Oxford University, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and a great number of other top Higher Ed institutions have one thing in common. Their websites are built with Drupal, the open source platform that keeps innovating to provide cutting-edge digital experiences.
What are the latest Drupal improvements, top-notch features, best practices, or complementary technologies that could be beneficial for university and college websites? The best way to learn is to follow the Drupal community’s largest annual event — DrupalCon. It gathers the best Drupal minds and the most passionate innovators that share their ideas, drive change and shape Drupal’s future.
The 2022 program is bursting with great options and is pretty overwhelming, so where to start? Our team has selected their top pick for each day that might be interesting for Higher Ed marketers.
DrupalCon 2022: The sessions Higher Ed marketers can’t afford to miss
Day 1: Monday, April 25
Crayons Down! Accessibility for UX is More than Contrast
The DrupalCon journey of a Higher Ed representative could start with an exciting session about website accessibility by Donna Bungard, Sr. Accessibility Program Manager.
Accessibility is a top priority for your industry. Higher education should be an ambassador of diversity and inclusion. Ensuring your site is truly accessible will allow you to attract a more diverse cohort of prospective students and provide better learning opportunities for them. It’s also a legal requirement to meet a certain level of accessibility and provide equal opportunities for all users in the interaction with their content.
Web accessibility embraces a good many aspects. UX teams often focus too much on colors, while colors are just a part of the whole story, says Donna Bungard in her session’s summary. She will be discussing the top 15 things that UX teams can do at every stage of their project’s lifecycle in order to guarantee the project’s overall accessibility. After Donna’s session, the attendees will have a better understanding of how to produce accessible deliverables.
Day 2: Tuesday, April 26
Optimizing the haystack: Improving findability in content-heavy websites
Every university and college website is content-heavy. Faculties, departments, programs of study, admission requirements, events, and plenty of other content make it look like a haystack where a user needs to find a needle. However, the “haystack” can be improved by the right approach to website search!
Better findability improves both the UX and the performance of a content-heavy website, and that’s what makes the session so important.
This session at DrupalCon Portland 2022 will feature a case study of a 60K+ page website with hundreds of authors creating content, multiple document types, and tons of content translations across different databases. The site was migrated from Sharepoint to Drupal. The right approaches to using Drupal’s taxonomy and content modeling helped improve findability, bridge all the website’s areas, and reduce the editorial overhead.
The website in this case study is an NGO but all the mentioned issues are so much relevant for HigherEd that it’s definitely worth adding this session to your schedule.
Day 3: Wednesday, April 27
CKEditor 5 in Drupal 10: what is there to be excited about?
Where there is a lot of content, there must be a really efficient and editor-friendly tool for publishing it. The editors and managers of HigherEd websites know this only too well. Luckily, Drupal has got the CKEditor. This is a rich text editor with a clean UI based on the WYSIWYG principle.
The good news is that the Drupal 10 core is going to include CKEditor 5, the latest and greatest version of the tool. It is actually already available since Drupal 9.3 but remains in the status of an experimental module.
All those who are interested in improved content editing experiences might enjoy this session by Dawid Urbański. He will be discussing the features that make CKEditor 5 so great. Among other things, this includes smoother UX, shared editing options, and better work on narrow viewpoints. Finally, Dawid will clarify all aspects of getting a Drupal website to work with CKEditor 5.
Day 4: Thursday, April 28
“Request for Partnership” - Redefining the RFP process
The mission of a well-written RFP is to get great responses and attract the right vendors for your partnership. So writing a good RFP can be crucial for your project’s success. A challenging task, isn’t it?
All this is especially true for complex projects. While reading this, HigherEd marketers might sigh, but a better idea is to attend a DrupalCon’22 session that uncovers all the secrets of a successful request for proposal.
Bjorn Thomson and John Tran of ImageX will be sharing the best RFP tips based on the team’s experience. Seeing hundreds of RFPs a year, good and bad, inspired them to give some helpful practical recommendations.
The session’s attendees will know what makes a good RFP, how to involve their team and get internal buy-in, how to keep things within budget and make sure the delivery is on time, and what mistakes to avoid on their path to a perfect RFP.
The Higher Education Industry Summit - Monday & Tuesday
Higher Education Industry Summit is an additional event within DrupalCon Portland.
The Summit is meant to bring together everyone who is using or building HigherEd Drupal websites. Developers, editors, managers, and all others have a chance to chat in an informal and relaxed atmosphere, share their experiences, as well as listen to experts and take a deeper dive into the latest requirements for university and college websites. The Summit includes a keynote, curated talks, small group discussions, and facilitated workshops.
How to Improve UX (When You Have No Time)
Are you always asked to do more with less — less time and fewer resources? And still, do you understand the unquestionable importance of a good UX for a HigherEd website? Then there is a perfect idea of an additional session for you to attend on Tuesday.
The session will be held by Bjorn Thomson, Digital Experience Solutions Director at ImageX. He will focus on the strategies for marketers to find time in their tight schedules for not only maintaining websites but demonstrably improving them. This session is part of Day 2 of the summit.
Driesnote and Driesnote Q&A - Wednesday, April 27
Of course, your DrupalCon menu would be incomplete without this cherry on top of the cake. The keynote by Dries Buytaert is the session that always gathers the largest audience and causes roaring applause.
In his latest Driesnote, the Drupal Project Founder will inform the attendees about the latest trends in Drupal development. This includes key Drupal initiatives on creating cool features, plans for future releases, a roadmap update, top priorities, and so much more. This session is always packed and is set to be a highlight once again.
Want to ask a question? You will have a chance to! There will also be the Driesnote QA session following the keynote, held by Dries together with a representative from the Drupal Association.
See you at DrupalCon 2022!
If you are attending DrupalCon Portland, make sure to drop in and say hi to the ImageX team on booth 213. For your convenience, you can also book time to talk with our team. We know just about everything about the needs unique to Higher Ed websites, the challenges they face, and the features that make them shine. Let’s chat!