Moving UALR.edu Forward

Why Now?
Imagine trying to use the programs you use now on a Windows 95 machine…

Just like desktops or laptops become outdated and unserviceable, so has the server and technology that power the UALR personal and early university sites. This is the challenge confronting UALR  as we move forward in the digital space and on the domain ualr.edu.

Early on, the university was ahead of the curve and creating sites on the world wide web. Because of this early adoption, we have over a decade of sites, folders, documents, PDFs, and images hosted on a legacy server.  As we evolve, the recruitment, retention, and business needs of the university and the outward facing services provided to incoming students will be moved to the forefront. The site will cater more to the needs of prospective and current students. To do this, legacy services, sites and structure will be archived or removed and services provided will need to fall under a governing policy.

The Department of Digital Strategy and Information Technology Services are working closely together to provide a new way forward for the personal sites and the needs of both faculty and staff to have hosted materials – but we must move to a new domain, modern operating system, deployment mechanism, and archiving system to sustain this service.

Our approach:

  • Archive all sites that have not been updated prior to 2009 or do not have a valid UALR email address as owner
  • Assign a domain, web.ualr.edu for internal use
  • All existing sites will now begin with web.ualr.edu – for example, if your old site was ualr.edu/mysite the new URL will be web.ualr.edu/mysite
  • Assign web.ualr.edu domain to a Linux host and sunset the current Windows host
  • Move all existing personal sites, faculty, admin, and student sites to the new domain.
  • Create a folder structure for yearly archives and deletions web.ualr.edu/2013/mysite
  • Work with the campus to provide for other hosting needs such as ASP.net, JAVA, etc.
  • Create a web use policy governing the extent of services provided and the duration of the services provided
  • Migrate single instances of WP into a WordPress MultiSite install
  • Provide WordPress admin training to the campus
  • Provide a WordPress based social network for students to host profiles, wikis, etc.(long term not included in sunset)
  • Create an intranet for the daily business of the university (long term not included in sunset)

Migrations

The ualr.edu domain contains of hundreds of websites. The university uses the content management system WordPress to maintain many of those sites.

Prior to 2011, most of those sites existed as what are called single WordPress installations. The sites are running on an earlier version of WordPress that is no longer being supported. For content managers and audiences alike, the sites can be a challenge to use, simply because technology and our usage of it has changed so much in such a short amount of time.

Since 2011, our web team has been working to get those single-installation sites “migrated” into a WordPress Multisite network. These migrations have taken on a new urgency as we move servers as well.

This means we are aligning our resources and actively pursuing sites in a phased migration process. Currently, we have migrated (or created) more than 150 new sites. There are still around 125 sites that need to be migrated, and many others that are not in use or otherwise consolidated that we must remove from the server.

The site migration process is a collaboration between site owners and the Department of Digital Strategy.

The steps include:

  1. Digital Strategy decision to migrate a  site
  2. Content audit of the existing site (see what content needs to be updated, what is unnecessary, what needs to be created)
  3. Export of the .xml file of existing site
  4. Creation of a staging site in the multisite network
  5. Import of the .xml file to staging site
  6. Discussion of content strategy
  7. Editing content in staging site (information architecture, art, forms, widgets)
  8. Pushing new site live
  9. Archiving old site