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Durham University

Computing and Information Services

Content Management System: Feature list

Security and Data Integrity

  • Flexible role assignment allows users to be given only the editing rights they need
  • Content approval system allows content to be reviewed prior to publication on important pages
  • Runs on industry-standard secure Apache servers
  • Detailed auditing of actions and tracking of deleted information
  • Nightly database backups allow rollback in emergencies
  • Authentication integrated with main password system to ensure that only University members are able to view the site, and all pages viewed are logged.
  • Page access can be restricted to university members only, or to a specified group of users
  • Virus-checking of all uploaded resources
  • Password-protected file downloads for secure provision to external users
  • Content protected against simultaneous editing without the need for an explicit "check out". Previous versions of text can easily be reverted to.
  • Underlying code stored in flexible DARCS repository for easy maintenance and release management
  • User-submitted content has filtering and approval workflows to prevent web-based spam
  • Automatic review of content to detect broken links and report to maintainers

    Ease of use

    • Flexible control of site structure and navigation bars, including feature boxes and related links to highlight important destinations to page visitors, and the ability to hide a page or set of pages during development or when creating web applications (either bespoke or using the standard content types). Sub-sites (arbitrarily nested) can be created with their own brand identity, stylesheet and even template if necessary to clearly separate content, and there is no arbitrary limit on the width or depth of a site.
    • Multiple content types allowing easy entry and maintenance of a wide variety of content, including:
      • Flexible news content type allowing creation of various news-style displays including headlines, newsletters, news archives and blogs, with RSS feeds and easy integration into site home pages.
      • Flexible events content type allowing display of events in a wide variety of formats and combinations, including listings, featured events and calendars, with an RSS feed to allow easy pushing of updates to interested visitors, and an optional events submission system.
      • Full integration with the University Profile System and Directory, allowing staff information (including a wide range of research information, media contacts listings, and biographies), and departmental structures (including research groups and projects) to be displayed on the web in a range of formats.
      • Online forms content type allows CMS users to write forms of moderate complexity without needing a bespoke application to be developed. Results from forms may be emailed to administrators, or analysed in Excel.
      • Randomised and cycling content allows pages to remain fresh without significant author effort, or for content to be displayed dependent on the day of the week.
      • Home page layouts allow easy maintenance of attractive site home pages without CMS users needing design skills or risking user edits affecting the layout.
      • Image galleries allow images to be categorised and grouped for easy browsing.
      • Comments system that can be integrated with news or events listings or used separately.
      • Several other content types including Frequently Asked Questions, site maps, seminar listings (with integrated mailing list functionality), and podcasts
    • WYSIWYG HTML editor for free text entry, and specific "highlighted link" and "quotation" content types to add more constrained information.
    • Editing pages takes place using controls on the page, allowing very rapid previewing of changes, while the publishing process allows changes to be checked and confirmed before being made live.
    • Write once, display anywhere content model allows easy reuse of content or parts of content across the site
    • Any file (PDF, Word, Excel, etc) can be associated with a content item for easy download.
    • Easy image upload and image library, with thumbnail creation and automatic management of unused images.
    • Delayed publication of content and automatic content expiry allows co-ordinated release of information, with automated review messages to ensure content maintainers are notified of old content. Content may be set to appear only at a particular future date, or to disappear at a particular time, allowing time-sensitive to be prepared securely in advance
    • Easy integration of complex bespoke web applications such as the training course booking system, Applicants Enquiry Service, e-commerce applications, CATO's conference booking system, exam mark and pass list display, or the Faculty Handbook allows these applications to use the CMS and website's standard templates and authentication while not placing restrictions on application functionality. Around a thousand applications - ranging from simple forms and reports to the complex systems above - have so far been integrated into the CMS.
    • Complete documentation available for all aspects of CMS use, and integrated help text for many functions.

    Efficiency

    • Live pages are entirely static unless absolutely necessary.
    • Correct caching information sent with each page reducing load on web servers further and improving search engine performance.
    • Site generally updated overnight for efficiency, but urgent changes can still be made immediately by user request.

    Flexibility

    • Can include data from other sources in a variety of formats, including RSS integration.
    • Multiple page templates and template variations possible to support branding and sub-branding
    • Easy integration with other software, including:
      • Analytics software such as Google Analytics or log analysers such as Analog
      • Ticketing systems such as Remedy or Request Tracker
      • User account management via Active Directory or LDAP, for authentication of both editors and site users, including granting of permissions to groups of users maintained elsewhere
      • Text editor allows existing word documents to be imported as HTML without the poor-quality HTML usually produced by Word
    • Flexible permissions and review system allows sites to use a range of workflow models, depending on the number of editors for the site and their individual areas of responsibility.
    • Source code fully available for enhancements and additions, allowing new display formats and content types to be added on user request, and allowing bespoke web applications to be straightforwardly integrated into sites
    • No license fees

    Accessibility

    • Editing system encourages content accessibility
    • Page URLs are chosen by content editors and so can reflect the site structure and be memorable and readable, as well as usable by search engines
    • Full UTF-8 encoding support allows content to be written and displayed in any language
    • Works in every browser (WYSIWYG editing only fully supported in Internet Explorer and Firefox-based browsers)
    • Editing functionality visually separated from page content, and major editing links are highlighted with recognisable icons.
    • HTML created using WYSIWYG editor filtered to avoid common accessibility problems.
    • Strong template system removes many areas of accessibility mistakes from content authors

    User-friendly results

    • Simple contact form allows comments, feedback and change requests to be received and handled. Messages are automatically and flexibly sent to the nominated departmental contact(s), or easily directed into compatible ticketing systems such as Remedy or Request Tracker.
    • Integrated with Google Search Appliance for fast and accurate searching
    • Consistent and accessible appearance helps new users navigate the sites
    • Automatic creation of redirects when pages move helps users and search engines