Main Content

Client Information

Ranked among the most innovative and affordable public research universities in the country, Portland State University was founded in 1946 as a post-secondary educational institution for World War II veterans. Granted university status in 1969, PSU is composed of seven constituent colleges that offer undergraduate degrees in 123 fields and postgraduate degrees in 117 fields. 

Project overview

Promet developed this higher ed digital experience, with non-technical content editors in mind, allowing the university to quickly scale the size of their digital presence, while efficiently managing content and brand consistency across hundreds of sites. 

PSU was looking to renew and rebuild its website to more effectively engage current and prospective students with an ultimate goal of increasing applications and enrollment. At the same time, the University sought a better content editor experience to enable hundreds of non-technical content editors to easily build and launch hundreds of sites, with little oversight or involvement from the technical team -- without compromising site governance. This vision was intended to significantly reduce reliance on PSU’s central web communications team, as well as external web platforms. 

The solution began with a redesign and migration of the site’s content from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, while achieving ADA accessibility web compliance. Among the distinct advantages of the new site is a Cost of Attendance Estimator, that enables prospective students to input relevant data concerning their program, residency information, and number of credits per term, to arrive at a preliminary estimate concerning education costs.

Promet Source worked with each of the University’s departments to develop a content strategy around key user personas. To simplify navigation we developed a new site map and page hierarchy that aligned with their user journeys. The new, simplified site navigation and menu structure is within a streamlined framework for integrating program content, campaigns, and University communications. 

PSU successfully engaged with executive management teams to remove all acronym-based site names and transition to user friendly, student-first URLs, implementing a full 404 redirect plan. Content editors can also easily create customizable breadcrumbs to clarify paths to page sites and user journeys. 

A single publishing site, with more than 200 multisites functioning as subscriber sites, allows for vast enhancements in efficiency and scale. To maintain brand consistency among the many sites and site editors, Promet implemented a component based design library, built around Atomic Design principles, and designed five PSU brand themes for each site to select from. The implementation of a flexible design system, in tandem with an easy-to-use drag and drop content editor experience, enabled 500 content editors university-wide to create and style content on their sites, and develop layouts within cohesive PSU brand guidelines.

A new, easy-to-follow governance model leveraged the site’s information architecture across departments, along with a layering up of publishing permissions levels, within a centralized location for site maintenance, security updates, and compliance. 
The project involved the consolidation of a 340-multisite platform with more than 40,000 pages and full syndication down to 216 multi sites. This involved the unification of both visual branding and ongoing maintenance.

Utilizing this system, 300 remote site authors were able to build more than 200 sites in less than three months. 

Technical Specifications

The Cost of Attendance Estimator enables prospective students to input data concerning their field of study, residency, and credit hours per semester to arrive at a preliminary estimate concerning the financing of their education. Promet customized the backend for this tool, and non-technical content editors who have no coding expertise, are able to update and maintain it as needed. The tool lives in the Student Finance section, and utilizing an iframe, it can be enabled and displayed from any of Portland State University's 200 sites.

The Acquia Digital Experience Platform (DXP), combined with the branding and design system created by Promet Source allows PSU to quickly develop and launch new sites that align with its brand guidelines. PSU is now able to efficiently and accurately update school programming, events and campus news.

The Acquia Cloud hosting platform contributes to the assurance of speed and reliability for the PSU website, while ensuring the infrastructure to support efficient and sound Drupal deployment. 

Acquia Content Site Factory provides a centralized location for site maintenance and security updates, allowing each multisite to configure integrations with its own social media channels. Content editors are now able to efficiently create sites within the framework for a governance model based on layering up of publishing permissions levels. 

Acquia Content Hub has created a single syndication publishing site for hundreds of subscriber multisites, resulting in a scalable, infinitely more efficient and consistent system for creating and updating content. A multi-layered academic program template system leveraging Content Hub allows content authors to generate a consistent, on-brand presentation of the University’s 300+ academic programs and share them across 50+ academic sites — with no action needed on the part of the site owner. Results include a consistent messaging framework, access to important program information, links to dynamically created “other programs of interest” per program site, and student-first language across every academic site in a cohesive voice.

The Drupal Paragraphs module streamlined and simplified content editing. Leveraging an Atomic Design system, content editors can select from among 30-40 customizable design patterns in the creation of layouts.

The Drupal Media Library provides content editors with an extensive collection of image options -- further streamlining the page-creation process. 

The Drupal Focal Point module enables content creators to indicate the key elements of any image that they were posting to a page, ensuring that it is not cropped out during browser responsive image reframing.

Case Study Industry