WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS


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Are you in charge of a college or university website? Has your website outgrown itself, is the creative inconsistent /outdated and static HTML pages a bear to maintain? If so, you will want to view my presentation, WordPress as a Higher-Ed Content Management Solution.
This presentation will show yout how an *Army of One* brought together Marketing, IT and a skeptical community college using WordPress as a CMS (the College’s first), for their first major public redesign in over 6 years. Learn about how WordPress allows a team of three to maintain control of presentation and functionality while empowering individual departments to directly manage their own content.

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WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS

  1. 1. WordPress as a Higher-Ed Content Management Solution<br />Hanna Arnold<br />Director, Online CommunicationsNorthern Essex Community College<br />
  2. 2. Overview<br />My Background<br />The Web and Northern Essex Community College’s background<br />WordPress? Yes--WordPress!<br />Rolling out WordPress as a CMS<br />Launching the site<br />Now what?<br />Lessons Learned<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  3. 3. My Background<br /><ul><li>Education
  4. 4. BFA in Painting, Rochester Institute of Technology
  5. 5. MFA in Painting &New Media from SUNY New Paltz
  6. 6. Professional Experience
  7. 7. Large global companies mainly in the B2B arena (GTE, Ericsson)
  8. 8. Smaller local companies (VerticalNet (B2B), Potpourri group (B2C))
  9. 9. Freelance
  10. 10. UMASS and Mass College of Art</li></ul>WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  11. 11. My Professional Roles<br />Graphic/Web Designer<br />Production Manager<br />Project Manager<br />Marketing Communication Manager<br />UX Specialist<br />Interactive Marketing Manager<br />Creative Director<br />Director, Online Communications<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  12. 12. Prior to Arriving at NECC<br /><ul><li>First generations of the college’s websites was done in static HTML
  13. 13. Impossible to maintain with 2 part-time people
  14. 14. No online strategy, no cross communications with other departments
  15. 15. The website was viewed as a “big repository/filing cabinet”
  16. 16. Content was duplicated 2, 3, 4 times over the site
  17. 17. Content was not correct, outdated</li></ul>WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  18. 18. Prior to Arriving at NECC<br />Slow time to market with simple content edits<br />Content owners would have to wait 3-5+ days for minor edits to be made<br />Content/assets would be sent to the Communications Department (e.g. a document) for updating, only to have a mistake in the document, and another one sent to replace it. (duplication of effort)<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  19. 19. Prior to Arriving at NECC<br />Total dissatisfaction with the website<br />Everyone (up to the president of the college) was frustrated with the site<br />The site was the laughing stock of the college (people--including the President--would say *it is on the web, and good luck finding it*<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  20. 20. Prior to Arriving at NECC<br />Marketing and IT did not do joint planning, did not know how to communicate/speak to one another<br />New CIO had used WordPress at a previous college, mainly as blogging software<br />The college knew it needed to *do something* about the web<br />Needed someone to bridge the gap between Marketing and IT/MIS (New role, Director of Online Communications was created)<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  21. 21. Shifting Gears—Time to Think Outside the Box<br />Clear goals were set for the NECC’s web presence<br />Distributed publishing (content experts making small edits to their pages)<br />Replace the functionality and creative on the outdated public website<br />Create a faculty/staff intranet, separate from the public site<br />Implement a system for faculty web pages<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  22. 22. Shifting Gears—Time to Think Outside the Box<br />Remember we are a Community College<br />Limited staff, budget<br />One full-time position in Marketing<br />½ time position in MIS<br />Had some money for contractors for content migration<br />Staggering amount of content to manage<br />900+ pages, 1200+ media assets<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  23. 23. WordPress? Are you NUTS?<br />Really? Isn't that just for blogging?<br />No one uses it for *real websites*!<br />Who knows how to use it?<br />Do you have a better idea? No? <br />Then what do we have to lose?<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  24. 24. WordPress? Really!<br />Decision made based on examples from small business and non-profit sectors<br /><ul><li>We had the expertise internally for design, UX, PHP development
  25. 25. Developed a project plan</li></ul>Contracted a Linux Administrator<br />Hired content migraters, cleansed content<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  26. 26. WordPress? Really!<br />Used Atahualpa theme as a basis/point of departure<br />Integrated ~20 plug ins<br />Integrated LDAP user accounts<br />Constructed 10 various templates<br />Some for design layout, some for functionality<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  27. 27. WordPress? Really!<br />WordPress single install VS WPMU<br />CIO was convinced to go with Single install, we went down the wrong path, but are now going into MU<br />Tried launching the site 2 times and failed because of the configuration of the site mainly issues with cache<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  28. 28. Rolling Out WordPress to the College<br /><ul><li>Defining roles for editing the site, what should we have the content experts have access to?
  29. 29. Can edit an existing page/content (that they are assigned to)
  30. 30. Can replace document(s) CURRENTLY on the site
  31. 31. Online Communications and Power-users in MarCom can create new pages, new posts, add new documents
  32. 32. ID-ed extended editors, brought them together for trainings a few weeks before launch</li></ul>WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  33. 33. The Launch<br />Launched June 30, 2010<br />Redesign took 13 months<br />Site was received extremely well<br />Creative, Functionality, Content<br />Extended editors are thrilled with ease of use<br />Can make as many changes as they want<br />Update the document as many times as they want<br />2010 NCMPR Sliver Metal winner<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  34. 34. Next Steps for necc.mass.edu<br />Migration into WP 3<br />Usability Testing<br />Reworking of IA <br />Refinement of Creative<br />Refinement of Functionality<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  35. 35. What is Next for Online Communications at NECC<br />Using WP as a CMS has allowed strategic online projects to become *fast-tracked*<br />Social Media & Location Based engagement<br />Optimized Mobile Site (Aug.16 launch)<br />Launch of Mobile App for Current Students (Aug. 30 launch)<br />myNECC Portal development (Jan. 2012)<br />Continuous Improvement of Public Site<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  36. 36. Key Takeaways<br /><ul><li>There will be naysayers--go with your gut, </li></ul>you CAN do it<br /><ul><li>Ask for help/advise
  37. 37. You are only as good as your team
  38. 38. Current team of 2 1/2, growing to ~3 1/2
  39. 39. 1 Full-time Designer, 1 Full-time Developer (in MIS), 1 10/wk Work-study
  40. 40. 1 Part-time Web Specialist, 1 Part-time Online Marketing Specialist (QA, Analytics) (Starting Sept.2012)
  41. 41. Trust their judgment
  42. 42. Key support from CIO, many other executive level stakeholders</li></ul>WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  43. 43. Key Takeaways<br />Managing Extended Editors<br />Every page should have a main editor and a backup editor<br />Offer training early, ideally on their specific content (they will connect with WP more easily)<br />Develop a cheat sheet/site for the editors<br />Logging in, making text edits, replacing a document<br />KISS<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />
  44. 44. Questions?<br />Contact info:<br />Email: hanna.arnold@comcast.net, harnold@necc.mass.edu<br />Twitter @HannaArnold<br />WordPress as a Higher-Ed CMS<br />@HannaArnold<br />