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Princeton University Press (PUP) is an independent publisher with close formal and informal connections to Princeton University. It was founded in 1905 and has brought over 10,000 scholarly books to print, including the works of Albert Einstein. Six of their books have received Pulitzer Prizes. PUP’s mission is to disseminate scholarship through print and digital media, within both academia and society at large.
The PUP website was first created in the 1990s and was retrofitted to add functionality over the years, resulting in a number of disparate moving parts. The website grew to include over 100,000 static and generated HTML pages, containing various pieces of information and images, mini sites, a WordPress blog, a newsletter and some basic commerce functionality for North America and Europe/Asia/Africa.
Migrating the site’s legacy data and creating an improved, responsive user experience were key to the project’s success. Working with the press’s web team, including their database architect and the director of web development, Evolving Web’s technical team performed a preliminary website audit and created a prioritized requirements and functionality list to define the following goals:
The press’s previous website had been created in a piecemeal manner by a former employee, where custom scripts pulled data from the press’s custom database, to build static HTML pages. Evolving Web needed to be able to access the database to create the migrations, and then pull that content into Drupal. The complexity of the migration was the largest challenge, with the huge volume of existing elements adding to the complexity.
Specifically, the technical challenges included the following:
The homepage refresh used the existing branding to produce a modern look-and-feel for the website. It utilizes a standard responsive template to adapt the site to desktop computers and mobile devices. The new user interface includes a minimal drop-down main menu, a clean and accessible footer, and a search box that collapses.
The complex migration of ~8,000 books and ~4,000 jpgs was successful. Migration continues with a process that is optimized to prevent downtime / inconsistency on the live site. Migrations can be run manually or automatically at night, and out-of-print books are systematically removed from the database.
The Bootstrap-based design has improved SEO while conforming to accessibility standards. And it is easy for content editors to update web content using WYSIWYG while images are auto-resized, providing visual consistency for the brand.
The previous website regenerated 50,000 pages for even a small tweak to a template or change in functionality. Under the new system, an automatic nightly process synchronizes the content to the Drupal database, with all other changes to pages propagating instantly. The result is significant speed improvements for iterations on website functionality, making it easier to apply bug fixes.