University of Rochesterʼs Warner School of Education

Transforming user experiences for content creators and website visitors by migrating from a legacy CMS to Drupal 9

The Warner School of Education is a place where research, scholarship, and practice meet in one place. The school’s website serves diverse audiences with different information needs and user objectives. Due to an outdated CMS, the editorial team could not work effectively or ensure a smooth user experience. They approached Five Jars with the request to improve their internal content management processes and help different user groups access relevant content on the website intuitively.

Founded in 1956, the Warner School of Education and Human Development is centered in one of the leading research universities in the world – the University of Rochester. It allows the brightest minds to study a variety of disciplines within master’s, doctoral, and advanced certificate programs. This complex higher educational establishment has authentic traditions, values, and a mission: to make the world Ever Better.

Main challenges 

The breadth of available programs at the Warner School of Education is impressive and poses, at the same time, the big challenge at the official website: it should help different user personas navigate vast amounts of information and find relevant materials quickly. 

The request we received from the school’s team was to help the website administrators work with lots of the web content more effectively and improve their user experience to increase engagement. At that point, even the slightest change required the involvement of the engineering department, which wasted internal resources and slowed down the content management process considerably. 

Time-consuming content updates
Content management was bottlenecked by the need for HTML coding skills and ineffective processes.
Poor website navigation
Website visitors struggled to find critical pages such as Admissions, Academic Programs, and Campus Life.
Cost-effectiveness was critical
The team needed to operate with scarce resources and receive the most value for all technical improvements.

Five Jars onboards the project

The University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education needed a partner who would have the necessary expertise from both a strategic and technical standpoint. Our experience developing and maintaining higher education websites made us an obvious fit.

Our team started with a detailed audit of the existing custom CMS. We reviewed current information fields, content types, and formats and planned how these would be handled moving forward. We suggested migration to Drupal 9 and developed a roadmap for migration and maintenance.

case study


Faster content management


Uptime during migration


Of content became dynamic

Smooth Drupal 9 migration rollout

Content management migration involves much more than mere data transfer. Above everything, it implies the migration of vital system components such as configurations, themes, modules, users, permissions, and more. Our technical team was responsible for reconfiguring site structure, architecture planning and integration, as well as website availability during deployments.

case study before

Improved navigation with a secondary header

One of the primary goals of improving UX revolved around site navigation. Important pages like Admissions, Information for International Applicants, and Academic Programs were scattered across different locations on the site. To solve this issue, our design team offered the integration of the secondary header. This ensured quick and intuitive access to critical information for different user groups.


Increase in submitted inquiry forms


Increase in Admission page views


Increase in session time duration on the website

Dynamic deadlines feature

Because the Warner School offers a variety of programs, it was hard for future students to keep track of enrollment timeframes. Along with our design improvements, we suggested the integration of functionality that would help applicants access this information easily and never miss an important date.

With this new feature, the deadlines were updated instantly, and it was easier for candidates to see the approaching dates for different programs. For website administrators who were used to updating this information manually, managing all timeframes became much more convenient. Most of the deadline-related work was automated through the admin panel.

Better accessibility for blog content 

To help users navigate through large amounts of information on the university blog, we introduced an advanced content categorization based on detailed audience segmentation.

Our team designed and configured an internal filtering system that allowed users to refine the content with additional parameters. This included personal preferences, programs, departments, and more. Accessing tailored content increased user engagement on the blog and helped the audience learn more about their educational objectives.

case study before

Core results

Five Jars' collaboration with the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education resulted in transformative improvements to the school's online presence. No longer constrained by the limits of the outdated CMS, Warner's team can now update the existing web content and add new pages with significantly less effort and without the tech team's involvement. The website offers a cohesive and engaging user experience for multiple target personas with updated design, navigation, and new custom functionality.

Streamlined web content management
We transformed the time-consuming content management process into something intuitive, flexible, and effective.
Richer digital experience for multiple users
Users can quickly find and interact with relevant information, track deadlines, and apply to the programs they select with ease.
Migration to Drupal as a strategic undertaking
The site's security, performance, and daily maintenance have become less of an ongoing concern.

In our discussions with Warner's team, we also explored potential enhancements that can be planned for future project phases. They involve integration with third-party systems and the Intranet, improvements to the Staff Directory, and the possibility of automated content migration. This will help broaden the website's functionality further and provide a seamless experience for all user groups.

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