Replacing Tilburg University’s CMS

The case
Tilburg University
ezCompany has rebuilt Tilburg University’s website in Drupal 8 to meet their desired adjustments: a more user friendly CMS and website for their editing team and visitors, and a responsive website to deliver the best user experience for the rapidly growing number of mobile visitors. A challenging but exciting project that successfully launched on the 23rd of April 2019.
Project description
Tilburg University’s website is their primary channel for communication and recruitment, and is therefore an essential tool for the organisation. Their old website was driven by GX Webmanager, but that CMS didn’t provide what was necessary to make their website future-proof. It lacked the possibility for innovation and GX’s road map for the longer term didn’t match Tilburg University’s ambitions for it’s target audience. Furthermore, their editors considered the CMS to be user-unfriendly. It became clear that they needed a new CMS.

Tilburg University also noticed that the number of visitors that visit their website with a smartphone or tablet has been doubling since 2010. In 2017, 25 percent of their visitors came from a mobile device, a number that inevitably will keep on growing. Although their old website was mostly accessible for mobile users, the user experience was far from ideal, which led to insufficient contribution to some of their goals: longer visits, more content consumption per visitor, overall better impression of the organization and more likely to contact. This meant that having a fully responsive website was a major objective that has been achieved by providing a great experience for all kinds of devices and screens.

Having a user-friendly search function was also an objective; search had to give the user a similar experience to when searching on Google. This meant support for queries, autocomplete, spell check, filtering results and showing snippets with the results. This objective has been achieved as well as shown in the attached screenshot.
Another important objective was to have a ‘workflow’ for the editing team, because Tilburg University uses the premise that their content has to be viewed by two pairs of eyes to ensure it’s quality. This led to ezCompany creating 3 different moderation states, where certain roles could review and comment on drafts and eventually publish them.

Additionally, the website had to be highly customisable for the editors so that they could tailor their content to specific organizational targets and target audiences. This objective has been achieved by offering 10 content types, 25 paragraph types, customisable contact overlays per page, customisable views and headers with different call-to-action possibilities.
Making the content this customisable was a major technical challenge for the developers, because content can be revised, cloned and translated to 2 languages. Making sure that this all works in harmony with each other makes the content technically complicated, in fact, new ways of adding and enriching content are still being added which means that it is an ongoing challenge. Editors can also reuse pieces of content for other content types, meaning that these ‘reusables’ had to work flawlessly with all content types. Also making sure that all 7 roles had the right permissions for editing content throughout the workflow made this challenge even more complex. Finally, editors are able to create their own views within certain content types, which means that different view configurations have to work smoothly with different types of content.

Another great challenge was the content migration from the old CMS to Drupal. Thousands of nodes had to be migrated while making sure that this content didn’t have to be revisited because of poor migration. This was all done successfully earlier this year by working closely with Tilburg University and a third party specialized in content migration.
Community contributions
ezCompany has helped the Drupal community and it’s developers facing similar challenges by contributing with various patches for core and modules such as Paragraphs, Better Exposed Filters and Migrate Plus. Aside from contributing own work, ezCompany was also able to reuse contributions to the community made earlier by colleagues who developed one of last year’s European Splash Awards winners: Erasmus University Rotterdam. Being a University website as well, this project had similar objectives and faced similar challenges.