Website Design Refresh and Drupal Theme Update

February 10, 2021 3:45 PM

Office of Communications

Four years ago this spring, the webteam launched a major overhaul of Oberlin’s public website that involved both a move to a new platform (from DotCMS to Drupal) and a complete redesign. This week we are preparing a smaller-scale refresh of the website’s Drupal theme that will fix some limitations of the old theme while updating the look and feel of the site to fit with the new visual identity that the Office of Communications has adopted for various print materials. This improved alignment between print and web will provide continuity for prospective students and others as they interact with Oberlin through print and online media.

The most noticeable change will be the updated colors and fonts. We’ve also made a number of functional improvements. For example, the “more in this section” dropdown navigation menu has been replaced with a more standard side navigation. Page template layouts have changed in other ways that will allow us to increase the flexibility of page components and provide authors with better options for organizing and presenting page content. At the same time, the backend for editors remains unchanged so additional training is not required.

As part of this update, we have collaborated with the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to create a new design for A&S academic department pages, one that will allow us to merge “program pages” and department pages on the College side into a single user experience, alleviating confusion. (Conservatory divisions, which have a division home such as Strings and a number of program pages like Violin, Cello, and Harp, will maintain the distinction, but a College department such as English does not need a separate program page, also called English.) Several of these new department pages will be ready with the theme launch, and the rest will be updated in the coming weeks.

With any retheming on this scale—about 10,000 pages will be affected—it’s a given that there will be hiccups, particularly on pages that have been customized with CSS and JavaScript. Such customizations are usually dependent on the structure of the page code, which means they must be adjusted to work with the new code structure. We’ve already found and fixed issues like this on many pages, but I have no doubt there will be some we were unable to predict. If you notice something that doesn’t look right, please let us know so we can address it right away.

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