CMS Rubric

What follows is a rubric I’ve been working on for Digital Library Services which is housed in the University of Iowa Main Libraries. The rubric was driven by the need to serve faculty and staff exploring how to present their own research, primarily humanities projects, digitally.

Version 1 of the rubric was shared with DLS on Tuesday, November 22, 2011. This rubric is still under development. I welcome critiques and comments.

Content Management System Overview
Drupal Omeka WordPress
Open source Yes Yes Yes
Developer community Smaller, more expert-level Focused, smaller, but growing Larger, from novice to expert
Ease of use Hard

Steep learning curve

Many obstacles


Low-to-moderate learning curve

Some obstacles


Moderate learning curve

Easy to corrupt

Plugin variety (extensible?) Yes, fairly well developed Yes, growing development

All Plugins

Yes, fairly well developed
Theme variety Many variations in style, layout, color, etc.

Can edit CSS in browser through module

Few variations

Rich exhibition builder plugin

Many variations in style, layout, color, etc.

Can edit CSS in browser

Mobile interface Built-in with certain themes In development

Building for in-gallery experiences

Built-in with certain themes
User accounts Administrator—content manager

Anonymous—view only

Authenticated—user accounts


Super—manage settings

Admin—add, edit anything

Contributor—add, edit own

Researcher—view non-public items


Admin—manage all content

Editor—manage others’ content

Author—manage own content

Contributor—manage own content; no publishing

Subscriber—manage own profile


Blog Yes No Yes
Customizable pages Yes

Uses modules (expertise required)


Simple Pages plugin

Advanced: HTML, PHP


Can build small websites with minimal experience


“Methods” is a bit grad-schooly of a header for this section, but fine enough to label how I went about creating this rubric. I have been exploring and advocating for WordPress since 2008, choosing the platform to maintain my own website once I wanted to document and share information throughout my graduate coursework. For researching WordPress, I did what most bloggers do and google widely and ferociously.

For both Drupal and Omeka, the research focused on a back-and-forth between working with a version of the systems installed on a server, googling, and (much) trial and error. My test Omeka collection may be accessed here. My Drupal site, well, never quite got off the ground and there’s nothing shared there publicly.

Also for Drupal, I was able to interview a couple of people who maintain Drupal sites and describe their technology skills as below average. It was great to hear from those who already use it, and if this research were more empirical I would need to reach out to a greater sample size on each CMS. Since this is less formal research, I relied more heavily on my own observations and experience with WordPress and Omeka.


This section should also grow as this resource does. For now, it’ll just hold a few links.

Great insights on similar research: R. J. Townsend on Drupal v. WordPress v. Joomla!

Citation for formal case study on Omeka:
Kucsma, J., Reiss, K., & Sidman, A. (2010 March/April). Using Omeka to build digital collections: The METRO case study. D-Lib Magazine (16) 3-4. Accessed through

ProfHacker on Teaching with Omeka

Up Next

My to-do list now includes exploring the following questions: How do TEI and linked data fit in? What likelihood could there be an export function for editing or updating metadata? I would also like to explore building Omeka exhibitions more and lurk more deeply on the Omeka developers forums. I may be becoming an Omeka fangirl so call my bias out if you see it.

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