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The time for customized student experiences is now
January 4, 2023
Studying abroad can be the highlight of any student’s time at college. But as the world becomes increasingly complex on every level, creating and managing a safe and secure international academic experience that aligns with a student’s academic goals and personal preferences is anything but simple.
It’s a challenge the team at Princeton International met head on. They turned to the experts at Evolving Web, whose deep experience with Drupal—the pioneering open source CMS—and Acquia, the only open Digital Experience Platform, made them well equipped to succeed.
Together, they transformed the Princeton International digital experience, utilizing Drupal and Acquia to harness a world of constantly changing information, and make it searchable, customizable, secure, and available through an intuitive interface that any user would feel comfortable navigating.
A single home for a global program
Princeton International offers study and research opportunities in over 140 countries. Their website is the single source for faculty, students, and other prospective or current participants. As the program grew, so did the challenges of imagining, planning, and executing their wide range of initiatives.
After setting out a detailed list of what they wanted their new presence to look like and do, the team quickly saw they wanted it all – and more. To begin with, they wanted the site to enable users to:
- Discover opportunities to learn and research abroad
- Plan an academic curriculum around international study
- Learn about Princeton's academic partnerships
- Get information about funding opportunities for students and faculty
- Review Princeton's global safety and security policies
- Learn more about Princeton's international community
Finally – and perhaps most importantly – they wanted the new website needed to be clean, engaging, and a reliably useful and helpful resource for anyone in the Princeton community, regardless of their level of technical expertise.
A world of challenges
After defining their needs, it was time to determine the obstacles Princeton International would need to overcome in order to meet them. Specific technical and user experience challenges included:
Data-driven interactivity: Users needed to be able to easily discover, shape, and create their learning itineraries, ideally using a highly interactive tool that provided instant, up-to-date results.
Data synchronization: The new site needed to provide updated data about constantly changing programs, news, international experiences, and country risk levels from diverse external sources.
Secure personalization: Users needed to be able to plan their study itinerary, including curriculum requirements, and share this information with advisors and others, while maintaining user privacy.
The right partner, the right tools
In their selection of Evolving Web, Princeton International went with proven open source experts with an impressive record of capitalizing on the flexibility and power of Drupal 9 to create exceptional user experiences.
Evolving Web conducted project research and a series of user journey workshops to create user stories that described the expected website behavior, then evaluated and prioritized the stories to ensure that development tasks were clear and actionable and that the users were at the center of the design process.
Global Arc – purpose-built to create unforgettable experiences
To address Princeton International’s pressing need for robust search capabilities, Evolving Web created one of the project's most innovative features, Global Arc. This interactive, itinerary-building interface enables students to research and develop their international programs, and securely share their learning trajectories with advisors and others.
Built with Acquia Search, this first-of-its-kind tool and interface enables more flexible, faster website search capabilities. Global Arc meets Princeton International’s desire to empower students to be more self-sufficient, enabling them to explore their options before reaching out to the university for support.
The Global Arc new enables Princeton International users to:
- Conduct a global search for international programs and on-campus courses, based on themes, interests, and location
- Access program and course descriptions and application links
- Add to their planning section and prioritize curriculum choices
- View a detailed timeline of desired courses according to the student's year
- Download their personal program in PDF or text to be shared with advisers
- Utilize single sign-on (SSO) integration with Princeton's CAS
- Integrate Course & Programs content from Princeton's Global Programs System (GPS) and the Princeton Course Catalogue.
Powerful flexibility and customization only Drupal can bring
Evolving Web built 29 landing pages and 19 components for Princeton International on Drupal 9, leveraging the platform’s flexibility and easy content update functionality. Content synchronization is achieved through custom Drupal modules, enabling multi-source data aggregation of news, course information, country risk levels and more, while ensuring granular personalization in Drupal.
The result is a clean, easy-to-use website that opens opportunities to students who may not typically seek international studies or who feel less confident in planning their curriculum. Today, Princeton International is reliably equipped to offer the world to their students, faculty, and community.
From insurance to e-commerce, government to automotive, a customized, flexible digital transformation built upon Drupal 9 and the Acquia platform is an efficient, effective way to deliver on even the steepest challenges and longest wish lists. As Princeton International discovered, the power of open source solutions can literally deliver the world.