Which Content Management Systems Do UK Universities Use?

image of person walking at Cambridge college

Content Management Systems Lifecycle

Over the past twenty years individual UK universities have gone through several iterations of the life cycles of their content management systems (CMS): selection, implementation, maintenance and retirement/replacement. And, those changes have been in response to many factors, including:

  • Strategic objectives to rationalise the number of CMSs in use across a university;
  • Content management process simplification by using a common CMS platform;
  • Support in distributed content creation through standardisation;
  • Ensuring a consistent visitor experience through common branding and user navigation;
  • Implementing personalisation capabilities to reach particular audiences and sub-audiences more effectively;
  • Technology upgrades to ensure that sites are responsive, work effectively on mobile devices and can meet minimum accessibility standards: and,
  • The current site looked tired and it became a priority to re-fresh it.

Given the past level of change and the number of projects currently underway to upgrade existing websites, we thought it would be useful to see which CMSs are used for the main websites of UK universities.

Research Approach

Identifying which CMSs are in use requires a mix of diligence and detective work.

  • The easiest case is when a site’s metadata reveals its underlying CMS. This shows up in source code as:

meta name="generator" content="Name of CMS Here"

or

meta content="Name of CMS Here" name="generator"

About 34% of the sites in our survey conveniently revealed themselves through metadata.

  • The next set of sites handily reveals their CMS through clues in the source code on the home page. This group accounts for a further 35% of sites.
  • The third group sets cookies showing the identity of the underlying CMS, which reveals another 15% of sites.
  • And, the balance comprises sites that discuss their CMS in documentation buried deep within a site.

There are other sites – we estimate these represent about 10% of all sites - that do not reveal their CMS’ identity to ‘casual’ inspection.

Observations

Our detective work generated four observations worth recording in our blog.

  • There is a case for removing the generator metadata so as to slightly raise the effort required by malicious users to determine which CMS is in use and any associated vulnerabilities. However, determined miscreants will simply use further means to understand which CMS is in use.
  • There is typically a material discrepancy between the Cookies being set on a site and the data supplied in Cookie Policy statements. The differences go both ways: more and fewer cookies, but the official policies don’t reflect a visitor’s experience.
  • Using Google to search a university website invariably yields more relevant results than on-site search facilities. This isn’t entirely surprising given the level of resources available to Google compared to those of a university.
  • Support organisations (or professional services) and the people who work in them are important contributors to a university’s success. But these organisations are often hidden in obscure website corners, which can’t be to anyone’s benefit.

Results

We surveyed 135 websites from UK universities. Collectively these institutions use 27 different content management systems as follows:

You can reach the suppliers for these content management systems at the following links:

 

If you are interested in the data behind the chart, would like to see this survey regularly updated or are interested in the results for other geographical markets, please get in touch. If you have comments, observations or corrections you can either email us or leave comments at LinkedIn, where this article is cross-posted.

 

 

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Don’t have accurate and current information on all the websites you own? Not able to monitor and check each website’s content quality and risk status? Let’s talk about how we can help.

 

Blog photo image: unsplash.com