Drupal portfolio : Osaka University Graduate School of Human Sciences / Human Sciences

About Osaka University School of Human Science / Graduate School of Human Science

One of the largest national university in Japan that has 23,000 students. School of Human Science (and Graduate School) is engaged in *multidisciplinary research area. Osaka University was one of the first university that started to research this area.

*Multidisciplinary research area: Study area that needs multiple expertise to research and development. Basically, this is the area where just one research area can’t resolve things.

The reason why national university chose Drupal

Good for publication

School of Human Science needed the right way for public communication with different kinds of stakeholders such as students, faculty, alumni, especially to get more future talented students. They recognized the importance of communication through the web and Drupal was the appropriate platform to achieve that goal.

Multilingual site

Osaka University Unified Osaka University of Foreign Studies in 2007, and their culture became more and more global. School of Human Science was promoting themselves to get more students from overseas, so the bilingual website was essential. Drupal is the suitable platform for the multilingual website.

An academic that knows about Drupal

Drupal is known for universities around the world and many of the universities are already using it as a platform. There was a professor who knows about the reputation of Drupal.

What was the challenge as University to utilize CMS platform?

Web governance

Many Japanese university, faculty and other stakeholders have their own ununified website,  so having a web governance was a very difficult achievement.

Editing without hustle and efficiency

General CMS manage content by pages.
For example, “information A” is referred from different web pages. In order to change A, you’ll need to edit multiple pages one by one and it takes time. Also, mistakes may happen because of the nature of it.

What’s the best approach for university website

One unified platform, consistent design with continuous publication

Improvement of web presence

There were only tens of pages at that time, but now they manage thousands of pages, which makes the website more effective to SEO and that results in improving web presence.

Editing efficiency

University website have not only a huge amount of information but also the same information that is utilized in multiple pages across. Drupal is very effective in this kind of website because once you edit one thing, other information will automatically be edited. This made a huge difference in editing process.

Please have a look at below. Because School of Human Science studies many things across the multiple study area, one professor teaches several themes just like below. He also has many books he published in his career and that’s also on the page.


Th information is used in the other pages as well, but the website is aggregation page of multiple information, so once you update one thing, it automatically updates other information.

Difficulty in managing multilingual website

Each language content shows up with a tab 

The website is bilingual, and this time we succeeded in developing new site structure by using Drupal 7.


”Entity translation” that allow you to manage same bilingual contents as one

Standard Drupal 7 translation functionality wasn’t able to manage 2 different languages as one Node.

Standard Drupal 7 specification


But this time in order to manage information efficiently, we wanted to unify the URL of both languages as one, and we made it. This is called “Entity translation”

Website structure by Entity translation


Entity translation allows you to manage both language contents with one same Node ID.

How University website meet diverse user needs?

University website users are diverse and each of the user group has different needs. 

User Needs
Undergraduate Admissions Don’t want to miss Open Campus, entrance exam schedule.
Students Timetable、degree、studying overseas、job hunting support. Everything affects their student life.
Almuni Networking opportunity, certification etc.
Faculty Research funding support and other administrative need.

There are several approaches to achieve that goal, but we focused on IA(Information Architecture) planning.

Navigation setting depending on stakeholders

Before confirming the IA, we researched many university website in Japan. This research was one of the proudest work that we did in this project.

After the research, we fully understood very simple navigation for each stakeholders will be needed. We also found It’s important that user is able to know where you are right now. So we designed the navigation like below.


When you click global navigation “Undergraduate admissions” “Graduate Admissions” “Current Students”, information on left column completely changes to be relevant to their needs. 

In other university website, there were a bit of overlap in the information and that misleads each users, so we tried our best not to make that happen.

Breadcrumb leads you right way

Not getting lost is the most important thing to meet each user group needs, so we thought access to the destination should be one way.

If you can go to the destination with different path, you may find it difficult how to go back and how to reach the destination. So we implemented breadcrumb navigation to define the path to the page that they want to reach.


How Drupal can handle the number of editing staff growth?

Workflow, queueing the post

Faculty, staff , researcher are included in the editing staff in this case. As the organization grows, the number of editing staff might become hundreds. To keep the efficiency and to enhance the variety of contents published smoothly, we implemented workflow functionality. Also queueing function allowed them to post articles anytime they want.


What is the benefit of using Drupal at universities?

Tremendous amount of case study around the world

It is said that Drupal’s market share in american universities is more than 70%. Also there are many case studies in the universities around the world, and any Japanese university can learn from them.

In the technology scene, there is a famous saying “Start small, scale fast”. At the beginning, it’s good to start with Drupal with small group of people, and later on you can unify all university information into one platform. Good thing about this is that by the time when you unify the whole platform, you have many learnings that can be utilized any department of the internal organization. 

Unified branding, differenciation with other universities

In Japan, it has been almost a decade that we started to talk about “Strengthen the management skill of the university operation” because of population decrease. Some universities are restructuring the faculty, others trying completely unique strategy to survive. But as a solution provider, we see many cases that digital platform in higher education should be more improved. Drupal is good at managing huge amount of data in one place, and this is great benefit for those who really care about your brand.