Two CAHNR web platforms
There are two platforms on which CAHNR websites are developed. They are Aurora and Nova. With both platforms, your team writes the content, selects the photos and then enters content into and maintains the site with a free, easy-to-use, internet-based interface. Professional designers and programmers centrally maintain strong templates for these platforms that are compliant with the latest UConn, CAHNR and internet norms and standards. In addition, Aurora and Nova workshops are offered to explain basic usage and help with troubleshooting.
It is important for you to choose the correct path at the beginning of the project to save yourself time. Changing platforms later could be as much work as starting from scratch. The CAHNR Web Team can help you decide what is best for your project because each path has different advantages and disadvantages.
Aurora, based on WordPress, is a project at the University level.
You can make an Aurora-based website from your desk without discussing it with anyone and be confident that it will remain compliant with UConn branding standards and that it won’t break. Plus, you can choose from several templates, manage the pages of the site and edit the text and photo context. Some self-service plugins, which add sophisticated functionality, are available. Once your site launches, your experience in maintaining it will be the same in Aurora or Nova.
Website functionality and style options within the Aurora system are limited at this time. Special requests that are large, sudden, optional or only needed by a small audience may not be granted due to the scale and purpose of the Aurora team's operation. If the request is feasible, you may have to go through a long process before it is available. In addition, free help with a website is mainly limited to the Aurora instructional workshops.
Nova is a project at the CAHNR level. It is a shared template developed directly on the core internet technologies.
The CAHNR Web Team, consisting of a graphic designer, programmer and content editor, assists your team, free-of-charge, in customizing your Nova website to your specifications prior to its launch. The Web Team can create a unique style, implement novel functionality and provide a smooth integration with other technologies and services for your website. Throughout the process, the Team offers free advice, as needed, and sends you periodic reminders to keep the project moving.
Other help is available, as well. Some assistance (e.g., photography, videography) is free, and some of it comes with a fee (e.g., professional writers to provide content for you). Once your site launches, your experience in maintaining it will be the same in Aurora or Nova.
Customization, such as you get with Nova, takes time and communication. Your team usually meets with the Web Team once to discuss what you want. Then, we customize the templates and show you the results. As we work together to meet your needs, we may go through multiple rounds of changes before launching your site. Under ideal circumstances, a Nova site can be launched in a matter of days. However, the typical website takes months to develop. This is often due to the website requester's failure to enter content into the templates in a timely manner and/or to make final decisions easily.
Based on years of piloting Aurora and Nova, we've decided to end support for Contribute and Dreamweaver for maintaining websites. The newer platforms have consistently proved their ability to lower costs, increase productivity and enhance the user experience as well as to fix the many problems caused by Contribute/Dreamweaver. CAHNR offers free access to CushyCMS, which is compatible with legacy sites, so please feel free to contact the Web Team for a quick migration and an efficient way to maintain your website.
How to decide
Since it can be time consuming to convert a site from one platform to the other, don’t just commit to the path that works today. Instead, commit to the path that you think will continue to serve your needs over the lifetime of the site.
Nova is a collaborative and highly customizable path. Website development with Nova does take longer, but you can be assured that your needs and vision are more likely to be precisely met than with Aurora. Sites that will need a strong brand or custom functionality, like a department site, are likely a good fit for Nova. And, people who have a strong sense of what they want from their website might be happier with Nova.
Meanwhile, Aurora is an independent and streamlined path. This means that your rate of writing content and uploading photos is the determining factor in the timeline of the site. It also means that your site is limited by the general look and function that Aurora is already configured to offer. Sites that don’t warrant a lot of resources, like a research lab, are likely a good fit for Aurora. People who just need a decent looking website and don’t have strong feelings about what that site should be like might be happier with Aurora.