In terms of results, could you share any statistics or metrics that would demonstrate the effectiveness of the work Coldfront Labs has delivered?
It’s hard here at the university because we’re dealing with a very tech-savvy population who expect things to work. They tend to give you feedback only when things don’t work. We went from a very complicated system with a very complex infrastructure that was very difficult to integrate and release new functionality as it is requested. Now, with the architecture we have, we’ve made the infrastructure very simple, so it’s easier for us to scale up the product during high peak times, such as registration or when people are trying to find grades right after the end of the term or something like that. Plus, we’ve been able to deliver new functionality a lot quicker based on this architecture because everything is modular.
I can say that since we’ve launched, we’ve had 3.5 million visits to the site. We average more than 25,000 visits a day to the site for students. When we launched in beta, we did have feedback. We collected feedback from students. They really liked the site.
One of the things that we did was made the site completely responsive. It shows up well on tablets and other mobile devices, so that’s very much appreciated. I see by the number of issues I receive that the number of incidents raised by students are way down.
The site itself is more stable. We have a lot more control of it. We’ve made the environment easier to manage, but where it’s our site and not commercial software, it’s easier for us to debug and figure out when there is a problem, what’s going on with it, and fix it quickly.
Do you feel that transitioning to the Drupal content management system was an appropriate decision for your immediate needs as well as into the near future?
Absolutely. It’s so much more scalable for us. As a manager, it’s a lot easier for me if somebody comes to me with a request, such as from the registrar’s office, I know that I have the data available. It’s just a matter for me creating a new channel for you and displaying that data.
The old system was not flexible. It was very hard to do the development. If we wanted anything, we had to hack it a lot to make it even work. We’re much better off. Just managing content is a lot easier now than the commercial system.
When working with Coldfront Labs, is there anything you would consider unique or special about them compared to other service providers you’ve worked with?
I think the biggest bonus is that they were students here at our institution, so they completely understand the concept of everything has to be bilingual. People handle bilingual in different ways, but they really knew the way in which the university needed be bilingual. Plus, they understood our business. They had a good sense of the types of course offerings, how those courses are offered, and how they’re displayed to students. That was really useful for us. We didn’t have to spend a lot of time explaining the business to them because they understood that business.
They’re a smaller shop, so they’re a little bit easier to get hold of. They’re good to work with, but they’re casual and approachable when we had issues, when we had questions, or maybe even may have strayed from original requirements and stuff. They're very flexible and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
In retrospect, are there any areas that you think they could improve upon, or are there things you might do differently as the client before approaching this type of project?
No. I knew what I was getting into when I got into it. I think you have to be cognizant that they are a smaller shop. There’s only three or four of them working on projects. They can be spread a bit thin at times. They do a good job at estimating how much effort projects are going to take. But they don't have the luxury of being able to reject certain projects. I think they need to be careful that they don’t burn themselves out.