Abstract AI-based illustration of a website interface
Abstract AI-based illustration of a website interface

Update (April 11, 2024): DEI and International Services are not moving to Drupal by Summer 2024. Those sites will be integrated after June.

After three years of research and planning, colleges and some non-academic units have begun the process of moving their web presence to our new Drupal content management system (CMS) as part of the Web Improvement Project

A new interim homepage was unveiled last summer, giving the community a glimpse of the new digital experience. By June 2024, most colleges and units will debut on the new system. The end product will be a modern, dynamic, user-friendly web presence that upholds our commitment to current and future students, faculty and staff and the greater community.

The new web presence will consolidate over 400 websites into roughly 100 to prioritize the needs of UofL’s audiences. With the help of digital agency Mighty Citizen, UofL is implementing new website designs, content and structure based on months of student and competitor research, interviews with leadership and stakeholders and extensive auditing of all sites. All of this will culminate in an audience-focused system that makes it easy for university departments to get their information in front of the right users.

Most importantly, the updates coming this June will help UofL better serve prospective and current students with the help of a centralized CMS. This is a major improvement over the siloed approach used over the past 10 years, said John Drees, vice president of communications & marketing.

“Students are the heart and soul of the institution, and we have a tremendous opportunity with this website project to connect with them in a more meaningful way, to communicate to them what makes UofL so special and to help them decide if we are the right fit for their future,” Drees said.

The backbone of this effort on the college and unit level are content and technology leads, designated by deans and VPs. Since September, content leads have been auditing their sites to weed out old information and identify the most relevant sections for their audiences. Technology leads identified the complexities their websites already used so that accommodations were made in Drupal.

UofL employees identifying audiences and tasks with sticky notes during a workshop with Mighty Citizen.
Research and innovation stakeholders identify their audiences and tasks during a workshop with Mighty Citizen.

Their work culminated in a library of reusable components, workflows, guidelines and other features that will make it easier to build pages that align with our brand standards and voice. Site URLs and structure were also based on extensive keyword research and user experience best practices to help each department perform better in search engine result pages (SERPS). The project team also reimagined admissions tasks to make it easier for students to discover and apply for programs, no matter which college site they’re navigating.

A small group of stakeholders tested these features in the first Drupal demos from Feb. 27-29. Over the course of several sessions, the Mighty Citizen, ITS and OCM teams guided them through a series of exercises, presentations and Q&A sessions to learn and improve the CMS. Stakeholders and their teams will continue to train on the new system throughout the spring.

Also attending were each unit’s success managers – marketing professionals in OCM who already work with each strategic area. Building on prior relationships, the success managers serve as the primary point of contact between the project team and content and technology leads, ensuring timely communication and project management. 

As we move into the content integration phase, content and technology leads will begin to appoint content creators, subject matter experts, asset managers and digital analysts to form the Digital Experience Group governance framework

In addition to clearly defining responsibilities, the new governance framework will formalize a system of improvements to the web through a Digital Experience Board, consisting of representatives from web responsibility committees and other institutional bodies, like Staff Senate and Student Government Association. Requests from users or administration will be considered based on alignment with university strategic goals, budgetary constraints and other board-identified requisite metrics for the collective benefit of all users.

“This project has been a long time in the making, but presented an opportunity to pull together the people on campus who have been working diligently for years to make things better,” said Amber Peter, director of web and digital strategy for OCM. “With these new tools, designs, processes and training, we hope to finally be able to not only better serve our audiences, but also support the staff and faculty who contribute to our web presence behind the scenes. That is something I hope will last well into the future.”

The new sites making their debut in summer of 2024 include Admissions, a new Student Services site, Financial Aid, Campus Safety and most schools and colleges. The sheer scale of this endeavor necessitated a phased approach, prioritizing student recruitment and services – the areas requiring the highest degree of customization and journey mapping. After the initial wave of student service and recruitment sites, the remaining departments at UofL will begin moving to Drupal following a similar, repeatable process. 

Websites that don’t serve an external marketing purpose will move to an intranet, where students, faculty and staff can perform internal tasks, like purchase parking tickets and register for classes. Staff and faculty are currently invited to weigh in on the intranet by completing a brief research activity

For more information on the Web Improvement Project, visit the FAQ list.