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CALS will help pilot new campus web content management system

Pilot-testing of a new Web content management system will begin this summer. Among those doing the testing will be two CALS web specialists. The new system will allow staff in campus departments and offices to focus on adding and updating content, rather than developing and maintaining their web sites.

Training and testing on the system will begin this summer with a small group of early adopters, who will then do pilot tests on their own sites this fall. The test group includes Barb Avery, systems analyst and developer in the CALS administrative computing team, and Don Stanley, who does web development for the CALS communications program and teaches in the Department of Life Sciences Communication.

An ad hoc campus group has been meeting since early 2007 to develop the project plan, determine specifications and evaluate vendors, including RedDot, the company that ultimately was chosen for the work.

The new system will facilitate the creation, publishing, sharing, storage and archiving of departmental and institutional information. Templates — which can be customized — will be made available to users of the opt-in system, making it easier for departments and units to update and improve their sites.

The system is expected to eliminate the need for site maintenance and updating by information technology staff.

“For offices that publish a fair amount of Web content that needs regular updates, this will put the update process directly into their hands,” says Al Friedman, associate director of University Communications and chair of the leadership team that will guide the policy and use of the new system.

“They’ll be able to edit and publish changes immediately. There is the potential to improve the accuracy and currency of content, avoid redundancy and eliminate conflicting information.

“Sites can look the same,” Friedman adds. “The content will just be managed differently.”

Among the features of the new system:

  • Users can create web pages through a word processor-like user interface.
  • The system automatically monitors for broken links to aid the archiving process and keep web content timely.
  • Authors, editors, publishers and administrators will have varying degrees of access to content. Internal security mechanisms will ensure that content cannot be posted, deleted or modified without appropriate permission.
  • Page layout and site designs will be based on templates that are automatically applied as new pages are added. The system supports multiple templates to support use and delivery to many users.

Additional training will likely be offered to interested departments and units later in the 2008-09 academic year. Funding for the project will be provided initially by the Office of the Chief Information Officer, which will purchase the software and hardware and start the campus service. Ongoing sustaining costs will be shared among campus units. The overall cost is projected to be $1.7 million over five years.

To learn more, contact Al Friedman at (608) 262-8297 or acfriedm@wisc.edu.

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