Excellence on the Web

1 01 2008
University of Heidelberg switches to Imperia for web-presence maintenance – Alexander Werschak in charge of central pages, sharing editorial responsibility for almost 19,000 web pages with public information officer Dr. Michael Schwarz

In 2007 the University of Heidelberg was declared one of Germany’s "universities of excellence” and at it has now engineered a new-look web presence to match. It unifies the University’s self-presentation on the net, gears content more specifically to the various target groups and allows for optimal maintenance and updating of the website. A notable improvement is the simplification of editing processes on the basis of the central Imperia 8 content-management system. Via any conventional browser editors can now switch directly from the live page to the WYSIWIG composition mode to effect any changes required.

A new design for the University website has been in the pipeline for some time. "We needed a clearer structure to cater for the different interests our online visitors have,” says Hermino Katzenstein, the man at the University of Heidelberg Computer Centre entrusted with the overhaul job. One of the new features at is a central portal offering students advice and information on whatever situation they happen to be in, either before, during or after their studies.

Another essential desideratum prompting the re-launch was simplification, both on the input side and in connection with changes to content. The man in charge of the central pages of the University’s internet presence is Alexander Werschak, who shares editing responsibility for a total of almost 19,000 web pages with the University’s public information officer, Dr. Michael Schwarz. "In addition,” he tells us, "the University web presence also encompasses the pages of the different Faculties, departments and institutions. And many of them are in the process of switching to Imperia.”

After the introduction of the Imperia 8 content-management system the editors can now use any conventional internet browser to switch directly from the live web page to the composition mode for any work they need to do on the web pages. Access to content-management functions takes place via a one-click editing toolbar (similar to the familiar Google toolbar) that integrates itself directly into the internet browser. "Editors simply call up on their browser and then switch to the composition mode with one mouse click on the toolbar,” explains Kai Fincke, head of customer services at Imperia AG. "They work in the WYSIWIG mode, which gives them the impression of making the changes directly on the live web page and without media disruption.” Quick, simple access to the editing functions not only enables editors with an IT background to work faster, it also takes some of the workload off their shoulders. In theory, minor standard alterations can be made by any member of the University staff. "This means that people without sophisticated IT knowledge – say, normal administration staff – can change or add texts without having to take an HTML course or consult an expert every time they want to do something,” says Hermino Katzenstein. His two different training programmes have initiated almost all the editors in the use of the new content-management system. "After two half-days of training even people with limited computer literacy are familiar with all the functions needed for web-page maintenance and design,” he adds. "Editors with prior HTML knowledge require only a four-hour session. After one hour they can start practising on live examples.”

In the selection process four products were evaluated to find the ideal content-management system for the intended purpose, two of them open-source, the other two commercial products. Katzenstein reports that the open-source options were relatively quickly discarded as they were not equal to the tasks posed by the extensive and heterogeneous type of web presence normally required by universities. "Open-source solutions are not designed for big presences like these,” says Katzenstein, "and they’re also pretty restricted in terms of roles-and-rights management. For example, they don’t allow for more than one administrator.” Alongside the good price/benefit relation, the main reason Katzenstein cites for the choice of the Imperia product is its high degree of user-friendliness. "At the training sessions the highpoint is always the demonstration of the one-click edit toolbar,” he enthuses. "The possibility of implementing text alterations on the website from the internet browser within the space of ten seconds amazes everyone who experiences it for the first time.”


The Imperia AG company is the provider of the Imperia content management platform and is one of the leading enterprises in the field of content management. Since January 2005 Imperia AG has been part of the PIRONET NDH group.

Please address any inquiries to
Imperia AG
Denise Bongardt
Leyboldstr. 10
D-50534 Fürth
phone: 02233/807543, fax: 807100

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

Irene Thewalt
Tel. 06221 542310, Fax 542317


Editor: Email