The Redesign is Over, Long Live the Redesign

July 16, 2012

The Refresh Project ended in November 2010 with the launch of the redesigned website. As with any website, the design and content will continue to evolve as the needs of our users change and new technologies expand our possibilities.

Future work on the university’s website will include bringing more content areas into the Core Drupal CMS service and incorporating responsive design elements into the site. Responsive websites automatically rearrange content based on the visitor’s screen size, which allows one website design to work for smartphones, tablets or desktops.   The university hopes to use progressive enhancement to make gradual changes but there may need to be more complex changes to allow for a responsive design.

We plan to leave these blog pages up for historical documentation. Comments are closed but, if you have any questions about our process, please email web at utexas dot edu.


CMS Selection Process Results

December 2, 2009

One of the primary goals of the Refresh project is to select and implement a content management system (CMS) for core pages within the www.utexas.edu directory structure. Since September, we have been engaged in a research and evaluation process which started with the development of criteria and an initial list of candidates, followed by a requirements definition phase and final evaluation.

Today we would like to announce that we have selected Drupal as the Refresh CMS.

Here is an excerpt from our final report describing Drupal and some of the determining characteristics that helped drive our decision:

Drupal was found to meet nearly all of the project’s documented high-level requirements, either through core functionality or available contributed modules. Two requirements identified early on as critical to the success of this project were configurable workflows and scalability through high-availability caching. We determined that Drupal fulfills both of these requirements using off-the-shelf free and open source modules.

In the specific case of high-availability caching, there is a third-party module called Boost that allows specified pages on a Drupal site to be stored as HTML and/or compressed (gzip) HTML, eliminating the overhead of PHP processing and the database backend as a dependencies for content. For static Web Central content, this will allow us to have the benefits of a CMS without the risk of overloading the system with high traffic.

Since the Drupal project is deeply committed to the open source philosophy, there is a very large community of developers who are continually contributing new functionality back to the Drupal ecosystem either through contributed modules, or patches to the core product itself. Additionally, there are a growing number of companies offering commercial consulting, training, and support services for Drupal.

Based on our research, Drupal may have the widest adoption throughout the higher-education community of any of our initial seven candidate systems, perhaps challenged only by WordPress for its ubiquity and momentum. In addition to many schools (including UT Austin) that have been using Drupal at the departmental level, prominent institutions such as Duke and Rutgers have recently moved their main pages to Drupal.

The WTT already has extensive experience with Drupal, both in terms of the underlying technologies (PHP, MySQL) and the package itself. Since 2008, we have deployed two departmental site redesigns using Drupal, and have consulted with several other departments as they have begun using Drupal for their own sites. We have found it to work well for content contributors who are not technical experts, and most new users have required a minimal amount of training in order to start managing their own content.

The next steps for the CMS effort will be to set up a development environment in which we can start implementing high-level system requirements such as authentication, authorization, workflow, and caching.

In the spring of 2010, we will start working with content owners and the Information Architecture working group to implement page wireframes as Drupal content-types, as well as executing the eventual design as a Drupal theme. We expect to launch the redesigned site in fall 2010.

To learn more about our research and evaluation process, please take a look at the CMS Evaluation Final Report.


FYI on Refresh CMS Selection Tomorrow

December 1, 2009

Tomorrow (Wednesday, December 2) Jason Craft and Paul Grotevant will be presenting an overview and the results of the Refresh CMS selection process as part of the FYI program for the campus IT community. The FYI will be held from 9:00-9:50 a.m. in Burdine 220.

Hope to see you there!


CMS Selection Process – Final Phase

October 29, 2009

We are now in the third phase of our Content Management System (CMS) selection process for the Refresh project. To recap our progress so far…

Phase 1 was the development of a Selection Criteria Matrix that we would use to rate our initial seven candidates. These seven candidates were (in alphabetical order):

  • DjangoCMS
  • Drupal
  • ExpressionEngine
  • Joomla!
  • Oracle Universal Content Management System
  • Plone
  • WordPress

Phase 2 was the completion of the selection matrix for all seven candidates, followed by selection of a short list of three finalists. At the end of this phase, we decided on the following three finalist candidates (again, in alpha order):

Phase 3 is in progress and will end with the selection of a CMS product for the Refresh project.

We have built on the work done on the Phase 1 Selection Criteria Matrix to develop a list of requirements (PDF) for the CMS, including rationales for each requirement, and fit criteria that we can use to directly evaluate each of our finalist packages against the requirements.

Our schedule is to complete Phase 3 and announce our selection in this space by mid-November. We have also scheduled another FYI presentation to discuss the selection and answer any questions about the process. This is scheduled for Dec. 2, 9-10 a.m. in Burdine 220. We hope to see you there!

Supporting Documents

CMS Evaluation Matrix

CMS Requirements/Rationale/Fit Criteria


Updated CMS Selection Criteria Matrix

October 2, 2009

Just wanted to post our revised evaluation matrix for CMS selection, which incorporates some good commentary from our developer community.  The Refresh team is using this matrix to review our initial list of candidates, and plan to have a short list of finalists determined within the next two weeks.

Revised CMS Evaluation Matrix


Criteria and Candidates for CMS Selection

September 18, 2009

The Refresh team’s been working on our criteria for selecting a content management system (CMS) for Web Central, and have a draft that we’d like to share.

We’ve scoped our goals fairly conservatively: the CMS we are looking to implement will serve core pages within the www.utexas.edu directory structure, and is not intended to be a enterprise CMS solution for campus.  By keeping our focus tight, we hope to quickly implement a solution that will serve the core pages of Web Central by next year.

Our initial candidates for CMS selection are:

  • DjangoCMS
  • Drupal
  • ExpressionEngine
  • Joomla!
  • Oracle Universal Content Management System (OUCMS)
  • Plone
  • WordPress

We’ll be doing an initial review of these systems and then choosing a short list of finalists for deeper analysis.

We welcome your feedback on our criteria and candidates, and will consider in our revisions any input submitted by September 28th.