About the WCMS

Web Content Management Systems (WCMS) greatly improve the way that web sites are created, updated, and maintained. Northwestern University's Office of Web Communications maintains a Web Content Management System that serves two purposes:

  • Serve as the official tool and platform for Web Communications to deploy redesigned client sites that are easy to maintain and update.
  • Operate as a service to other university schools, departments, and centers that have skilled developers who also wish to use this tool.

Web Content Management Systems allow nearly anyone to edit web pages as easily as they can edit other documents. WCMS is the next generation of tools for empowering distributed management of web site information. Unlike desktop software suites like Dreamweaver and Contribute, these systems are centrally run and provided—there is no computer setup necessary to begin using these systems and no software versions or upgrades to worry about. For the end user, they run entirely within the web browser and provide an intuitive interface for finding, editing, and publishing web pages.

The WCMS in place at Northwestern from 2005-2009 was Serena Collage. Serena Collage enabled over 30 content administrators to keep their site content up to date without any special HTML or web training.

Beginning in Spring 2009, Web Communications is deploying Hannon Hill Cascade Server as the official platform.

Who is involved right now?

pie chart of sites per department

How can I be involved?

There are two ways to use the Northwestern University WCMS:

  1. Through a site redesign/project initiation with the Office of Web Communications
  2. Through application to service-level usage (wherein your developers or consultants are working within the system to build your site)

How much will it cost me to use WCMS?

University Relations has secured central funding for the project and intends to provide it free of charge to all interested campus groups. A one-time cost may be associated with startup and training, please contact Web Communications to discuss your situation in detail.

Community Response

Here are some comments that contributors have left on our evaluation survey.

"It's pretty easy to use. Manageable between several team members."

"The system is flexible, user friendly, and takes the guesswork out of publishing. I like how easy it is to create links within pages and make edits. The more you work in the system, the easier things become."

"Great tool to work with. Great support from WebComm."

"This system is very intuitive and with just a small amount of customization to creating an effective workflow for our inter-departmental work, our contributors have grasped working within the environment very quickly."

"The workflow option is essential in establishing business process and accountability for compliancy with our Web site guidelines."

"How logical Cascade's menu / folder system is and how easy it is to edit and publish. And what great support WebComm provides; no consultant for hire could match."

"Compared to other systems that I've used, Cascade is a dream. It's very responsive, user-friendly and reliable."

"Cascade has greatly simplified the publication of our online version of the magazine. It has saved us time and money. We love it."

"I like it."

More questions? Please visit our contact page to send us a message or request a meeting.