As part of our commitment to best practices in Drupal development and migration, DSFederal established the Drupal Center of Excellence, a dedicated full-time team of experts in the Drupal content management system (CMS) that offers industry-recognized thought leadership, continuously improving standards and practices; and wide-ranging expertise in development, content migration, training, and Drupal 8, the latest Drupal release. We were pleased to expand the CoE’s portfolio in 2017 with the addition of the NIFA Web Content Management contract.
Under this contract, Team DSFederal, comprising DSFederal and Forum One, provides onsite development, maintenance, and administration support for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)’s Drupal-powered website. We also work directly with NIFA’s communications staff, helping them to develop content management procedures and guidelines. With a team of three Drupal specialists, we are working to ensure Section 508 compliance; improve the site’s information architecture and content clarity, quality, and organization; and to empower NIFA staff with training and support.
Training is a key component of the NIFA project. NIFA created a “Drupal Driver’s License” certification and training program for members of its communications staff, who must earn their Drupal Driver’s License before they are permitted to post, edit, or modify content on the site. Team DSFederal provides all of the necessary training for license seekers, including scheduled classroom training, online and video tutorials, screen-sharing sessions, SnagIt videos, and refresher training for experienced Drupal content editors. The team dedicates two days each month to Drupal training, and also offers regularly scheduled Drupal Town Hall meetings, where NIFA staff can receive support in an informal Q&A setting. As DSFederal’s Jennifer Simpson explains, Drupal is a “use or lose” skill, and ongoing training is essential for maintaining proficiency.
DSFederal’s CEO Sophia Parker often says that our company is “in the people business, not the technology business,” and we put this philosophy into action with our approach to the NIFA effort. Jennifer explains that communication is a key focus of the project. “There’s never a dull moment,” she says, “and 50% of my time is spent meeting with people, talking with them, and addressing their concerns.”
Before DSFederal began supporting the website, NIFA had commissioned a third-party evaluation study, which revealed that 43% of NIFA site visitors reported that they were unable to find information the information they wanted on the site. This study also found that most of the content posted on the site was written at a 20th grade reading level, making it difficult for laypeople to comprehend. With our help, NIFA is working to develop an accessible, 508-compliant website where visitors can easily find useful, engaging, and relevant content. As Jennifer notes, “it’s not going to happen overnight,” but our team has already made notable progress toward creating a visually striking, easy-to-use, 508-compliant site, where NIFA stakeholders and site visitors can quickly and easily find compelling, relevant content.