Architecting an educational content management system for thousands of users within a major university

Shortly after being hired at Northwestern University's School of Communication, a website re-design began - which ultimately ended up with this look-and-feel: 


The website is long gone - though an archived version of it can be seen here - and of far greater significance was our team's decision to build a custom content management system rather than an off-the-shelf version. We selected an MVC architecture, got underway with the assistance of a computer science student from the School of Engineering, and within 2 months had the bare-bones architecture of a role- and organization-based CMS, with each of the 5 departments of the school having editing power over their own pages and profiles.


Over the course of the following 7 years the CMS was adopted by other Northwestern University schools and entities, as well as external units; then expanded to include Virtual Showroom (for the accreditation process, Digital Portfolio, Reporting System, News Center, Profiling Engine, Document Repository and other functionality.


Based on intensive study and thoughtful response to user feedback, I improved workflows and interface design for the students, staff, faculty and administrators using the CMS. The end result was some 140,000 lines of code serving some 10,000+ end users. Unfortunately we never gained enough traction within the crowded CMS field to take the product to market.

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