This week marks an enormous milestone for me any the crew at wts (web technology services) on Monday we soft-launched the new University homepage (found at http://umt.edu/beta) and at the same time started using out new Content Management System (cascade by hannon hill) to build and publish a new site for the Alumni Association.

first things first, a bit of history. nearly a year ago on the vice-presidents of our university came to a homepage meeting and declared “”The time is now!” for a new look and feel for the universities web presence. while talking with him we decided not only did we need a new look but a consistant one. so a new design and a new method of distributing it. and so our search for a CMS was born. after a painfully long and arduous journey, which i won’t force you to listen to, we came to the conclusion that Cascade Server by Hannon Hill (shameless plug) was the one for us. and so far, other than a few oddities, it has been good to work with. we had a trainer come out 2 weeks after we purchased it and she was very helpful refreshingly honest about capabilities, limitations, and bug fixes. Hannon Hill seems like a company i can trust to do the right thing rather than do what they determine to be best for the margins.

during the process of CMS selection we, in the tech group, were hard at work developing the new homepage in .NET, i know, i know, but the old site was built on it and given our time limitations we didn’t have time to rewrite every facet of the site, although all of the code got a good overhaul, rework, rethink and reasonable amount of head scratching went on, old code is always a bit mysterious. One thing one of our committee members brought up was a feedback mechanism on the site. something simple anonymous, and easy. so i built a little ajax box to relay feedback into a database, and set up an RSS feed so we could keep up with feelings of our constituents. let me tell ya google reader has really been quite the rollercoaster ride. lots of people hate it, and lots of people love it. in the first couple of days there were more negative comments than there were positive ones and i started to get worried, but now over all the lovers are winning, good thing too, i didn’t want to have to redo that damn thing again!

Our first site in the CMS is going pretty darn well, once we got all the “where are we gonna put all the common files” bologna down, we were good to go.