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Introduction to Content Management Systems (CMS): Summary Notes

On Saturday, April 18, the Carolinas Chapter of the Association of Information Science and Technology (cc:asis&t) hosted a half-day "Introduction to Content Management Systems (CMS)" workshop at UNC-Chapel Hill. The STC Carolina chapter co-sponsored the event and provided valuable marketing and promotional support.

The workshop was billed as an introductory-level overview of CMS applications, their capabilties and functionalities, with a specific focus on Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla, three of the most popular open-source CMS applications in that space. About 40 students and professionals attended the workshop.

The day began with a kickoff presentation by Jeff VanDrimmelen, an Instructional Technologist for UNC-CH's Offices of Arts and Sciences Information Services, and a skilled deployer of dozens of CMS sites using WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Jeff energetically addressed the questions "What is a CMS? Do I need one?" by explaining the overall functionality of a CMS, its technical requirements, and the features that would be of concern to user, manager, and technical roles.

Following the kickoff were three 30-minute breakout sessions where the attendees saw demonstrations of and presentations about each of the spotlighted CMS applications. Jeff presented on WordPress; Julia Kulla-Mader, a web developer/projects coordinator for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, presented on Drupal; and Jonathan Pletzke, of UNC-CH's Information Technology Services, presented on Joomla. The presenters provided quick overviews of each product, including its strengths and weaknesses, a look at the back-end administrative interface, and several sample sites built with the product.

The workshop concluded with the presenters coming together for an hour-long Q&A session. Some of the issues raised in the breakout sessions were also discussed during the Q&A, such as how best to convert static sites to a CMS, bridging different CMS applications, adapting content to small-screen and mobile devices, security, planning a site, and emerging trends.

One of the attendees said that he had 18 months worth of questions answered in an hour and a half, which was certainly one of the most gratifying evaluations we received that day.