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Empowering Higher Ed Organizations by Using Pantheon Custom Upstreams for Faster Website Launch

Empowering Higher Ed Organizations by Using Pantheon Custom Upstreams for Faster Website Launch

As digitalization becomes part of our daily life, universities must also adapt and improve their web presence.  Technology is becoming more personalized but also intricate and more people are using online platforms in various ways.  Higher education institutions must broaden their understanding of their audience to efficiently and effectively serve their current and prospective users. As such, building and maintaining a strong web presence is crucial for higher education institutions for several reasons. 

Firstly, most prospective students and parents begin their search for schools online. Therefore, having a well-designed and informative website can greatly impact a school’s ability to attract and engage potential applicants. Additionally, an effective web presence can help a school communicate its mission and values, showcase academic programs, highlight faculty research, and promote student life activities. A strong web presence is also important for current students, faculty, and staff. It can provide access to important resources and information, such as course schedules, academic calendars, campus news, and library services.

“A well-designed website can enhance the overall experience of interacting with a school, providing an intuitive and streamlined interface that makes it easy to find what users are looking for.”

Finally, a strong web presence can help a school build its brand, reputation, and attract donors and sponsors. By demonstrating a commitment to innovation, accessibility, and excellence, a school can differentiate itself from its competitors and establish a strong presence in the higher education landscape. Overall, a strong web presence is essential for higher education institutions to achieve their recruitment, engagement, and branding goals.

Higher Education Industry Trends and Growth

In 2020, the global higher education market was at $77.41 billion and is expected to reach $114.69 billion by 2026. Higher education is changing, especially how things are taught. The World Economic Forum identified some of the obvious trends that will shape the future of higher education. Noting, the pivot to online teaching and hybrid models that is forcing higher education to examine the way teaching and learning occur, replacing traditional lectures with active learning, teaching skills that are still relevant to the real world and preparing students for the workforce, and implementing formative assessments.

The Higher Commission Learning also released the current 2023 trends for the higher education industry.  Although there is some overlap with those listed by the World Economic Forum, the Commission identified campus-wide trends. Noting that despite not being listed in any order or priority,  they will allow for ongoing conversations at higher education institutions. 

The report identified these areas of concern:  student mental health, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB), the changing landscape of credentials, finance teaching, and learning, transfer roadblocks, leadership, outcomes, the value of higher education, online program managers (OPMs), consumer awareness, innovation, partnerships, mergers, affiliations and acquisitions, workforce needs, the shrinking focus on liberal arts, broken traditions, career centers’ shortcomings, and opportunities evolving workplace practices and challenges.

Online Education

The online higher education market share in the US is expected to increase by USD 33.35 billion from 2021 to 2026, and the market’s growth momentum will accelerate at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.82%. The growth is driven by the collaboration between enterprises and higher education institutions. Despite the costs associated with the resources and source of content as one of the main challenges. 


But how does this affect a web presence? 

Trends are usually predictions based on what is already happening. Addressing each of the concerns will require communication on a larger scale. Higher education institutions must shift into the habit of disseminating information, faster, accurately, and to the right audience. Changes will occur regardless of the scale and pace and a well-designed, streamlined website powered by a flexible and secure CMS system will address part of that problem.  

In our post on choosing the right CMS for educational institutions, we highlighted some of the obvious reasons for upgrading to a system that accommodates expansion but also provides access to the changing and growing community. 

But how do you think beyond the scope and capabilities of a CMS, open-source or otherwise? 

As a Pantheon partner, WBD Agency has been exploring some of the unique and beneficial ways in which higher education institutions can benefit more and provide a greater online experience for their audience using Pantheon platform. 

So, What is Pantheon?

Pantheon is a website hosting management platform that provides infrastructure and tools for building, deploying, and scaling websites. It is a popular choice for higher education websites because it offers high availability, scalability, and security, as well as integrations with popular CMS systems like Drupal and WordPress.

One of the key benefits of using Pantheon for higher education websites is that it provides an “upstream” platform that allows institutions to standardize their web presence across departments and units. An upstream platform is essentially a pre-configured template that provides a set of tools, features, and best practices for building and managing websites.

Instead of starting from scratch, developers can use pre-configured upstream templates to build sites with an existing set of features such as CSS, JS libraries, branding, essential content, and more.  

With the Pantheon upstream platform, higher education institutions can ensure that all their websites adhere to the same standards for design, functionality, and security. This can help to improve the user experience for students, faculty, and staff, while also reducing the workload for web development teams.

Key Upstream Features 

Pantheon’s upstream platform for higher education includes features such as:

  1. Multi-site management: With Pantheon, you can manage multiple websites from a single dashboard, making it easier to keep track of content, updates, and security.
  2. Customizable templates: Pantheon provides a set of customizable templates that institutions can use as a starting point for their websites. This can help to streamline the development process and ensure consistency across sites.
  3. Version control: Pantheon provides version control for all code changes, making it easy to roll back to a previous version if needed.
  4. Automatic updates: Pantheon automatically updates core software and security patches, ensuring that all websites are up-to-date and secure.
  5. Analytics and reporting: Pantheon provides analytics and reporting tools that allow institutions to track user engagement and measure the effectiveness of their websites.

Overall, Pantheon’s upstream platform for higher education can help institutions to create and manage websites more efficiently, while also ensuring that all sites adhere to the same standards for design, functionality, and security.

How Pantheon differs from traditional hosting solutions

Pantheon is a cloud-based platform that offers a unique approach to hosting websites and web applications. Here are a few key ways in which Pantheon differs from traditional hosting solutions:

  1. Container-based architecture: Pantheon’s container-based architecture allows each website or application to run in its own isolated environment, ensuring maximum performance, scalability, and security.
  2. Automated workflows: Pantheon offers a suite of automated workflows that simplify website development and deployment, including automated backups, updates, and testing.
  3. Dev, Test, and Live environments: Pantheon provides separate environments for development, testing, and production, allowing teams to make changes to the website without affecting the live site.
  4. Integrated tools: Pantheon integrates with a range of popular tools and platforms, including WordPress, Drupal, GitHub, and more, making it easy for developers to build, deploy, and manage websites.
  5. Expert support: Pantheon offers expert support from a team of experienced engineers, who can provide assistance with everything from troubleshooting to custom development.


Overall, Pantheon’s container-based architecture, automated workflows, integrated tools, upstreams, and expert support make it a powerful and unique hosting solution for websites and web applications.

Your Next Steps

Communication plays an integral role in tackling some or all the ongoing higher education trends. Housing important information and relaying said information in alignment with the institution’s brand guidelines require an experienced dedicated partner. 

From discovery to launch WDB Agency engages with your team to allow for clear communication of a seamless process. Our partnership with Pantheon provides an open channel of communication, expanding the overall implementation of your ideas and vision. Pantheon’s upstream creates an opportunity for institutions with various sites to consolidate and manage without the hassle. 

Finding the right systems to maintain or build your higher education web presence is not a decision to take lightly.  The process might be tedious and time-consuming but given the constant changes in our society and with technology, selecting the right system must be done with absolute care.

This decision is usually based on what your higher education institution needs from a growth and development, financial or community standpoint. But also, to allow for the integration of future and current technologies as the institutions grow.

If you are looking for a growth partner, contact us to discuss our partnership.

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