What is a “Content Management System?”
It’s not just hi-tech jargon. For school districts and other educational institutions, “content” means not only text and graphics but also files of all kinds, from Student Handbooks made available to the public to spreadsheets and other important documents shared internally within the organization. It can also include public and private calendars and data gathering and analysis, whether the data is gathered from students, parents or teachers and staff, which the netStartEnterprise™ Form Builder and Report Generator allows you to do. A “management system” simply means a program or software that provides a user-friendly way to manage your content, allowing everyone in your organization that needs to participate the ability to do so, without need of high level technology skills or lengthy and expensive training.
What is that Form Builder and Report Generator all about?
The Form Builder is a way to create complex forms utilizing text fields, drop down menus, radio buttons and check boxes, all by simply “pointing and clicking.” Submissions can be e-mailed to one or more recipients or simply stored in a database for retrieval when you need them. The Report Generator allows you to access those databased submissions and view them online or, with the click of a button, to create a “comma-delimited file,” that you can easily import into any off-the-shelf database or spreadsheet product (for example, Microsoft’s Access and Excel). Many of our customers use this application to do extensive and sophisticated internal staff and/or faculty surveys related to professional development, ISO Certification or surveys related to grant-driven projects.
If we don’t have a webmaster, will we still need someone “in charge” of our website?
Yes, we call this person the Administrator. The Administrator does not need to be someone with vast technological skills but rather just someone who is comfortable with technology and understands the purpose of your organization’s website. Often the right person to be the Administrator is someone from Curriculum and Instruction, Instructional Technology or even your Public Relations or Communications department.
What is the “Workflow Process” mentioned in your brochure?
This is a process by which the Administrator can assign various abilities to different users or even to groups of users. For example, one user may only have the ability to edit a single page of the website, such as a calendar, while another user may be able to edit multiple pages. Users can be given the ability to create new pages and delete old ones, or not given those rights. Groups can be created, typically be department, wherein all users in that department can see and work on all the pages being managed by that department, but cannot edit the pages of any other department. Within a group, one or more users can be given the ability to review and publish new pages or newly updated pages, while the other users can only make changes and save those changes but not publish, i.e., those changes will not be visible to the public until the reviewer has published them. In all cases, the Administrator can change a user’s or a group’s abilities at any time, for example, by granting publishing rights to someone who had not previously been able to publish pages.
Will we have to buy new servers?
No. Many large school districts and organizations already have very sophisticated networks and web infrastructures and most of these prefer to run programs like this “in-house,” which is fine, and we have installed our software on others’ servers many times. But we also maintain our own infrastructure at a Tier One co-location facility and we take care of everything: redundant hardware, bandwidth, upgrades, and data backups.
It sounds expensive…
….but it really isn’t. In the case where we host your website, we also take care of all the issues related to the servers: maintenance and upgrades, redundancy, bandwidth, software licenses (e.g., SQL) and data backups, relieving your district of those chores and their associated costs in time and money. If you prefer to host the site on your server it is still a fraction of the cost of maintaining the old fashioned “handmade” type of website.
You say it’s “user-friendly” but it sounds complicated.
For the average user the skills necessary to manage content successfully with Report Generator are at about the level of being able to create original documents in Microsoft’s Word™ word processing program. A small group of users (5 – 10 people) can easily be trained in two hours, including time for questions and answers and “hands-on” practice. Our customers are provided with ample product documentation and, of course, technical support via phone and e-mail for the duration of the contract.
We will need a section of our website devoted to staff development, but we don’t want this available to the public.
In netStartEnterprise™ you can create secure log-in pages for sections of your site devoted to staff, faculty, parents, students or even your Board of Directors.
How do we manage documents in netStartEnterprise™?
The software has a built-in File Manager in which is stored all electronic files available on your website, such as PDFs, Word™ files, spreadsheets, images or any other type of electronic file.
Your brochure mentions the ability to “suspend or expire articles,” what is that?
Here’s an example: on your Home Page you want to post recent news articles but you don’t want to clutter the page with a dozen articles all of the time. With a few mouse clicks you can arrange to have four groups of three articles each, with only one group of three articles showing at any one time. The four groups can be made to rotate on either a random basis, daily, weekly or monthly. You can also give some or all of those articles an expiration date after which they will automatically drop from the rotation. This is a good way to keep your content fresh and up to date.
We are currently running several legacy applications on our website, what happens to those?
We can integrate those applications into your new netStartEnterprise™ website for a fraction of the cost of designing or purchasing new applications. We also do custom application development if you need that, and we have several application modules already developed, such as an employment application and a workshop/seminar catalog application.
We like the idea of using netStartEnterprise™, but we would also like a new look and feel for our website.
All of our netStartEnterprise™ customers have wanted a new, custom design, and we have many years experience in that field. However, we can also create templates for your new site that look exactly like your existing site if you are happy with that look and feel, and you still get the netStartEnterprise™ content management tools to keep your site up to date.