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Cornell University

University Websites and Enterprise Content Management System
Some of the most important websites in Cornell’s communications process – admissions, financial aid, the graduate school of admissions - were beginning to show their age. As part of an overall rebranding effort, they came to Trellon seeking a solution for managing websites that was both practical and easy to use, while also reflecting their status as one of the world’s premiere educational institutions.

One of the biggest challenges facing academic institutions is the need to maintain a uniform set of branding standards across multiple sites. Setting up systems where faculty, administrators, students and other people can contribute content without compromising the brand is difficult to accomplish. Fortunately, there's Drupal.

THE CHALLENGE

Cornell came to Trellon seeking a content management solution capable of handling some of the more challenging aspects of university communication. The solution had to be practical and easy enough to use that communications professionals could manage the sites with little or no maintenance required. The solution needed to maintain an attractive, uniform appearance across a range of websites, and present content equally well across desktop and mobile devices. Finally, the system needed to interoperate with university web services and each other, capable of sharing user accounts and content across the system.

RESPONSE

Trellon provided information architecture, data integration, and development services as part of this engagement. Our team built out a number of new sites as part of a portal solution for Cornell.

Enterprise Content Management

We developed an enterprise system for hosting university websites, capable of deploying new sites in minutes while maintaining a uniform brand experience and common features that are configured for accessibility and ease of use.

Each site possesses some basic features, such as rich text editors, sophisticated tools for managing content / multimedia, RSS feeds, calendar support, and other items designed to increase the usability of the system. Each site also possesses a number of advanced features, such as a mobile version, the ability to log in using university IDs, and the ability to share content and user settings between each site. These features increased the utility of each site overall.

But what makes this solution particularly valuable is the environment. We put tools in place that make it easy to create new sites through a web-based administrative interface. Using Drupal's multisite features, we were able to create a system that allows each site to be easily administered and requires little to no maintenance annually.

Uniform Design

Preserving a unified brand across all sites was a key goal for this project. Our team put a base theme in place for all the sites, designed to be used as-is within new sites. This theme can also be easily customized to handle new and unique design requirements without sacrificing other important elements of the brand. By default, the fonts, icons, colors, text sizing, borders, margins, spacing and other elements of design can all be preserved or changed on a per-site basis.

Each site also provides a mobile version of the content. The mobile version of the site is automatically detected on smartphones, and can be accessed by adding the letter 'm' and a period before each site name.

Outcomes and Awards

The results speak for themselves. The work has been featured in UCDA‘s Designer magazine, featured by Communications Arts as Webpick of the Week, won the People’s Choice EduStyle Award and won a W3 Silver Award.