The true cost of Cascade Server: Hannon Hill understands that content management is more about people than technology
August 28, 2014

The true cost of Cascade Server: Hannon Hill understands that content management is more about people than technology

Christopher Davis | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version

Standard Enterprise

Overall Satisfaction with Cascade Server

Cascade Server has been Philadelphia University's primary means of web content management for five years now and approximately 90% of our website is generated via a push from Cascade. With the web communications team (roughly 3 people in marketing and public relations) serving as designers, developers, writers, managers, trainers and consultants, faculty from almost every one of our 75 graduate and undergraduate programs along with staff from approximately 10 administrative departments act as content editors. Using Cascade, we have addressed the need to decentralize basic content updates while maintaining control over not only the technology, but in many ways more importantly, the brand.
  • In-context (i.e., in page as it appears) editing with a simple WYSIWYG editor that anyone who can use a word processor can understand
  • Push system that results in easier server management and clean, compliant output
  • Support from LIVE human beings that don't just refer you to a help document but will actually help you by telephone and email (i.e., great customer service)
  • To be used to fullest potential, Cascade Server requires at least one developer who knows or is willing to learn Velocity script
  • Setting permissions for users could be simplified as, depending on your build, there are some redundancies regarding user setup
  • Non-technical people can become content editors with only a modicum of training; better still, they are kept from messing with the design templates! We have saved money in the form of labor that would otherwise be spent training and policing staff and faculty to abide by our web standards and guidelines.
  • There is breathing room within the CMS for our team of designers and developers to use jQuery, Javascript, etc. to develop unique call-outs and features otherwise not built into the system; not having tyrannical coding restrictions makes for happier developers on staff and less need for outsourcing (again, saving us time and money)
  • Drupal,Joomla!,WordPress,Omni Update,Ingeniux CMS
We knew we didn't have the department size (i.e., human resources) or time to work with open source products like Drupal and Joomla, and while we still use WordPress for offshoot blogs by some departments and programs, we needed a more robust CMS that would centralize design and not jeopardize the brand. Of the many companies that came to campus to demo their product, Hannon Hill was the most reasonably priced with the best plan for helping us catch up to the competition and get started.
We're invested monetarily, holistically and even emotionally in the use of Cascade Server. Frankly, to switch over to any other CMS now would slow us down. Besides, pricing has remained reasonable and new features keep being added all of the time.
Cascade Server is well-suited for medium to large institutions that need centralized management and development but want to decentralize content updates and editing. Getting started can be daunting, especially if yours is a complex design in a department with few developers. If "out of the box" design is a goal, I recommend early on spending time and money on necessary customization. While Cascade can be a turnkey solution, it is best used in concert with Hannon Hill's team of experts who can assist with the foundations, the growing pains and learning curves that are inevitable early on. The goal, oddly enough, is to work toward a time when you don't need them anymore!

During the selection process, give Hannon Hill an idea of what your designers or consultants have in mind for a design. Show them sites you like and sites you don't like. Ask them if Cascade Server can deliver the type of site you require. If you are a more traditional institution with a basic design in mind, you will spend less on customization and launch faster. If, like us, you are a design school, you will have to be up front about your needs and the possible cost involved in custom design and initial setup.

Also, ask the folks from Hannon Hill to demo the product in detail, both to a large room full of management types, and smaller groups by phone who will end up being the ones who will manage use of the product. Their team of sales, marketing and training staff explain the advantages of Cascade Server better than any other company I considered. Simply put, they seemed to care more than the competition did.