Building a CMS Subsite

This guide will help web managers and unit heads begin the process of building a website within CMS. This is not a CMS technical guide; instead it is a guide for planning your unit's new site. Nothing should be construed as rule. Aside from very few standards noted in the Web Identity & Templates and the Web Content Guide, each unit has much flexibility.

The only required elements are the Tulane University logo (clickable to, the green background, and contact information at the bottom. Having noted that, we still hope each site will share some consistency.

For example, using common names of links will make navigation easier for users. A user might not find your unit's list of employees under a link called "Office Team." If all Tulane pages used "About Us" then users could quickly scan any site.

Definitions in this guide

  • Unit = Department, School, Center, Office, Organization, etc.
  • User = Audience who visit your sites (internal and external)
  • Contributor = Unit representative that can author/edit pages
  • Subsite administrator = Unit-based web manager
  • Approver = Designated approver(s) before information is published
  • Publisher = Higher-level approval than approver
  • Index = your dept. main site (i.e., home page)
  • Subsite  = collection of pages or sites below the main site index (i.e., folder) 

Step 1 – Navigation of your site

Review other universities’ or Tulane websites like yours. Look for anything, ideas or even a single use of a word that could improve your site's navigation. Even if you do not like the look of an overall website, it might still offer an element that inspires you.

Use the Excel spreadsheet (webnav.xls) and rename it
webnavDEPARTMENTNAME.DATE.xls, (e.g.,webnavgeology.081707.xls)

Rule of 3

The spreadsheet is organized with three site subsite columns to reinforce the idea that your users should be able to find what key information within three clicks. In some cases, landing pages will be created at a fourth or fifth level. Keep in mind that users may be starting from the Tulane main site.

MAIN MENU or NAVIGATION BAR. Decide on your main menu items.  You can either display them across the top in a navigation bar, or as part of a sidebar. Suggested 3-7. We suggest that you do not use pull-down boxes, as they are sometimes difficult to navigate.

ANNOUNCEMENTS (optional). You can build this section to post recent news and events links relative to your department. These pages usually will not have to be created but linked to existing links (Calendar or Events, unit-related New Wave stories, your newsletter, a new service offered by your unit). This element can be featured on all or select subsites. Suggested 1-3.

QUICK LINKS (optional). These are usually to resources that are relevant, often they are maintained by other departments or external entities. Quick links can vary from subsites or even from page to page.  Suggested 2-5.

Here's a trick to make more available without overwhelming users. You can organize some on a subsite page. For example, you might have a link called "Student Resources" that links to a page managed by you and that lists selected and external links you wish to feature.


Naming Links.

If you ever wanted to improve the name of a link, during a redesign is the best time to do it.

Public-friendly. Avoid acronyms and internal organization information.

Broad and appealing. Use action words or make terms cover a broad range of items that are listed/linked on the subsequent site. For example, maybe use "Ways to Participate" instead of "Organizations & Projects."

Short. Keep in mind that the standard column of the Tulane template can display on a single line a link of about 28 characters including spaces.

You can shorten the link by not using the words "The," "Tulane" and/or "University."  This also will help users who are scanning your pages to find information faster. 

In rare cases, it is acceptable to shorten the link name, as long as the full proper name is within the top paragraph or heading of the page to which it links.

For example, use Reily Recreation Center (instead of Reily Student Recreation Center – 31 characters with spacing). This does not apply to the names of the schools and colleges, let them display on two lines.  NOTE:  Shortening a link is different than referring to a Tulane entity in writing. Follow the Style Guide, especially for the formal first reference of units and buildings.


Step 2 – Layout of pages

The next step is for templates to be made for each subsite.  A template can standardize the layout or an element (e.g., a list of links) across a group of pages, while allowing for some elements to be unique on a page.

Main site (Index)

Your main page should not scroll, but be a quick and simple page for users to start. Keep it simple and user-friendly. Components:

  • Unit name. Clearly identifiable department or organization noted atop the page. Clickable to index.
  • Primary navigation.  You've already worked on the main menu (Step 1).
  • Overview and/or Updated Features. Briefly address the purpose of your unit in about 100 words or 3 sentences. For those units that provide services, feature your benefits and spotlight updated information of events, news or services. Incorporate links in the overview text to direct users to content throughout your website.
  • Image. A photo or graphic allows users to personally relate. Include photos with people instead of lonely buildings. Refrain from using clip-art or unprofessional images. Also avoid graphics in the background that make text difficult to read.
  • Dynamic left-hand elements. Use left side elements to promote recent developments or priorities, such as recent news (last 30-90 days), upcoming events, new services and/or other items to spotlight. Suggested 1-4.
  • “About Us” Information. Staff list, mission statement, organization chart, etc.
  • "Contact Us" information. Include clear contact information, maps, directions, etc.

Step 3 – Preparing Content

All of the CMS content is edited and published within the context of the Web page; no downloaded software is required.

Types of Content  

  • Text. Text can be prepared in Word or Dreamweaver, or copied from an existing website. Because style sheets manage the Tulane sites, you should remove any font styles from html-based text. Some text is available for general reuse (e.g., the Tulane list of Schools & Colleges). Proof the text for grammar and proper use per the Tulane Style Guide.

  • Images.  Images can be part of page content. They are stored in the image gallery, which is a central repository of image files that are categorized for searching.  Each image in the gallery is versioned and can be updated, in turn updating all pages that use that image. 

  • Uploaded Files.  Non-technical users can easily upload pdfs, PowerPoint presentations, video clips, Flash and other rich media directly to the website.  These files are versioned and managed by the CMS just as normal pages.  Formats supported by verity, like  .pdf, .doc, etc. are full text indexed at upload time as well. 

  • External Pages.  External pages are those not created within the CMS.  External pages, unless they are only to be referenced once within, should be registered as a CMS page. Benefits:
    • If the URL is updated on the CMS registered page, the change is made across all Tulane sites.
    • The page will appear in Page Index elements and the Page Finder and Page Gallery functions, although not in a full text search.

Step 4 – Establishing Security & Approval Workflow

Security can be applied to an entire subsite folder, a template that manages a series of pages, each page, or down to each element (e.g., a piece of text or image).



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