WordPress Selected as Content Management System

WordPress has been selected as the new content management system (CMS) for the SMPH relaunch. This is a shift from the current CMS called Terminalfour (T4), which is a proprietary platform licensed by UW Health.

Switching the site to WordPress will allow some efficiencies and will enable SMPH to benefit from and contribute to the campus WordPress community. Additionally, using WordPress will allow the SMPH Office of Strategic Communications (OSC) team to assume direct responsibility for site operations and facilitate a strategic vision for the site while continuing strong collaboration with UW Health communications, web and digital marketing teams.

Decision Criteria

  • WordPress is the most broadly used and supported UW-Madison CMS and underlies the wisc.edu website as well as all WiscWeb sites.
  • There is an active WordPress community of practice on campus.
  • The editing interface is easy to learn and user-friendly and allows to role-based access to edit content.
  • There are many high-quality, well-supported plugins available to add functionality to the site.
  • There is broad support available for WordPress custom development—including many WordPress development agencies on the UW approved web development vendor list.
  • Role-based access will allow for a more distributed model of content management.

Risks and mitigation


The popularity of WordPress makes it a target for brute force attacks, cross-site scripting and malware.

  • Single sign-on with NetID will be used for content administration. This has the benefit of ensuring adequately complex passwords and requiring dual authentication for an added layer of protection. Unsuccessful login attempts will be limited.
  • WordPress core, plugins and themes with be updated promptly using a combination of managed hosting and scripts. Most (95%+) of WordPress vulnerabilities are related to Plugins. Plugins will be carefully vetted and reliance on plugins will be limited.
  • High-quality, dedicated, redundant, https hosting will be used for the med.wis.edu site to maximize security and up-time.
  • A security plugin, like WordFence, will be employed to guard against brute force attacks.
  • Malware scans will be performed regularly on the site.
  • Server permissions will limit ability to read, create, and modify files.
  • Nightly server backups will be available for file recovery.
  • Public data will be the only data type stored in WordPress.

Brand and Content

While the ability to distribute maintenance of content with a CMS has many benefits, it can also put the site’s overall usability, accessibility, brand strategy and content strategy at risk.

  • New and revised content will be reviewed, on a schedule, to ensure consistency of voice and editing practices and continued alignment with target audiences. SMPH and UW editorial guidelines will be used by all site contributors.
  • Continual effort will need to be dedicated to avoid common website issues such as content “bloat” and proliferation of redundant, outdated, or trivial content. The web is a critical and highly visible communication and recruitment marketing tool for the school. SMPH OSC is identifying and engaging content owners to build a shared understanding of the critical role that the web plays as for recruitment of learners, faculty and staff and as a trusted source of information for those interested in our institution and its missions.
  • New and revised content will be reviewed, on a schedule, to ensure consistency in branding, tone, messaging and calls to action.
  • SMPH and UW–Madiso brand guidelines and training materials will be shared with and used by site contributors.
  • A plugin will be used to automatically resize images uploaded by contributors. This will ensure pages continues to load quickly and perform well in search results.
  • Digital assets will be created and designed by SMPH OSC and Media Solutions in consultation with the web vendor. This includes photography, video, diagrams and infographics.
  • Accessibility tools will be used to scan the entire site for issues on a schedule. UW–Madison accessibility guidelines will be shared with site contributors.
  • Overall site design and information architecture will be centralized in the SMPH OSC, including modifications to the navigation and design templates.
  • The OSC staff will continue to consult with contributors on overall usability, accessibility, brand strategy and content strategy.