Founded in 1887, California State University, Chico (CSU Chico) is the second-oldest campus in the California State University system. The university is committed to academic excellence and is focused on helping its students in their search for knowledge and understanding.
CSU Chico faced many challenges with their previous web management process. First, there was no brand consistency across the individual departments of the university and each department managed their web presence however they saw fit. This included a mix of solutions such as Dreamweaver, a variety of local or homegrown WCMS's, and third-party solutions which provided no central oversight of content, standards or branding. Sites were either custom designed using non-standard branding, no branding at all, or were based on templates dating as far back as 1999. Second, there was no central training or support for Dreamweaver, leaving departments to fend for themselves when the staff member charged with maintaining the site left. Third, there was no easy way to enforce CSU's accessibility requirements given the variety of templates and designs used across multiple departmental sites. All of these factors contributed to an outdated and difficult-to-manage web presence, prompting the university web team to investigate a better solution.
To find the best solution to alleviate the challenges they faced, the CSU Chico web team implemented a three stage selection process. In the initial phase, they looked at 30 CMS vendors and narrowed the list down to 7 candidates. After viewing online product demos with each of the remaining vendors, they narrowed their search even further to the top two candidates: TerminalFour and Cascade CMS. Cascade CMS was determined to be the best solution for CSU Chico's needs for several reasons as enumerated by Tony Dunn, Technical Lead for Web Services:
"Of the products we examined, Cascade CMS best fit our business and content processes, and provided the most robust overall feature sets. The accessibility features of Cascade CMS were also a positive factor. The fact that Hannon Hill had a strong background in higher education was also a factor since many vendors had little understanding of our environment. Given the decentralized nature of our web presence, Cascade CMS did a very good job at allowing us to maintain the decentralization of the control of content while centralizing the management of look and feel, branding, and web development."
Since adopting Cascade CMS in June 2008, the web management process at CSU Chico has changed dramatically. The university now has central resources for creating, managing and implementing web templates and branding standards; enforcing web accessibility standards; and providing training and support. Having a more centralized content management process allows the web team to simultaneously maintain a consistent look and feel throughout the university while still providing departments with complete control over content and publishing.
CSU Chico currently has 120 live sites being managed by Cascade CMS, with 40 additional sites in development. They recently rolled out a new home page, and have plans to eventually migrate all 200+ websites into Cascade CMS. In the future, the web team also plans to update all the sites in the system to match the new campus design on the homepage.