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Accessibility, Performance, And Scalability For Higher Education
Penn State University
Industry: Education

The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) wanted to create a high-performance Drupal content management system (CMS) to empower their distributed content creation teams to create and collaborate around well-structured and engaging content.

Penn State required a scalable web platform that could handle current traffic spikes with the ability to add more websites in the future. In working closely with Penn State’s Applied Information Technologies team, we proposed an actionable technical architecture plan including server configuration recommendations that gives Penn State’s platform the capability to expand and grow for years to come with the flexibility to mitigate increased capacity or performance loads as they occur.

Providing content to both prospective and current students from any device was one of the major goals for the Penn State redesign. The new responsive themes provide PSU.edu and news.psu.edu users with full access on desktop, mobile, and tablet breakpoints.

Creating an accessible site was also a top priority for Penn State. Together, we worked to satisfy key accessibility requirements, including section 508 and WCAG guidelines. Optimizing the color contrast on Penn State sites and implementing WAI-ARIA Landmarks to make it easier for screen readers to navigate the site were just a couple of the accessibility considerations that Penn State fastidiously enabled. The site was then tested for accessibility by users who are blind or have low vision, to ensure that anyone can access the site’s content and engage with Penn State on the web.

Penn State’s new Drupal platform promotes University-wide visual and functional consistency while providing content control to site administrators. Through a collaborative working process, Phase2 helped Penn State to launch a redesigned web platform that engages audiences through a variety of devices with accessible rich media and content. Penn State reports that since the implementation of the responsive themes in February of 2013 site engagement statistics have increased significantly across all devices (desktop, tablet, and mobile).

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