WCSAP Website Launch Many Months in the Making

The new website is launched!

What have we done? Many things, some of them obvious, others a bit more hidden.

Here is a list of the major changes:

New Responsive Theme
A responsive theme modulates between "Desktop", "Tablet", and "Cell Phone", giving each device an optimized experience. Our old website was not responsive. It didn't work well on Cell Phones. Our new theme is responsive. It works well with Cell Phones, making it more accessible to single device users. This is important, as single device users are often disenfranchised. A responsive theme is a welcoming theme.
Higher Color Contrast Theme
Users with diminished eyesight can still read high contrast text, our new color scheme makes the WCSAP website more accessible. Voluntarily limiting our color palette is important, it provides access to a broader range of users.
Reaching for the "AA" Accessibility Standard
Color contrast is an obvious accessibility issue, but there are many more that are invisible. Accessibility has three levels: A, AA, and AAA. Our goal is to be AA compliant. Our new theme has resolved many structural issues and it is an ongoing effort to create content that meets "AA" standards, an effort that spans the lifetime of the website.
Improved Navigation Lets You Know Where You Are
The big thing about navigation is knowing where you are. WCAG guidelines say that a well made website should give users clear indications as to their location in the virtual landscape. We've added contextual menus with section titles that announce the user's location within the site. And we have moved from a flat file system to a hierarchical system, so now the URL also displays the user's location.
Improved Access to the Lending Library
The Lending Library has been integrated into the website. This makes it easier to find library items as they are now part of our Resources. You don't have to leave our website to search another database. And requesting items is now done from the item's page, making it easier to order reference materials. Integration has reduced our costs, we don't have to pay for an second system and we don't have to pay for training staff to learn a second system. This is all good!
Tighter Salesforce Integration
We store information in our CRM (Constituent Relationship Management) Salesforce. By integrating the information, maintenance cost goes down — staff update information in one, centralized location: Salesforce. On our old website our Salesforce information was integrated via iframes. Iframes are clunky. Our new website accesses our Salesforce data via CVS exports and integrates it into native Drupal nodes. This is smooth.
Consolidated & Improved Resources Section
The old website presented resources as static pages, spread throughout the site. Our new website leverages Drupal to create a single Resource section that is dynamically built from "tags" or "taxonomy." The bottom line: once you get the hang of it, you'll find things easily. And once we get the hang of it, we'll have an easier job doing maintenance. Good, all the way around!
More & Larger Thumbnails
More of the resources on the new site have thumbnails, making it easier for graphically oriented users to find things.
Better Access to "Hard Copy"
You can now find all of the items that WCSAP prints and distributes to members on the website. And ordering the items is done from the item's page. Easier to find things, easier to order things.
Tighter Constant Contact Integration
Our new website's Newsletter sign-up form is built-in. You don't leave our website to go to the sign-up form, you stay. It's a better user experience.
More Contact Forms
We have more contact forms for different types of communications on our new site. This makes it easier for users to contact us directly from our website without using an email client, and it reduces the amount of spam that we receive.
Drupal 7 → Drupal 8 Migration
Drupal 7 is being phased out by 2020. It is a huge amount of work to build a new website that incorporates all of the above improvements. So the logical time to migrate from D7 to D8 is during this process. By moving to the current release of Drupal, we enjoy a longer lifetime with the current release.
Our new ISP, Pantheon, is first-cabin, top-drawer. They are serving our site with Nginx, Varnish caching, and CDN providing excellent response times. We know this because we tested every Washington State website running Drupal or Wordpress and the quickest site runs on Pantheon. And they have polished technical support that responds in 7 minutes, not 72 hours.