Education For JusticePARTNER: Center of Concern (COC)
PROJECT TYPE: Drupal | Nonprofit Web Design
The Education For Justice project has an expansive membership-based website chock full of prepared resources related to Catholic Social Teaching for educators. In November of 2007 we helped them port their site over to Drupal from a proprietary CMS which was not user-friendly. Although they had great content, it was hard to organize it well in the restrictive and clunky system they were tied in to. Recently, we've given the site another major update.
Initially, after building the back end and setting up the database structure to prepare the new site, we imported their content from the old server and transferred their membership database over to the new system. We set the site up to allow access to most of the actual resource files (usually PDFs or other file downloads) to members only. We integrated much of the member subscription and renewal process directly on the site. We set up a complex system of tags to allow content to be cross referenced by the type of content (e.g. Lesson plan or Backgrounder) as well as by the issues that it deals with (e.g. Catholic Social Teaching principles). We wrote some custom code snippet to help organize and format the content in order to make the site more valuable to users who are searching for specific information or who simply want to surf through the various cross-referenced connections.
Two years later we had a major upgrade to apply to the site and took the opportunity to give the site a visual refresh as well as to add in specific functionality based on user feedback. Some of the major features and improvements include:
- Scribd document integration so users who are logged in can preview the resources directly in the page before downloading them.
- A new "Educator's Exchange" where users can create collaborative groups, view recent comments and profiles of other users.
- Integration of CiviCRM to help manage memberships and installation of scripts to sync with Drupal functionality.
- Pages to help sort content and cross-reference with other content sharing similar themes (e.g. by social justice topic or by Catholic Social Teaching principles).
- A refreshed visual icon system based on some custom icons and some icons from the free Crystal Project.
- Advanced theming to help make connections more easily.
- Custom "advanced search" page for end-user clarity.
User feedback after the latest switchover has been very positive. (A few snippets from the end-user emails that EFJ sent our way: "I love it! It is much more user friendly and it is easier to find the topics I am looking for," "Thank you very much for the new face of the website...it’s now more beautiful, easily accessible and effective" and "LOVE IT!! It is so much faster and easier to navigate the resources in this format.")