Introducing Cascade CMS, IUP’s Upcoming Content Management System

Posted on 10/26/2020 4:07:53 PM
Cascade CMS logo

In the coming months, the Digital Team and members of IT Services will be transitioning our IUP.edu website from our current content management system, Ektron, to Cascade CMS by Hannon Hill.

Ektron’s parent company was acquired several years ago, and, while the new company has provided service and support for Ektron, they are no longer developing new features or improving the system. Content management systems have changed and improved a lot in the more than 10 years since IUP’s site was first published with Ektron, and this change will allow us to take advantage of those innovations.

Important Dates and Information for the Upcoming CMS Migration

About Cascade

A sample dashboard in Cascade

A view of the dashboard in Cascade. Click to view a larger version.

Cascade CMS offers an improved creation and editing experience for our content contributors / maintainers as well as features to improve the user experience for website visitors. Ease-of-use of the system was an important factor during the CMS search process.

For maintainers, a more intuitive interface and customizable dashboards allow direct access to day-to-day tasks and items they need. Cascade’s built-in tool checks content on submission for accessibility issues, broken links, and misspellings. Maintainers will have access to deeper reports and data through a connection to Siteimprove, a tool used by the Digital Team to identify and resolve website issues.

Maintainers will also have access within the CMS to analytics reports and an out-of-date content report, giving more insight into site content and page performance. These tools and quality assurance features combined with the easier-to-use and more intuitive interface will hopefully make web content creation and updates easier for maintainers. Future possibilities possible with Cascade include personalized website visitor content and integrations with other systems.

Click on an image to view a larger version.

Sample page in Cascade CMS

A sample iup.edu page in Cascade CMS.

dashboard of Cascade

Nearly all page elements are available within the page editor, making it faster and easier.

Timeline

The CMS migration project is being completed in phases. We’re nearing the end of the build phase, which began over the summer and is set to conclude in late October/early November. During this phase, the vendor is building our templates and setting up the system for our use.

Once that is complete, we’ll move to migration. The content of the current site will be moved from Ektron to Cascade with assistance from the vendor. Dates are not final on this phase, but preliminary work has started and will continue through the end of 2020.

Before the migration occurs we will implement a change freeze period to the site to make sure we are moving the most current content, hopefully aligned with the winter break period.

The goal is to be fully in the new system in early 2021. We will share details and dates as we progress through the migration phase.

What to Expect

The IUP.edu website in the Cascade CMS will have the same general look and feel as our current website, with small changes to things like news and events, since the two systems handle those types of content differently.

Workflow and approvals will still be used in Cascade. With the system’s built-in commenting and announcement tools, communication between authors and approvers and maintainers and the Digital Team can happen right within the CMS, tied directly to the page or content in question.

Instead of separate staging and production environments as we have now, in Cascade we’ll have a single environment. That means that the overnight sync process will be replaced with a more immediate publication process. Submitted changes won’t be immediate, as they will still go through workflow, but they will not have to always wait until the following day.

We’re still getting the system established and will share submission and publication timelines as they are finalized.

Training

As we get closer to the switchover in the new year, we’ll offer demos of the new system ahead of training opportunities. Training will be offered in multiple formats, including recorded sessions and virtual “in-person” opportunities. We’re working on updating our How-To documents as well.

What You Can Do to Prepare

As we move from Ektron to Cascade CMS, there are a few things you can to do prepare your site:

Take an Inventory

Review the content that is on your site and in the workarea. Remove content, pages, and documents that are outdated or not needed. If you need to remove pages, please submit an ihelp ticket so we can make the necessary menu updates and avoid breaking links. Please note: archived items will not be migrated. For program updates, please continue to work with the Digital Team and brand managers for those changes.

Look for messages from the Digital Team with detailed instructions on removing pages and documents from your site.

Review your Maintainer List

It is a good idea to occasionally review the list of people who have access to edit and create content on your site. During the switch we’ll use this list to set up new initial users in Cascade, so if there is anyone who needs added or removed please let us know via an ihelp ticket.

Once we are in Cascade, the process will be the same to add or remove an author or approver. You can view the current list of maintainers online (note that you will be required to log in).

Please look for future communications about the migration, including training opportunities and change freeze dates. Send questions to web-team@iup.edu.