University of Evansville


The University of Evansville (UE) is a private university in the southwestern region of Indiana with a strong commitment to inclusiveness. With approximately 2,140 students from 55 countries and 44 states, UE offers a distinctive curriculum built on exposure to great ideas, timeless themes, significant questions, and multiple perspectives. As a result, UE received national recognition for its dedication to international education and is ranked the #1 study abroad program in the nation.

Requirements Gathering or Goals

UE’s approach to selecting a CMS focused on desired outcomes and goals rather than specific features.

UE's stakeholders identified the following goals that they wanted the CMS to help them achieve:

  1. UE’s main goal was to give its marketing team members the ability to make changes to its website, even if the end user had no coding and no HTML experience.
  2. UE understood the power of syndicating content across multiple pages, sites, and platforms and wanted to ensure that the CMS would be able to facilitate content-sharing with ease.
  3. UE was looking for a system that provided maximum peace of mind. Accessibility of the website had always been a priority, as had security and maximum availability.
  4. UE’s technical team wanted to ensure that they would not have to change their technology stack. Most of the dynamic web content was coded in ColdFusion, so the CMS of choice would have to be able to support it. 

UE's evaluation committee researched several  different content management systems.

Next, the team met with the finalists for demonstrations to determine the best fit for the University.

The product of choice was Cascade CMS, since it received the highest scores in terms of functionality, and the team was confident in Hannon Hill's ability to deliver the level of support and customer service that the University was seeking.

Most importantly, the team chose Cascade based on the desired outcomes that it had identified:

1. Delegation of content creation and management

Cascade offers an intuitive interface that allows non-technical users to create, edit, and manage content without any need for coding knowledge. This enabled other members of UE's Marketing team to contribute to content creation without having to rely solely on the two-person development team to make those basic changes.

In addition, Cascade keeps content contributors engaged by focusing on action items to make their content more effective and provides the right guardrails to ensure brand consistency and proper checks and balances to avoid issues that could compromise the user experience for website visitors.

2. Effective cross-site sharing of content

Many content management systems store content in big chunks for the sake of creating a “what you see is what you get” setup for end users. This makes it exceptionally difficult to reuse content because it doesn’t allow users  to share, and repurpose only specific pieces, such as a summary of a news article. 

UE appreciated that Cascade CMS was built with maximum content reusability in mind, as content is entered through structured data in smaller, more reusable chunks. Cascade’s ability to “Create Once, Publish Everywhere” (COPE) makes it easier to share content across sites and platforms and to output a single piece of content in multiple formats.

One way UE utilizes Cascade's COPE function is with the informational pages on the website, which link to sign-up pages, displaying some of the same information. Previously, UE's web team had to manually ensure all pages were synchronized.

See example:

Cascade enabled UE to change its workflow, allowing the team to publish both HTML and XML versions of the same content. The information page shows the regular content, while the sign-up form uses XML content to create the forms.

See example:

3. Security

Security is key for UE's web team.

Since robust security and maximum uptime were among the top priorities, the University’s web team was enthusiastic about Cascade’s push-based architecture, which decouples the CMS from the webserver. As a result, the website’s load time is optimized, the site will not be affected by planned downtime of the CMS, and, even more importantly, the architecture adds an extra layer of protection from SQL injections and other attacks. 

Some content management systems deliver pages using databases and pages that are dynamically generated on the fly, typically existing outside of a firewall. An approach that exposes websites to a greater risk of being hacked, leading to downtime and glitches that can take a website down for weeks.

Cascade CMS, on the other hand, with its push-publishing model, allowed UE's web team to separate its CMS from the operating website.

Using Cascade CMS gives UE the comfort of knowing that if there should ever be an issue with the CMS itself, the website's uptime would in no way be affected because rendering is not dependent on databases. This structure effectively safeguards it from potential SQL injection attacks, maintain superior speed and performance.

Another security concern with UE’s previous method of hand-editing HTML pages was that unauthorized users were able to edit important files that controlled not just pages in their areas, but also files that were used across the site. Thanks to Cascade’s granular permissions to sites, folders, pages, and even specific regions of pages, only very few authorized users can make changes to the web server control files.

4. Support of multiple technologies, including ColdFusion

Cascade CMS allows users to choose the formats in which they want to output pages and use any preferred server-side scripting language.

UE's website uses Adobe ColdFusion to process form data and populate certain pages with dynamic content. The team wanted to continue to leverage the code that was already in place rather than having to re-write and re-test scripts. Cascade allowed UE to continue to publish pages in ColdFusion and intermix any dynamic server-side functionality with the static content coming from the CMS.

The Onboarding Process

After joining the Cascade CMS community, UE's two-person web developer team divided the process into several parts.

Chris Kohler, UE's Web Development Coordinator, familiarized himself with Cascade's templates, formats, and data definitions. He then configured Cascade to output the website's existing layout and design while maintaining flexibility once he felt comfortable using those and coding in Velocity.

Meanwhile, Michael Dawson, UE's Senior Web Application Developer, leveraged Cascade's powerful API to automatically generate the site's folder structure and empty web page assets for the over 2000 pages that make up UE's website. He also integrated Cascade with UE's ColdFusion server-side forms and features.

Once Dawson generated the site's structure and empty pages, Kohler uploaded each section's remaining images, CSS, and downloadable assets. He then began to build out each page using the already existing empty pages generated by the API.

This approach meant that the team could crosslink between pages, ensuring the right relationships were created, and allowing for a sitewide review of the content, leading to a great amount of cleanup as a result of the implementation.


Since implementing Cascade CMS in 2021, UE's web team leveraged the server-side includes to make sitewide changes in seconds. The team also created Data Definitions for its page assets, allowing any page to change its layout or create new ones simply by making different content choices.

Before Cascade CMS, UE's web team built rich HTML emails by hand for its Admissions searches. Hand-coding these HTML emails was often a tedious chore. To alleviate the friction, the web team created a special site within Cascade that, instead of publishing a website, generates rich HTML emails the Admissions department copied and pasted into its CRM, allowing the marketing team's writers to directly create these emails since HTML knowledge was no longer needed.

This new process awarded the web team about an hour a day to focus on more technical tasks.

"I've really grown to love using Cascade. In particular, being able to track changes and finding relationships between content is especially helpful," says Kohler. "Knowing exactly where on the website an asset is being linked to allows us to keep the website free of old or abandoned content and increase our accuracy."

Future plans

UE plans to build a robust, flexible website to support the launch of its newly minted Esports program, knowing that Cascade’s flexibility will allow the team to build an attractive site.

Working with Hannon Hill

Chris Kohler, UE’s Web Development Coordinator, had this to say about working with Hannon Hill:

"As a web developer of over 20 years, I was fixed in my ways and was a strong believer in coding websites directly. I thought a CMS would only limit our ability to deliver the websites we wanted based on the CMS's feature set. However, Cascade CMS is different. Since it is a framework that you can control to output your code however you like, there really is no limit to the kinds of sites you can build within it. In the end, I've been won over by Cascade CMS and, after getting over the initial learning curve, find it to be an enjoyable way to build and maintain our website."