The Challenge

Victoria University of Wellington has a student population of 21 000, is supported by close to 2000 full-time staff and operates from four campus locations within the city. Its law faculty achieved a QS world ranking of 23, the highest individual ranking obtained by any New Zealand university faculty.

Up till 2011 Victoria's web team had managed many of its public websites on the Luminis Content Management System (LCMS), with vendor support from the USA. Faculties and Schools mostly looked after their own content with support from the web team. However there were also scores of university websites in a variety of frameworks and CMSs, or as static HTML.

In late 2010, Victoria went to tender for a replacement CMS. The tender process included a full RFP, CMS demonstrations to web teams and department content editors, and a pilot migration project. The pilot involved a test migration of around 1000 pages of content and associated metadata from a website on the incumbent LCMS. Although working to a deadline, Squiz was able to test, tune and re-run the migration scripts to make the final migration as 'clean' as possible, the final result exceeding expectation. After an extremely thorough evaluation process lasting a number of months, Victoria awarded the CMS replacement contract to Squiz, and the university's web team and Squiz project team set to work.

A key priority for Victoria was to meet its timetable for migrating off the incumbent CMS, while ensuring editors in Faculties and Schools were fully trained to manage their content with the new system (the Easy Edit Suite interface for Squiz Matrix CMS).

The main tasks and challenges presented in this stage of the migration project included:

  • System architecture design and installation in Victoria's virtualised environment.
  • Migration of 40 websites with thousands of pages and associated images, files and metadata.
  • CMS training for Victoria's highly experienced web team.
  • Easy Edit Suite (EES) training for over 100 Faculty and School content editors.
  • Resolving implementation issues such as finding the right balance between a robust generic site template and permitted site-specific customisations.
  • Tuning the migration scripts.
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The Solution

Squiz Matrix CMS

Squiz installed one instance of Squiz Matrix CMS into the virtualised environment prepared by Victoria's Information Technology Services team. The CMS runs across multiple replicated nodes, that support a high-performance split authoring/publishing environment.


The migration was phased in three rounds over six months to minimise content maintenance issues. At time of writing, the 40 Phase One sites had been fully migrated off Victoria's former CMS, with another 80 websites on various platforms to follow.

All content (text, images and files) was imported via a single PHP script that recursively looped through a given file system path, processing and preparing content for import and then importing the content into Squiz Matrix via the Matrix SOAP API.


More than 100 Victoria content editors were trained in small groups, just-in-time to take control of their Faculty or School websites, as these were migrated onto Squiz Matrix CMS. Each group of 10 - 12 authors attended one, half-day training session run by a Squiz trainer with a Victoria web team member on hand to offer individual assistance. Each training session consisted of thirty minutes of theory followed by three hours of practical instruction and exercises. Classes were adjusted to suit the level of the students.

Balancing easy editing, content reuse, standardisation/customisation

Victoria wanted all Faculty and School website editors to have easy access to 'just their own stuff' - so as to avoid being exposed to the full complexity of the system as managed by the web team - but also to be able to re-use shared content and design assets.

Equally, Faculty and School websites required a degree of individuality, but within Victoria's overall brand, design and web standards. To meet these requirements, Squiz drew on the flexibility of the Squiz Matrix CMS asset-based architecture, and the ability to provide separate interfaces for editors and for web team 'power users'. Also, on key Squiz Matrix tools and techniques such as asset listings, and related asset metadata fields applied on site assets, which allowed asset listings to be used across sites.


Integration with the key Victoria applications and databases was achieved via REST web services and Squiz Matrix integration tools, principally the JS REST Asset and XML DataSource. These were used to process and merge responses from multiple sources including Matrix pages and XML middle-ware, for such content as the Course Catalog, Staff Directory, Graduate Roll, Course Pages, Course Lists, Staff Profiles and Staff Lists.


In order to ensure web content meets Victoria's corporate and generic web standards in a distributed authoring environment with non-technical web editors, Victoria and Squiz designed and configured a workflow that provides checks and oversight efficiently, so as to minimise the demands on the web team and Faculty/School approvers.

The Result

At time of writing, the migration of all websites and assets from the former CMS to Squiz Matrix is complete, and websites running on other systems are being migrated across.

Over 100 content authors and editors have been trained and are managing their own Faculty or School content, supported by Victoria's web team when required.

Content authors appreciate the easier editing experience provided by Squiz Matrix's Easy Edit Suite. The web team itself is fully managing all Victoria's websites running on Squiz Matrix, and building new websites and features, with support from Squiz when required.

Enhancements in the pipeline at time of writing include:

  • A fresh, responsive, website design.
  • Making use of the opportunities presented by HTML5 .
  • Further online services using the extensive integration tools in Squiz Matrix.
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