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What is the right system for a university?

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This article first appeared as a guest article in the International University Report 2019

The website is the online face of the university: it must address us directly so that we can imagine a potential relationship or cooperation with it. Unstructured data, long loading times, poor keywording and a non-responsive design are all common reasons for leaving a website early, for example. If in doubt, a school leaver will register at another university. Intuitive usage is also relevant for all editors involved in the website; if the usability is too complex, errors can easily be made.
One thing is clear: the list of requirements for a successful and high-performance university presence is long.

But one thing is certain: With the right concept, the implementation will also work.

In order for the relaunch to be successful, all framework parameters must be carefully defined. In order to continuously advance and further develop the planned optimization, the application of the agile project methodology Scrum is recommended: Regular feedback can be incorporated promptly, developments can be constantly adjusted. The same goal is pursued technically as well, according to “it’s the continuity that counts”. A “continuous relaunch” keeps the site up-to-date and prevents major maintenance-related limitations or even failures.

The introduction of an open source solution, which may be published by the service provider after examination and release by the university, nicely reflects the idea of knowledge sharing, for which the university stands.

Safety First of course also applies here: GDPR, data security, privacy or patches are not just buzzwords – high security standards are being introduced to protect both user data and the university, which should keep the attack surface for hackers as low as possible.

Responsiveness, accessibility, performance and intuitive usability are still indicators that promise success for the relaunch.
For these many requirements, a solution is needed that really fits the needs of a university. That is why we have intensively studied the various systems.

For us, these include topics such as central authentication via a leading system, the easy roll-out of subsidiary instances for faculties and institutes, the fast provision of messages, appointments and persons and their central referencing and keywording, but also ensuring that all system extensions are subject to continuous maintenance.
All these considerations finally led us to the industry solution TYPO3 Higher Education Package, which is based on the Content Management System TYPO3 and was developed especially for universities.

Conclusion: It pays off to invest in a good online presence. There are indeed a lot of stumbling blocks and challenges lurking; but if you take clean precautions in a timely and structured manner, you will not have to overhaul in the end. If you focus on user-friendliness, you are on the right track.

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