Science - January 22, 2004

Wageningen starts complete website overhaul

Wageningen UR is about to introduce a new content management system for its intranet and Internet website. “The technology is ready, but entering the content will take a while,” says project leader Hendrik Klompmaker, of the ICT department at Facilities and Services.

“We estimate that about three-quarters of the information on the current websites is out of date,” says Klompmaker. “It’s understandable, but does not present a very professional image. Going over to a new system is an ideal opportunity to tidy up the information and how it is organised.”

Wageningen UR has chosen to use the Microsoft Content Management Server 2002, which works a bit like editing a newspaper. Authors can enter text and if an editor agrees with it, it can be uploaded to the intranet or Internet with one click of the mouse. An important advantage to this system is that published information can be reused, so pages from other parts of the organisation can also be incorporated into one’s own presentation. This will make it easier to exchange and post press releases, information on events, and vacancies. The new management system also ensures that all web pages will be presented in Wageningen UR house style.

The Environmental Sciences Group will be the first to launch its new websites, starting with the intranet and then the Internet. Kristel Klein, who works in the communication department at ESG, is in charge of the process. Although the Environmental Sciences Group had originally chosen a different content management system, she is now satisfied with the results using the Microsoft system. Klein: “We spent a lot of time asking our users what they wanted, and thought carefully about our communication objectives. Intranet use is above all about practical issues, such as the internal telephone number list, reserving a lecture theatre or a car. For the Internet, the different groups are more concerned about presenting their projects and courses well.”

Access to information on the new websites is primarily ordered by subject, so that searches deliver the right material. This means that all previous names of departments, chair groups and research centres have been entered to make sure that the person searching gets all the information. The work will take a while yet.

Klompmaker has estimated that the central Wageningen UR website contains more than 90,000 pages, and that there are more than one hundred servers in use. He even found a website that no one knew the password for. “In the new system it won’t be possible to lose things like that.”

Gert van Maanen

Re:act