Looking back at our project vision
To move forward you sometimes need to take a step back and review the direction you are going in. That’s exactly what we are doing at the moment as our first CMS project closes and the next one opens. We hope to move into our next phase, the CMS enhancements project, in early November 2015.
Our ‘bridges’ project vision
From very early on in the CMS development we put together a vision to help us steer the direction of the project and communicate the big picture and our progress back to the University.
- BUSINESS – Facilitate online business for all areas of the University
- ROBUST – Be robust, resilient and scalable
- INNOVATION – Support flexible and innovative web development
- DEVICES – A quality website user experience across multiple devices
- GOVERNED – Be governed and managed by a central service with inclusive, transparent processes
- EASY – Quick and easy for all levels of CMS user
- STANDARDS – Support the generation of standards and legislation compliant website content
You see we didn’t just pick the Forth road bridge for our blog and website banner because it’s a beautiful, well made, cleverly engineered structure…
Using our vision to plan the future
We use the vision to not only categorise and prioritise our future CMS functionality, but also to remind us that we have other important considerations as well. For example, the CMS needs:
- A robust infrastructure
- To be built using globally recognised coding standards
- To meet the varied demands of the University’s business needs
- To meet legislative compliance standards.
With the external focus naturally being on the CMS and how the web site looks, it becomes very easy to overlook some of our key achievements, but by using the project vision we can look back objectively at what we’ve delivered to date:
We now have a process in place to support sites outside Polopoly who are clamouring to get into EdWeb. Previously we’ve had to concentrate all our resources on the Polopoly migration, but the popularity of EdWeb has built pressure to expand this so that others can join our central service. And with the queue getting ever longer, this is a real measure of EdWeb’s success.
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While we’ve had a few issues with our infrastructure along the way, we’ve worked hard to keep the website up and running at all times and we have always had an aspirational goal of no down time for migrating sites. The system is under a lot of pressure running two CMSs at the same time, plus add to this layers of complex short URLs and redirects to contend with. Proving how hard we’ve worked to get this right, we’re proud to have avoided any serious or lengthy outages during the migration project so far.
By choosing an open source platform and by building a fully functional, standalone, customisable version of EdWeb in the form of a Drupal distribution for teams around the University to use, learn from and share, we have promoted innovation wherever we can. There’s been lots of interest in the EdWeb distribution from Schools and units with the required technical skills to use it and we’ve already been rewarded with one School using the distribution to build their Intranet and another exploring a migration path from their current CMS into the central service via the distribution.
All migrated sites are fully responsive and work across multiple devices. In 2016 this will apply to the whole website from the University homepage to the very depths of the most buried pages. This is no mean feat and something a lot of large, prestigious, world class universities have been unable to achieve.
With our monthly project updates, our project wiki, this blog and our website community sessions, we have always strived to work in an inclusive and transparent way.
We continue to gather feedback from the University web publishing community and from all newly migrated sites and everything points to us having created an easy to use system. It’s not just the feedback we get that supports this – EdWeb’s simplicity for users means we’ve also been able to reduce the duration of our initial CMS training by 25%.
Our developers have strict coding standards so that we build a robust CMS. It also allows us to share a stable, production ready, distribution so that the rest of the University can learn from what we’ve done. Most projects are not able to be this open. We are very proud of the standard of our developer’s work and I’m happy to say so is the rest of the global Drupal community – our code has been repeatedly accepted back in the form of patches and updates to modules that are used by people all over the world.
As we move forward we will be inviting everyone to review the current state of the CMS and front end design. We’re expecting this to generate plenty of constructive criticism but while we are doing that, let’s not lose sight of our vision and all our recent successes.