Inspiring minds for nearly two centuries, Dalhousie University provides world-class education coupled with legendary Maritime charm. Serving over 15,000 students across several campuses, Dalhousie attracts students from around the globe.

Today’s market for recruiting and retaining students is fiercely competitive and Dalhousie recognized that it needed to better market its message, brand and offering to attract the right student mix, ensuring that potential recruits understood the opportunity and value of a Dalhousie education.

Through an internal audit, Dalhousie discovered that it was operating over 300 web properties, each site driving varying messaging, using diverse tools and systems. This meant a lack of consistency in branding and content, as well as increased operational costs in managing all of these properties. The university was also looking for a new CMS with a stable future and a clear roadmap after their previous CMS vendor went out of business, leaving them without the support they needed. Finally, they needed a CMS that had an intuitive user experience for the large number of non-technical staff that served as content authors.


Dalhousie worked with nonlinear by establishing a governance strategy, a critical first step as it ultimately set the stage for branding, architecture, messaging and content. A strategy engagement as well as criteria for the selection of a new, common Content Management System provided the foundation for the ultimate goal of replacing more than nine different technologies currently being used.

The project moved into a phased consolidation where the defined roadmap to merge 300 properties saw the first, most critical nine assets combined under dal.ca. This also meant confirming the new architecture, designing the creative elements and implementing their chosen CMS – Day CQ5 (now Adobe Experience Manager).

This platform was chosen in large part because of its friendly user experience for content authors. This decision has largely been validated by the successful rollout of the platform to the wide range of largely-autonomous content authors across the institution.

nonlinear helped Dalhousie with the technical planning and implementation of multiple reusable components using CQ5. The nonlinear team worked together with Dalhousie’s technical team on the definition of Java coding conventions for the project, organization of CQ’s CRXDE folder structure, common components used as base for the CQ presentation components developed for the project and its integration with Google Mini.


First and foremost, the nonlinear and Dal teams were able to successfully consolidate more than 200 sites (totalling 160,000 pages of content) with a large number of content authors onto a single, supported platform. The infrastructure supporting the constellation of sites is scalable and redundancies in technologies have been eliminated. The team has confidence in the future of the platform, which allows them to invest wisely in support and training.

Furthermore, the new look and feel of the site have allowed the core team to better focus on recruitment and retention, leading to a spike in interest in enrolment information that played a key role in helping the school see a 20% increase in enrolment numbers in the years since the new site was launched.