What was left behind when we moved the website to a CMS

We used to host the university website on a university server using PHP. We didn’t use a Content Management System (CMS) because MySQL databases were, and still are, unsupported by our IT department and back then most of the available (free) CMSs were PHP & MySQL (and still are). So the old situation was individually edited pages with a some aspects such as navigation through PHP includes. It’s an understatement to say that this was not ideal. We did experiment with concrete5 which is a lovely CMS / framework with an MVC architecture and fantastic on page editing. Unfortunately it’s workflow at the time wasn’t able to achieve what we thought we would want from a workflow if we were to have one, and PHP & MySQL.

In 2014 we re-launched the university website on an externally hosted .Net CMS (Contensis). The process of transferring content and functionality over was difficult but did give us the opportunity to re-evaluate content and the information architecture (IA) of the website. We were able to replace nearly all of the old site with the relaunch, however there were a few parts which for various reasons could not be replaced:

  • School sites
  • Prospectus ordering
  • Contacts directory and academic staff profiles
  • 360 Views for campus locations

School sites

These were in a mix of PHP pages and concrete5 installs. We’ve been slowly migrating the school sites from the old university server and into the CMS since the main site launched. That process now has a hard deadline of March 2017 which should be achievable.

Prospectus ordering

The prospectus ordering comprises a complex PHP form and more importantly an automated fulfilment system which also interacts with our email management system. There have been several suggested replacements over the years which have been investigated until they hit walls. It could be replaced by a CRM or enquiry management system and colleagues are investigating those options.

Contacts directory and academic staff profiles

The Contacts directory was replaced on the 2 February see replacing a PHP contacts directory with a .Net one

Academic staff profiles are awaiting a research information system (CRIS) which can store and output staff profiles. Some work has been done replacing the current individually edited PHP pages with individually edited CMS pages.

*In fact this post was meant to be about that but I spent too long explaining the current situation so I decided it should be about that. Whilst writing this I came up with another idea for replacing the prospectus ordering.

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