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Implementing a Web Content Management Solution. Case Study: Kent State University August 19, 2003. Joe Murray, Ph.D., Director, New Media Center Christine Shih, Senior Systems Analyst Lin Danes, Web Coordinator, University Communications & Marketing. Presenters. Agenda.

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Implementing a web content management solution l.jpg

Implementing a Web Content Management Solution

Case Study: Kent State University August 19, 2003

Presenters l.jpg

Joe Murray, Ph.D., Director, New Media Center

Christine Shih, Senior Systems Analyst

Lin Danes, Web Coordinator, University Communications & Marketing


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  • Where We Were (Murray)

    • Institutional Snapshot

    • CMS Perspective, Objectives and Selection

    • People and Costs

  • How We Grew (Shih)

    • CMS Implementation

    • Site Development Objectives

  • Where We Keep Growing (Danes)

    • Key CMS Features Utilized

    • Lessons Learned/Benefits Realized (Murray, Danes Shih)

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Where We Were

  • 29,739 Students(Includes 8-Campus Network)

  • 214 Academic Programs

  • 5,000 Faculty and Staff

  • 85 Administrative Departments

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Where We Were

  • All types of Web editing software used prior to implementation

  • Mostly PC based

  • Strong Mac usage in a few areas

  • 500,000 hits per day

  • 90% Web visitors using IE, 8% Netscape

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Where We Were

  • CMS selection process began in 1999-2000

  • CMS systems were high cost and corporate

  • No strong educational precedent or niche

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Where We Were

  • Resources included:

    • Gartner

    • Local development

    • NMC networking

    • Many live demos with users, editors, faculty and staff

    • PC Magazine Editor’s Choice Awards

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Where We Were

  • Costs for content management systems at the time ranged from around $12 K to $350 K

  • PaperThin’s CommonSpot™ Content Server was in the middle--at about $85 K

  • Purchased at version 2.5-- launched with version 3.0

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Web Site Stakeholders: Overall Goals

  • Student recruitment: undergraduates and graduates

  • Provision of services and resources to current students and faculty/staff

    • Operations & Curb Costs

  • Faculty and staff recruitment

  • Enhancement of connectivity with and among alumni

  • Internal communication

  • Overall advancement of Kent State’s institutional identity on local, regional, national and international level

  • Support research, teaching, learning

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Web Improvement Plan Content Goals

Redesign Must Provide:

  • Quicker, more intuitive navigation

  • Collective events calendar

  • Easier access to academic programs

  • No frames

  • Improved access to utilities such as online applications, WFS, e-mail and phone directory

  • Separation of current and prospective student audiences

  • Protection of sites redesigned in “family look” of generation II

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Web Improvement Plan Technology Goals

  • Improve system redundancy, failover protection and security

  • Leverage several key integrated technologies and innovations to improve data integrity (active directory, NSI Geoclustering, big IP)

  • Provide University Communications & Marketing (UCM) content editors with ability to directly maintain and publish content to the institutional Web presence

  • Replace homegrown TEXIS based system for content management

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Implementation Challenges

  • Implement new architecture without interrupting service

  • Systems analysts, developers, operators and UCM content editors must be trained

  • Coordinate conversion and build system in concert with next generation Web design migration and launch

  • Aggressive timeline

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HTTP Server

HTTP Server

HTTP Server

HTTP Server

HTTP Server







Read-Only Slave













HTTP Server

HTTP Server

Implementation Strategy Proposed IS/CS Server Architecture


KSU Only Contributors




CommonSpot Standard or Enterprise Edition

LicenseAuthoring Server

CommonSpot Standard or Enterprise Edition

LicenseAuthoring Server

Big IP Load Balance Security Redundancy

Clustered Databases

In Different Locations





Staff Assignments/Responsibilities

Hardware System Administration: Wearley

Database Administration: Ritley

CS Application Administration: Shih

Network/servers: Roberts

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CommonSpot Implementation Timeline

  • Approximately 7-month span from initial install to data migration and launch on Aug. 26, 2002

  • Initially 18 professional staff from four different departments in the IS division (New Media Center; Network Services; Academic Computing & Technology; Help Desk) and 23 staff from UCM and other departments contributed to successful completion

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Why We Chose CommonSpot Content Server

  • Good out-of-the-box features, interface, documentation and customization capabilities

  • Price

  • Support relationship and continuity

  • Genuine interest to improve product, and work to make our implementation successful

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Implementation Steps

  • Hardware

  • Software

  • Template building

  • Content population

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Hardware: Software:

  • OS – Windows 2000

  • ColdFusion 5

  • CommonSpot 3.2 SP1

  • One authoring server

  • Two target servers

  • Two SQL servers

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Hardware Challenges

  • Firewall all the servers located in two buildings

  • Load balancing between the two target servers in two buildings

  • SQL servers in two different locations


  • BIG IP and Geoclustering

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Hardware Diagram



Target 1

Target 2




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Hardware Setup Modified



Target 1

Target 2






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  • Institutional site has five tiers

    • Each tier has a different look

  • Departmental and Regional Campus templates also vary

  • Challenges

    • Tabs with highlights

    • Left-hand side navigation changes with tab

    • Alternating images on the home page and 2nd tier pages

    • Text-only versions of all sites required

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Template Solutions

  • Use templates written in ColdFusion for each tier/level

  • Use Javascript in the templates to control the alternating images and tab highlighting

  • Page layout is done in the templates

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Additional Web Goal Operations

  • Examples:

    • Online admissions

      • Fall 02 = 1st time online; 11% submitted electronically

      • Virtual tours

      • Arrange for campus visit

    • Grads/president’s list ($11K savings)

    • E-inside

    • Viewbooks

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Where We Keep Growing

  • Key CMS Features Utilized

  • Lessons Learned/Benefits Realized

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Ongoing Challenges

  • Replication stability

  • Sluggish through dial-up

  • MAC compatibility issues

  • Dual servers create short-term content inconsistency when large amount of changes are applied

  • Rollout to Departments

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Rollout Not a Challenge After All!

  • Administrative AND academic units coming on board

  • 35+ sites in various stages of development (templates only made available in late February 2003)

  • 10+ sites already live

  • Minimal public relations – all clients predominantly contact UCM based on word-of-mouth testimonial from other clients

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Benefits of Implementing a CMS & Pre-Defined Templates

  • Advances integrated marketing at institutional and departmental level

  • Provides departments with free resource to help:

    • Non-techies maintain departmental Web sites

    • Redesign for departments lacking budget for design

    • Web sites now compliant with recently approved Web Publishing Policy

  • Templates comply with the recently approved Web Publishing Policy

  • Use of WebTrends to monitor hits, most popular pages, etc.

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Key Features of CommonSpot

  • Meta tags, alt tags

    • Support ADA compliance

  • Freshness reminders/publish dates

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Key Features of CommonSpot

  • Link management (PDFs, upload files, e-mail notifications, broken links)

  • HTML option

  • Workflow control

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How Departments Migrate to CommonSpot

Four part process – online as pdf

  • Scope meeting

    • Preview available templates

      • Departments

      • Regionals

  • Assessment

  • Pre-production

  • Production

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Regional Campus Site

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Administrative Unit

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College of Nursing

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Joe Murray – [email protected]

Christine Shih – [email protected]

Lin Danes – [email protected]