Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Web Content Management Systems

In a previous post, I lamented that I had not rapidly adopted Web 2.0 for all my enterprises, making everyone an author, editor or publisher.

To help accelerate our Web 2.0 efforts, my web teams investigated Web Content Management Systems (CMS) which offer an integrated suite of page creation, wiki, blog, forum, and other distributed publishing tools.We evaluated offerings from Microsoft, Ektron, SiteCore, Documentum and others. The end result of our evaluation was to use SiteCore for content management in combination with free Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 tools.

Our requirements for a CMS were
  • A distributed publishing model which enables delegated content management by every person in the organization, with review by an editor before it is published to the public.
  • Development, staging and production platforms which enable us to rigorously test our websites before publishing.
  • Support for our home built single signon application that works via AJAX with any web form based authentication
  • A robust "what you see is what you get editor" to support narrative text, graphic design, and multimedia
  • A very easy to use authoring and publishing system with an intuitive user interface that does not require training
  • User configurable business rules as to who can author, edit and publish as well as a workflow that supports lifecycle management of content
  • A truly thin client approach that works on every browser and every operating system
  • An architecture that enables our web sites to be clustered within a data center and replicated across multiple data centers for disaster recovery
  • Authentication via our LDAP/Active Directory systems
  • Integration with our existing .NET/SQL Server 2005 web applications and SOAP services written in other platforms

Our plan is to convert our existing external websites to this new platform and gain a consistent navigation paradigm, enhanced search capability and common look/feel to every page. The most important aspect of this project is a new governance model which will distribute content authoring and maintenance to every department, overseen by project managers in Corporate Communications. As we change the governance model, we'll also be able to delete our outdated content which has made searching our 10,000 page website less than perfect.

I'm a strong advocate of a web content management strategy based on a distributed authoring model, driven by a workflow engine, with robust processes to ensure only accurate/updated content is available to internal and external search engines.

My experience is that most patients use Google to find content on the web rather than navigate a website, so doing a complete reorganization of our content into a database-backed authoring system that is easily spidered by Google will really help our patients find the information they are looking for.

At the same time we're implementing this wholesale revision of our external site, we're also revising our internal site to include collaboration tools, group calendaring, wikis, blogs, and customization. Using a combination of SiteCore and Microsoft's Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 tools, we hope to offer our internal stakeholders a much richer experience that supports departmental information management including Web 2.0 community interaction.

2008 will be the year of Web 2.0 for all my organizations and commercial Content Management Systems will help.


Unknown said...

I'm curious about the policy side of having so many authors.

Do you sense much concern in the organization as to what people may post? When looking at tools, did you require moderation or other features to help others manage the author's content?

Will the general public be able to post as well...and if so, what plans/tools are there to moderate them?

All aboard the Clue Train!

John Halamka said...

Every department will have a single point of contact who acts as web editor/publisher for all staff in that department. Although some Web 2.0 applications like blogging truly empower everyone to publish without oversight, our external website will have departmental review before any content goes live to the public.

Jonathan Merrill said...

Consider DotNetNuke ( The organization I work for too realized this necessity for CMS/Web 2.0 colloboration which is necessary with the litany of systems and subjects in healthcare.

For the most part, our largest challenge has been "look and feel" oversight ensuring a consistency and appropriateness. Should that be an IT function? Eh, maybe not.

But check out DNN, if you havent already. We are very happy with it.

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Jeannine said...

John, are you still using SiteCore? I'm an MBA student working on a capstone project evaluating CMS for healthcare providers. I was wondering if you could provide any feedback.

John Halamka said...

Yes, we're still using SiteCore. Happy to discuss it - just email me at