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Oct 06 2016
Oct 06
October 6th, 2016

Four Kitchens had previously worked with the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, creating the first mobile-responsive version of their existing Drupal 6 website in 2014. While the previous site was more than capable “back in the day,” the needs of the site’s current visitors and administrators had outgrown the technology.

NYU wanted a new online experience that was as modern as their user base, admin friendly for a diverse range of content, and leveraged the speed and responsiveness of Drupal 8. Partnering with Four Kitchens this summer, both teams set out to develop the brand new Rory Meyers College of Nursing site. Throughout the project, I served as the Project Manager/Numbers Guy/Scrum Master/Group Therapy Facilitator/Product Owner/Bad News Guy.

Building A Stable Foundation for Future Growth

“First founded in 1932, the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing is the second-largest private university college of nursing in the US, and reflects the intellectual curiosity, dynamism, and quality characteristic of NYU.”

As the quote from their About page says, NYU College of Nursing understands change. Starting as a department, then growing to a division, and finally being established as an independent college, growth is in the DNA of the College of Nursing. Despite the relative newness of Drupal 8, it was the platform the college had been waiting for and they wanted D8 to serve as their foundation for future growth. Throughout the project, NYU staff and our team had three primary goals for the new site:

Modernize the site to reflect the current user base

From prospective students looking for admissions information on their iPad, to a professor keeping their research publications up to date on their desktop, to alumni finding an event on their phone, the new site had to offer the same delightful experience across a variety of platforms. Speed and efficiency were also top of mind as well, as the site had to perform on both wired and limited bandwidth platforms.

NYU Nursing website on desktop and mobile

Make the site administrator friendly, allowing a wide variety of content to be edited by non-technical administrators

In a field as diverse as medicine, making complicated content easy to find (and edit) was of critical importance. College of Nursing staff needed the ability for specific areas of the site to be managed independently, without lengthy trainings or complicated technical workflows. The team used Drupal modules such as Focal Point, Paragraphs, and Scheduled Updates in order to reduce the workload on both developers and content administrators.

Screen shot of NYU Nursing admin panel.

Leverage the built-in advantages of D8 and new modules to improve speed and reduce workload

Already sold on the advantages of a Drupal platform, NYU was looking to D8 to serve as its technology platform for years to come. Responsiveness, speed, and modular design and styling options were just a few of the features that were important to staff. Knowing that other programs or colleges may also come to benefit from the technological advancements we were building into the College of Nursing site , the Four Kitchens team developed the project with a component based theming* approach, and utilized PatternLab to create a living style guide. When appropriate, these components can be re-used or re-skinned for future site sections, or even for additional NYU global sites, saving both time and money on future projects.

[NB: check out Web Chef Evan Willhite’s short video series on component-based theming for Drupal 8—developed while on the NYU Nursing team!]

Team. Work.

As a project manager (and entry-level product owner), I could not have asked for a better team. It’s a clichéd cliché, but successful projects always come down to communication—whether the situation was lighthearted (“Let’s just assign that story to Brian, since he’s on vacation today.”) or serious (“Well, plans A through E didn’t work, but I have a great feeling about F…”), our entire group communicated regularly (every day through Slack and Zoom video conference calls) and honestly (the good, bad, and the ugly). At the end of the project, we all felt like we had truly been through the wringer together. We’re not just a customer with specifications, and developers cranking out orders, but an actual team, with diverse perspectives, skill sets, and roles that pulled together to accomplish a formidable task.

Not to toot our own horns too much, but in the words of Todd, “Honk-Honk!” The new site launched on time, on budget, and without any major technical issues, thanks to the hard work of the NYU College of Nursing team and the web chefs.


Chris Devidal
Chris Devidal

Chris Devidal is a Digital Project Manager and Scrum Master from Austin, Texas. He enjoys Cabernet, long walks on the beach, and snarky blog signatures.

May 20 2016
May 20


Golden ticketExcited for my first ever DrupalCon experience. A premium C:2 position boarding pass on Southwest Airlines on the day that Uber and Lyft decide to leave Austin. Two things I should have planned better. Do the TSA thing. Board plane and settle into a non-reclining seat full of crackers. Find a valid Southwest drink coupon in my bag. Turbulence, followed by landing. A kindly New Orleans Uber driver welcomes us into her city, but warns our group to stick together in order to avoid being robbed. Coworker reunion (including the new guy), wine, and shooting the shit at the hotel. A brisk walk to Cochon. 4K team keeps it light by ordering shrimp, crawfish, oysters, boudin, gumbo, bourbon flights, fried alligator and half of our collective weight in pork. Food coma.


SwagBreakfast at Majoria’s Commerce Restaurant. Two face-sized biscuits covered with more pork, jalapeños, cheese, and fried eggs. I am 86% sure I can eat it all. Mistakes are made. Casual stroll to convention center. Catch the DriesNote. Locate 4K Games Booth, featuring ping pong, Double Shot, and an adorably under-sized foosball table. Try out Double Shot, do well, score 22 points. Brian immediately scores 86 points, obliterating me and setting the first DrupalCon Double Shot record. This trend will continue. Meet some fun people from Acquia, Pantheon, and FFW. Hand out some much coveted convention swag. Attend my first session, Entities 101, and learn about D8 changes — super informative. Coworkers eat lunch at the booth. I skip and focus my energy on digesting breakfast. Brian has broken 100 on Double Shot with one hand, while also preparing his D8 training session with his other. He is a magical man. Attend my first Project Management track session, Becoming a TPM: Dos and Don’ts of Technical Project Management. Find out it’s the first ever PM Track session at a DrupalCon ever. Listen to the Phase2 team talk about Scopey Changey Management in D8. Meet up with our clients from NYU College of Nursing. Make dinner plans. Amazingly delicious Mediterranean food is consumed. A good time is had by all.


Sophisticated.Team breakfast at The Ruby Slipper. Multiple types of New Orleans Eggs Benedict. Casual stroll to convention center. Real PM talk with Let’s Be Honest: Estimation Is Guessing. Wisely skip lunch again. Watch fellow Web Chef @fluxsauce teach people how to make the internets faster in front of 400+ attendees. Not to be outdone, other fellow Web Chef @ModsUnrveled teaches 401+ people some D8 sitebuilding badassery black magic. Back to the 4K booth for lightning talks. Attendees learn about interview horror stories, Steve Martin, and the etymology of the term “cocktail.” True stories, all of them. Close out the day with former Web Chef but current Vox-er @iamcarrico talking about how he can annoy you with ads even faster. Dinner at Compère Lapin. Best. Biscuits. Ever. Back to hotel, get spiffed up for classy Lullabot Party at the ACE Hotel. Cocktails and good discussion eventually give way to dancing and live music at the Pantheon Party at Generations Hall. Sophisticated dancing and photo booth shenanigans with clients eventually lead to a midnight bus ride heading towards an afterparty that I can only describe as Cajun Burning Man meets Return of the Jedi. I retreat for the comforts of bed before the alien gets set on fire with the flame-thrower.


Points were scored.Last day. Start it right with breakfast at Mother’s. Consider calling an Uber to get to the convention center. Attend “I’m a Scrumberjack, and I’m OK” and enjoy it. Run over to listen to fellow Web Chef @lukeherrington talk about how his module got hacked during his interview. Back to booth. Still have no idea what lunch at the conference looks like. Brian’s over 110 points on the Double Shot, but is engaged in a friendly battle with Brandon from Lingotek. 200+ points are scored in less than 75 seconds while the Double Shot begs for mercy. Check out a great session all about inheriting other people’s messes. Start packing up the booth in order to get ready for the D6 second line mourning party. Handkerchiefs, fans, and a bad-assed jazz band lead hundreds of Drupalers onto the streets of New Orleans to mourn the loss of the sixth version of Drupal and one giant Kalamuna balloon. At The Rusty Nail bar, an impromptu swing dance session breaks out, D6 is lamented and lampooned equally, and Todd talks about “going all the way.” Against my will, I am forced to drink with my ridiculously photogenic coworkers, though some pull it off better than others. We wander across the street to Sac-A-Lait with friends and indulge once more.


DoneOut of bed early and off to Café Du Monde for a riverside beignet breakfast. Back to the airport with the teammates, do the TSA thing again, and drag myself onto the plane. Fall asleep reminiscing about what an entertaining, educational, and engorging week it’s been in New Orleans with the Drupal community.

About Drupal Sun

Drupal Sun is an Evolving Web project. It allows you to:

  • Do full-text search on all the articles in Drupal Planet (thanks to Apache Solr)
  • Facet based on tags, author, or feed
  • Flip through articles quickly (with j/k or arrow keys) to find what you're interested in
  • View the entire article text inline, or in the context of the site where it was created

See the blog post at Evolving Web

Evolving Web