Duke Health

Implementing a Flexible Drupal Upgrade for a Leading Healthcare Institution

As one of the Southeast’s preeminent healthcare providers, Duke Health brings together the very best of research, education, and patient care. The organization consistently ranks among the top in the nation, and is proud to be the largest employer in Durham County.

Duke Health oversees the university’s School of Medicine, School of Nursing, Private Diagnostic Clinic, and hospital system, all while integrating the latest research findings and health policy developments. We’ve been lucky enough to partner with Duke on several other higher education website design projects, so we were thrilled to work with them again when the Duke Health website was in need of some technical updates.

A Worthwhile Upgrade

The Duke Health website was previously built on a Drupal 7 base, but the operating system was quickly approaching its end of life. It had also become cumbersome and inflexible, so Duke approached us to rebuild their site for Drupal 8.

Not only did the update make the site more secure, but it also vastly improved the code structure and gave administrators more control over site content, organization, and appearance.

Flexible Content Management

On the Drupal 7 setup, Duke’s primary complaint was that they had little control over their content. The site utilized automated feeds and defaults that couldn’t be changed, so they were often limited in the types of content that they could post and the layouts that the system would support.

To address the flexibility concerns, we rebuilt the Drupal infrastructure to use “Paragraphs” to manage individual blocks of content. By selecting and reordering the Paragraph blocks, Duke is now able to build out custom templates that flex with their needs and present site content more effectively.

We also refreshed the automated feeds that had been a source of frustration in the past. On Drupal 8, we were able to set things up so that site admins can control what content is displayed on each feed and where it appears on the site.

Optimized for Performance

In addition to improving the site’s flexibility and security, we also made changes that enhance user-experience. On the technical side, the new frontend code significantly improves load times and speed. This means fewer delays and a smoother experience for users.

We also fine-tuned the site’s use of visuals with a custom resizer module that delivers fully optimized, high quality images. The module uses Drupal’s own image API to generate and save the photos, which are then presented to users in the optimal format for their screen size and device of choice.

We largely left the existing design in place, but we did make a few strategic adjustments to boost accessibility and ease-of-use. Thus, the site maintains its signature look and feel while better supporting users of all abilities.

Maintaining a Leading Position

With the launch of the Drupal upgrade, Duke Health is well positioned to continue their momentum as a healthcare powerhouse. And as Duke’s needs evolve over time, the website’s flexible features, attractive look, and technical solidity will prime the platform to grow and scale successfully.