Content Management 101

“Whether you have already crossed that bridge or not, you know that the selection of a web content management system (CMS) is a very big decision to make (or sell to your website stakeholders).”

By Karine Joly, College Web Editor 

Selecting a CMS can be a difficult and long process. Most of the time, you will have to ponder about the cost of your choice, plan for potential implementation nightmares and involve as many of the stakeholders as possible (and practical) in your decision process.

When contemplating all the implications of a CMS selection, the induced stress can even make good old HTML editing attractive again.

Fortunately, help is actually available thanks to higher ed web pros willing to share their homework after successfully going through this main rite-of-passage in our industry.

Jay Collier, Dartmouth Associate Director of Web Publishing Services, has published his Web Content Management Discovery Project” documentation developed in 2002 /2003.

Dartmouth Web Publishing Services came up with CMS evaluation factors and defined a very detailed feature list that can easily be used to start up your own process.

If you need even more inspiration, you can check the slides of the presentation Jay gave last year at the EDUCAUSE Western Region Conference: Keeping It Fresh: Sustaining the University Web.

Keeping it Fresh

EDUCAUSE Western Region Conference


  • Dartmouth College
  • Web Publishing
  • Campus Web
  • Content Management
  • Projected Phases

Discovery Phase

  • Scope and Purpose
  • Objectives
  • Evaluation Criteria
  • Requested Features
  • Develop or Deploy?
  • Vendor Evaluation
  • Recommendation

Deploying the System

  • Planning & Outreach
  • Develop Page Templates
  • Develop New Site Features
  • Fine-tune Web Editor Interface
  • Test and Launch

Sustaining the Program

  • 2003: Establishing the Program
  • 2004: Expanding the Program

How Does It Work?

  • Browse to page
  • Log-in
  • Edit page
  • Approve
  • Publish
  • Add functions

System Features

  • Support for Standard Templates
  • Fluid Layout
  • Structured Content
  • Consistent Font Treatment
  • Resizable Text
  • Consistent Menu Pages
  • Drill Down Architecture
  • Print Preview with CSS
  • User Authentication Support
  • Support for Video Playback
  • Site-by-Site Error Pages
  • Custom Graphics and Colors
  • Identical Code for Manual Sites

Keeping It Fresh

  • Support Standards
  • Empower Users
  • Iterate

Used by permission. 3/05 Updated with new links, 8/08

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