UPDATE! Last Call Media was just named a finalist in the 2016 Acquia Engage Awards for our work with Haverford College. Read more here.
Haverford.edu is a unique site that mirrors the character of the institution. Haverford College is a picturesque campus just outside of Philadelphia, ranked twelfth among National Liberal Arts Colleges in the 2016 edition of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges edition. Haverford’s previous site was static with no underlying content management system. In order to make even simple changes and updates to text, departments needed to ask the Haverford web team to make those changes on their behalf. Requiring knowledge of HTML and CSS for simple changes is always a risky proposition as it runs the risk of altering the page’s structural format, appearance, and potentially break the site. This current structure was unscalable as the web team focused their energy on updating site content instead of making meaningful improvements. While this was not particularly user friendly, it had the advantage that individual pages could be manually tailored and customized, albeit by a developer. Haverford needed an interface accessible and approachable for non-technical users built on a robust platform that provided a best-in-class content management system that allowed customization on the department level. They chose Drupal as their platform and Last Call Media to execute the migration.
Haverford needed to allow its users to update and manage the content on their section while preventing them from doing any damage. The College houses more than fifty academic departments and programs, each with their own identity, narrative and academic track. Each department needs to have flexibility in the layout of their pages that out of the box Drupal doesn’t provide. We turned to the Panelizer Module as a solution. This module allows content editors to create new page layouts without touching code and without fear of breaking the site.
Previously, departmental website users needed to go through the web department to edit or add content. This onerous editorial process created bottlenecks and out-of-date content. LCM’s solution was the Organic Groups Module in conjunction with the Workbench Moderation Module to allow administrators to set up complex editorial workflows. Departments can now update their own section of the site using an editorial workflow that allows the web team to simply review changes and approve new content before making them publicly available.
Course listings are a college’s lifeblood. On Haverford’s previous site, courses were only available by retrieving the data from an outdated legacy application that they wanted to sunset. LCM worked with Haverford’s web team to create a new API that provided the necessary course data. The benefit of this API was two-fold: it was easier for us to write a client that could consume the course data, and the Haverford team now has a more flexible system for managing available courses on the website and other services that may need this information in the future.
Last Call Media streamlined the way pages were designed. The web team had long been using ZURB Foundation as the base for styling across their site. This was easier than writing all of code from scratch, but updating code was still required to update the layout of a page. By using a custom panels pane style that made all of ZURB’s grid settings available through the the panels pane configuration UI, we were able to combine the power of the Panels IPE (in place editor) and the same foundation layout tools that they were accustomed to using. This allowed the team to instantly create pages with custom layouts in the UI, and see the effects that different grid settings would have on the site in real time, without the need for any code.
My favorite part of this project was working with tools that aren’t standard to Drupal and working on the course API integration. There were so many wins in this project that came together to create a powerful content management platform that can be customized within the UI, no code required. All of this made Haverford.edu a unique site to work on and, more importantly, a powerful, efficient and user friendly tool worthy of Haverford College.
…or read on for how Haverford has leveraged the solution we built ->