We're proud to provide services to our friends in Education.

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The new RMA.edu.

Processes
  • Agile/Scrum
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings

Randolph-Macon Academy desired a responsive digital experience that incorporated a consistent, compelling design focused on furthering the school’s mission, and that could easily be modified by appropriate staff with the proper permissions.

We were able to deliver modern visual stylings and multimedia capabilities that loaded quickly and performed optimally, while incorporating best practices for analytics, social media integration, and search engine optimization.

Three layered screens show the landing page and secondary pages of the Randolph-Macon Academy website.

In addition to informing prospective students and their families about the school, the site met the needs of other important stakeholders such as current parents, current students, alumni, faculty, and staff— each of whom had their own needs from the site. The site also housed faculty and staff human resource forms and information, serving as an intranet behind the scenes.

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Massive nightly sync.

Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Architect
    Rob Bayliss
  • Senior Development
    Rob Bayliss

Yale University Press has a massive collection of over 15,000 unique publications they’ve published over the past 100 years. The Press desired the ability to allow their users to browse, check inventory and purchase items directly from their Yale University Press Drupal site, which required relaunching their site on Drupal 7, integrating their collection management system and an e-commerce and fulfillment solution. After working with another vendor for over three years to get the critical nightly sync from their Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio database to Drupal sync running, Yale University Press was seeking a second opinion. 

Working with Yale ITS and the Press, we successfully implemented a nightly sync that queries their SQL Server for changes made in the last 24-hrs and updates the records in Drupal in under 15 minutes every night at midnight.

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Agile Drupal migration.

Processes
  • Agile/Scrum
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Kelly Albrecht
  • Senior Development
    Kelly McCabe

Rapid migration and training for six departments.

The Dean of UMass Social & Behavioral Sciences (SBS) school had provided a grant to its departments to migrate and update their out-dated static websites to Drupal.

Each department had its own web team, so the engagement was more about collaboration, with LCM doing much of the heavy lifting, while also facilitating and coaching an agile process.

We recommended a rapid, iterative, agile approach to migrate each static HTML site into database-driven websites using the University’s identity management system, Shibboleth. To achieve the highest value within the budget, each department, working with a Last Call producer, could decide how to prioritize tasks for migration, training, and new feature development.

To accomplish the overall project, LCM divided the total grant and project scope into a series of one-week sprints, two sprints per department. We met with each department to develop and prioritize the initial backlog of desired tasks for each department site. Each sprint started with a sprint planning meeting, which included department web teams as collaborators. Some departments were able to prioritize training, enabling them to do more manual migration of content, which in turn freed up sprint time for LCM to do more new feature development.

Leveraging the UMass University Relations custom theme, we rapidly developed numerous websites and provided training and support for each department to develop and deploy their own websites.

The process was very fast and highly collaborative. Due to the agile approach, several departments got additional features beyond the migration of their content from their static websites.

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National Census of Writing.

Processes
  • Agile/Scrum
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Architect
    Jeff Landfried
  • Senior Development
    Jeff Landfried

In the midst of sorting massive amounts of data for the National Census of Writing, Jill Gladstein of the Swarthmore College English Department called on Last Call Media to create a usable web data explorer for use by the general public and qualified researchers alike. Survey data was collected from respondents from over 900 higher education institutions. Census questions gathered data about curricular, administrative, and support structures of writing programs in the United States from March 2013 to October 2014.

Census data is extremely important for the Higher Ed community, but the information is only as good as it is accessible. Working closely with the Swarthmore staff, LCM pinpointed what information was the most critical and sought after by administrators and researchers viewing the data. Graphs were designed to optimally visualize survey question responses and search functionality created to easily explore by survey question, institution type and related filters.

Tablet showing graphs from the National Census of Writing website.

The first iteration of the site launched in time for Swarthmore to unveil its functionality at the Council of Writing Program Administrators 2015 Conference to great praise. The site, in addition to the program’s work, has gone on to be featured in Inside Higher Ed being utilized by the general public, researchers and higher education institutions all over the country and is 508 compliant.

The Census is being utilized in ways we never expected.

Jill Gladstein, Swarthmore College English Department
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Continuous enablement.

Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Kelly Albrecht
  • Senior Architect
    Rob Bayliss
  • Senior Development
    Jeff Landfried

On September 1, Haverford relaunched their homepage with some great new features including:

  • Revised site-wide navigation
  • Seriously upgraded search function
  • Enhanced user menu to help users get to resources they need easily  

Haverford’s in-house communications and development teams executed all of these changes. Last Call Media wants to send them an enthusiastic congratulations on a job well done!

This is an enormous success story for Last Call Media. When I saw this, it was the realization of one of the major goals of our project with Haverford, which was to enable them to to build the foundation of a Drupal environment that allows Haverford to leverage a CMS to manage their site, rather than relying on custom templates that can only be updated by the web team.

Back in December of 2014, when LCM got the call from Haverford about redoing their site in Drupal, I thought it was going to be a redesign.

Haverford didn’t need a redesign; their site looked great already. The biggest issue they needed to solve was not having enough time to do new feature development themselves. The recent enhancements in this Homepage overhaul were the results we were hoping for!

Since then, Last Call Media has continued to work with Haverford on an ongoing basis as part of our dedicated Continuous Delivery relationship, where our dedicated team of developers helps to keep their site secure, up-to-date, and assists as needed with anything from strategy to design to development.

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A Drupal 7 Multi-site Migration to Acquia

Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Architect
    Rob Bayliss
  • Senior Development
    Jeff Landfried

LCM had the deep level of expertise needed to assist USM with a complex migration to Acquia

In preparation for an upgrade from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7, USM was faced with the need to migrate four Drupal sites based on five codebases from an onsite installation to a hosted environment with Acquia. USM was seeking an experienced group of Drupal architects to work hand-in-hand with their iTech team to determine the necessary functional and configuration changes needed to accomplish the migration. USM had a particular interest in leveraging Acquia’s search capabilities.

The University reached out to Last Call Media to drive the high-level technical planning and heavy lifting of a migration to the Acquia Cloud. The University needed a team with platform migration experience to come in and bridge the gap between Acquia and the University’s internal iTech team to ensure that the launch went smoothly. 

Aside from our experience and planning skills, there were several mission critical pieces of the overall infrastructure that needed to be changed to fit within Acquia’s ecosystem. One of these was the site search. USM had previously used a combination of several open source tools to feed data from several different sources into the site’s search engine. While this solution worked well, it was being cut in favor of Acquia Search, powered by Apache Solr. The University brought us in to build a search platform that would be capable of indexing the content of all of the Drupal sites, and searching either independently (within each site’s own content silo), or across the board. Working closely with the iTech team, we planned and executed the search feature within the new infrastructure, including the configuration of environment specific search, so the University team could iterate and test the site search in the development and staging environments before rolling new features to production. 

The final piece of the puzzle was to bring the site’s performance and security up to Acquia’s standards. We worked hard to make the vast majority of the content cacheable by Acquia’s edge layer, and brought iTech and Acquia representatives together to find resolutions for all of the issues surfaced by Acquia’s Insight reporting. At the end of this process, we performed a successful load test across all 4 sites, effectively proving the sites were ready for launch.

As launch day grew closer, we began to focus on the final details. With iTech’s help, we formulated a simple and clear launch checklist that would keep everyone on the same page when it mattered the most. When the final cutover was finished, we had almost no post-launch issues to address.

The work was completed on a timeline that allowed USM to minimize risk by switching to the new site while the University was on break. USM achieved their goal of a smooth migration to Drupal 7 on the Acquia hosting platform with no down time. 

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Implementing A Digital Media Strategy With Measurable Results

Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Architect
    Rob Bayliss
  • Senior Development
    Jeff Landfried

Challenged to increase enrollment and retention, the University of Southern Mississippi looked to their existing ongoing relationship with Last Call Media for ways to implement a digital media strategy with measurable results. Last Call Media focused on building a new digital platform for the University that focused on increasing engagement with the University’s primary audiences: prospective and current students by implementing fresh designs with improved pathways and navigation. 

We already knew that USM.edu was an aging Drupal 6 site that was slow and difficult to update under the hood, but furthermore, site admins had little to no visibility into the performance of the platform, coupled with limited functionality and almost no reporting tools. Beyond Drupal 6 quickly becoming end-of-life from a development standpoint, USM agreed that from the marketing ROI perspective, it was time to move to Drupal 8. 

Due to Last Call Media’s long-standing working relationship with the University of Southern Mississippi, we were able to break ground quickly. The marketing and IT teams on USM and LCM agreed to work iteratively by first focusing efforts on launching a pilot site on Drupal 8 and prioritizing additional departments and colleges after the initial launch. This allowed the LCM team to formulate a focused yet creative digital strategy that would get into the hands of the USM audiences faster and allow for user feedback to inform future, more complex, development and content needs. Additionally, USM was able to communicate directly with the Acquia Certified Drupal 8 developers and architecture consultants at LCM, to provide expertise on best practices and development techniques. This direct line of communication with our certified team gave USM confidence in their ability to develop the new Drupal 8 platform alongside us. Some Acquia technologies we used on USM.edu are Acquia Cloud, Acquia Cloud Shield, Acquia Cloud Edge, Acquia Search, and Acquia Ready. The Acquia platform allowed USM to maintain a homogenous interface to their new Drupal 8 product and the workflow tools have allowed internal and external developers to collaborate in building new features and has made the quality assurance and release process consistent and seamless.

Since the relaunch of USM.edu on Drupal 8, feedback on campus has been overwhelmingly positive. The community was engaged and involved along the way, so it was a huge moment on campus when the site went live. 

There have even been some tangible technical results that the school benefited from almost immediately. One of the key results the site achieved was a sub-second page load for the homepage, despite using a video in the hero region. To accomplish this, we worked with the USM development team to obsessively reduce and minify front end assets, prefer CSS over images for presentational styling, and to lazy-load large assets not required for the initial pageview. Throughout the process, we tested using a front-end performance benchmarking tool (Phantomas) to keep us on track and efficient.  

Though the LCM and USM teams were optimistic and bases were seemingly covered, the immediate success or failure of the site, however, rested on its ability to stay up during the initial launch. The University expected up to 85,000 visitors in a day due to our marketing efforts. To meet this goal, we developed and executed a load testing plan, giving the University the confidence and success they expected on launch day. Since its launch, the new USM.edu has been a huge victory and the University continues to see benefits from more in-depth reporting via Acquia, to site admin efficiency, all on a stable and supported Drupal 8 platform. 

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Continuous delivery to the College of Natural Sciences.

Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Kelly Albrecht

LCM has been pleased to offer our expertise whenever possible to the UMass College of Natural Sciences. 

It has been a pleasure working with you and the very knowledgeable and competent team at Last Call.

Beth Armour, Web Designer/Production Administrator, Center for Agriculture, College of Natural Sciences

We’ve worked alongside the College of Natural Sciences at UMass Amherst on numerous projects. These projects have included the migration of department sites and functionality into Drupal 7, as well as ongoing consulting on and the implementation of new functionality, such as event sharing across all departmental Drupal websites. In addition to Drupal, we’ve assisted with WordPress, Joomla, and even DevOps needs for their internal server infrastructure.

We have used the expertise of the wonderful folks at Last Call for several projects with outstanding results. Last Call has always been attentive to our needs and our budget while not compromising quality.

Beth Armour, Web Designer/Production Administrator, Center for Agriculture, College of Natural Sciences
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Heavy lifting for the new Amherst.edu.

Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Kelly Albrecht
  • Senior Architect
    Rob Bayliss
  • Senior Development
    Rob Bayliss

We joined their internal team to provide our expertise.

Amherst College needed expert assistance with some of the heavy lifting as they upgraded their infrastructure from Drupal 6 to version 7. Resource needs were fluctuating as the project was nearing its last stretch of available time. We provided availability that scaled up and down as needed to hit the project’s overall strategic launch date for the college.

Our engagement included working with in-house developers to migrate and upgrade numerous features and systems to work with the most current major Drupal version. Highlights of our primary focus on the project included systems handling:

  • Scheduling, registration, and payments for reunion events
  • A dynamic implementation of fundraising forms providing visitors the ability to give in various ways, in different contexts, to several different departments in the college
  • Menus, rating, and reviews for Dining Services
  • Management functionality for various college book clubs
  • The tool used by the area’s five colleges for their students to request and register into courses across the Five College Consortium
  • Payment processing for use by all aspects of the site needing to process payments

Amherst College relaunched a fully functional upgraded Drupal CMS on their online infrastructure.

Thanks for the pieces you guys worked on with that, it was a big help.

David Hamilton, Chief Information Officer, Amherst College
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An updated subscription system for multimedia learning resources.

Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Architect
    Rob Bayliss
  • Senior Development
    Kelly McCabe

Yale University Press (YUP) sought to leverage Organic Groups in Drupal 7 to create a new site that would be easy to use and easy to maintain.

YUP, with the help of the University ITS Department, was able to manage the migration of the content and most of the functionality. They were looking for expert help with aspects of registration for two different types of users (students and instructors), authentication, and a permissions structure that would allow limited-time subscriptions to constrained sets of content. In addition, custom reports and administrative tools were needed to allow the site administrator to understand and have basic controls over user activities on the site.

We worked with a very detailed set of specifications on this project. The team at YUP were very clear about the data structures and attributes that were needed. Drupal’s Organic Groups were the perfect solution for the needs of this project. Some parts of the site needed to be accessible to accounts with codes from a specific book. Other parts of the site needed to be available to students with access to any book.

We built two separate registration forms with different fields on each form. On the site, users self-select the form that they need to fill out. Successful registration requires a valid access code for student accounts, which are then automatically activated. Instructors are able to register without entering an access code, but those accounts need to be reviewed and activated by the site administrator. Automated emails are sent during and after registration, and notifications are sent to users when their account is about to expire.

After registration, all of the information entered during registration is visible and editable by both the user and the administrator on the user’s account page. Some custom work was needed to make this page display the correct fields in a user-friendly format. We used the Yale authentication system as the basis of the site authentication functionality; it was important, though, that the login screen not look like a Yale login screen, since most of the site users would have no direct connection with the Yale community. 

Access codes needed to be generated within the system by the site administrator for the two existing volumes of the text. All codes needed to be associated with a specific volume of the text (Book 1 or Book 2), and not be able to be transferred to a different account or otherwise be re-used. Since Books 3 and 4 were in production at the time of this project, the system needed to allow the administrators to generate the codes for content that did not yet exist so that those codes could be printed in the books. A user account needed to be able to have multiple access codes to different content with different expiration dates.

Current users would need to be migrated to the new site and matched with codes that would provide access to the correct volume and for the correct amount of time. Yale was able to perform the user migration on their own, using documentation and training provided by LCM.

The team at YUP was able to generate the needed access codes for the new books in time to meet the publisher’s deadline for including them in the printing, thus avoiding a much larger account migration if codes from the old system had been used. The new system frees up the site administrator from significant involvement in user account management, and will be fully supported by the University ITS Department for years to come.