Date of Award

9-2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

Professional Communication

Advisor

Williams, Sean D.

Committee Member

Howard , Tharon W.

Committee Member

Taylor , Summer S.

Abstract

American land-grant universities generate large amounts of information for their Web sites, which serve a variety of audiences in addition to students, faculty, and staff. Many of these universities are beginning to search for Web site content management systems (CMS) to help organize this information. However, there are hundreds - if not thousands - of systems in this emerging arena, with no clear market leader. This paper provides a snapshot of the experiences of communicators at several universities where content management systems are in use. The purpose is to provide criteria to help Web site managers at universities and other organizations make more informed decisions as they consider which content management system to implement.
Specifically, the study used an online survey followed by a questionnaire to selected Webmasters at land-grant universities across the United States, and tracked comments on a university Web developers' discussion board to determine the Web site content management system that is currently in use or under consideration, usage patterns, advantages and disadvantages, staffing requirements, and advice to colleagues considering such a system.
This study does not attempt to offer a definitive answer as to which content management system is the best. After all the questions, comments, and analysis, it confirms Noel Ward's observation (2001), 'No one-size-fits-all content management solution exists.' However, it does offer some insights into what Owen Linderholm (2001) aptly described as the 'seemingly endless array of content management software' by identifying some criteria for evaluating CMS choices and it reveals a glimpse into fascinating possibilities for the future of content management systems. Criteria to consider when evaluating a CMS include:
 Usability of the authoring environment for developers and content providers
 Internal needs assessment (e.g., cost of the software and the personnel to develop/maintain the CMS and train/coach content providers)
 Vendor considerations (e.g., what is involved to make the system do what the sales representative says it will do)

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