LSA’s WordPress websites now have improved support and security

LSA has changed hosting providers for the college’s WordPress websites, a service at no cost to the LSA community. They will now use Pantheon as its web platform, which will bring “improved service, support, and security to these sites,” says Cathy Curley, Chief Information Officer. LSA websites enable faculty and U-M staff to easily promote and share scholarship, research, and other academic events publicly. It is important for these public sites to be secure as they are cited and shared broadly.

LSA Technology Services offers WordPress for faculty, staff, and graduate students for courses, research, labs, conferences, and more. The project to migrate LSA WordPress-based websites to Pantheon was spearheaded by Application Systems Analyst Jessica Wolking. “Pantheon is known for their high-performance, scalable, cloud-based WordPress hosting service specialized in supporting higher education institutions,” said Wolking. “Pantheon offers fast content delivery, automated backups, and secure infrastructure.”

Pantheon was carefully selected as the new hosting platform after a Request For Proposal (RFP). Then, a nine-month long migration began to shift all the sites in a way that was seamless for those that use our WordPress service. WordPress users were informed ahead of time that there would be a content freeze while the platform was launched, and that they should not edit during that time. There was a lot of planning and collaboration with the LSA Technology Services Infrastructure team in order to migrate all sites successfully. 100% of LSA’s WordPress sites successfully migrated to Pantheon in July 2023. ITS was a great help in the process, with Mark Montague, Web Platforms Manager, providing useful advice for the migration project.

LSA Technology Services Web team assists with the creation of WordPress sites for a variety of topics including, but not limited to, labs, faculty, research projects, and conferences. A number of WordPress sites are for specific classes taught in LSA. They are created in collaboration with the Learning and Teaching Consulting team, who provide pedagogical assistance with team-based learning, student interaction, and web publishing. The team has also set up a few WordPress sites for digital scholarship work. However, the largest portion of the WordPress sites are those that are used for faculty, staff, and researchers, labs, graduate students, projects, conferences, symposiums, and workshops. For the migration to Pantheon, just under 9,000 users for over 1,000 sites were affected. All LSA WordPress-based websites are maintained as a multisite network, enabling multiple websites on the same WordPress installation. This makes it easier to control shared code, including the themes and plug-ins LSA uses, instead of individually updating more than 1,000 websites.

Our multisite WordPress network services are vast and able to support more than 1,000 websites. It can’t be overstated what a vital tool they are to the wide array of work the college, especially our faculty, share with the world. With a supported and secure web hosting platform, LSA WordPress-based websites are able to showcase and highlight the college’s world-class articles, books, centers, conferences, initiatives, institutes, programs, research, surveys, symposiums, workshops, and more. A good example of this are lab websites, which post pictures, recruit members, publish current team members, share research, and use different WordPress features. The websites are user-friendly so the site owners can edit them as needed while the Web team supports the backend and helps with design. The shift to Pantheon is a step forward to increase the security and consistency of the web services LSA Technology Services provides. “It is really nice to have a modern web hosting platform with version control,” says Wolking. “We’re very excited about the move to Pantheon.”

If you’d like to learn more about setting up a WordPress website for your course, conference, or other university-related topic, please visit our WordPress Getting Started page.

This article originally appeared in LSA Technology Services’ Innovate newsletter and is reprinted with permission.