Transitioning UM-Flint to Drupal


We are pleased to announce that the university will be implementing a new content management system, Drupal. The transition will be completed by October 1, 2013. The purpose of this message is to broadly explain the project and what you can expect in the coming months.

The Drupal transition project  will move the university away from the Autonomy enterprise-level content management system currently in use to Drupal which is an open source system. Used by 11 of the 15 public universities in Michigan along with other leading higher education institutions across the country such as Cornell and Dartmouth, Drupal is highly recommended by the technology research giant Gartner as well.

The primary reason for the move to Drupal is that it provides a better user experience for the individuals across the campus who must update content on the university website. Moving to Drupal will also result  in long-term savings to the university.

Some of the advantages of moving to Drupal include:

–          A responsive web experience that will work with all mobile devices.
–          Better functionality for users. The user experience has been described as similar to Word Press.
–          Unlimited users. No more license fees per user which is a cost and efficiency savings for all university departments.
–          A large network of developers who work in the realm of higher ed to offer innovations and solutions as needed.

The transition to Drupal is beginning immediately. ITS has contracted with a firm called Acquia that specializes in assisting businesses transitioning to Drupal and maintaining the system. We were able to take advantage of an existing contract with Acquia through the Ann Arbor campus. Acquia will train our staff and show us how to make the website highly available through all devices, as well as how to make it perform optimally overall. They will also help us determine how many servers we should have in place to achieve the level of redundancy needed to have a site that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

There is a minimal redesign associated with this move, and the redesign will include making the entire university website mobile-friendly which has become increasingly important to our constituencies who regularly access the website. The redesign will initially be for top-level university pages such as the homepage, and a few others. We are working on template designs that will be used for all departments once the transition is completed in October. Migration of current website content for all departments will begin sometime this summer, and will be coordinated by ITS.

This transition will make the university website more mobile-friendly, and we are encouraging departments to adopt a “mobile first” content strategy when it comes to preparing for the transition. On a mobile device, only the most essential content is necessary, and that should be a guiding principle as you prepare for the transition. University Relations will provide resources for content strategy in the coming months, but work on your department’s website content can begin now. We suggest assigning a team to review all your departmental web pages to determine what you think is essential content to keep and move during the transition. Auditing your web content now will make the move easier when it occurs later this year.

If you would like to schedule a meeting to discuss the Drupal transition or if you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.

Thank you,

Jennifer Hogan
Executive Director of University Relations

Scott Arnst
Director of Information Technology Services