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Serving over 22,000 students, in addition to OSU faculty and staff, the Student Union serves as a hub for campus life and is easily one of the busiest places on campus. The facility recently underwent several renovations, making it the largest student union in the world. It now contains nearly 20 unique departments including bookstores, restaurants, administrative services and countless student organizations.
Drupal 7 possesses exceptional content management capabilities through the use of custom add-on modules. These modules were vital to successfully organizing the site’s infrastructure as well as facilitating ease of use among several different user groups. The Student Union at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater also needed a platform that allowed for the creation of a clean, functional website that is easily navigable.
Goals and Requirements
In order to complement such a large state-of-the-art facility, the Student Union needed a sharp, easy-to-maintain website. The previous site felt outdated, with several departments falling far behind on content updates. The site required extensive updates to its content, aesthetic and navigation. The staff sought to achieve these updates by incorporating the following features in their site:
Hassle-free Content Management
Student Union Marketing, who controlled the majority of content posted to the site, were finding it difficult to maintain and publish such a large volume of information. As it stood, all other departments would have to meet with them in person to generate the content they needed. Marketing would then have to publish this content, and given that there are so many departments that require regular updates, they struggled to allocate the time and manpower to do this. In order to keep the site up to date, they needed an easy way to enable other departments to post their own content. Ultimately, they sought seamless LDAP integration and an easily maintainable workflow; both being vital to successful implementation.
To compound the lack of content updates, many visitors found it difficult to locate the information they required. The site lacked organization, causing a disjointed user experience. The new site should provide a clean and logical navigation to help users find what they needed more quickly. Additionally, they wanted every other department to be easily found, with the ability to navigate anywhere else on the website from every page.
Perhaps the first thing users noticed about the previous site was its dated appearance. The site had long been without any substantial aesthetic change. The dated appearance became especially apparent after the completion of the Student Union renovations. The site did not require any over the top aesthetics, but it certainly needed its appearance to be up to par with the recent physical renovations. Most importantly, the appearance needed to be complementary to the navigation and design of the site.
Working extensively with Marketing and Student Union IT, InterWorks proposed several customized solutions for the new website, including a comprehensive content strategy plan. Drupal 7 was recommended.
The site used a standard Drupal distribution with a multi-site set up. The OSU template served as the base for the site, and was modified to stand on its own. The multi-site feature was especially advantageous in applying core and module updates. Since the Student Union site is comprised of several different sites, applying cohesive updates across all sites is crucial. Without the multi-site feature core and module updates would need to be applied separately, making updates more difficult.
InterWorks also helped the IT department create an ideal hosting environment. From there, custom scripting and modules were implemented to create a new Student Union Directory. This allows visitors to navigate easily throughout various departments.
Drupal empowered each department by giving them total ownership of their content. Since modifying and improving the workflow with Workbench Moderation and LDAP, IT has spent less time micromanaging each department or user. The easy to use interface and content management of the site has resulted in unprecedented cooperation between all the departments, including IT and Marketing.
To complement the new content management system and navigation, the overall appearance of the site was also much improved. The project's primary goal was to make the site more accessible – to both content managers and visitors. In working to achieve this goal, site traffic has already increased greatly. Now that the project is complete, OSU is confident that traffic and positive feedback will increase further. Best of all, Student Union staff and visitors finally feel that the renovations to the new site match the sleek renovations to the Student Union itself.