Why do we need a Web Renewal project?
There are various challenges in maintaining UCT's web presence - including active websites and applications for departments and other UCT entities. These include:
- Outdated and inadequately managed hosting environments (such as the Groa server which was decommissioned on 1 December 2015).
- Inadequate web content management platforms that often require knowledge of coding to update content.
- Outsourced solutions that create dependencies on suppliers when content needs to be updated.
- The need to maintain a consistent UCT brand while allowing UCT entities to retain their own branding and imagery.
- Differing needs for particular web-based applications to support advanced requirements.
The Web Renewal project will put in place a Web Content Management System (WCMS) that operates on a secure, standardised, supported, and well-managed platform.
The platform supports good governance and complies with the UCT Web Content Policy, Web Hosting Policy, and Domain Name Policy.
How will this be implemented?
The core platform is already in place and a multi-year Migration Project is facilitating the migration of all UCT websites onto Drupal.
What is the new platform?
The new web environment is built with open-source software called Drupal (version 7) and is designed to be modular so that site owners can choose which functionality and site structure they wish to include in their sites.
No programming or technical knowledge will be required to update website content and images, but training will be required for anyone who will be working with your website.
How does the Web CMS fit in with WordPress?
You may currently be hosting a site with ICTS in the WordPress environment. This was a temporary measure to provide a very basic site hosting and content management platform and no further sites will be hosted on WordPress. Sites on WordPress should continue to be maintained, but will need to be migrated to the new platform. All new sites will be created and hosted in the new environment instead of WordPress.
WordPress is still used as a blogging platform on campus. More information is available in the Blogging at UCT section.
Will all Drupal-developed sites be acceptable?
Although the UCT Web Content Management system is based on Drupal, it's not wise to assume that sites already developed in Drupal will be automatically hosted in this environment. All applications hosted in the UCT Web Content Management system need to meet very stringent criteria to ensure that they are secure and can be supported in the future. The site developer should therefore contact Rethea Deetlefs (Head: Online Communications, Communications and Marketing Department) before the site is developed to ensure its technical compliance with the new UCT Web CMS.
What if I want to redesign my site?
You can still make minor changes to navigation if necessary. Major changes to the site structure or to the look-and-feel which would require assistance from CMD, should wait until you migrate your site to the UCT Web CMS.
Remember that site content is more valuable than site design. Good content does much better service to your brand than fancy design. If you can live with your site's look and feel for a while longer - but still keep its content up-to-date without too much trouble - then consider the benefit of delaying a redesign until you can be accommodated by the new UCT Web CMS.
When will my site be migrated to the new system?
CMD is managing the project overseeing the migration sites to the new system. The decision as to when sites will be migrated depends on:
- The urgency (e.g. if a site is hosted on a burning platform, or support for site updates is no longer available).
- The validity, currency, and accuracy of content you have available to go live immediately (outdated content will not be migrated).
- The processes and resources you have set in place to maintain the site content after migration.
- The availability of functionality in the new system to replace the existing functions of your site (any custom development will require more time before migration).
- The adherence to standards of any customisations you may have incorporated (i.e. if any required site design deviates from the template that has been designed in time for the launch).
Resources from both CMD and ICTS will be available to assist in migrating site content from an old site to the new system. It may also be possible to automate the migration of some content.
What does the new platform offer?
Handy customisable templates are provided which will take the hard work out of defining site structure and navigation.
The sites will be pre-configured with a standard set of features, offering flexibility in site design and functionality depending on which features are selected.
The features and functionality include, but are not limited to:
- A WYSIWYG editor which makes populating pages effortless and bypasses the need for coding.
- Image utilities which include an image uploading and editing tool and a thumbnail creator, allowing users to crop images before they are placed into a page.
- Internal shared content, such as news articles or events, between sites hosted in Drupal.
- A gallery function allowing the uploading and presentation of image, audio and video content.
- Dynamic features, such as:
- social media integration including buttons allowing customers to share content online,
- a news section,
- notice boards,
- a Vacant Posts section, and
- customisable web forms
Site owners will decide how they want to use these tools and how the site will be deployed. Standard styling has been applied to all templates, while still allowing sufficient manoeuvrability so that site owners can give their sites a unique style.
Support for mobile devices:
The browsing of sites using different mobile devices has been tested and is supported up-front (provided the standard applications, modules and design standards are used).
Can I employ an external web designer or developer?
Should site owners wish to employ external designers or developers to work on extra modules, they will first need to consult ICTS/CMD. Input and sign-off is required to ensure that the UCT standards are complied with to ensure stability and quality. Externally-developed Drupal modules will have to be carefully checked and tested before they can be hosted on the UCT platform.
In addition, if external developers are employed to create modules, all on-going costs will also be the responsibility of the requesters. These include costs for upgrades of the modules and testing them against platform and Drupal updates.
What if my site needs more functionality than the standard suite that is provided?
The initial suite of functionality provided will be comprehensive and should cater for most websites without the requirement for additional modules. If there is any functionality required that does not exist within the suite of available modules, it can be requested through engaging with ICTS and CMD.
A detailed request will need to be submitted and, if approved, ICTS/CMD will ensure that the functionality is developed according to correct standards and best practice. If the additional functionality does not enhance the core site functionality at all, the cost of development will be borne by the requester.
Will I lose control of my site and content?
Absolutely not. Site owners will still have full control over content that appears on their sites, the placement of content modules, site navigation, and look and feel. If you use our templates, there will be some pre-defined (but still adaptable) components, but they are intended to save you time and money - not to take away your control.
The templates provided are designed around internationally recognised usability principles, guaranteeing customers ease of navigation and ensuring that your content structure is optimally organised. UCT branding is included, but you are encouraged to use your own colours and logos, and to personalise the site to your liking.
What will happen to the content of my GROA site?
The content of all sites on GROA is kept for reference and is available to CMD and ICTS
What will it cost?
If you use one of our flexible site templates and standard applications, there will be no cost to you for the technical components of your site. You might, however, incur a minimal design cost for custom header banner design, unless you have an expert in-house to do the design for you. You will also need to make an investment in time and effort, in order to keep your content up to date.
- Design costs
Cost only becomes a factor for you if you wish to design a look and feel that is totally different from the standard design (which is very similar to that of the existing UCT corporate website). But if you ask a designer to come up with something that looks completely different, it is mandatory that you first check the UCT Web Content Policy and get the design approved by ICTS and CMD to ensure consistency and cross-device browsing.
- Development costs
There will be costs involved if you ask a developer to create custom functionality on your site. If the functionality that you require is not available in our feature set, you will need to contact the IT Helpdesk and submit a Development request. In that case, costs will be based on the suitability of that functionality for inclusion in the standard set of modules available to all sites. If you decide not to use this ICTS service, you will carry the full cost of development by an external designer.
- Hosting costs
As long as the sites, applications and content are hosted on the UCT servers, there will be no cost to you for hosting, basic domain registration and renewal, platform maintenance, or technical support. The overall environment is provided with a security certificate which should be sufficient for most sites.
Should you need secure authentication to an additional or external database, you may require additional security certificates which will cost extra. In this case, you would incur an annual fee to keep the certificate current.