Consolidating Disparate Websites into a One Centralized Source
Navigating a Complex Process
Cornell University receives almost $1 billion in grants, annually, to fund research projects across the spectrum - including the sciences, art, business, and more. They wanted to create a new, single web platform to consolidate twelve departmental websites into one site and to support the research administration process - from idea and application, through funding, management, and technology licensing. The new site needed to put the user first and facilitate the research process according to the different needs and proficiencies of the various research participants.
Diagnosing the Problem
We began with our own research, hosting a series of focus groups and surveys to reinforce objectives and define the comprehensive research process. Simultaneously, we began auditing the existing sites, aggregating content, and assembling existing documents and tools from across the organization — thousands of legacy pages and assets. We then determined the appropriate content strategy and design models to optimally serve as the new process for participants and to facilitate content maintenance within subgroups. We tested at each step with stakeholders and administrators to ensure satisfaction and adoption, from strategy to information architecture to UX and through implementation.
How We Built It
Cornell requires Drupal for most new applications and worked with Caxy to define the optimal infrastructure for both application development and deployment, as well as the long-term support and maintenance. The content strategy and technical solution leveraged a custom tagging solution to dynamically assemble related content components from across the organization and support the research process model, even when separate content managers may not have fully realized how their component fits into the larger research administration schema.
We successfully merged twelve different websites into a single, user-focused source for information about research administration, grant awards, and technology licensing. Of equal importance, we helped a conglomerate of research groups define their comprehensive process and align on the best way to support Cornell University and its researchers, holistically. The innovative approach to content management and “just in time” content assembly improves the efficiency of maintenance and ensures content discovery and process adherence for the novice and experienced research team, alike.