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Making The Case For WordPress in Education

Last month, Pantheon invited Shane to co-present a webinar on making the case for WordPress in education. You can skip down to the bottom of this post to view the video recording or continue reading for more insights on what makes WordPress the right choice for colleges and universities.

Understanding campus challenges

Web content management for colleges and universities requires a unique approach to ensure balance between the needs of the users and the needs of central IT. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to sacrifice one side for the other. By partnering with the right development partner and host, you can create a system that accommodates the needs of all your stakeholders.

Students

Whether they’re in the lab, their dorm, or home on break, students expect a seamless interface for the information they need, no matter what device they’re using or where they’re using it.

Faculty & Staff

Personnel directories, centralized communications hubs, and learning management systems all impact the campus faculty and staff.

Alumni & Donors

Graduates and donors expect high-level updates that allow them to stay engaged with campus activities. Personalization in marketing and communications with this group goes a long way.

Community & Businesses

Beyond your digital presence, your campus has a physical footprint in the community. Consideration for local stakeholders facilitates greater community support for your institution.

Administrators & IT

The folks that run things have their own priorities, such as budget, branding & image, workflows, and content governance. Balancing the needs of all of the stakeholders in a higher ed setting is equal parts art and science. When multiple CMS options are on the table, it’s important to understand how a centralized approach using WordPress can provide the best solution for your organization.

Is WordPress the right solution?

In a 2015 survey by the University of Colorado Denver, WordPress was ranked as the #1 CMS choice for secondary web properties on campus. Webmasters participating in the survey also rated WordPress as #1 for all web properties in terms of high satisfaction with the Content Editor Tool (WYSIWYG) and Mobile Responsiveness. WordPress has a lot going for it. It’s easy to use, has a massive adoption rate, and has extensive training & support resources.

Accessibility

As colleges and universities continue to make the physical campus experience more accessible for all students, they also need to consider their virtual infrastructure. The WordPress core accessibility team is dedicated to ensuring the platform meets the needs of all users, including those with mobility restrictions, hearing and visual impairments, and learning disabilities. All new and updated code added to WordPress core and bundled themes conforms to the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0 at level AA.

Scalability

A common misconception about WordPress is the notion that it cannot scale. Major sites including Fortune, NBC, TIME, Forbes, and CNN have busted that myth, showcasing the speed and agility with which WordPress can handle high traffic volumes and immense content repositories. When it comes to multi-site and deployment solutions, WordPress has tools baked in to help you manage user permissions and common codes so each site has the right information, in the right place, with the right access.

Open CMS

As an open-source CMS, WordPress has become much more than the software powering over 53% of the top million sites on the web. With such massive adoption rates, there’s a huge community built around the platform. That means more eyes reviewing code, more training resources, and more support options available to your team. Open source also means there’s no vendor lock-in and no proprietary license fees required.

SEO

When WordPress first started, it was primarily a blogging platform. Through the iterations into the application platform it is today, WordPress has maintained a firm grasp on the importance of SEO. That said, WordPress isn’t magic and it can’t create great content for you. Remember, WordPress is a platform. It’s the tool you use to easily create and publish rich content targeted to your various stakeholder groups.

REST API

Simply put, the WordPress REST API allows programs to talk to each other. It provides your organization with the ability to take data stored in WordPress and use it in other contexts, such as mobile apps, digital signage, and personalized marketing initiatives. By providing a standardized programmatic interface between WordPress and the outside world, the REST API helps bring WordPress to the next level as a robust application platform.

Backward Compatibility

Fast release cycles help ensure WordPress stays responsive to security concerns and bug reports. Those used to other open source systems where a new release means major problems may raise an eyebrow at the frequent release schedule, but should be relieved to know that WordPress core is committed to backward compatibility.
WordPress strives to never break backwards compatibility. It’s one of our most important philosophies, and makes updates much easier on users and developers alike.
In other words, future changes shouldn’t majorly break your site.

Ways to use WordPress on campus

Over the past decade, WordPress has matured significantly past its infancy as “just a blogging platform.” Significant investments into the platform’s growth and development have made it a popular choice for a variety of use cases on campus and beyond.
  • Primary .edu website
  • Publications
  • Cafeteria management
  • Digital signage
  • Event management
  • Course catalogs
  • Personnel directories
  • Course management/LMS
  • Microsites & specialized content
  • News & blogs

Making the case for WordPress

For more specific examples and information to help you make the case for WordPress at your institution, check out this segment of Shane’s webinar.
Play VideoMaking the Case for WordPress in Higher Education
You can view the full video, including information about Pantheon as a hosting partner, on the Pantheon YouTube channel.

Looking for a partner?

We’ve got a special passion for higher ed and would love to lend our expertise to your next project. Hit us up at sales@tri.be to discuss the power WordPress can bring to your institution.

Making The Case For WordPress in Education

An in-depth look at the role of WordPress within academia.