Case Study

Upgrading From Drupal 7 For Reduced Costs and Inefficiencies

Facts & Figures

College of Staten Island


  • The College of Staten Island (CSI) is a four-year, senior college of The City University of New York. It’s home to the Chazanoff School of Business, School of Education, and School of Health Sciences, as well as The Verrazzano School Honors Program, the Macaulay Honors College University Scholars program and the Teacher Education Honors Academy.
  • CSI has over 1,800 faculty and staff, and an enrollment of 12,000+ students.
  • CSI provides exceptional opportunities to all of its students and offers doctoral programs, Advanced Certificate programs, Master’s programs, as well as Bachelor’s and Associate’s degrees and continuing education programs.
  • 1 of 25 colleges in the CUNY system.


  • As CSI’s Drupal 7 website began reaching its end-of-life, the Information Technology team was faced with ‘spaghetti’ code that couldn’t be directly transferred to Drupal 9. They sought external Drupal expertise to make this upgrade as seamless as possible before the encroaching migration deadline in 2023.
  • Website content and styling was difficult for the CSI Team to manage and a major pain point for CSI’s development team and content editors.
  • CSI wanted an enhanced admin and user experience, with improved security, faster performance, and better integration with Google Analytics.
  • ADA compliance and accessibility is very important to CSI’s campus, and they sought a more accessible site.


  • Discovery
  • Workflow Design
  • Web Development
  • Training


  • Drupal 9


CSI’s new platform is a huge improvement for their content editing experience and overall site governance, with a much more user-friendly interface. It offers faster and better performance, improved security, is more accessible, and allows more targeted ad campaigns with Google Analytics. Through a significant reduction in the number of styled templates the CSI team was using, we were able to drastically reduce unnecessary complexity in the system and in their workflows, eliminate technical debt, and create more brand consistency. In addition to setting up the Drupal platform, we worked closely with CSI to equip them with the expertise and ability to manage their own site after launch, further reducing development costs.

Reduction in Templates
Decrease in Superfluous Users
Working with FFW was an unbelievably wonderful experience. They are so knowledgeable, professional, and always willing to go above and beyond. We have worked with other vendors and never experienced this high level of support. This is our second contract with FFW and would only use them moving forward. Not only did FFW do a remarkable job, but they taught and shared knowledge with the programming team so we could maintain and develop new functionality on the site after they completed the project. FFW has a very organized system of task completion and we learned a lot from their strategies and practices which made our everyday job less stressful and more productive. CSI was able to ask many questions and get answers on a one to one basis.

- Joyce Taylor, Director of Application & Web Development, CSI


The upcoming sunsetting of Drupal 7 is causing many organizations and higher ed institutions to rethink their website platform. CSI saw an opportunity to greatly improve their site with the impending end-of-life. Their old site was weighing them down with technical debt, superfluous users and governance issues, and a difficult content editing experience; problems that were all remedied when they upgraded to Drupal 9. Not upgrading would have compromised their security and left them behind on new upcoming features and functionality. 

An arduous content editing experience can become a major burden to internal teams, increasing unnecessary costs and resulting in missed opportunities. CSI experienced this firsthand with their Drupal 7 site, as the website’s content and styling was difficult to manage and a major pain-point for their development team and content editors. 

Improved website performance with the ability to seamlessly change content was one of the biggest desires for the new site. We also aimed to reduce technical debt and eliminate superfluous users, consolidate the number of templates being used, and improve site governance. All while firmly staying within budget and reducing costs.

Like 93% of other FFW clients, CSI had already worked with us on a previous engagement. We had completed some D7 training and other smaller work together, and partnered in such a positive way that they entrusted us with this important project.


Our expert team quickly identified the importance of prioritizing the upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9, as many of CSI’s main concerns with the site would be directly or indirectly addressed by this upgrade. In our discovery sessions, we tackled how to best prioritize and consolidate the number of designed templates and superfluous users on the site.

Staying within budget is often incredibly important to higher ed institutions. We not only made this a priority throughout the entire engagement, but also engineered long term, sustainable cost savings by focusing on building a solid framework that put their most imperative needs first. Then, we collaborated with their development team so they could shadow and learn from our developers, equipping them with the knowledge needed to make additional modifications to the site themselves, while always being an available resource when needed. Empowering clients to have full control over their platform is always something we strive for, and it’s even more critical when there’s a focus on long-term cost savings.

Results & Impact

The platform was built on time, on budget, and as a framework for lasting time and cost savings. Editors can easily change and update content, styling is simplified, and CSI’s dev teams are empowered to continue modifying the site. Drupal 9 also has many of the accessibility features CSI was wanting built-in, helping them to reach ADA compliance.

The success of this project is best represented in CSI’s own words:

“The interface for updating pages is much more user friendly, enabling the campus community to keep their sites active and updated. This increased community participation and has freed our programmers to develop applications to service the academic and administrative areas. By way of the pages being updated more frequently we are expecting an increase in SEO which should translate to more site impressions. 

Drupal 9 offers our team a new and robust platform to enable continued community engagement as well as timely updating. The workflow system is now more streamlined, allowing users to better manage their content, and the platform itself is much more optimized due to the many improvements to the Drupal 9 core functionality. The deployment pipeline was also significantly improved, allowing our internal development team to better stage, and push updates to keep the site modules updated more regularly which has placed them on track to be able to continue upgrading the system as we draw close to the release of Drupal 10.” 

- Joyce Taylor, Director of Application & Web Development, CSI

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