Years ago, Carleton College—along with nearly every other higher education institution—was struggling with its website. Design and content anarchy was turning the school’s web presence into an ugly patchwork of mismatched sites. The college’s web team recognized the need for coordination, collaboration, and control. In other words, they needed a web Content Management System (CMS).
The team wanted a CMS that respected web standards, was easy to use for both users and administrators, supported multiple sites from a single install, and was deeply customizable. They also wanted to be able to modify and extend the system without working through a third-party vendor. In looking at all the available open source options at the time, there wasn't a tool that fit those requirements.
Building an Open-Source CMS
As a result, a group of developers and designers got busy building their own CMS. From early on, they decided to develop Reason in a way that any institution could use it, and they chose to make it an open-source community project. This way, higher education institutions with similar needs could collaborate on developing solutions, and the resulting CMS would be a common asset shared by all institutions.
Where We’re at Today
Reason has been powering Carleton’s websites since 2002. It was released as a full-featured open-source CMS in 2006, and has undergone extensive upgrades in the ensuing years. Today Reason CMS is being used by several partner institutions across the United States, and has an active and collaborative base of developers contributing code from many locations.
Reason CMS has also been used for a number of non-academic websites, including arts and community organizations, political campaigns, and personal portfolios.