A Guiding Hand for Higher Education at Cal State - Los Angeles

A Guiding Hand for Higher Education at Cal State - Los Angeles

Providing Drupal Training, Process Strategy, and Governance for Cal State - Los Angeles's Departmental Migration to Drupal 7


A migration from HTML-based web pages to Drupal 7 threatened to overload California State University, Los Angeles’ Administrative Technology department. With only 7 employees, they alone were tasked with migrating 26 department websites over to the new platform quickly, accurately and with a universal structure that provided distributed control and global governance.

Meanwhile, the Information Technology Services web department’s 2 employees were charged with implementing best practices and establishing tools that would allow them to more efficiently support and unify 6 divisions and their approximately 100 websites. 

Here’s how we helped Cal State LA migrate their systems and content over to a Drupal CMS, along the way defining standard operating procedures, best practices, and audit procedures that would be used to ensure university web standards were maintained long into the future.


Cal State LA’s HTML-based websites were built in silos—individual websites with no unified method of organization, administration, or security management. The university’s Admin Tech department faced a slow, disorganized manual migration from static HTML pages to Drupal as its 7 employees would attempt to carry the migration to the finish line for 26 departments who each have their own requests for site appearances and functionality. 

Simultaneously, the university’s ITS web department, comprised of 2 employees, were challenged to work at scale, adopt Drupal best practices, and empower content editors across university departments with brand consistency across 6 divisions and approximately 100 websites.

To lead both projects down a path of success, Cal State LA and Facet partnered up to define and create a repeatable process to roll out each of the departments onto the new Drupal system, while ensuring appropriate governance of best practices, ADA compliance, and significant improvements to the user experience.

waste less time finding the important content

Curabitur blandit tempus porttitor.


The power Cal State LA would obtain by leveraging Drupal would deliver consistency of brand standards, information architecture, and usability of the website through a content management system configured to meet the needs of the university’s complex hierarchical organization. 

Web content managers would be empowered with the framework to deliver experiences that could help their students, faculty, and staff waste less time finding the important content on the site. However, to fully embrace the potential of Drupal, Cal State LA would need an expert to implement best practices in the migration.


Shared Success in Drupal Best Practices

Initially Facet was called in to bring process and order to the Administration and Finance Division’s migration, and to guide the information architecture—but an unexpected breakthrough occurred. An introduction to the ITS department paved the way for better solutions for Admin Tech and the departments they support through cross-departmental collaboration.

Seeing the responsibility of the campus-wide migration the ITS department’s web division carried, Facet sought to collaborate and go beyond content management and editing for the Admin Tech’s 26 departments. The opportunity had presented itself to configure solutions for not only the Administration and Finance division, but all departments as holistic solutions were discussed and developed.

Process is Paramount

Cal State LA’s departments naturally have competing agendas, needs, and functions. So, over the course of several on-site meetings, we met with close to 3 dozen stakeholders across the varying departments and divisions to surface their needs and iteratively define the goals of each. We then assessed their current information architecture, outlined a new information structure, and developed requested features ahead of the big migration.

Aligning the university’s departments around new initiatives provided a framework for the process. By developing process first, getting interdepartmental buy-in, and then rolling out the migration, Facet could assure cooperation across all departments and that additional needs and requests for customized department pages were allowed to surface before work began.

Putting UX First

Content had the ability to help the departments achieve their objectives, be it to increase donor contributions or improve the quality of application submissions. To prepare Cal State LA for this goal-setting potential, Facet delivered on the identified goals for Cal State LA’s constituents by putting the user experience first.

Focus was on updating website design layouts to deliver the vibrancy that would attract and retain their young, tech-savvy student population. Partner agency Dogs of Design Studios was brought in to upgrade department website design layouts and deliver HTML templates that could be used in the Drupal framework to provide better content editing tools. While giving the site a facelift, Facet continued to work with the Admin Tech’s departments to sniff out and document features requirements.

Once the templates were in place, Facet and the Admin Tech department went through a rigorous information architecture reorganization process that involved organizing, structuring and labeling content in such a way that the user, according to their journey, would be able to quickly discover valuable information they were seeking. And while there, receive clear directional cues that would lead them to take the department’s intended actions.

Supporting the UX Experience

With the foundation of the user experience set and content structured for maximum usability, Facet and Admin Tech went to work ensuring the experience would be supported upon launch. Together we fixed bugs, edited site code, implemented new features in front-end development, and customized themes for each of the departments.

Training for the Masses

Facet was tasked with helping the ITS department’s small staff scale up their efforts and bring 6 divisions and approximately 100 websites in line with web production and content management standards. 

The manuals were developed for each of the HTML layout features we produced in delivering Admin Tech’s desired user experience, and later used in ITS workshops to apprise web page authors of their Drupal content management system’s new features.  

With web page authors now administrators and managers of their own resources, ITS could focus on release management and improving content management flow through Drupal architecture. The tools Facet provided ITS employees helped them decipher which features and requirements to implement first. Prioritization of features and requirements improved their workflow and cropped up value-driven assets that would allow Cal State LA to see a greater return on their technological investment. 


Through effective cross-departmental collaboration, Facet was able to help Admin Tech successfully migrate 26 departments over to Drupal 7, while at the same time aid the ITS department in developing manuals for content editors and release management procedures that would enable web page authors to take control of their sites and thus free themselves to focus on important Drupal releases and bug fixes.


Departments Migrated to Drupal 7

50% - 70%

Projected Growth for 2017 over 2016