Hiroshima University, comprised of 11 academic and 11 research departments is one of the major universities within the Chukoku and Shikoku region. Since our establishment in 1949, with our mentality of “A free and peaceful university”, we continue to nurture a wide range of talented individuals.
Selected as one of the Ministry of Education’s “Super Global University project”’s top schools for their involvement with raising and nurturing talented young adults into remarkably versatile members of society who can finding success wherever in the world their careers may take them. They are also one of the first amongst Japan’s National Universities to take advantage of moving all Core systems onto a Cloud Based network.
Why was Drupal chosen for the task？
Before being introduced to Drupal, Hiroshima University was utilizing a customized CMS designed by another developer. For Japan’s National Universities it was not unusual for each faculty and/or departments to run and manage their own websites separate from the main University page. However in Hiroshima’s University was running and managing everything through their previously stated customized CMS.
Unfortunately, relying solely on the developer’s custom CMS for everything including systems maintenance, backup data amongst many others incurred many unwanted fees and costs began to rise over time. To help solve this problem a move to an open source CMS was taken into consideration
Why was Drupal chosen over WordPress and Movable Type?
The key to making this project work was if replication the preceding CMS’s taylormade functions was possible. Furthermore every faculty/department needed to be able to publish and manage their own contents on a regular basis. Making the task even more complex was the need to be able to support more foreign languages amongst other features.
Initially WordPress and Moveable Type were prime candidates. However to meet all of the demands, major development on the CMS themselves would be needed. With all the costs involved with development, maintenance and others, it was agreed upon that moving to such systems would prove to be pointless as the university would be left in the same situation as before.
On the other hand, Drupal is capable of handling multilingual site building as well as the capability to manage user permissions in a way that would meet the requirements set by the university. This would allow every department and faculty to manage their own sub-sites while still existing in the same system. Furthermore with Drupal’s open source nature, it was possible to develop new modules needed while still keeping costs under control. Being able to answer all of Hiroshima University’s needs, Drupal was chosen to be the platform of the new website.
Content management and sharing accross all departments.
At Hiroshima University, every department has been creating, editing and have generally been managing their own published content. This function was preexisting through the preceding CMS, however making the published contents be readily available and accessible to other departments were not easily achieved. Therefore the ability to be able to share newly published content in a safe and simple manner was needed.
Making sure every article carries the same style and format regardless of the author.
With the previous system, especially because every department was publishing and managing their own content; the aesthetics of all published articles and sub-sites would appear in various styles and formats creating an incoherent feeling throughout the entire website.
To combat this problem, creating contents for every department will be more standardized and simple to use. This should make sure that all published content will follow the same style and format that is consistent throughout the entire system regardless of how skilled or comfortable each user is with using computers. Furthermore the site in its entirety must be properly accessible while using a mobile device.
Support for multiple languages.
One of the requirements for the new website is to be able to provide support for more foreign languages.
The main objective for this project is to first recreate the current website, including recreating existing functions available through the previous CMS and create a functioning prototype. The prototype will be required to have three placeholder departments called “Entrance Exam”, “Enrollment Guide”, and “Campus life”. The representatives over at Hiroshima University were overjoyed with the features implemented in our prototype. Such was the success that the prototype itself was implemented entirely un-altered to form the basic framework that would later be used to build the new website.
Web administration problems in a large organization
With the Hiroshima University project finished, a better way to administrate a large scale website was highly sought after.
“Web Governance” is a concept that major organizations use to help them deal with the large amount of data as well as managing new and old content.
Some may view “Web Governance” as standardizing the aesthetics of the website as a whole. However the concept also promotes keeping costs at a reasonable level while maximizing efficiency by creating a strong connection between the various departments in a way that is capable of taking advantage of any business opportunities that may otherwise slip by with a poorly implemented system.
As is expected on a University level, there may be from 10s to 100s of individuals involved in creating and editing content published on the university website. With the introduction of the “Web Governance” concept, the entire website, regardless of the faculty or department will be able to more easily utilize the same standardized design aesthetics invoking a sense of uniformity within the University website.
Each department’s editor in charge are able to distribute work amongst people involved in an efficient manner. Safe in the knowledge that regardless of whoever works on the content, the published work will have the same design and layout as pre-existing works.
On the other hand the lack of “Web Governance” may cause certain problems to arise. The more people are involved the harder it is to control and manage how certain content is displayed.
In the case of Hiroshima University, before a Drupal based system was introduced all department websites existed as a part of the main website. However they were all mostly running off systems that were designed specifically for each department. This meant that each department had their own layout, displayed content in their own way and caused some users to become confused about whether or not they were still on the university website.
Making changes to the appearance of each department was quite a hassle and required a lot of time. Because they were all running on different systems, to simply change the university’s banner meant that the editors in charge would need to go into each system and make individual changes to all of the websites one at a time. Furthermore this outdated method may also give rise to certain mistakes that also take time and money to resolve.
The larger the organization grows the more important “Web Governance” becomes. The resolve all of these problems we proposed the implementation of a Drupal based system. As we have illustrated with this case study, certain systems operate fine on a smaller scale, but end up struggling as your business begins to grow. A Drupal based system will grow along side your business. If you are interested in learning more about Drupal or have any inquiries please don’t hesitate to contact us.