Skip Navigation
Johns Hopkins University logoUniversity Calendarvertical lineUniversity Newsvertical lineFind A Personvertical lineSearch JHU

SE Overview

SE Use Requirements

SE Manuals

UNVERSITY CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM OVERVIEW

What is a content management system?

Using templates, Web-based tools, and a database, a content management system creates and manages the Web pages on a site. It allows a large, decentralized institution like Johns Hopkins University to maintain a diverse Web presence while ensuring both a common look and maximum site efficiency.

Johns Hopkins has a wide variety of Web sites and pages with varying designs, navigation tools, and content relevance. Given the diverse needs of individual departments, centers, and offices, responsibility for site maintenance falls to many people in different locations and with varying skills who need controlled access to their sites to update specific information. Currently, sites hosted on www.jhu.edu can be changed or updated only by a person familiar with html and/or graphic design.

A content management system (CMS) facilitates ongoing site management by separating content creation/updating from the design and technology needed to maintain an online presence. When those who create the content can easily update it, the publication process is streamlined and the maintenance workload drastically reduced. From WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) content editing areas similar to Microsoft Word’s, to function-rich modules, to auto-checking for broken links, a solid CMS can mean the diff erence between content that is relevant or outdated.

What are the benefits of using a CMS?

Speed and ease of content updates

Keeping information current, relevant, and consistent can take hours when there is no central mechanism for making changes. To alter a format requires going back to every page and editing. To update content requires touching every page where that piece of static content resides (or risk having old content on some sites and updated content on others). With content in a CMS, however, it is possible to make global changes because information stored in one central location can be displayed on any number of pages.

A CMS reduces signifi cantly the time it takes to react to breaking news or disseminate information via the Web. Articles can be written, edited, and published in a matter of minutes, without having to wait for an available Web master or programming team.

Content stays timely

Since authorized staff can specify the dates and times for the content to go live, or be archived and removed, the site stays fresh and relevant, and information can be distributed to a number of areas while residing in one central location.

Permission-based publishing

With a CMS, it is unlikely that content would be put on the site accidentally or erroneously. Any updates must pass through creation, editing, and one or more predefi ned sign-off steps before the system will publish it. Th e resulting audit trail provides accountability for each action.

508 compliance

Using the CMS, Web administrators can design sites that comply with many regulations cited in Section 508. Design & Publications staff tries to meet and exceed accessibility requirements when building sites within the CMS. After the initial build, the Design & Publications will advise department staff on how to keep the site compliant.

Automatic link maintenance

If content is removed or archived, the CMS will ensure that the remaining content is structurally consistent, without any orphaned links to the deleted material. As soon as content is removed, the links are automatically updated. Th ough internal links are maintained, links to external sites, like www.cnn.com, will need to be manually checked on a regular basis to ensure their integrity.

Version control

A CMS allows for extensive version control. Authorized staff not only know what content is scheduled to be live today, what is sitting ready to go live next week, and what is being prepared for the week after; they also can keep all versions separate on a piece-by-piece basis. Th ey can post one version of a news story while another is being written to update it in an hour’s time, and a third, incorporating a more recent press release, is embargoed until later. If material that has mistakenly been approved to go live needs to come down, staff can substitute the older version.

Work flow and staffing

A key component of CMS is distributed authorship, or the separation of work into diff erent types, which are then assigned to individuals according to their training. Web designers, for example, can make the site attractive, database programmers can handle the linking and logic, and editors and writers can supply and fashion the content. Since one person can’t be expected to excel at design, programming, writing, and editing, this setup produces a more professional Web site.

The CMS also enables a non-technical person to maintain a professional Web site. With a content editing area similar to Microsoft Word’s, anyone experienced in document preparation will be able to maintain the Web site.

How will Site Executive benefit my department?

Design & Publications will work closely with your department to professionally develop templates that fit your needs. These templates will refl ect the high standards of the university, as well as the diverse needs of university departments and their many and varied audiences. In order to take full advantage of the CMS, sites must be created using these templates.

In addition, the university will train end-users on the CMS and provide account management support throughout the site development cycle. Th is process allows individual departments to have more control over their Web presence and will allow for a more efficient use of dedicated Web resources. Using the templates, department staff will be able to build and maintain their Web pages when needed.

 © The Johns Hopkins University. All rights reserved.