June 5, 2023

UMW Web Site Update

We are making much behind-the-scenes progress on the UMW Web site redesign, and are looking to launch upper levels of the new site this summer. The site migration will continue throughout the fall semester and early spring 2012. Here are a few FAQs about the project:

What will we use instead of Macromedia Contribute?

We have chosen WordPress as our University’s Content Management System to replace Macromedia Contribute. This is good news to users of UMW Blogs (esteemed hosts of EagleEye) who will have a familiar interface to work with. A development environment has been built and work is underway to purchase and “stand up” new servers to support WordPress for all of our official University sites.

Why don’t we just use UMW Blogs?

UMW Blogs is a teaching and learning environment that allows for unlimited domains and personal Web publishing. The new environment will support URLs in the “umw.edu” domain, have official University templates, and be tied in with our existing Active Directory authentication system. In English (!), that means that you need not request an account, or install a “key.” Any faculty or staff member can login with your regular UMW Net ID and password, and the system will instantly create an account and give you access to those sites you need to have access to based on your role at the University. By keeping UMW Blogs separate, we are allowing the personal Web publishing environment to remain unchanged and function as it needs to. By using WordPress for both environments, we are taking advantage of skills and knowledge already cultivated on campus, so can share expertise and hit the ground running.

Isn’t WordPress just a blogging environment?

WordPress was first developed as a blogging tool. It has grown a lot, and the current version of WordPress is now a seasoned content management system, while retaining remarkable ease of use and customization. There is a huge community of support and consultants, and it can be set up more easily to scale for our heterogeneous environment better than other systems like Drupal or Joomla.

When will my site be migrated?

The sites are being migrated in stages. For the summer, we are looking to migrate the home page, upper levels, college/division upper levels, and admissions in preparation for the fall admissions season. Once that is complete, we will assist departments in migrating new sites into the WordPress environment in the following order:

  • Cabinet-level Division Sites and the President’s Site
  • Academic Departments and Administrative Departments
  • Committees and Organizations
  • Events and Conferences
  • Special Projects and Initiatives
  • University-level external publications (e.g., Catalogs, Mary Washington magazine)
  • Libraries
  • Non-Standard Sites (e.g., James Monroe Museum)

What about forms, policies, and procedures that are on my department site?

We are currently working with the President’s office to improve how we organize, search, and retrieve online policies, procedures, publications and forms. The SACS Self-Study mandates that we do a better job with this, and we are going to help folks migrate these materials in a way that they still have access to editing them, they will still be linked to from their sites, but that they are easily searched in a central location at the University level. Guidelines and details will be made available to assist folks in making this needed change.

What does the new design look like?

That is not yet determined. Anyone familiar with the Web design process knows that the graphics are the last step, and they can be hard to wait for. Right now, we are working with the University-wide Web Advisory Committee in completing our “wireframe” layouts and site architecture. We are soliciting bids from web design firms familiar with WordPress and higher education. Following our acceptance of the final branding recommendations by the Educational Marketing Group, the designers will work with us to turn our wireframe layouts into a compelling Web presence. At that point, we will solicit input from the University community and hopefully arrive at a design that meets as many needs as we can.

How do I prepare?

If you are currently a manager of a Web site in Contribute, we recommend you take the following steps so you are ready to go:

  • Take an inventory of content on your site and decide what’s going to the new environment so you can plan ahead.
  • Make a separate inventory of policies, procedures, publications and forms that are within your department Web site now, or are published as stand-alone sites within the Contribute environment.
  • Get a UMW Blogs account and contribute to EagleEye so you can get used to the WordPress interface and be an expert on the day we launch!

How do I follow the project?

Visit webredesign.umwblogs.org to follow the project.

About Brynn Boyer

Brynn Boyer is assistant director of media and public relations and a 2010 graduate of UMW.