Lunch & Learn: Jill Moraca on Website options at Princeton University

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Lunch & Learn logo

Jill Moraca of Web Development Services (WDS) at Princeton University talked to the Lunch & Learn crowd about the various options offered to the Princeton community for creating websites. She explained that the conversation usually starts with the idea that the options available to you depend on who you are (e.g. individual, group, or project), what your specific needs are (e.g. how much support you need and how development-savvy you are), and how much you have in your spending budget (e.g. no budget, some money set aside, or a dedicated budget for the effort) for the site’s creation, development, and maintenance.
Jill Moraca

Moraca begins by assessing a customer’s specific needs and their audience’s needs by asking questions such as:

  • How much time can you devote to your website?
  • What content do you have or need to have for the site?
  • Do you have the technical skills to update and patch the website?
  • What are your goals and outcomes for the site?
  • Who will read the site?
  • What are they looking for?
  • What do they need to do?

When developing official sites that represent the University and its various departments, Moraca always makes people aware that there are specific IT security and usage policies, requirements and recommendations ( such as those that prevent the selling of items, biased or political representation, and so on. The Office of Communications has its own set of required elements, such as site owner contact information, and highly suggested features, such as  the prominent presence of your site’s title on every page (

Moraca noted that there are now 8 options for publishing at Princeton, shown here in this handy chart from her slide deck:

What Who OIT Support Cost
Google Sites
Students Not yet Free
Faculty, Researchers, Graduate Students Yes Free
Departments, Faculty, and Staff Yes Free
Central File Server
Everyone Limited Free
(Departmental and Personal)
Everyone Limited Free
Departments, ODUS-recognized student groups, Courses Yes Free
Departments Yes Free – $50/hour
Departments Yes Custom projects only available at this time ($50/hour). Free option on the horizon.

Moraca described the options in some detail, organizing the options according to those available for individuals, individuals & groups, and groups only.

Individual options:

Google sites for students integrates with Google Apps, calendaring, blogs, and is templated, quick, easy to use, and has a point-and-click interface. OIT provides some light support, and the service is free to students. There is no fee-based customization for this service.

Open Scholar is available for faculty, researchers and grad students who want to have a professional online presence with CV options. It is templated, quick to edit, easy to use, offers a point and click interface, and offers biography, publication and bibliography information, calendaring, classes, and more. It is supported, managed, patched, and secured by OIT. It is not very customizable, and there is a 2 GB quota.

For individuals and groups:

SharePoint is available for faculty, staff and groups. It is templated, and best used for sharing information and documents. At Princeton, it is typically used as an intranet for internal, protected sharing, and not as a world-facing site. NetID is required for creation, but guest access is available. It is well supported, and users can get training. It is free, and there is no customization available.

cPanel is available to departments, programs, centers, labs, and individuals. It primarily provides a LAMP-based (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) environment for building applications, but also offers Scriptaculous, which allows for quick, one-click  installs of popular packages such as WordPress for low-bandwidth access by the world. Support is limited, and the user builds and secures the site themselves. It is free and has a 2 GB quota. More information is available at

WordPress is available to departments, groups recognized by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students (ODUS), and faculty. WordPress is a blog-based web content management system. OIT offers vetted templates and plugins and limited support is available. Patching and updates are done by OIT, and the ETC offers specific support for faculty use in courses. It is free and comes with a 250 MB quota. It is available at

Only for groups:

Roxen is available to departments, programs, centers, and labs, but not individuals. Open scholar is a good alternative for those individuals looking for personal publishing. Roxen is a Content Management System (CMS), meaning that for users, no knowledge of code is necessary to create or edit a site. Templates and customizability, as well as many functionality modules  (e.g. directory listings, news items, etc.) are available. It is highly monitored, and training is available. OIT offers customization for Roxen in a few levels of service: free, (a standard template), low-cost, (some tweaks to CSS), and fully customized, (a group builds the site from scratch with full support and help from OIT). Documentation, training, and a variety of themes are available. It’s hosted, patched, and updated by OIT

Finally, Drupal is similar to Roxen, but far more customizable. It is also very well supported by OIT, with 24/7 monitoring, per-site training, with OIT managing all patches and upgrades. If you decide you want customization, there is a $50/hour rate for help. A recent pilot of Drupal has ended successfully, and OIT is launching production-ready sites.

For more information or to get started with your website at Princeton, please contact Jill Moraca at, or visit

Below is the presentation and video from Moraca’s session.

20121128_moraca Powerpoint file