Acquia Helps UVA Manage Content Sprawl

September 10, 2020

Sean Crowley
Area Vice President, Acquia

When the University of Virginia (UVA) faced a profusion of websites and content systems, they turned to Acquia to help manage the sprawl and create a uniform brand.

The Challenges

UVA had a variety of legacy content systems used by different departments, creating serious issues for the college and providing challenges for the content owners. Owners wanted to make site updates quickly but were forced to rely on IT staff to publish content. UVA also experienced challenges around brand consistency and user experience, not just for students and other target audience, but also internally.

Like many other educational institutions, UVA had hundreds of sites—linked to different departments and different budgets. Controlling this sprawl is a common difficulty in the education space, particularly when websites are on different platforms. With variations in logos, fonts, and user expectations, it also became a challenge to create a uniform experience and control the brand.

The Solutions

After identifying these problems, UVA took a step back to figure out how to meet this challenge. They inventoried existing sites and chose Drupal as the standard technology for all their web properties. They selected Acquia as the partner to guide them through the process of revamping digital content. As a first step, Acquia personnel met with UVA staff to understand the business requirements, institutional objectives, necessary technical requirements, and other issues.

Acquia provided UVA with cloud computing environments, which added additional layers of security and assurances that the platform would provide the right performance at the right time—whatever the site’s load. As UVA built up their user base in Drupal, they also made use of Acquia Site Factory, a site management tool that is widely adopted in the education sector.

Site Factory sits atop the Drupal platform and gives content editors direct access to the site without the intervention of IT staff. It provides each editor with a dashboard displaying their web properties and where they can make changes, allowing them to deploy sites rapidly while controlling the brand and achieving consistency.

The Results

Acquia’s solutions allowed the institution to save financially while improving security, gaining velocity, and accessing tools that could impact their business into the future. UVA has been very pleased with the results. IT staff no longer worry about scalability or security. They can deliver bigger sites for their constituents faster than ever before.

Using Drupal as the CMS of choice means the university does not need to retrain teams on multiple solutions, saving money on training and staff time. UVA is also saving money on performance and time

to market. Another big benefit is that university now has the capacity to manage many sites from a central control interface. UVA’s stretch goal is to create 600 sites a year—which would not have been possible before.

Acquia in Higher Ed

Acquia’s help to colleges and universities extends beyond Drupal tools to encompass many parts of a school’s mission. With each institution, Acquia looks across the landscape to identify where to add value so the school can execute on their objectives.

Leveraging data to deliver personalized experiences—and ultimately drive conversion rates—is something that educational institutions have long struggled with. Acquia has expanded their solutions to help institutions drive better marketing campaigns, achieve better conversion rates, collect student data, and aggregate it into a central repository. This allows schools to build a unique profile for each person, from prospective student to current student to alum.

Acquia can help institutions collect, understand, and analyze data to deliver against many different long-range goals: increasing student engagement, identifying target markets, or preparing for the next initiative or crisis. From a marketing perspective, Acquia works closely with admissions offices, advancement groups, and communication offices to help them identify how they can be more efficient and drive more value back into the student experience.

Because Acquia works with federal, state, and local government entities, they are familiar with the need to adhere to the strictest security compliance standards and can protect sensitive student information. Acquia’s tools and Edge Protect model can lock down a solution to fend off all types of attacks.

The Future of Higher Ed

With the current financial crisis and COVID-19, schools must deliver value to their students while also getting creative about attracting the next wave of students while budgets shrink. Acquia’s solutions align very well to the industry and its challenges and help alleviate some of the stress facing schools today.

Every day the world gets more information about COVID; institutions must have a quick time to market, versatile site building tools, and marketing campaign technologies so they can adapt to every challenge. Many schools leverage the Site Factory tool for a templated approach that allows them to simply add content quickly in an emergency. Site Factory allows them to speed up that pace of delivery.

Download Our Free Ebook to learn how to determine which platform offers the tools to create and maintain a significant level of content for any higher education institution.