Managing over 100 sections of a college website is no simple task. Amongst the many issues there is access control, syndication of content across the entire site, and providing a consistent and meaningful structure for users. Luckily, Drupal 7 is able to satisfy these challenges and has been the choice of hundreds of Universities and Colleges worldwide.
As we've been working on redesigning the main website for Grinnell College, they asked us if we'd be interested in guest blogging as we went along. Below is our first post:
Thank you for letting us introduce ourselves and talk a little about the design process for the new Grinnell College website. Rogue Element was founded 14 years ago with a mission to use graphic design problem-solving to more effectively communicate our clients' stories, and we think that this blog is the perfect place to start.
While we were spending a lot of time on the back-end of our web management, our site grew, organically, freely, and not necessarily coherently. So we decided to take the next, long overdue step: to look what the actual user experience. Normally, people are scared of the audits and the consequences they might bring. We were different. We were begging for our audit. We wanted someone with hands on, real world experience to look at our site and the ways we use it.
We assembled a big representative committee with representatives of students, faculty and staff, looked at several systems, from proprietary to open-source, from commercial to free, and discussed the possibilities on Wiki as well as with vendors that were invited to present their systems. Finally, we chose Drupal, a popular open-source CMS.
There are some peculiar challenges in building a college website. One of the biggest is the fact that colleges—and thus college sites—have to serve multiple constituencies.
Most commercial sites appeal to a single group: customers. Ford.com is for people who want to buy vehicles. NBC.com is for people who like Law & Order spinoffs. Gin up a good market-research team and you can research the daylights out of your audience, then build to suit.
So I was watching TV last week and I must say I'm appalled:
Early Days at Grinnell
In July 2011, as he concluded his first year at Grinnell, President Raynard S. Kington charted a 31-city regional alumni event schedule — starting in London in July 2011 and concluding in late-May 2012 in Se
oul, Korea. At each stop, Kington delivered his “Choosing Grinnell’s Future” message, plus current news from campus.