Case Study

Portland State University (PSU)

Professor teaching students in a college lecture hall

site recreated from scratch in 3 months


downtime during the successful two-phase site launch



PSU wanted to shift its content to focus on students first, and boost applications in the process.


With more than 40,000 pages and hundreds of sites, finding a platform that could unify while still providing autonomy was a challenge.

Our Solution

Drupal CMS, Acquia Cloud Platform, Acquia Site Factory, Acquia Personalization  


PSU’s small web communications team recreated 216 sites from scratch in 3 months.

The Client

Founded in 1946 as a post-secondary educational institution for WWII veterans, Portland State University (PSU) is located in Portland, Oregon. A public research university, it is composed of seven constituent colleges that offer undergraduate degrees in 123 fields and postgraduate degrees in 117 fields. It was granted university status in 1969.

The Situation

PSU’s team wanted to revamp their website to ensure “student-first” voice and content, providing prospective students with information to help them choose their school by showcasing PSU’s programs along with the University’s student life and culture. Additionally, they wanted to make it easier for students to apply and arrange campus tours in an effort to increase applications. And one way to help support this, they realized, was to improve the user experience on the back end, making it easier for content editors to quickly and easily make updates and changes, while still maintaining governance, without reliance on the University’s central web communications team and external web platforms. 

The Challenge

In addition to needing to migrate from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 and achieve ADA web accessibility compliance, PSU also needed to unify a 340-multisite platform with more than 40,000 pages and full syndication down to 216 multisites. The University needed to unify both visual branding and ongoing maintenance. 

The Solution

Promet Source worked with representatives from each of the University’s departments and offices to develop a content strategy around key personas, simplifying the site’s navigation and menu structure with a streamlined framework for integrating program content, campaigns and University communications. They redesigned the site, including a component-based, modular design system, enabling approximately 500 content editors across the university to easily create and style content on their sites and allowing 300 remote site authors to build more than 200 sites during the pandemic in less than three months. 

Working together, the teams created a single publishing site, with more than 200 multisites functioning as subscriber sites, allowing for vast enhancements in efficiency and scale. To maintain brand consistency, Promet implemented a media library and designed five PSU brand themes, as well as integrated the Drupal Focal Point module so that images were properly cropped during browser responsive image reframing.

The updated site features a reorganized site map and page hierarchy that aligns with user journeys, as well as a flexible design system that makes it easier for content creators to develop and edit page layouts within cohesive PSU brand guidelines. Content editors can more easily enable customizable breadcrumbs to clarify paths to page sites and user journeys, and the site adheres to universally accessible web guidelines and ADA compliance.

The Results

The implementation of the Acquia Digital Experience Platform allows PSU to quickly develop and launch new sites that align with its brand guidelines. PSU has been able to efficiently and accurately update school programming, events and campus news. Specifically: 

  • PSU’s web communications team of 2-3 members — with no developer and, at times, no project manager — independently recreated 216 sites from scratch in three months, and collectively joined them into a single user experience.
  • Site successfully launched in two phases with zero downtime. 
  • Acquia Cloud Platform contributed to the assurance of speed and reliability for the PSU website, while ensuring the infrastructure to support efficient and sound Drupal deployment.
  • Acquia Site Factory provided a centralized location for site maintenance and security updates, allowing each multisite to configure integrations with its own social media channels. Content editors are now able to efficiently create sites within the framework for a governance model based on layering up of publishing permissions levels.
  • A multi-layered academic program template system leveraging Content Hub allowed content authors to generate a consistent, on-brand presentation of the University’s 300+ academic programs and share them across 50+ academic sites — with no action needed on the part of the site owner — and leading to stunning results: consistent messaging; access to important program information; links to dynamically created “other programs of interest” per program site; and student-first language across every academic site in a single voice.