911Memorial.org supports the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and honors the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center. This case study details their new website with expanded functionality anchored in Drupal.
The original 9/11 Memorial.org site was a loosely connected assortment of independent applications including a storefront, blog, and donation pages. These were all transitioned into a single, integrated application that features a quick site-wide search and a single view of member information and site activity. The development team created an easy-to-use administrative control panel for updating web content and to manage donations, memberships, and merchandise orders. Revision control helps Memorial staff manage site updates. Drupal was the clear choice to help bring all these moving parts together to create an integrated, streamlined workflow for the Memorial.
"On September 11, 2011, 911memorial.org welcomed more than a million web visitors looking to commemorate the anniversary…We are very proud of the site, which has become an important tool for us to engage our supporters worldwide. Blink delivered a website that has become a global destination."
Sean Anderson, Chief Technology Officer for the 9/11 Memorial
"This is a very high energy place, but when we got the call to rebuild the 9/11 Memorial site everything stopped," recalls Blink Reaction CEO Nancy Stango. "It made all of us reflect on the events of that day and the years since. I knew immediately it would be a great responsibility to create an online destination for a worldwide audience that conveyed the Memorial's message and purpose. It was the first time the Memorial staff had worked with Drupal and we knew we would have to create a site that was an exemplar of Drupal's suitability for high usability, reliability, speed, workflow and of course security," Stango said.
Because the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy lay ahead, the site was built to accommodate huge spikes in traffic. The site launched at the end of April and the team anticipated having several months of easy testing before being hit by the tremendous loads of 9/11/11. Literally only several days after launch on May 2nd the news of Bin Laden's killing was announced and traffic spiked off the charts in the middle of the night.
"The website responded with optimal performance," said 9/11 Memorial Chief Technology Officer Sean Anderson.
Mobile Design & Multimedia
911Memorial.org looks great no matter what you're viewing it on.
The team was charged with developing a site that was accessible across multiple mobile computing platforms. A rapid, lightweight theme was developed to support the Memorial's mission and welcome site visitors who come seeking comfort.
- Custom coding for older browsers
- Multimedia galleries and PhotoSwipe implementation for mobile lightboxes and galleries, including video and high resolution renderings
- Device detection even on cached pages with rules that can be configured from within Drupal
- Screen resolution optimization for modern phones and tablets
- ImageMagick image manipulation and high speed, low overhead generation of text images
- A custom-built mobile integration API to allow visitors to find their cobblestones during their visit to the memorial plaza
- Content Layout module selectable templates for lightweight, easy to use content and landing pages
Twenty-five Thousand Donors Strong
One of the key objectives of the 911memorial.org site was to be able to engage supporters and secure support for the organization's programming.
The development team helped the Memorial meet its fundraising goals by building an enhanced set of donor features integrating Drupal with the industry standard Raisers Edge CRM. Twenty-five thousand user records were imported and new Donation Management pages were created with increased usability and additional donor options. Visitors to the 9/11 Memorial website can now purchase a cobblestone to be placed at the memorial and located via the site's mobile API on their next visit. Donor transactions are handled securely through SSL then synchronized with Raisers Edge for daily online and offline management. Blink also restructured donor data for better management, including flexible report creation.
Security & Speed
Security was a key consideration in the development process. The development team did an extensive review and custom configuration of Drupal's built-in Roles and Permissions sub-system to align with the Memorial's business workflow and optimize site security through access control to read and write privileges. The site was custom configured to only accept administrative logins from network IP addresses used by authorized personnel. Webserver configuration was also adjusted to enhance IP restrictions. HTTP auth and public/private key protocols were used to facilitate API access. Several additional security layers were also implemented to ensure the integrity of the site.
A carefully tuned Varnish implementation formed an important part of the site's foundation for consistently fast delivery. Developers implemented custom page removals from cache on-demand and through cron.
- Social - Janrain Engage integration for custom social network login by users from around the globe;
- Commerce - a full Ubercart installation with custom configured store administration supports the Memorial's gift center;
- Search - full faceted search with Apache Solr on the Acquia Managed Cloud network;
- Migration - special custom content migration from WordPress;
- Call to Action - Constant Contact integration for advanced permission based subscriptions to newsletters and announcements, event calendaring and Web Form implementation help Memorial staff convert visitors into supporters and donors.
It was the first time the Memorial staff had worked with Drupal and since the completion of the project they have become members of the Drupal community and ambassadors on its behalf.