SDSU Extension is a South Dakota State University organization that provides educational outreach programs for the citizens of South Dakota. They provide farmers, ranchers, agri-business people, communities, families, and youth with the research-based information they need to succeed.
Solutions Four Kitchens Provided
SDSU Extension wanted to improve content creation and editing workflow on their website and provide a better navigation experience for users. They wanted to assure that content was presented in a consistent manner and that all information was the most up to date.
SDSU Extension took full advantage of Four Kitchens UX and strategy expertise to get them on the right track for a new site. This was a necessary step in the project that proved to be a critical component of delivering a solid end product for the project.
SDSU recently rebuilt their main site (sdstate.edu) with Drupal 8 and SDSU Extension was ready to follow suit. SDSU Extension was on a very old ExpressionEngine install that became difficult to manage content and users. Four Kitchens built a Drupal 8 solution that solved their primary concern; more versatile content management while keeping a consistent look and feel for their content. We took the time to define a content architecture plan to match the needs discovered with our UX and strategy work.
The Drupal 8 build was based on the Thunder distribution which provided a great starting point and gets us an improved administrative experience out of the box. We used CircleCi to build, test, and deploy the application on Acquia Cloud where the site is hosted. We took advantage of paragraphs and custom entities and to give SDSU Extension the tools they need to create consistent and rich page layouts for all content. We built a custom site search solution based on Solr with facets to allow users to search by text and filter results.
SDSU Extension content is generated and created by SDSU Extension faculty and staff. Most of these users already have profile information on sdstate.edu. We worked with their IT staff to help them expose this profile information with JSON API so that we could consume the data and display it on their profile on the new SDSU Extension site. This allows them to have a canonical point of data entry for the profile information while displaying it on both sites.
Kudos to team members
The SDSU Extension team was lead by Alex Hicks as the project manager and Adam Erickson as the tech lead who also molded the architecture plan for the project. Donna Habbersat led the UX strategy for the project and shared the project owner responsibilities with Adam. Randy Oest crafted a beautiful new design for the project and assisted Evan Willhite who lead the charge on implementing the design and provided some frontend magic. Joel Travieso handled much of the backend heavy lifting while contributing valuable input to architecture improvements. This group was like a ‘well oiled machine” as quoted by the client. A huge shout out to Lindsey Gerard and the SDSU Extension staff for all the hard work and efforts on their side to make this project a success.