Case Study: Migration and menus are key in new Drupal 8 project
Steve Allen

A recently-delivered Drupal development project has seen the Adaptive team successfully migrate more than 5,400 nodes and 33,500 document files from an old Drupal 6 website into a new Drupal 8 build.

The new website for the Joint Office of Gas Transporters - - is an in-depth repository of gas industry information and documentation, including meeting details and minutes, consultation documents, industry legislation and more.

Adaptive has worked with the Joint Office (JO) team since the start of 2016, initially supporting and hosting their previous Drupal 6 website. In early 2017, we began discussions with the JO about redeveloping the website on the latest Drupal 8 platform. The key objectives of the new website were to:

  • restructure content to be more closely aligned with the processes and meetings supported by the JO, making it easier to find information and materials
  • provide a clean design with responsive layouts to ensure the site is easy to use on mobile/tablet devices
  • make the site more logical and obvious to navigate via the use of megamenu navigation
  • move the site to a more stable and secure version of Drupal and away from the out-of-support Drupal 6 version of the CMS used by the previous site

In addition to these aims, we also had the challenge of migrating large volumes of nodes and document files from the old site, while retaining the relational structure of the content that was stored using the Drupal Books module.

While various tools and modules exist in Drupal 8 to support the migration of general content, we found that functionality for migrating Book content while retaining the Book structure itself was lacking. A custom module was therefore developed by Adaptive to manage the migration and all pages and documents were successfully transferred to the new site with the relational structure between content remaining intact.

The brief for the new website's design was for it to be minimal, clean and easy to view. The nature of the website content is typically very text- and document-heavy, so clean, clear fonts have been used throughout the site alongside a subtle use of icons to highlight certain elements and break the text up. Based on Bootstrap, the whole site theme is responsive and adapts to different devices and screen widths as required.

A customised version of the Colossal Menu Drupal module has been utilised to provide a user-friendly megamenu-style navigation on the website. This is a vast improvement on the previous site's menu, which was a more standard multi-level drop-down menu, which resulted in much of the site's sections previously being hidden from immediate view in sub-levels of the navigation. This made it difficult to find many areas of the site unless you knew exactly where content was to begin with. The new megamenu presents links to all the key areas of the site in a single view, with content organised to be much more closely aligned with the processes and meetings overseen by the JO.

The resulting new website has been well received by both the JO team and its target audience. Prior to development, the proposals for the new website were put through a consultation process with key stakeholders and users of the website - including a number of the UK's major gas companies - to ensure the proposed new website was likely to meet their needs. Since going live, the JO have reported very positive feedback on the new website with many saying they much prefer the look and structure of the new site.

CMS training delivered to the core Joint Office admin team by Adaptive project manager, Debbie Heard, was also well received, with team members commenting that "the walk through was very useful and worked very well from a delivery perspective as you were able to focus on the differences between Drupal 6 & 8."

The new site is hosted in a lean cloud environment within Amazon Web Services. The environment is fully optimised for Drupal and utilises Varnish caching tools to ensure that pages are loaded quickly in the browser.

Commenting on the support and service they have received from the Adaptive team, Bob Fletcher, the organisation's Workgroup Chair, said: "We have been working with Adaptive for a number of years and fully appreciate how they have been able to support our ongoing requirements while making useful and valid suggestions for improvements to our website and other services.

"Although we have limited technical knowledge concerning the development of websites, Adaptive employees listen to what we want and provide clear and easy to understand options and recommendations. We are pleased with how promptly questions and issues are responded to and how they keep you updated."

Further developments are now planned for the new website, including better integration and management of meeting dates and calendars with the rest of the site, an online consultation process tool and personalisation tools such as content bookmarking.

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