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Panels flexibility delivers results for EducationCity

Having provided Drupal support and development to EducationCity since 2012, we were delighted to have the opportunity to work with the team during this year to develop and launch three brand new international marketing portals for their brilliant online learning resources.

The brief from EducationCity (EC) for the new portals included two very key elements. The first was to be able to run multiple websites out of the same Drupal instance, one for each of their key marketing territories – the UK, US and International. This has been achieved with the use of the Domains Access module for Drupal. IP address detection has also been added to the sites to automatically redirect visitors to the relevant portal, based on their detected global location, from the main www.educationcity.com address.

The second key requirement for the new portals was the ability to create attractive content pages, with varying layouts, colours, imagery and other options, all via the Drupal CMS. The team at EC have their own in-house resource for producing great content and graphics, so our remit when developing the site was less about us creating great looking pages on their behalf, but instead providing EC with the tools to be able to build the pages for the website themselves. This needed to be achieved purely through the Drupal CMS though so the EC team were not left having to work directly with fiddly HTML and CSS code to achieve the desired page layouts.

The solution that we’ve therefore built for the new sites harnesses the power of Drupal’s flexible Panels system, which enables users to build up a large variety of different page layouts to suit their needs, all via an intuitive drag and drop system within the CMS.

To further support the ability to build page sections up quickly, we also utilised the Fieldable Panel Panes module to provide a range of drop-in section templates that can be used to easily put together different styles of pages featuring a variety of text/image combinations, video embeds, carousels, content tiles and more.

Panelized page layouts in Drupal for EducationCity.com
A selection of various page layouts, all created via the Fieldable Panel Panes functionality built into the CMS

For each section of the page to be created, the EC team simply drag the required panel style into place and then populate the specific fields within that panel to add their content.

In addition to setting the content itself, each panel also provides various options for setting design elements for that section, such as background colours/graphics, font colours, image alignment and call-to-action buttons. The video-specific panels also include options to set whether a video should play automatically, if it should loop once played once, whether video controls should be shown and so on.

Drupal Panels and Fieldable Panes editing options for EducationCity.com
An example of the simple config options available to easily set up a section of the page.
Inset: specific video embedding options.

The resulting impact of having all these options within the CMS has been that the EC team have been able to build large sections of the new websites directly themselves, making the new portals not only flexible to work with but also reducing development costs by not relying on the Adaptive team to build the content for them.

Education City’s Acting Head of Marketing, Leigh Foley, has been delighted with the results. Leigh commented: “We are really pleased with our new portals, especially the fact that they are so flexible to update and edit.

“We add a lot of content all the time such as blogs and free content so it’s great to be able to do this ourselves, but still keep it looking modern and dynamic at the same time with video plus the rolling panels, carousels and accordions.”

The project has been led from Adaptive’s side by our Client Support Manager, Kiel Bull. Kiel said: “Typically with new site builds, the client is looking to us to build all the pages for them, at least in the first instance. The EC project gave us an opportunity to approach things differently, putting most of our emphasis on creating the flexible layout tools that EC needed to enable them to create the pages for themselves.

“We worked closely with the marketing and design teams at EC to make sure that all their needs for different options and layouts were addressed and the result has worked a treat in terms of giving EC the flexibility they were looking for without them having to resort to any technical or tricky HTML coding to achieve the desired results.”

Kiel added: “We’ve certainly taken the Panels functionality in Drupal and used it to its full potential in this site build and it’s something we’re looking forward to being able to offer to other clients going forward who are looking to be equally self-sufficient when it comes to building attractive pages for their website.”

The three new regional portals have launched over recent months, with the main UK portal leading the way and the portals for the US and International markets following. Take a look at the new site at www.educationcity.com

To find out more about utilising Drupal Panels to help you build flexible and attractive pages for your Drupal site, get in touch today.