by John Bickar, User Services Technology Specialist, Cubberley Education Library
In the summer of 2007, we changed the website at Cubberley Education Library from static HTML to the Drupal content management system (CMS). This page details some of the decision-making, strategy, and implementation of that move. Although it describes the process for a branch library website, some of the process is generalizable to other conversions.
The University of Missouri has a handy guide to the Pros and Cons of moving to a CMS.
Drupal is very well-supported on the Stanford campus and within SULAIR. It has many other advantages as well (it's extensible, it has a very active development community, it has a robust architecture, and so forth), but what seals the deal is that there's a very active support community at SU.
Our (modest-but-achievable) initial goal was simply to replicate the existing functionality of our static site. Even if that's all that we accomplished, it would have been worth the work, because Drupal provides:
However, the limitation of this approach is that it can lend itself to perpetuating bad design that exists in your current site. Use the redesign process to reconceptualize the services that you provide via the web, and plan how to provide them better.
Our website was relatively small (~75 pages), and it took me approximately ten weeks, working largely by myself, full-time, to complete the conversion. Your mileage may vary. My initial timeline had the first five weeks scheduled, and the last five weeks largely unprogrammed to deal with eventualities. I made one huge omission in my planning: actually getting the content into the Drupal site. Be prepared for that to take a couple of weeks.
I like to think outside the box, so I used the book Usability Testing for Library Websites as a reference for usability testing (crazy, I know!). This was a process that we undertook after the site went live. Here is a summary and the full results.