Duke University

Redesigning for Flexibility and Migrating 20 Years of Content

Duke Today home page


Duke Today, the flagship news website of Duke University, needed to upgrade its site’s design and provide more flexibility to content editors for building out engaging stories. It was also time for them to transition from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9, necessitating a careful migration of more than twenty years worth of content.


We redesigned the site to use the Gutenberg Editor for story pages, combining core blocks with a library of custom blocks developed specifically for their needs. For migration, we devised a creative way to transfer over 100k stories with sustainability in mind.


The new website offers editors the versatility to present stories in whatever way best supports the content.  The successful migration strategy, coupled with the new data structure, promises a more forward-thinking and sustainable data model for the years ahead.

Gutenberg: a flexible editor experience

The Duke Today editorial team needed a content system that allowed them to easily publish uniquely structured, rich, and engaging long-form stories, as well as quickfire updates. The Gutenberg editor was our recommendation.

Gutenberg is a highly flexible, block-based content editor. It has a great deal of out-of-the-box functionality and customizability. We also worked with the Duke Today team to design and build a library of bespoke Gutenberg blocks to meet their specific content needs, such as a related stories block, a typographic statistics block, an editor’s note block, a research funding attribution block, and a block for denoting dialog between multiple interviewers and subject.

Duke Today component blocks

We themed each core and custom block to look great in any configuration—whether it spanned the full width of the page or existed in a column within a more complex layout—and across all devices.

Duke Today paragraph blocks

Migration and search

The Drupal 7 site housed more than 110,000 articles in various formats and data structures—many of which had gone through several migration processes. As a site of record, Duke Today needed to preserve all of this content. It was important that we migrate these stories to simplify future migrations while allowing editors to go back and update older content. Older content also needed to be fully searchable and filterable.

We performed a true migration of metadata fields used for filtering and a flat archive of rendered HTML and CSS to maintain the formatting of many iterations of legacy content. This approach allowed legacy content to retain necessary tagging data and continue to appear in RSS feeds while removing the complexity of re-theming multiple iterations of legacy templates. It allowed us to deliver a consistent but elevated site experience while maintaining the content, essential data, and formatting of more than 110,000 articles.

A website that empowers

The team at Duke Today trusted us to reenvision their site for a second time. We were excited to work with the Duke Today team again to continue growing and evolving their site. Through our collaboration, we created a sophisticated platform with a powerful storytelling experience to further cement Duke Today’s reputation as the leading source of news at the university for years to come.

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