Drupal 8 Web Development

How we designed and built our new website in Drupal 8

Elevated Third Site on screen

On March 8, 2017, our agency launched a brand-spanking new Drupal 8 website. This launch presents an opportunity for us to celebrate months of hard work coming to life, but also a chance to reflect on some of the goals of the redesign. We wanted to share these goals, in the hopes that they may help other companies and brands who are considering a redesign focus their energy.

We focused on three main things during our redesign:

  • A new information architecture focusing on our service areas, with an emphasis on SEO and content creation

  • Incorporation of visuals of our work throughout the site, and an emphasis on crafting case studies that explain our entire process – essentially showcasing what we do best.

  • Adding functionality to our Drupal base build - called Paragon - available to all of our clients using Drupal 8

A deeper sitemap, and an emphasis on search

When designing a new site, one of our first steps is what we call the “Discovery” phase. It’s a chance to dig into the brand, uncover insights, and recommend a strategic direction. For most projects, we approach Discovery as outsiders, free from personal attachments to the brand. The relaunch of elevatedthird.com was a little different. It provided a rare opportunity to revisit our roots and reflect on how our business has evolved.

As a Drupal-specific agency and Acquia-Preferred partner, we’ve often focused our website efforts into building complex systems that support our needs – things like displaying content in various ways throughout the website, or creating reusable components to create unique page layouts. Drupal is our agency’s bread and butter, and we have six Drupal certified developers, two of which are part of the world’s 120 Drupal Grandmasters.

For this project, this started with the information architecture and content creation.

The new Elevated Third sitemap

During Discovery, we defined our four key central areas of service that are unique to our agency: Digital Strategy, User Experience Design, Digital Design and of course, Drupal Development. From there we structured our subservices to fall under one of these key categories. We ended up writing 20+ pages of content targeting our vast services – all of these optimized for organic search traffic.

Putting our clients first – literally

As part of our Discovery, we interviewed CMOs and other marketing professionals to generate feedback on our existing site. While we received a lot of positive notes, most noticed a lack of work examples on the site. We had plenty case studies, but we weren’t showcasing them in the right places, and, instead had them all buried in one section.

A focus of our redesign was creating compelling case study content and visuals that expanded on the work we did for dozens of our clients. On top of that, our case studies are a piece of nearly every page on the site. All of our services pages and clients link over to relevant case studies. By intertwining client visuals while explaining our offerings, we’re providing the proof that we can do the things we’re saying we can.

Work visuals on the new Elevated Third site

Introducing Paragon

This build also provided a golden opportunity to roll out one of our most ambitious projects to date: a custom Drupal 8 base build we call Paragon. It consists of a collection of Drupal 8 modules that are assembled to boost flexibility, security, and performance. It essentially gives each project a head start by providing baseline technical solutions right off the bat, minimizing redundancy and freeing up time to tailor each build to more specialized functionality. 

An animated gif of the Elevated Third site backend, using Paragon, while showing various components and their flexibility.

Built for Expansion

Like the clients we work with, our business is not static. It is always evolving and adapting. The websites we design need to keep pace and anticipate change. We applied the same philosophy of sustainable, forward-thinking, web development to our own website.   

The new site is designed to accommodate growth. It represents the value and personality of our business as it stands right now but also serves as a tool for momentum and kick-starts future growth. 

We look forward to tracking, testing and gathering analytics on our new site over the next few months – while sharing what we learn.