Managing a large number of web properties at scale

Our friends at a large university came to us with a problem that is shared by many large organizations. How can a technology group that is tasked with managing a large number of individual web properties do so in a way that is efficient?

What we did

As the programs and initiatives of the university continue to grow, so too do the number of web properties needed to support them. Most of these new sites were created separately, giving the initial implementation team a lot of flexibility but creating both a maintenance and governance problem long term. Furthermore, these sites were built in varying technologies, which made maintaining them all the more difficult.

With such a high number of individual sites, our client's developers began to have trouble keeping up with needed updates. Even though a lot of their sites started from a shared template, updates needed to be applied manually to many of the sites. This required a technical re-architecture and re-platform to Drupal 9.

The individual nature of these sites also created a marketing problem in that the university's brand was not always applied uniformly. Separate themes meant that there were small discrepancies between sites. Furthermore, what happens when the brand gets updated? The development team would have to update many individual themes, which would be extremely duplicative and time-consuming. The answer: building a pattern library.

In order to address this issue, we worked with our partners to shift from a project-based mindset to a product-based mindset. In other words, we agreed to approach future projects with the perspective of the entire digital portfolio in mind. Doing these changes successfully transforms an investment in a single web property, into an investment in the university’s digital presence as a whole, potentially benefiting dozens of stakeholders at once.

The results

1. The pattern library enforces brand consistency across many web properties within the university

2. Non-technical users can create new web properties without going through a developer

3. Overall, this work makes for easier administration/maintenance by running many sites from a single codebase

Wait! There's more!

See all of our work!