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September 30, 2015

September 2015 Newsletter

Table of Contents

  1. To Evaluate Ease of Use, Ask for a CMS Demo
  2. Reminder: the HighEdWeb Annual Conference is Next Week!li>

To Evaluate Ease of Use, Ask for a CMS Demo

By Karen Rosen
For many associations and nonprofits who consider implementing a new content management system (CMS), ease of use is one of the primary criteria by which a new system is going to be judged. A lot of organizations are faced with older systems with poor usability—these systems may be custom developed, or they might include legacy code that's difficult to maintain. In these cases, even the simplest of content changes becomes a huge headache.

One of the problems we hear about most frequently from associations and nonprofits is that most staff members don't even feel comfortable using the CMS, so all of the changes have to be funneled through one or two technical personnel. Clearly, this is not the most efficient way to go about things. Nevertheless, it happens.

It happens because the administrative backend is complex and technologically intimidating. It happens because little changes to sidebars or menus need to be repeated over and over again. It happens for any number of reasons, all of which are tied to ease of use.

If you're shopping around for a new system, Hodgson's recommendation is that you ask for a CMS demo. That way you can see exactly how easy it is to make simple changes. Before the demo itself, you need to make sure that you have a solid understanding of the specific tasks that dominate day-to-day web management.

Make a list of the the sorts of things you need to do on the website (or would like to do), and then ask the company giving the demonstration to show you—in real time—how those tasks are performed using their system. Then, you should ask for a trial version, a sandbox, that will allow you to test out the features yourself. Using a stopwatch to measure speed won't tell the whole story, but it will help you realize how easy or challenging basic content management tasks are.

If you're fed up with the painful processes that you have to suffer through with your current CMS, give us a call at 301.942.7040. We'll set up a demo for you right away.

Reminder: the HighEdWeb Annual Conference Is Next Week!

By Garry Sittig
Karen and I will be attending the HighEdWeb Annual Conference in Milwaukee, WI from October 4th through October 7th. This will be our first time at this particular conference, which is run by the Higher Education Web Professionals Association. We're really excited about the program of events, because it includes dozens of great sessions like these:
  • A Fresh Perspective on Responsive Web Design
  • Your Website Is a Window, Not a Billboard
  • How to Use Data to Drive Content
  • Searching for Direction: Using a Search-Based Homepage to Direct Users
  • Secret Agent Man: How to Work with an Outside Partner
If you check out the full listing of events and speakers on the HighEdWeb website, you'll notice that each item in the calendar includes a description of what to expect during the associated session. While you're reviewing those listings, I would also direct your attention to the speaker for the general session on October 5th: it's none other than Bill Nye the Science Guy!

About HighEdWeb

The HighEdWeb Annual Conference is the conference created by and for higher education web professionals. This not-for-profit conference offers high-quality presentations, speakers and events at affordable rates. From Web developers, marketers and programmers to managers, designers, writers and all team members in-between, HighEdWeb provides valuable professional development experience for all those who want to explore the unique Web issues facing colleges and universities.