Indiana Wesleyan University

Key Takeaways

  • Indiana Wesleyan University was able to integrate their site in Cascade CMS within two months of purchasing a subscription to a cloud instance of the CMS
  • During the evaluation process, the web team did extensive testing in the Cascade CMS sandbox
  • IWU’s web team (3 full time employees, one part time employee and one student worker) handled the entire implementation and migration on their own
  • 98% of the content was migrated by Hannon Hill’s Universal Migration Tool
  • Making updates in Cascade CMS only takes a tenth of the time it took in IWU’s previous CMS
  • In Cascade CMS, IWU now has a CMS in place that fulfills all of the University’s requirements

About Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University, also known as IWU, is a private, evangelical Christian University providing liberal arts and professional education. With a current enrollment of over 15,000 students, it is the largest private university in Indiana. The University was ranked “one of the best Master’s Universities in the Midwest” by U.S. News & World Report. IWU offers over 80 majors and also provides online degree programs. One of its key missions is “to equip future generations of learners with skills they will need to meet the challenges of our rapidly changing world”. 

Setting Goals for the New CMS

In 2014, IWU decided it was time to transition to a new content management system as their system at the time was no longer able to meet the University’s needs. The speed of the sit e was not satisfactory, and the CMS did not adequately support IWU’s new responsive design. The team was also concerned that upgrading the CMS would have a negative impact on the site. IWU was looking for a CMS that was focused on Higher Education, had an active user community, was easy to use, and provided performance improvements. The CMS would also need to provide a push architecture and optimally support HTML templates and Bootstrap themes for the University’s responsive website.

The requirements and goals for the new CMS were clearly defined at the beginning of the evaluation process. The new system had to allow for easy implementation for developers while at the same time providing an easy and intuitive interface for contributors. IWU also wanted to ensure the new CMS could be ntegrated with the University’s CRM in order to pull dynamic content into pages. Another criterion was the ability to provide maximum flexibility when creating custom templates. Furthermore, Indiana Wesleyan University placed great emphasis on both the longevity of the CMS and the strength of its product roadmap. The CMS also needed to be platform-independent and have the functionality to support multi-lingual sites, as IWU is moving towards a global university. Of course, the CMS had to be able to to fully support mobile content creation and management and support mobile-friendly sites. Finally, as IWU strives to make data-driven decisions about content, design, and information architecture, it was important that the new CMS would provide A/B testing functionality.

The Evaluation Process

The IWU web team was aware that not all CMS vendors allow their customers to be completely self-sufficient. IWU did not want to be forced into extensive professional services contracts with the vendor; rather, they were looking for a CMS partner who would empower the team to be as independent as they chose. During the final stages of the CMS evaluation process, two of the web managers not only tested Cascade CMS in a sandbox environment, but also went through extensive product training to ensure they had in-depth knowledge of the inner workings of the CMS. IWU was smart in their evaluation approach. By learning firsthand exactly how much effort is involved in the creation of templates, the web team knew better than to buy into flashy vendor demos that succeed in masking the true amount of labor that goes on behind the scenes. Instead, IWU had a very clear picture of what it would take to successfully implement and manage the CMS on their own. Their approach also helped them calculate the total cost of ownership, which can be challenging to do when dealing with vendors whose business models are reliant on selling services contracts.

The Choice

IWU attended their first demo of Cascade CMS in December of 2014, after having met Hannon Hill at HighEdWeb three months before. After multiple product demos, a thorough evaluation process and extensive testing, the choice for IWU was clear: the University selected Cascade CMS as their new CMS. The entire evaluation process involved the IT department as well as the University’s two marketing teams.

The Results

Since Indiana Wesleyan University rolled out their site in Cascade CMS just days ago, reports on results would be premature. However, one of the most immediate impacts the web team has seen so far is a significant performance increase, both on the website and on the CMS itself. Evan Eikenberry, Digital Content Manager, said “During our content freeze I was asked to make an immediate change. It took 10 minutes in our old system to log in, edit and publish the page. It took about a minute to make the change in Cascade CMS and could have been quicker if we had the quick edit feature implemented on the site.” Of course, the project is still ongoing. IWU is planning to bring the alumni site into Cascade CMS by August 1st. The team also intends to restructure and redesign the entire Indiana Wesleyan University website over the next two years.