Tag Archives: Ed Sussman CMS

Announcing Buzzr Higher Education Edition with mStoner, Worldwide Leader in Academic Digital Consultants and Strategists

Buzzr has partnered with mStoner, the world leader in creating websites and digital strategies for higher education, to create the Buzzr Higher Education Edition. mStoner is offering the product to schools with a lower budget than is typically needed for major university sites, which can take 9 to 12 months to build.

We’re also offering a multi-site product for colleges and universities that want to make it easier, faster and much more inexpensive to roll out large numbers of websites for the university community. e.g. Faculty member websites, student organization websites.

The following blog post, with more details, was written by Bill Mclaughlin, the COO of mStoner, and originally appeared on the mStoner website:

mStoner + Buzzr = Hosted, Easy-to-Use, Drupal-Based CMS for HED

Our bread and butter project over the last ten years has been a campus-wide website redesign and implementation. Along the way, we’ve completed more projects like this than any other company in the world.

Within this type of project we provide end-to-end services, starting with an institution-wide web strategy, creative design, and configuration and customization of a web content management system (CMS). We never let our technical implementation constrain our strategy or creative process and, as a result, each project involves a high level of customization and an enterprise-wide CMS (we recommend Hannon Hill Cascade Server, Sitecore CMS, OmniUpdate OU Campus, Drupal, or TerminalFOUR Site Manager to our clients, depending upon their needs, and also explore other CMSs in certain cases).

We love these projects: each one is unique and challenging and we don’t see them going away in the future. But they take at least nine to twelve months and they’re expensive. And, after doing this work for more than a decade, we’ve noted a number of trends and market demands from our clients around their CMS needs:

  • Many institutions that we talk with do not need a highly customized CMS implementation and often cannot afford or sustain one. Yet they benefit from the same level of strategic and creative consulting that we offer in a typical full-scale redesign.
  • Drupal is a great CMS platform (by far the best open source option), well suited for higher education, and with significant and growing market share.
  • BUT: Drupal doesn’t have a user-friendly back end, making it difficult for non-technical people to use.

In sum: A lot of our clients really need a simple, straight-forward version of Drupal with a simple back end. We looked for a solution and we even tried to build one ourselves. But we couldn’t find the time to do it right.

Enter Buzzr.

Buzzr, in partnership with Lullabot, a leader in Drupal training and implementation, developed software to optimize Drupal as a content management platform. Essentially, Buzzr enables non-technical users to manage their sites more effectively through a simple and elegant user interface using drag-and-drop tools. It can also support multiple sites on a single Drupal instance with shared users. Buzzr includes a QuickStart tool that makes creating new sites possible in a few clicks.

But what we like best about Buzzr is that there is absolutely no lock-in! Buzzr customers can opt-out at any time, export their site, and have it up and running as a “regular” Drupal site in short order.

We are excited to announce a partnership with Buzzr to build a Higher Ed Edition of the Buzzr platform. This partnership will marry Buzzr’s product development and deep Drupal expertise with mStoner’s years of experience in building highly functional and usable websites for colleges and universities.

For the right institutions, Buzzr offers something that these solutions do not. “We love that Buzzr can make it cheaper and easier for an institution to accomplish its mission,” said Ed Sussman, CEO of Buzzr. “What’s more, we think Buzzr’s slick user interface takes what was a chore – maintaining a website – and makes it more fun.”

The Buzzr Higher Ed Edition will be hosted at Rackspace and fully supported by mStoner on an ongoing basis in a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. mStoner designs will be built into the platform. We anticipate setting up pre-built feature tiers as well as tiered ongoing support plans.

For larger, more complex institutions who may already have a custom top-level site (especially a custom Drupal site), we see a role for Buzzr Higher Ed Edition as a user-friendly solution for managing the myriad unit-level sites on campus. These smaller sites are typically managed by occasional, non-technical CMS users who would greatly benefit from the Buzzr user interface. For the institution, Buzzr’s multi-site capability keeps these sites on-brand and enables them to be managed from a single, institution-specific platform.

Buzzr Higher Ed Edition is complementary to our existing services (not a threat to them). We remain 100% committed to helping our clients find the best-fit CMS platform for their unique needs and we will continue to partner with our friends at Hannon Hill, OmniUpdate, Sitecore and TerminalFOUR to deliver feature-rich, customized sites and CMS. Likewise, we will continue to build and support custom Drupal sites.

We are very excited about this opportunity as it will expand our ability to service the higher education market with our marketing and communications expertise. Be on the lookout for for future blog posts with updates on our progress.

Please comment on this post, we’d love to hear your thoughts. And please contact Mallory Wood if you are interested in learning more about Buzzr Higher Ed Edition.

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October 19, 2012 · 3:00 pm

Explosive Growth in Number of Websites

I was lucky enough to have written a post for the Official Rackspace blog today. Rackspace ia $6.4 billion hosting company known for its fanatical support. We are a Rackspace partner and use them for Cloud installations of our multi-site and private label environments.

Here’s the link to the blog post: http://www.rackspace.com/blog/readying-your-sites-for-explosive-web-growth

And for those of you who don’t want to leave Buzzr.com, here’s the post:

I’ve been hearing lots of speculation lately that social media sites are killing the traditional website. The logic goes like this: organizations can get all of the web presence they need for free with just Facebook and Twitter accounts. Websites are becoming obsolete. That logic, however, is flawed.

My personal observation is that the exact opposite is true – that websites are become more prevalent. So I did a little research. Here’s what I found: about five years ago, there were 54 million active websites, according to web server monitoring stats kept by the U.K. research firm Netcraft. By contrast, this month there were 170 million active websites, according to Netcraft estimates. Parked, or inactive, domains are excluded from this total – including parked domains, there were 663 million websites in May 2012. That was up from 644 million just two months prior, in March 2012.

I know of several universities that five years ago had only a few hundred websites that are now home to a few thousand sites and micro-sites – they have sites for departments, faculty members and student organizations and more. Arizona State University, for example, has witnessed explosive growth in their number of websites. And, in some cases, even for every individual student. A New York-based trade school approached me the other day for advice on creating individual websites for each of its 15,000 graduates. Less than a week later, a leading organization in a consumer industry vertical asked if we could create 10,000 websites for its constituents. The answer is yes we can, and we will.

Here’s my theory: if you show someone how easy it is to have a presence on the web with Facebook or Twitter, they will want a website even more. Actually, they might want two or three at work, one for their kid’s little league team and one for their church group. Since it’s easier and cheaper than ever to get a website up and running – whether through a self-service tool or by hiring a local designer/developer – new websites are flowering – or growing like weeds, if you prefer a less rosy characterization.

Indeed, the reality of website proliferation isn’t at all like the comparatively orderly network of Facebook and Twitter. Chaos – perhaps more charitably called decentralization – is common, even at large companies: different WCMSs are chosen by different groups in the organization, so IT support teams end up being “jacks of all trades, master of none.” Projects stall because of inadequate expertise. There’s no way to quickly reproduce features, designs and content from one site to another site. Tens of thousands of dollars are spent recreating variations of the same sites again and again. Sites take months longer than they need to because of this same issue.

Visitor identity from website to website is non-existent or duplicative. Brand identity is inconsistent from site to site. And regular end users, like the office managers, are sometimes expected to master complex CMS tools designed by and for experts. The more websites an organization supports, the messier the problems can become.

Our company, Buzzr, specializes in organizing this chaos. We provide our clients with a multi-site web content management system in the cloud – a networked environment of on-demand “social publishing” websites specifically designed to be rolled out very quickly and to be run day-to-day by non-technical end users. Our platform works like this:

All websites are created on the same central, hosted environment, with an overview of all websites and users.

-Quickstarts – one-click site clones – are created for recurring use cases. So the same features, layout, designs and user permissions are pre-assembled and ready to be customized.
Best of breed features, especially social features, are culled from a library of more than 10,000 open source Drupal modules.

-Sites can be simplified so end users are only exposed to a sub-set of tools and features that they can easily use. The central site admin has a broader array of tools for managing the same site.

-The websites are networked, so the same user ID works on any site, and site updates can be used to dynamically update a centralized site or member profiles.

-We take care of support, security and feature upgrades, and with the help of Rackspace performance optimization, scaling and 24×7 managed hosting are added.

Because we’re working with Rackspace, we can offer a cloud-based solution, which allows us to support you and your platform in real time. We monitor the entire environment and can also help on any specific site that needs attention. We can also scale the pricing to reflect only your actual usage, in large part because of the flexibility of the Rackspace Cloud pricing model.

At Buzzr, we predict the dramatic proliferation of websites will continue for at least the next decade – especially combinations of website/mobile sites (a new Buzzr offering) and sites in the developing world, where fewer than 10 percent of small businesses have websites. For example, the new Buzzr 3.0 is powering Fussio.com, a Spanish language retail small business website due out in June from Grupo Nacion, the largest media company in Costa Rica. If you’d like us to help you take control of your multi-site universe, give us a call.

Ed Sussman is the CEO and a co-founder of Buzzr.com

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