It's been over a decade since web content management systems (CMSs) came of age, but while many colleges and universities have adopted CMS solutions—including OU Campus™—some schools are still struggling with mostly static websites that are cumbersome and costly to maintain. They're missing out.
Done right, a CMS will streamline web publishing workflow, get distributed web editors sharing resources, provide dynamic content elements, and deliver the experience your site visitors expect.
Read on for four signs that it's time to invest in a CMS or to weigh new alternatives to an aging or poorly implemented system.
1. Your site is considered an "IT project"
Websites marry technology and content to engage, inform, and persuade. But if campus leaders consider your site an IT project rather than a communication and marketing platform, it's a signal that you're using outdated tools (tools only technologists can use), and under-utilizing marketing's strategic value and the upside potential of key content contributors.
Contemporary sites are technically complex, but content contributors shouldn't need to know code, and developers shouldn't have to mess with day-to-day updates. If routine content changes need to be routed through your IT department, there's a better way.
A CMS like OU Campus lets non-technical staff maintain site content quickly and easily without touching the underlying code. OU Campus offers in-context editing that shows exactly how changes will look once published—if contributors can edit Microsoft Word documents, they can edit web pages.
2. Updates take too much time and trouble
The fewer people able to make website updates, the harder it is to keep your site current. This problem can be especially acute if you're relying on a busy IT or web team whose skills are needed on other projects.
Content creation and review processes also can slow things down, especially when that work happens offline. Drafting, routing, and plugging in new or updated copy takes time and introduces risk of error.
A CMS lets a larger group of trained contributors make changes directly to the site, adding revised pages to a workflow for colleagues to check, edit, and ultimately publish. Flexible roles, permissions, and quality checks let you trust publication decisions to designated users.
3. Everyone's doing their own thing
Campus webmasters tend to operate in silos, with each academic department or administrative unit managing their own pages as they see fit. This arrangement breeds inconsistency and inefficiency.
Disparate pages offer duplicate or—even worse—conflicting information. Some pages get regular updates, while others languish unchanged for months or years. Different sub-sites adopt different practices for usability and accessibility, frustrating site visitors in general and putting institutions at legal risk for failing to serve users with disabilities.
With a CMS, web contributors and editors can draw from a common bank of content, providing current and consistent information on academic programs, course schedules, financial aid policies, and other essential topics. Units can manage their pages much more efficiently, sharing content resources that comply with agreed upon standards, and back each other up with checks and balances.
4. You need better solutions for event calendars, faculty bios, and more
Certain kinds of content require special attention. Take information about campus events—modern event calendars provided by the CMS offer one-stop sources for news about everything happening on campus, with social media sharing, integration with personal calendars, and other user-friendly functions.
Faculty/staff directories, course catalogs, and other resources also demand specialized features that outdated static sites and rudimentary CMS setups simply can't provide. Just ask your web staff—odds are they'll highlight these parts of your site among their top frustrations.
Built expressly for colleges and universities, OU Campus takes on these challenges. Our modules such as OU Calendar™, faculty directory, and course catalog let you focus additional attention where you need it even as you implement a full-featured CMS.
If you haven't adopted a CMS, now's the time. We're confident it will revolutionize your website, satisfy your users, and make your campus proud.
CMS Evaluation Guide
Get a general understanding of web content management, a sample needs assessment for evaluating a CMS for a higher ed institution, and typical areas of overspending that can occur.