CAHNR web platforms

There are two platforms on which CAHNR websites are developed. Both platforms were created in response to common issues you may have experienced with an older site. Both integrate with free, easy-to-use web-based systems in which you will edit your content. In using both, writers focus on the content and the system will override/normalize the look of the site to comply with the initially created template. Sites created on both platforms are connected to centralized templates, allowing fast fixes for bugs or for rebranding. Additionally, for both platforms there are semi-regular workshops offered where you can learn how to use them and ask questions.

The platform must be chosen before the site is created, and it cannot be switched. To change platforms after the fact, the site would have to be rebuilt.


Aurora, based on WordPress, is a project at the University level.


Aurora is simple enough to be considered self-serve and it’s quite stable. A novice user should be able to very quickly throw together a simple Aurora website that will carry a standard, professional UConn brand.


Aurora is a generic, simple, general-purpose system. It’s generic in that it drastically favors features that are used by everyone over features used by fewer people. This means that if you want a site-specific feature, it will likely either not be implemented or will have a lot of bureaucratic speed bumps. Since it’s centralized and committee driven, Aurora is cautious and stable but slow moving. It is built several layers above the core internet technologies so it can take more work to add or change things. There are strict limits on the functionality and relatively little space available for photos/files. The system is visually and functionally streamlined so you can make sites quickly and easily, but this means there is a lot you can’t do or change. The intent is to keep Aurora very easy to use and as bug-free as possible, which means that sites can have only limited functionality.

Recommended use

  • Where you cannot justify using a lot of resources to make a site, due to its small audience or short lifespan (e.g., a site for a one-time event club or lab)
  • Where you “just need a site, any site at all” and have no concerns about the specifics of how it acts, how it looks or how it interacts with other systems
  • When the person responsible for the site has little time and/or interest to devote to it
  • Blogs. Aurora is based on WordPress, which was originally built for blogs.


Nova is a project at the CAHNR level. It is a shared template developed directly on the core internet technologies.


Aurora is built with many more layers (technical and human) between the Internet technologies and the website itself. Nova, on the other hand, is built directly on top of the core internet technologies. This means it is much quicker and easier to customize a Nova site than an Aurora site. In a world where time is money, “much quicker and easier” often translates to “possible,” so in practice a lot more can be done in Nova than Aurora. If you have a clear vision of what you want or if you want a distinct-looking site, Nova can be customized to meet your expectations while Aurora often cannot. If you want to integrate with other systems or websites, Nova can do this; Aurora often cannot. If you want advanced interactivity (e.g., a visitor receives personalized information based on a questionnaire they fill out) or custom functionality (e.g., processing credit card payments online) or you have lots of data (photos, etc.), Nova can handle it. If you want to add some new Internet trend/technology to your site, it will take substantially longer to find its way into Aurora if it ever does.


Nova is customizable, and customization takes time. Once your site launches, your experience in maintaining it will be similar whether it’s in Aurora or Nova. However, to build it initially, it will take longer to do any customizations you want. Usually, you meet with us once to discuss what you want. Then we perform those customizations on the template and show you the result. As we work together to meet your needs, we may go through multiple rounds of changes. Before launching your site. The Nova process allows for complex sites with a great deal of functionality, but it takes more time. Under ideal circumstances, a Nova site can be launched in a matter of days, but the typical timeframe is weeks or months. It’s important to note that the bottleneck in developing most sites is creation of the content, which is something that has to be done in both Aurora and Nova. Of course, it takes the site owner more time to develop the content for a large, complex site than for a small, simple one.

Recommended use

  • High-profile sites that justify a unique, appealing brand (e.g., department sites, medium/large public programs, College site)
  • If you have a clear vision of how you want the site to look or what you want it to do
  • If you want to leave open the possibility of adding advanced /custom features or style in the future
  • If you have a lot of data (dozens of photos, hundreds of documents, downloadable lab data)
  • You must have sufficient resources to main this type of site, or the time and effort will have been wasted.

Legacy Platorms

Based on years of piloting the two platforms mentioned above, we've decided to end support for Contribute and Dreamweaver for maintaining websites. The platforms above were created for their ability to fix the many problems caused by Contribute/Dreamweaver and have consistently proved their ability to lower costs, improve productivity and improve the user experience. If you have an existing site where you are using Contribute or Dreamweaver, please contact us so that we can migrate it to CushyCMS; this is an easy process that takes minimal effort on your part.