Sitecore Helps University of Alberta Build a Stronger Web Experience for Students and Faculty.

The University of Alberta is one of Canada’s top teaching and research universities, with an international reputation for excellence across the humanities, sciences, creative arts, engineering, and health sciences. Offering a wide array of programs and extra-curricular activities, the University of Alberta provides students with multiple opportunities to discover and explore their particular passions, talents, and skills. The goal of the University of Alberta’s web strategy is to distinguish the university as Canada’s leading example of a post-secondary digital learning environment, enabled by their capabilities in web, mobile, social networks and IT systems.

Challenge

Prior to implementing Sitecore, the content was disparately created in an outdated content management system (CMS) and in static HTML pages. The HTML pages had to be updated with manual coding and then uploaded via FTP. This presented several issues when communicating with students and faculty; pages would be missed or deleted when content was updated, efforts were duplicated because content wasn’t shared, creative design suffered greatly and departments were hesitant to use the system. The authors were limited by the requirement to write HTML code and needed a simple means to update their audiences. This also prevented them from presenting website visitors with a unique experience that is representative of the University’s prestige.

Solution

Sitecore was chosen to replace University of Alberta’s existing CMS because of its flexibility and scalability. By moving content into Sitecore, authors are able to leverage the content re-use abilities across all. University of Alberta focuses on a universitywide initiative to create an optimal experience for prospective and current students, staff, faculty, alumni, donors, and partners in government and industry worldwide. The site is deeply integrated with a number of other platforms; the CampusMap, Events, Calendars, social media and email marketing systems. The Campus Map was redesigned from a static, image-based map to an interactive experience using the Google Maps API. This has layered more information relevant to the visitor without cluttering the overall display and usability of the map.

The University of Alberta uses Google Apps for Education as their email and calendaring system. Integrating Google Calendar as the events management tool has brought personal calendaring and event management on to the same system.

All of the sites on Sitecore can re-use pieces or full pages of content from other sites in the system. For example, the News & Events section of this site pulls in “news items” from more than 160 other sites that are on their system. University of Alberta social media integration includes Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and YouTube. The site has been simplified from the previous version to focus on users’ needs and bases these decisions on results of university-wide web engagement surveys. The University of Alberta’s toplevel pages are essentially a gateway to other sites that contain the information many external visitors are searching for.

Result

Over the past 3 years, the University of Alberta has been able to deploy more than 350 websites and leverage the content reuse abilities across all of the university’s websites. For content publishing, they are now better able to schedule content production using Sitecore’s publish schedule. Although the sites use the same structure inside Sitecore, they are able to change the look and feel of different sites using CSS and, at times, custom layouts and sub-layouts. Overall, Sitecore has provided the University of Alberta with a very flexible Content Management System that has provided content editors and external audiences with significant benefits.

Technical Description

Solution Special Ingredients:

  • YouTube
  • jQuery
  • Google Maps
  • Google Plus
  • JSON