In 2012 Georgia.gov became the first state portal in the country to be powered on Drupal. It's also the first state portal to use Responsive Web Design—meaning that mobile users, a rapidly growing demographic, will have a site customized for their viewing.
The Georgia Technology Authority (GTA), who manages the state's official website, hosts more than 60 websites for various Georgia state agencies, including offering a content management system (CMS) and support for the sites. GTA used the Vignette (Open Text) platform for nearly 10 years, but by 2011 was running three versions of the system at one time. GTA reported that the system was unmaintainable due to technical support and cost issues. They've also had a great need to find an enterprise CMS that would meet four critical needs:
- Ease of use for non-technical content administrators
- Enterprise scale
- Cost effectiveness, preferably open source
- Secure and accepted by the public sector
With web traffic over 1.2 million views per month, the team at the Georgia Technology Authority needed a platform that was enterprise ready, cost effective, flexible, and had proven sector adoption. The GTA Interactive team did tireless research into the CMS space in order to narrow down the choices. With each requirement they were able to mark more and more options off the list.
Drupal quickly became the clear choice as the team saw the ease of use for “non-technical” users along with cost savings of moving from a proprietary CMS onto Drupal. In addition the team was impressed with the wide and growing government domain acceptance of Drupal. Sites like www.whitehouse.gov and each member of the House of Representatives are using Drupal with great success.
After a lengthy RFP process, the GTA team awarded the build contract to Phase2 Technology, in partnership with Mediacurrent and Acquia. The goal of the project was to build a scalable enterprise platform, and migrate 55+ existing sites from Vignette onto Drupal. This included all content that was currently available, as well as a fresh look and feel for the suite of sites.
Challenges and Solutions
Some primary challenges addressed by the Mediacurrent team included:
- Content Migration: Migrating content from Vignette onto Drupal was one challenge while migrating content for 55+ sites, distributed across three versions of Vignette, was another. The Mediacurrent team worked closely with systems administrators at GTA to develop a specification of how to best export, format and retrieve the data for migration for each version of Vignette. The team relied heavily on Drush and the Drupal Migrate module. The migrate module’s rich feature set and Drush integration allowed them to easily test and rollback migrations, while at the same time, automate a lot of the manual labor that goes into tuning the migration of data between systems. Mediacurrent followed with an aggressive scripting/testing/iteration cycle concurrent with general platform development work. This schedule was pivotal in being well prepared to migrate the data with minimal risk during the aggressive deployment phase of the project.
- Install Profile Development: The GTA team required that they be able to maintain and scale the environment without partner intervention. They forecasted an increase of up to 10 sites per year, and they needed an easy way to add those sites to the platform. Mediacurrent assisted Phase2 to create a custom OpenPublish-based install profile that extended the OpenPublish base installation. This allows GTA to spin up new sites in the future and ensured that all of their sites were running on the same platform with full access to a common feature set.
The Phase2 team used the responsive Omega base theme to create the sub-themes for agencies. Every Georgia agency was able to choose from one of eight templates for their site—streamlining the creative process while providing a layout that best fit their site’s content. The Phase2 team then assisted in setting up the homepage after the content had been migrated to the site.
Mediacurrent is incredibly proud of our home state for being the first state adoption of Drupal as an enterprise CMS. In partnership with Phase2 Technology and Acquia, Mediacurrent hit a homerun for the state of Georgia in their CMS migration project. Even more impressive is the homerun GTA hit for Georgia taxpayers—saving them $4.6 million by moving to Drupal.
The new Georgia.gov offers visitors a friendlier navigation, greater usability and more robust search functions. While on the backend Drupal offers solid site security and easier use for non-technical administrators. In addition, since mobile users now account for 11% of their total traffic, the team used responsive web design with Drupal to create excellent experience for mobile users on Ga.gov. The end result is a project that closed on time, on budget, and with great client satisfaction.
"We are excited about the possibilities that Drupal brings to the state of Georgia,” said Calvin Rhodes, Georgia State CIO and GTA Director. “This new platform will give us the flexibility to offer more online services to Georgians while making government more efficient and saving taxpayers money."
Mediacurrent helps organizations architect custom websites by leveraging our proven processes and deep expertise in Drupal. We are home to an elite team of Drupal experts, who have a proven track record of building amazing websites. We strongly believe in open-source principles, collaboration, and sharing knowledge to strengthen the Drupal community. For more information regarding Mediacurrent's services and portfolio please visit http://www.mediacurrent.com.
Jeff Diecks - Project Management
Jay Callicott - Lead Drupal Architect
James Rutherford - Sr. Drupal Developer