University of Iceland - Multi-site solution

Industry
Education
Solution
Multisite solution
Technology
Drupal, React, Elasticsearch
https://english.hi.is/

The University of Iceland runs over 300 web properties. It's was important for the IT managers at the university to gain good overview and control over all projects, as well as keeping the maintenance cost as low as possible. Creating the same editorial experience  and combine looks for all editors has been challenging but results in more manageable working environment for everyone. The University Web Development department approached 1xINTERNET to create a distribution in Drupal 8, that could be used for all future web properties of the university.

How could we help University of Iceland gain overview and control? 

1xINTERNET with the development team of the University of Iceland, built a multi-website platform and went live with the first website for the MBA faculty (mba.hi.is) in the first quarter of 2020. Another project worked on simultaneously was the implementation of a design system for the university, where all elements were defined for other web properties to use directly. The frontend was built as a design system with Patternlab, which is used by the Drupal distribution built by our team. All websites are set up in a way that they can be developed, maintained, and deployed separately, using the University infrastructure.

The following requirements should be met: 

  • Create a common installation profile for all web properties of the university based on Drupal 8
  • Implement a component based design system for all website components
  • Implement state-of-the-art development and DevOps processes and tooling (local development, Gitlab instance, CI/CD)
  • Provide a scalable and reliable hosting architecture to be run on the university’s infrastructure and spin up new websites quickly
  • Train and assist the university’s web development team in the ongoing development
  • Implement an ElasticSearch / React based federated search solution over all properties 
  • Integrate internal university systems like SSO

Why choose Drupal?

The in-house knowledge and good experience with Drupal, made the developer team at the university convinced to stick to Drupal for future development. Choosing Drupal multi-site solution, where sites share the same codebase,  will save time, effort and cost. Maintenance, support and further development can be done once, and then shared to all web properties within minutes.  Spinning up new website becomes easy, set-up time is reduced and scaling is faster. For institution like the University of Iceland, with this large number of web properties this was very important and one of their main requirements. 

Drupal and 1xINTERNET

Challenges and special requirements  of the project

The main challenge of this project was for the university to gain control over all web properties and unite them in one system with the same CMS System. With 1600 employees, this task can be challenging as people tend to resist changes to begin with.  Today this is an ongoing process and so far, going well. 

"We choose to work with 1xINTERNET when starting implementing our Multi-Site solution for the University. The collaboration with 1x has been outstanding, professional and friendly at the same time. Problem solving and thinking in solutions is one of their most valuable assets. The work we have done with 1xINTERNET has proved to be a great success for our university and we look forward to future projects"

Sigurður Högni Jónsson,  software specialist at University of Iceland 

Sigurdur Hogni University of Iceland

Main features of the project

Intuitive and consistent editorial experience

  • Same working environment between all employees at the university. Knowledge sharing gets easier and control over web properties more manageable.

 

Integrated Design System

  • All design changes can be done directly in the distro and then applied to all the web properties.

Accessibility

  • Looks are pre-defined for all web properties of the university. This makes user experience easier when when working on multiple webpages.

Reduced development time

  • Development changes are made in the distro and changes deployed from one place. This saves a lot of time when over seeing many web properties.

 

Integration with other systems

  • Easy integration with 3rd party systems used at the University of Iceland

Preconfigured search

  • Preconfigured search backend with Elastic Search with the possibility to search across all websites.

 

About the University of Iceland 

The University of Iceland was founded in 1911 and is today the country's oldest and largest institution of higher education. It offers opportunities for study and research in over 400 programmes, spanning most fields of science and scholarship: 

  • Social Sciences

  • Health Sciences

  • Humanities

  • Education

  • Natural Sciences and Engineering

The university is collaborating with 500 universities worldwide and every year the school welcomes on average 1,300 international students that come to study in Iceland.

In 2019, 1xINTERNET also developed the website for the The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, which is a sub entity of  University of Iceland. 

University of Iceland picture outside of the building

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