From PHP to Drupal

Armani Jackson, Managing Editor

By the end of the next school year, the current Pierce College District website should be no more. Pierce Marketing and Communications department is heading the design of a new platform for the website. It’s expected to launch in spring and will feature a more user-friendly format.

The current site is made with a program that was created internally when the college was built. It worked at the time, but the older site has become irrelevant to the user. Though the site has gone through a couple re-designs before, the same basic pages remain.

“(This program) is great when you still have the person who created it on campus,” Brian Benedetti, director of Marcom, said. “Marketing is the only one who can use it now, and everyone has to send their (page) updates through us.”

This program allows people to update their respective department’s information at a time suitable for them.

“Everyone follows the same look; otherwise, it becomes a zoo,” Benedetti said.

The new site will be created on Drupal, a platform that gives more power to each individual department. The two platforms differ in look, feel and the actual background.

The site is moving to a content management system, meaning all of the site’s pages will be categorized and stored so it’ll be easier to update and edit. Drupal allows a person to publish, modify, edit and maintain content with little coding by hand. Since the original site was maintained using the code PHP, it was quite static. Changes that needed to be made had to be coded by hand.

The revamped site will enable individuals in the departments to update what’s on their pages. Providing too much information overwhelms the reader, and as a result, users won’t take away new information, according to Benedetti. Everything on the site needs to be written in the same voice, and Drupal allows college staff members to do that.

Each department will receive training on how to navigate the site’s features. However, only a selected number of people within Marcom department are given site governance, meaning only a few can update the website. Department staff members renew their information and submit the change requests, which are then approved by a dean and sent to Marcom to get the final stamp of approval. This process is still in the works, so it may change by the prospected release date.

Marcom has contracted with the company Topia Technology to help with the creation process as they move the content over. They focus on data breaches and ensuring a high level of data security to industries. The contract with Topia Technology is to help Marcom in the development of the site. In the end the contract and redesign will cost $80,000.

“We live in a mansion right now, basically,” Angela Carson, Marcom’s online communications manager, said. “We’ve got a ton of pages and we are packing everything up and moving into a condo. A lot of the work that needs to be done because, you don’t want to bring all the old stuff from the mansion into your new condo; you’re not going to have anywhere to live.”

Because this project is a large undertaking, it’ll take tons of work to complete. The team working on the site consists of online communications manager Carson, web assistant Bryan Johnson and graphic designer Amy Foster. They anticipate the creation of a development environment taking until April or May.

Once that’s completed, their goal is to bring in faculty and students to test the new site. They want to make sure that every part is functional before it’s launched live. Timing is everything since the shift can’t disturb people trying to access the site or students trying to register for classes.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Armani Jackson

From PHP to Drupal

by Armani Jackson time to read: 3 min