Leveraging Drupal 8 for Enterprise Level Projects

A high-profile site with an amazing mission behind it is any web developers dream! But like anything worth doing, it requires a drive to cultivate and careful preparation to make sure we deliver the quality of site that USIP deserves. Keep reading to learn how we deliver an enterprise product for The United States Institute of Peace Drupal site.

Who is USIP?

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) is an independent institution created by Congress in 1984. USIP is devoted to the nonviolent prevention and mitigation of deadly conflict abroad. The site needs to be as visually inspiring as their mission of peace. We aim to create and airy, open site that matches the institute’s passion and integrates USIP’s new color scheme to keep their purposeful branding consistent across different mediums.

Which CMS is best?

As part of our development system, we research and identify key technical elements before making a CMS decision. WDG is a rare hybrid, platform agnostic CMS solutions provider with a focus on WordPress and Drupal. Before recommending which is best for our clients, Drupal or WordPress, we explore and review based on the following requirements:

  • API-first
  • Scalability
  • Multilingual
  • Community
  • Authoring experience for the less-technical
  • Mobile friendly-ness
  • Security
  • Workflow management
  • Flexible content architecture
  • Ability to support content heavy websites

Based on these requirements, particularly regarding complex integration points, customized in-site search, mobile friendliness, flexible content structure and ability to scale a content heavy site, we determined Drupal 8 as the clear choice.

Navigation: Where Do We Put All the Pieces?

Organizing a large and complex site can be a challenge. We carefully audit all of the information that the USIP team wants to share on their site. The WDG design team works with USIP to create custom issue area and flag icons, maps, and templates which seamlessly guide the user to target destinations. Our information architecture team then organizes USIP’s content to be more intuitive and user-centric.

Search: How Do We Find That?

We organize a tidy taxonomy and lay out an architecture that would be easy to figure out for first-time users. We address one of USIP’s big concerns with their old site: the search capability. The capability did not work well on the old site and didn’t help guide users to their desired destination. We solve this by implementing Google tag manager as well as integrating Apache Solr, Acquia Search, and a custom Search API to create a user-friendly search experience. This combination provides a seamless and effective search functionality for a content-heavy site. Navigating content-heavy sites is simply easier with smart in-site search capabilities. A good search function can lower your bounce rate and keep people on the site, because they are actually getting what they need right away. With so many sites to look at, users simply don’t have the patience to spend ages mining your website for the information they want. (Related article: Integrating Apache Solr with Drupal 8).


Our developers optimized the USIP site for mobile and speed because a number of their users access the site from developing countries. In these countries, the site is being used primarily on mobile devices and internet access can be spotty. Optimizing a site of this nature is essential to the overall function of the site and for it to be accessible worldwide. One of the big stumbling blocks for a mobile interface is the navigation. Once again, if the user can’t find what they are looking for, they will move onto the next site. For USIP, we built a mobile interface that could deliver just as well as the desktop view and therefore kept users engaged.

The Bells and Whistles

With the framework for a functional site in place, we start adding modules that expand capabilities across the site. Our developers integrate modules such as Google Analytics, Salesforce Marketing Cloud (Web Collect), and Disqus, which handle everything from USIP’s events analytics to their blog’s comment section. WDG also integrates AddThis to highlight USIP’s active social media presence.

The Results

With careful attention to detail based on input from the USIP team and its stakeholders, WDG builds a visually stunning and highly organized site to advance the important mission of spreading peace throughout the world.See full USIP visual case study here.

Related article: What is Drupal 8

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