ACTFL is a national organization dedicated to the improvement and expansion of the teaching and learning of all languages at all levels of instruction. Its mission is to provide vision, leadership, and support for quality teaching and learning of languages. ACTFL has an individual membership of more than 12,000 foreign language educators and administrators from elementary through graduate education, as well as government and industry.
Drupal 7 was the ideal CMS for the ACTFL project with its flexible, yet feature rich core content management capabilities. ACTFL has many third-party software systems providing online community, e-commerce, and member database solutions. Drupal provides a versatile foundation for integrating these third parties. Because of rapid growth, ACTFL needed a platform that would grow with the organization as additional resources and third parties were added – even though there were already six integration points defined as part of the initial requirements, future solutions and services were discussed in the initial planning stages.
New Target and ACTFL wanted to design a flexible and user-friendly website that would serve as the principal online resource for ACTFL members, attract interest to ACTFL and its products and services from numerous constituent groups, highlight the importance of language education, and strengthen ACTFL’s brand identity. The new site meets these goals; it is beautifully designed, provides more intuitive access to content via strong, organized information architecture, showcases the organization’s many member benefits to current and potential members, integrates with more than 6 ACTFL third party software systems, and establishes a new vibrant look and feel across multiple ACTFL web properties.
Through a series of meetings and interviews with ACTFL stakeholders and internal staff, we reorganized the information architecture to create well-structured navigation making actfl.org a more intuitive website to use. Because the website serves multiple audiences, it needed a non-hierarchical taxonomy to avoid the limitations classic hierarchy-based navigation models employ. Taxonomy and other modules were used to implement the classification system created mutually by ACTFL and New Target through a series of in-depth planning meetings. The amount of time to reorganize and classify content in websites that have grown organically over many years is often underestimated by associations. ACTFL recognized the importance and staffed the project properly internally as all associations should when undertaking a project of this scope and magnitude.
After the information architecture was complete, we designed website graphics and imagery to be professionally in line with the ACTFL brand and the current ACTFL marketing campaign, “I belong.” To maintain continuity across all web properties, we applied the redesigned look and feel to third-party sites and ACTFL micro-sites such as aappl.actfl.org. Bringing all ACTFL websites, microsites, and third-party systems in line with the look and feel of the ACTFL.org brand was a key success metric that was achieved.
Below is an example of the website look and feel slightly altered to provide a distinct feel to an ACTFL program microsite.
Below is an example of the look and feel of the main website as applied to the Higher Logic Community Platform via a CSS overwrite.
We provided ACTFL with a Style Guide and set of standards for writing and design to ensure all future web content aligns with the ACTFL look and feel. Additional features which were implemented to improve front-end design include a jQuery Superfish module for mega menu functionality, as well as a custom slideshow built with jQuery and CSS to highlight marketing messages.
Finally, we designed a mobile version of the site which can be easily edited and updated by non-technical ACTFL staff members via the same web-based user interface that the main site utilizes.
We developed the Drupal CMS as a multi-site to allow staff the ability to manage the main website, the mobile site, and the separate AAPPL site from one easy-to-use, web-based administrative dashboard. We created specific content types and a new workflow process based on conversations with internal staff. This process allows the staff to adhere to a review path for web content as it is created, edited, and posted to the site.
We connected all 3rd party tools to the CMS in order to create a simple single login for all members. This included integrating the ACTFL AMS (iMIS15), Online Community (Higher Logic™), and the ACTFL Boxwood Career Center with the new Drupal 7 CMS. When the user logs into the member area of the website, a user session is initiated and tokens are created if necessary. Once the user logs out of the CMS, the single-sign on (SSO) token is no longer valid.
We used a CSS override where possible to carry the design through to the 3rd-party tools; where it was not possible, we delivered a PSD file to the 3rd party to ensure the tools were styled to mirror the look and feel of the new website. The following 3rd-party design integrations may also be viewed:
- Boxwood Career Center (http://jobcentral.actfl.org)
- ISGWeb for iMIS (http://isgweb.actfl.org/ISGWeb/Purchase/SearchCatalog.aspx)
- CapWiz (http://capwiz.com/actfl/home/)
Additional features include a Twitter module which pulls the latest tweets from the ACTFL Twitter account, an improved news section, a contact web form which directs inquiries directly to the responsible department and thereby reduces time spend by ACTFL on forwarding emails to the correct department, as well as content types and blocks used to easily update content. We also implemented a weather module on the convention pages to display current weather conditions to conference attendees and we used Workbench to provide a unified user interface for content and the ability to control content editing rights.
Once the site was built out, we helped ACTFL clean up the existing content by removing the unnecessary pages and migrating the remaining content pieces from the existing i4a™ Content Management System to the new Drupal 7 platform.
The new site provides a secure environment to the ACTFL members to protect their financial data and member profiles. It is PCI Compliant and tested for SQL Injection Vulnerability.
Additional team members:
Howie Berman, ACTFL Director of Membership and Administration
Jaime Bernstein, ACTFL Membership Coordinator