UCLA Division of Student Affairs Taps Pantheon to Automate and Innovate Its Digital Presence

Learn how the UCLA Division of Student Affairs retired its legacy web environment and CMS in favor of Pantheon and Drupal to achieve centralized management of 64 public-facing websites without threatening brand guidelines or accessibility. 

Hero image of UCLA campus by Tommao Wang via Unsplash

Major University Division Entrusts Large Online Presence to Pantheon WebOps 

University of California LA (UCLA) has some 50,000 students under its wing. They rely on UCLA’s Division of Student Affairs for career development, campus life, and health services. During the pandemic, many of these services had to migrate online and that’s when having a robust and reliable WebOps provider became more important than ever. 

The  Division’s IT organization is a 6-person team tasked with managing 64 websites, ranging from departmental sites to high-traffic websites, including Student Affairs, Student Health, and Registrar. 

One of the biggest challenges the Division faced was its legacy web environment. It was self-hosted, with no centralized management capability. Simply maintaining website consistency was getting impossible — threatening brand design and user accessibility compliance. 

“We needed a change. Our overarching mandate was a system that would ensure accessibility and security. We also needed to automate updates and workflows and provide consistent management and performance across all our websites.” 

- Matthew Geddert, Manager of Design and UX at UCLA Student Affairs IT

The accessibility provisions were especially challenging. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) stipulates that all universities need to provide accessible online experiences to receive federal funding. But large amounts of unstructured and arbitrary HTML existed across all 64 websites. Without the ability to centrally manage the sites for orphaned HTML, dozens of websites were potentially out of compliance with federal regulations and UCLA branding policies. 

Pantheon and Drupal Change the Game for the Division’s IT

The IT team retired its legacy web environment and CMS and adopted Pantheon and Drupal. Using Pantheon’s migration tools, the migration was straightforward. Since Pantheon treats accessibility as an integral component of effective WebOps, the new platform quickly met accessibility guidelines. 

Pantheon’s biggest attraction to the team was its high levels of automation and detailed technical documentation that enabled the team to automate their challenging manual processes. Pantheon was also an established organization with proven longevity. 

The infrastructure ensured high security with automated updates, and centralized management enabled the team to efficiently manage all websites. Automating management and security updates keeps the sites highly secure and easily manageable. Automation also freed IT to pursue strategic initiatives. 

“The key is that as Pantheon adds tools and services to the platform, Pantheon removes even more complexity from our daily operations. Before, we would spend at least half a day on manual maintenance and upgrades. Now, Pantheon just does it.” 

- Matthew Geddert

And just as important as the automation aspect, the departmental websites now maintain their content independence but with centralized design and management — complying with federal and UCLA accessibility guidelines the Division set out to achieve in the first place. 

Interested in more on the UCLA Division of Student Affairs embracing Pantheon and Drupal to achieve centralized design and management of their 64 public-facing websites without threatening brand guidelines or accessibility? Check out the full case study to learn more.

Topics Drupal, Education, Multisite, Security, WebOps