined.
The sooner your site is brought into the CMS, the sooner you’ll be able to take advantage of the many benefits of the CMS. So to help prepare to bring your site into the CMS, we encourage each department or office with an existing website to begin taking some preliminary steps that should make your eventual transition to the CMS easier.
- Delete or update any old pages from your current website’s directory.
- Review your current site’s metrics/analytics to determine which pages are visited most often.
- With the help of the web team, estimate how long it might take to migrate your site’s content into the CMS and determine the resources (time/ personnel) that will be required from your own office or department to migrate your content into the new CMS after the web team has built the site structure for you.
Will there be training provided for those who maintain websites?
Yes! Training will be scheduled and announced at a future time. Training schedules will be communicated to the campus once they are determined. Training materials will be provided at the training session and there will be online self-help available via the web team’s website.
Each office maintaining a website will be required to have at least one person trained in the CMS. The College’s web team will continue to build websites for Messiah offices and departments but each office is responsible for updating its own content in the CMS. Content author permissions also will need to be defined and a content approval workflow established by each office or department maintaining a website. The web team will help you through this process.
Will the MCSquare portal be changing too?
Not immediately, however, there is a unique element in Messiah’s technology environment that makes this an optimal time to move to a content management system. The contractual agreement Messiah has with Ellucian (formerly SunGard Higher Education) for the software that runs MCSquare will expire on 2013. Due to many technical and functional issues, Messiah has opted to not upgrade that software nor renew the contract. With this in mind, we now have the opportunity to build a fully functional intranet that serves our changing needs better than the current MCSquare portal. Implementing a CMS now that eventually will replace/enhance the functionality of the current portal is an effective solution for a major issue the College will need to address in the near future.
Who do I contact if I have questions?
- For specific web site building or CMS migration questions: Ramona Fritschi, Web Services Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org