In this new remote environment, having a fast, intuitive, and secure website is more important than ever. Now that UCI has transitioned to remote learning, websites are the primary way that students interface with staff and access resources. For units within the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (OVPTL), Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE), Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI), and UCI Summer Session, having a user-friendly website is particularly important to ensure that students can access the assistance, services, and tools they need to adapt and succeed. This is one of the major reasons why all OVPTL, DUE, DTEI, and UCI Summer Session websites will be transitioning over to a new website management vendor called CampusPress.
What is CampusPress and Why are We Making This Transition?
CampusPress is a third-party WordPress host geared towards universities and other educational institutions. According to Jeremy Thacker, Assistant Director of Educational Technologies at UCI’s Office of Information Technology (OIT), the transition to CampusPress is an exciting opportunity to improve OVPTL, DUE, DTEI, and UCI Summer Session sites from several vantage points.
“We’ve historically used WordPress for sites, and we have it installed locally on servers that are running at UCI that we manage from top to bottom,” he explains. With this “top-to-bottom” approach, Jeremy and the teams at OVPTL Communications and OIT are responsible for time-consuming site administration and maintenance work.
However, moving to CampusPress’ WordPress hosting will eliminate the need for this intensive labor. Because the sites will be hosted on CampusPress’ servers, their expert team will take over administrative, maintenance, and support services—a major advantage that will ensure a stable infrastructure and allow the OVPTL Communications team to focus on content and site management so units can maximize their websites.
Up to this point, OVPTL Communications hasn’t had dedicated WordPress support and would need to interrupt other vital operations to address any issues that arose. By making the transition to CampusPress, Jeremy says, “We now have a team of experts who can help us figure out what to do.”
Jeremy also explains that transitioning to CampusPress will increase website security. He notes that CampusPress has a team of WordPress experts and developers that vet any plug-ins before being added to a site. If a plug-in doesn’t meet their security standards, the team will look for a safer alternative. This added layer of protection ensures that websites will not run into performance or security issues down the road.
Iain Grainger, Director of OVPTL Communications and UCI Media, adds that the upgraded security is one of the greatest advantages of migrating to CampusPress: “We have so many plug-ins and it can be difficult to determine how secure they are. So, that’s going to be the number one priority for us with CampusPress. We’re going to have these solid plug-ins that we can use with current and new sites that will create maximum security.”
How Long Will the Transition Take?
While new websites will be put on CampusPress’ servers directly, existing sites will gradually make the move. Because each OVPTL, DUE, DTEI, and UCI Summer Session site is different, the amount of time each website transition will take may vary. However, Jeremy assures that as the team gets more and more websites under its belt, the faster subsequent transitions will go.
What Does the Transition to CampusPress Mean for Students, Faculty, and Staff?
Because CampusPress promises increased speed, upgraded security, and improved brand unity, UCI students, faculty, staff, and other website visitors will all benefit from the migration.
During the transition to CampusPress, existing sites will remain accessible. In fact, students and other users will be able to access OVPTL, DUE, DTEI, and UCI Summer Session websites without knowing that anything is happening behind the scenes. Then, once a site has successfully transitioned over, Jeremy and his team will change the website domain so all traffic will be directed to the new CampusPress site.
For administrators and staff that access the backend of their unit’s sites, there will be some minor changes during the transition period. Jeremy explains:
“You will still have access to your site, but you will need to be thoughtful about any changes you make during that time. Changes you make to the old site will not necessarily be reflected on the new site. So, depending on how much needs to be changed, you’ll need to talk with the team so they can plan those things out accordingly.”
Jeremy emphasizes that, while this whole process may seem scary, there’s nothing to be afraid of. “We’ll be working closely with each unit during the transition to ensure that their site gets the personal attention it needs,” he assures. He also points out that the units can see the transition as a great chance to do some “spring cleaning” with their sites or make changes that they’ve been wanting for a while.
“At the end of the day, CampusPress will be great for us,“ Jeremy smiles. “We’re going to get the security, stability, and support that our units need.”
For more information on the transition to CampusPress, please contact either Iain or Jeremy:
Director, OVPTL Communications & UCI Media
Assistant Director, Educational Technologies