LTER Information Manager's Manual

A getting started guide

This project is maintained by lter

Site Websites

If you’re one of those (un)lucky IMs who handles your LTER site’s website, then read on.


Consistent with LTER’s generally bottom-up philosophy, the content and organization of LTER site websites is not determined by the Network Office. Each site has different audiences to prioritize and is situated differently within its home institution (or within a group of institutions and partners). However, maintaining some consistency across sites allows NSF, reviewers, and colleagues to easily find the information that is important to them. To achieve this balance, the network developed and approved a set of Content Guidelines for LTER websites. Please refer to these guidelines when developing new sites and updating existing websites.


Exactly how you go about creating or maintaining your site’s website depends on the legacy of the existing website (if any), what resources are available to you at your institution, how much your site has budgeted for website work, and what your site needs from your website. Some of the more common options across sites are listed below, as well as one new and interesting option.

Drupal and DEIMS

Drupal is an open-source content management system for building and maintaining websites. Several LTER sites use Drupal, and some of them joined forces to create DEIMS (the Drupal Ecological Information Management System, depending on whom you ask), a Drupal-based website solution which handles functionality common across LTER sites such as data catalog, bibliography, and personnel lists. DEIMS was developed in Drupal 7 and upgrade instructions to Drupal 8/9 can be found in a git repository. Drupal manages information in a database, and modules have been developed to import and export ecological metadata language (EML) documents. Developing a new website in Drupal is more complex than, e.g., WordPress, but offers more opportunities for customization. However, IM supporting developments at EDI and the IMC have been replacing most functionality Drupal has been lauded for. If you already use DEIMS or are familiar with Drupal reach out to the IMs at these sites to learn more: NTL, KNZ, PIE.


Many sites use WordPress for its ease of migration and editing. However, a DEIMS-like solution doesn’t exist for WordPress, so you will have to find a way to support interactive features such as a data catalog. Reach out to the IMs at these sites to learn more: VCR, CAP, JRN.

Static Website

There are many advantages to static websites. For example, you can typically find a free host for a static website, they’re secure, and they can be blazingly fast. While static websites used to be just for geeks, content management systems are evolving which make the editing experience more similar to WordPress or Drupal. By harnessing the power of online services and APIs, static sites can include interactive features like data catalogs and bibliographies. Reach out to the IMs at these sites to learn more: BLE, SBC.

DataONE Portal

For a relatively new paid option with simpler sites, you may be interested in DataONE Portals. From DataONE:

A portal is a collection of DataONE member node data packages on a unique webpage.

In other words, you can describe your project on your own portal page, and you can have a complete data catalog as long as all of your datasets are discoverable within DataONE. If you need other fancy features though, you may need to look elsewhere.