Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

Forum One Communications Portfolio

CHALLENGE

Founded in 1962, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is dedicated to solving some of the nation's most perplexing foreign policy and national security problems. The organization, which now has over 220 full-time staff and a large network of affiliated scholars, has grown into one of the world's most preeminent international policy institutions in just a few short decades.

As a result of such rapid growth and success, the organization's web site grew to house over 9,000 pages (including 4,000 publications, 1,200 event announcements, and audio, video and blog content). Many, especially those visitors who were unfamiliar with the organization's internal structure, described the site as a "tsunami of information." Its navigation was hampered by confusing page layouts, an inflexible content mapping structure, and overly-complicated information architecture. CSIS staff were unable to group related content in meaningful ways or create new content relationships.

In an effort to address these problems and with the ultimate goal of improving its web presence and online impact, CSIS engaged Forum One as a strategic partner to help plan and implement a comprehensive redesign.

FORUM ONE SOLUTION

With Forum One's help, CSIS transformed the site into a clean, compelling web space with simple navigation, an engaging user interface, and an intuitive content breakdown. The new site effectively works in concert with CSIS's mission -- to inform, shape, and disseminate policy -- by shining a spotlight on its research and allowing decision makers to quickly view the latest news, commentary, and reports related to the issues or regions that concern them.

Among the site's major improvements is a content model that improves the organization, accessibility, and management of CSIS data. Forum One performed an extensive content migration, which involved automated content mapping and significant data transformation, from the organization's legacy Joomla platform to a much more scalable, flexible, and interoperable Drupal content management system. The resultant content model is more useful to staff and visitors alike. Staff can add or manipulate content with greater speed and less hassle, while users can focus their attention on absorbing information rather than finding it.

Another noteworthy victory is in the fact that the new site allows visitors to filter CSIS' huge library of resources -- which represents decades of research, reports, publications, and viewpoints from some of the most prominent experts in the discipline -- by topic or region as opposed to simply CSIS program area. This empowers users to find information of interest with greater speed and accuracy.

Additionally, the site offers greater multimedia options. Users can access CSIS podcasts on iTunes U. Also, they can view streaming audio and video presentations, roundtable discussions, interviews, and briefings.

CSIS hopes the new site, which has already received extensive praise for its easy-to-use interface and attractive design, will serve in compliment to its offline efforts by catching the attention of legislators and ultimately fueling policy debate and progress.

Forum One will help CSIS build on its initial gains with more improvements scheduled for later this year.