Monday, November 3, 2014 - 11:26am

The popular SiteNow service continues to thrive as it meets the hardy demand for website development at the University of Iowa. Working with campus customers, the ITS Web Services team has rolled out 12 new sites since the start of the semester, with many more in the works.

Established in 2012, the SiteNow service allows customers to build and customize their own websites from a standard starting point, or to hire experts from the ITS web team to help create their site. In just two years, the team has grown from one to nine developers who’ve built over 100 sites.

This fall’s freshly launched sites include: Diversity at Iowa, Career Center, Arts Iowa, Hancher, the Obermann Center, the College of Pharmacy, Rec Services, International Programs, the Office of Teaching, Learning, & Technology, Iowa Digital Engagement & Learning (IDEAL), and Research & Economic Development. A new Parking and Transportation site will launch in mid-December.

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New expectations for websites

Web hosting needs and expectations have changed dramatically over the last five years. A static web presence with minimal updates used to be sufficient—but today content is king, integration with existing systems is paramount, and users expect new content multiple times per day.

The university’s content-management system, Drupal, accommodates this dynamic nature. Websites can be set up to include automatic feeds of the latest news and events, thanks to integrations with the UI’s master calendar system, Localist, and with the central news platform, IowaNow.

“The SiteNow model works well because colleges or units can leave the technology requirements to a commodity manager such as ITS and focus their resources on what is truly important today: content and marketing,” says Romy Bolton, who directs the web unit in ITS.

What SiteNow offers

The Drupal content-management system provides a framework for SiteNow, offering user-friendly tools for creating and maintaining sites. It allows units to customize sites and has the functionality to incorporate web forms, people directories, calendars, rotating banner images, and basic news items.

Having the SiteNow service helps the UI maintain branding standards and creates some continuity in the look and feel of its sites. It’s also improving website accessibility for individuals with disabilities, mobile device compatibility, and usability of UI websites across devices and operating systems.

DIY options

The recently launched SiteNow Standard Service allows a do-it-yourself interface for websites that don’t require custom development. This is a free service from ITS that provides a basic set of functionality for users to create and maintain websites.

Customers say Sitenow Standard is a great solution for smaller sites—easy to learn, and quick to set up. 

New video tutorials

ITS has begun developing video tutorials for customers of the SiteNow Standard service. The first of the series is posted on the ITS YouTube page:

Traffic report 

Most-visited UI sites in the SiteNow service – page views, first three days of classes 336,333 87,679 57,733 15,447 12,658 12,625 8,504 9,148