University of Chicago Graham School

Making continued education for nontraditional students accessible and engaging with Drupal 8

The Graham School is the University of Chicago’s continuing education program for skill seekers, career changers, and lifelong learners.

The Graham School offers a wide array of curriculum and certifications for nontraditional students looking to change the course of their career path, or those who simply want to learn for learning’s sake.

The school serves a wide range of student types, so the University of Chicago needed a site that was both attractive and navigable for its many constituents. It couldn’t just be a pretty site, though - it needed to tell a story that encourages lifelong learning.

The existing site’s information architecture made it difficult for staff to update content as their needs changed and course offerings expanded, and a cumbersome back-end made the updating process tedious. A messy admin interface and excess of content types cluttered the content creation experience. The University of Chicago needed to simplify this process while also improving the user experience by making the site easier for students to navigate and search for content.

In just six months, our team turned this site around and delivered the new face of the University of Chicago Graham School.

University of Chicago Graham School Home page on mobile and desktop screens

The University of Chicago Graham School site was already on Drupal 7 and its web team was very familiar with the Drupal landscape, so transitioning to Drupal 8 appeared to be the natural next step.

Since content management was a major pain point for the University of Chicago team, we came up with a solution that combined Google Sheets and Drupal Migrate to populate content on their site. You can learn more about how we did it in this two-part blog series. Our engineers then trained the University of Chicago web team to use this system, as the system itself was unique to this project.

Another facet of the Graham School site is its catalogues of curriculum. Students can go to the site, browse available courses, and register for them with Destiny One, a lifecycle management tool designed specifically for institutions like the Graham School that serve nontraditional students.

Mobile view of program screens

We simplified the design and user interface, and restructured the program pages to be more microsite-like. We also built out related content blocks on these pages so relevant blogs and events populate based on the page the user is currently browsing. Additionally, we created sticky call to action blocks that appear for first-time visitors. These blocks can easily be moved to any page and customized by the University of Chicago web team.

The University of Chicago team wanted to tell a story with The Graham School’s new home on the web, so we built out a timeline to illustrate the school’s rich history as an academic institution. Related content and events all tied into the vision for a seamless, vibrant educational experience.

Snapshot of the University of Chicago's timeline

The University of Chicago Graham School website launched on time with a brand new look and admin interface. Content is easier to update and access, and above all, it’s more engaging.

Launch Site

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