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Globes vs Nodes for Large Departments

Summary: Large departments often request (demand!) the ability to control the navigiation and look & feel of their own department's web presence -- a request which can run counter to the rules and instincts of company webmasters seeking uniformity of presentation, and control over support and upgrade costs.  This article discusses the pros and cons of creating a new Globe for each department vs. requiring departments to build their website as a Node in the central Globe of the orgnaization. 

Conclusion: There are two valid and interchangeable ways for building a department website in Titan CMS – Globes or Nodes.  In short, we suggest Globes are a better choice as websites grow and begin to sprawl, when navigation congestion sets in, or when original site layouts can no longer accommodate evolving needs.

Q: Loss of Control by Management?  There is no difference in the way workstation security or workflow is applied in either approach.  Both Globes and Nodes offer robust centralized or de-centralized security management depending on your governance model.  There is no Titan limitation in either approach.

Q:  Speed of Workstation?  On larger sites with thousands of pages, the use of Globes will lead to a modest speed increase in workstation response time.  Technically, this is because Titan does fewer security calculations to determine user access rights. Titan only needs to evaluate a reduce section of the entire content tree.

Q: Upgrade Cost?  Upgrades costs are not related to the use of either Globes or Nodes.  The cost of an upgrade is related only to the number of customizations, layouts, CSS, and XSL files that need to be addressed.  The less of each, the cheaper and faster the upgrade.  It is possible for either Globes or Nodes to use all the same files or all different files. 

There is one exception.  Departments that wish to have their own "home" navigation - a very frequent request and often the basis for wanting their own department home page -- need to have a customer XLS written in order to "root" the navigation when using the Nodes approach.   This is a downside of the Nodes approach for department home pages, because it leads to increase costs of implementation and upgrades.

Advantages of using Globes for Larger Departments

  • Globes allow brand, design, and layout standards to be enforced and maintained while still allowing Information Architecture to be flexible enough for individual department needs.
  • Upgrades are usually easier and less expensive with Globes. The Nodes approach often requires changes to base navigation XLS files.  This is unnecessary when using Globes.
  • Globes breaks bigger sites into manageable chunks.  This makes it easier to use and administer.  It also improves response time in the  workstation.
  • Globes simplifies finding pages in the workstation for departments authors and editors, who do not need to navigate through parts of the site they do not control. 
  • Globes makes it easier, if setup correctly, for Google Analytics reports to be read and segmented. (FYI, two or more analytics codes can be entered in any layout without penalty by Google, so no central analytics is lost).
  • Assignment of user rights is easier with Globes.
  • Tags can be activated by Globe reducing confusion by displaying only those tags relevant to the department site.
  • Within a complex multi-page layout theme, page layouts can be activated by Globe reducing confusion by displaying only those page layouts relevant to the department's web pages.
  • Blocks can be activated by Globe reducing confusion by displaying only those blocks relevant to the department's web pages.
  • Comments and ratings including unique styles can be activated by Globe reducing confusion by displaying only those Comments and Ratings relevant to the site
  • Globes allow for easier tracking of Smart Search words because it is possible to setup a separate Smart Search instance just for that Globe. 

Note: Smart Search data for the main site won’t be updated if a Globe Smart Search approach is used.  Our advice. Smart Search should be monitored for all sites and enabled for Globes. Nothing prevents a local department from mapping any search term to non-department parts of the overall website. 

Note: The use of the new feature called “Segmented Search” introduced in V5.8 allows for the use of multiple smart search results blocks on a Globe. This is another solution. 

Recommendation:  We recommend using the Globes approach for larger department websites when any of the following conditions are met.

  • Main navigation needs to be tailored to show mostly department links because of the size of the department.
  • The desired layouts for the department site will involve changes from current layouts.
  • The department website is substantial in its mission and content.
  • The department stakeholders consider their pages to be a “website” and do not think of them as just “department pages.”

If you use Globes:

  • Default site DT Search indexes for the “main site” need to be updated to include the new globes.  This is a onetime configuration issue and is not affected by upgrades.
  • Since Globe based department websites were conceived from the beginning to have a substantial standalone nature, it follows that users of the site would expect search results from the site be tailored to that site first.  This is possible with segmented search as of Version 5.8.  However, the display of search results from other areas of the “main site” website can be displayed second (or first) if desired.
  • The branding and navigation of the “main site” can and should be thoughtfully integrated into any Globe based website that is part of a larger organization, unless there is a very good reason to not do this.   We have some excellent ideas on how to do this.  Happy to show you some examples on request.

True for both the Globes and Nodes approach:

  • Unique URLs can be assigned to the website.  Eg.  HealthDept.milwaukee.gov  or MCW.edu/Cancer-Center.htm
  • Unique DT Search and Smart Search index can be assigned to the website.  Segmented Search option will make it easier to display search results from multiple sources