Replacement CMS Erasmus University Rotterdam

The case
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Web development agency ezCompany and friends successfully delivered the largest Drupal 8 project in The Netherlands for Erasmus University Rotterdam. In only 10 months a complete, new, secure, future proof and user friendly Drupal 8 platform was accomplished. The new website replaces the old TYPO3 system, and consists of several subsites for the faculties and institutes.
Project description
A new Content Management System for Erasmus University Rotterdam was necessary because the existing CMS offered insufficient options for realising the university’s specific business requirements and wishes. Examples include a stronger user experience, strengthening of the Erasmus University brand, more effective student recruitment, and development of its research profile in the Netherlands and abroad. The new website would help achieve these organisational goals. And with the new website, the university could achieve its ambition to provide the online visitor with the right content, on the right channel, anytime.

Erasmus University Rotterdam chose to have its new CMS built in Drupal 8. The university conducted a public procurement procedure for the replacement of the old system. The tendering process revealed ezCompany to be the best party for the job. When the existing website got hacked in 2016, the process speeded up: the security of the site was restored but the CMS of that time could not be upgraded any further. Action was needed to avoid major privacy and security risks in the longer term. Erasmus University Rotterdam needed to develop and implement a new CMS and a new secure and robust website in the short term. In April, 2017 on campus a team of 18 Drupal developers, designers, testers and an architect started working on the project.

Objectives that have been set for the project:
- The old system (TYPO3) had to be switched off latest at December 31, 2017.
- Newly installed CMS Drupal 8 as basis for multichannel and -content strategy.
- Migration of relevant external and internal content: from 80,000 pages to approximately 20,000 pages.
- An improved cross-organisation editorial model: shared roles, editorial formulas and ways of working.
- Implementation of ‘specials’, such as forms management, FAQ’s and Payment function.
- Improved navigation structures and mobile first. The new website has to be scalable on all devices.

All objectives have been achieved within time and budget. The new website was launched on December 11, 2017.

Facts & figures:

The website consists of 8 new websites for the faculties and 9 new websites for the for the faculties and institutes. For example:,,,,

The complete new Drupal 8 platform is delivered within 10 months. 80,000 pages and 20,000 media items have been reviewed and reduced to 12,000. Initially through automated migration, but subsequently each page was checked and improved by a team of 30 editors.

The new website consists of:
22 Content Types
37 Paragraph Types
2 languages
21 Site Contexts (subsites for the faculties and institutes)
7 roles
5 webservices
Key principle for the project is to manage multichannel content in one CMS, which makes it possible to use content (that is created once) in multiple websites en channels. The main challenge turned out to be dividing the website in one main site with ‘subsites’ for the faculties and institutes, but with reuse of content. The different subsites have their own navigation menu, language (English/Dutch), colour, logo, design and a clean URL for findability. All those specific characteristics have to be taken into account, but in the meantime the accessibility of content is very important as well (eg the minimum colour contrast ratio requirements for visually impaired). Furthermore the faculties and institutes want to share content but at the same time want to be able to add content to it. Because this results in different sources with similar content, search engines could impose SEO penalties.

These different aspects all together (shared content, bilingualism, security, SEO, customized design per site, workability, accessibility) formed the biggest challenge.
Community contributions
Because Drupal 8 is still quite new, existing modules often needed improvement. During this project over a hundred patches have been created and submitted to get rid of growing pains.

Already contributed:
- Drupal 8 core patches submitted
- Many Drupal 8 modules patches submitted
- Views_reference module improved

The project has not yet been completed and the university plans to contribute some custom-made but generically applicable modules to the Drupal community.

To be contributed shortly:
- Homebox module port
- Groupmedia module
- Cookieconsent 2.x module
- Embed_paragraph module
- Media_usage module