OISE Website Migration to Drupal

OISE’s web presence encompasses dozens of websites totalling nearly 4,800 pages, located across five systems that are aged, unsupported, and failing. The systems depend on a number of underpinning components that make up the content management systems at OISE that are also between 11-19 years old and have become obsolete. The need to migrate from the existing OISE CMS was determined half a decade ago, when the limitations of the current system were identified. 

The pressing need to modernize OISE’s web presence was heightened during a power outage at the OISE building in 2021 that took OISE’s onsite hosting server, and therefore OISE's website, offline for the duration of the outage. In order to be responsive to student recruitment needs, facilitate global outreach, and provide more reliability and ease of use, the Drupal Content Management System (CMS), a cloud-based platform, was selected following consultations with the OISE community and an evaluation of several other systems to host OISE’s redesigned web presence.

Migration Plan

The OISE Drupal CMS and web template is now in place after close collaboration with OISE Communications and Education Commons on its implementation, based on previous community consultations. With these required components in place, migration from the failing OISE CMS to the new OISE Drupal CMS is needed. The following information outlines what the migration may look like and what you may need to do to get ready for it.

Migration timelines are set out based on the urgency to address unreliable infrastructure and the urgent need to utilize modern web tools for student recruitment and retention. 

Academic Departments
May – December 2022

Researcher sites & Administrative Offices
January – December 2023

OISE web migration completed
December 15, 2023

Drupal CMS migration is an OISE wide undertaking.  

Education Commons has established a Drupal project team with dedicated resources which will work with departmental designates for the purposes of this migration. The following are the roles and responsibilities for the migration initiative, including the pre-migration, migration, and post-migration activities: 

Education Commons is responsible for:

Pre-migration Activities Migration Activities Post migration Activities
  • Schedule meetings with website leads 
  • Set expectations for pre-migration “homework” & set timelines for deliverables  
  • Determine if sites will be DIY or Managed migrations 
  • Provide training and answer questions about deliverables 
  • Mediate conversations between departments and developers 
  • Create SharePoint folder where content can be shared 
  • Escalate areas of concern that would impact website deliverables 
  • Ensure departments/website leads have met the requirements before migration can begin 


  • Onboarding website leads into Drupal environment 
  • Communicating with hosting provider to set timelines for “go live” dates 

EC Managed Migration 

  • Migrate “as is” content to new Drupal environment 
  • Consult with website leads as required. 

DIY Department Migration 

  • provide sample pages to showcase how content can be represented with the new components 
  • Ensure brand and AODA standards are followed, and flag issues 
  • Be available at weekly training to answer questions 
  • Monitor development to ensure project is on-track 
  • Assist with testing links prior to “live” 
  • Activating analytics tools and SiteImprove 
  • Continue to provide training and answer questions through appointment or weekly drop-in 
  • Performing Drupal scheduled maintenance 
  • Removing “unused content” after six months of inactivity 
  • Flag broken links caused by migrated sites going live. 

Department/Website leads are responsible for:

Pre-migration Activities Migration Activities Post migration Activities
  • Meet with Education Commons Drupal team for introduction to pre-migration deliverables and define the scope of the project 
  • Complete Departmental pre-migration homework including a complete webpage inventory and understanding of your site’s navigation and menu structure  
  • Meet timelines for premigration deliverables  
  • Meet with Education Commons web team to determine if you’re ready to begin migration. 

EC Managed Migration 

  • Respond to Education Commons questions in a timely manner. 
  • Provide feedback where required on layout of content and structure of navigation 

DIY Department Migration 

  • Attend training on Drupal CMS. 
  • Move existing website content to new Drupal environment 
  • Consult with Education Commons website team as required  
  • Back up any content you want to keep that is not being moved to the new site using your departmental SharePoint
  • Continue updating website 
  • Attend drop-in Drupal training or book appointments as required for further EC assistance. 
  • Use SiteImprove to find and fix broken links. 

OISE Advancement and Communications team are responsible for:

Pre-migration Activities Migration Activities Post migration Activities
  • Consult with departments as requested on updates to their content as they prepare for migration
– na
  • Consult with departments as requested on refinement and updates to their content when their new site is live.

Pre-migration Activities 

All departments and areas will be required to complete a list of pre-requisites before the migrations of their website to the new CMS. Education Commons is accountable for building appropriate expectations on scope, roles/responsibilities and associated timelines. 

Education Commons will:

  1. Confirm Drupal site URL with departmental web lead
  2. Follow a pre-defined and repeatable series of technical steps to bring sites online when migration of content is complete, also known as a “technical playbook.”

Departmental Pre-Migration Homework 

At least 30 days prior to migration Education Commons will meet with Department migration leads to consult on the steps to be taken before re-platforming can begin. We will walk through the preparation checklist, website page audit, and media preparation as outlined below:

1. Define the roles on your team


  • Determine your departmental website lead  
  • Determine who else requires access to your website editor, and what are their roles 
  • Who provides final approval before website updates are published? Is this person different than the website lead? 
  • Provide EC with their names, UTORid and email addresses. 

2. Pre-migration meeting with Education Commons


  • Meet with an Education Commons website team member.  
  • Walk-through pre-migration checklist and confirm understanding of new website principles and standards 
  • Become familiar with website inventory process and required outcomes 
  • Establish goals, expectations and timelines required to begin migration 
  • Communicate goals/expectations with your department  

3. Website Inventory


  • Based on the guidance provided by Education Commons, create a detailed list of all the pages and associated URLs on your website 
  • Use the provided inventory template or create your own 
  • Take note of PDFs or other files that will need to be removed or reworked for accessibility. 
  • The purpose of the inventory is to  
    • make sure that all pages that need to be migrated are identified 
    • Define the site navigation, so pages are listed under the correct menus 

4. Prepare your media and save your content

  • Back up any content that is not being migrated that you may wish to reference in the future. Legacy sites will not be archived.  
  • Make sure that images and other files to be used on the new site are saved to SharePoint 
  • Based on the website inventory, prepare images and files needed for migration 

In order to facilitate a smooth transition between platforms and equip the community responsible for the web presence in their department, the following learning resources have been designed. Drupal Fundamentals through Advanced Drupal training will take place concurrently with migration for DIY managed migration, and after the new site is live for Education Commons managed migration: 

Pre-Migration Homework: Begin 30 Days before migration commences
Format: Pre-booked Consultation

  • Assigning a website lead  
  • New website checklist intro and explanations
  • Setting goals/expectations
  • Webpage inventory  
  • Website menu and navigation 
  • Prepare media 
  • Meet with EC to review status of deliverables 

Week One: Drupal Fundamentals

Format: Pre-booked Consultation

  • Meeting with Education Commons for CMS onboarding 
  • User roles
  • Introduction to Drupal components and how to use them 
  • Defy Gravity branding related to OISE
  • SharePoint folder and file sharing established

Week Two: Beginner Drupal
Format: Pre-booked Consultation

  • Basic design and layout fundamentals
  • AODA requirements
  • Train-the-trainer – Website lead attends a consult with EC web team member and EC Drupal developer.

On Request: Intermediate Drupal
Format: Consultation or workshop

Once 20 pages are created within Drupal 

  • Understanding more complex pieces of Drupal
  • Customizing functions/components to suit your websites needs
  • Adding photos, multimedia, etc. to enhance content 

On Request: Advanced Drupal
Format: Virtual drop-in training

When site is near completion and ready to go live 

  • How to move from custom CMS to Drupal
  • Backing up content 
  • Adding new users to Drupal environment
  • Using SEO to reach a larger audience
  • Implementing new components to enhance user experience

Available Weekly: Multimedia
Format: Consultation or workshop

  • Weekly drop-in session with Technology Adoption Consultant
  • Tuesdays 11:30AM – 12:30PM
  • Community members are encouraged to ask questions related to U of T branding, AODA best practices and anything to do with multimedia

Available Weekly: SiteImprove and Google Analytics
Format: On-demand consultation, drop-in training, and published best practices. 

After your site is live.  

  • Understanding your website audience
  • Utilizing SiteImprove features to achieve AODA compliance


OISE Website Migration Principles

OISE Drupal CMS migration principles were presented to Deans and Chairs on March 30th, 2022. These principles establish the prioritization framework for migration of OISE websites from the legacy platform to the new Drupal CMS.

Core Principles 

  1. Migration is required for all departments within the OISE web umbrella 
  2. Migration is time bound 
  3. Two migration options can be chosen within approved criteria 
    • DIY – Do It Yourself 
    • Managed – Education Commons manages the migration 
  4. OISE web standards/SOP must be adhered to 
  5. Prioritization criteria will be applied as follows: 
    • Currently student facing 
    • Current risk of underlying infrastructure 
    • Ability to adhere to approved timelines 
    • Least current complexity gets migrated first 
  6. Delays by the department will result in moving to the next department on the priority list.


Approved timelines are based on the current risk of legacy infrastructure and events that will further increase risk of outages: 

Academic Departments
May – December 2022

Researcher sites & Administrative Offices
January – December 2023

OISE web migration completed
December 15, 2023

Migration Options 

There are two options available for OISE Drupal migration – “Do It Yourself” and “Managed”. The choice between the two options is made by the department, based on the following criteria: 

  1. Presence of qualified/trained web administrator 
  2. Ability to adopt best practices and web standards through training criteria established by Education Commons.
  3. Ability to commit to a migration timeline based on checkpoints and deliverables outlined by Education Commons.
Do It Yourself (DIY) – Department Managed Migration Education Commons Managed Migration
Required training by Education Commons  Based on set out priority 
Presence of qualified web personnel  Timelines are adhered to by the department 
Adherence to prescribed timelines  Required training by Education Commons 
Adherence to OISE web standards/SOP  Departmental “web” person designated to work with Education Commons during migration 
Education Commons review before “go live”   
Education Commons may disqualify the eligibility based on poor practice by the department or lack of adherence to approved conditions   

OISE Website Technical Standards

The purpose of the OISE website technical standards and SOP is to establish a cohesive OISE web presence underpinned by a newly developed, approved, and modernized infrastructure. OISE’s web presence will showcase the institute’s unique community identity, while at the same time complying with legislative requirements and U of T policies on security and branding. 

These standards outline the fundamental technical and design requirements for websites hosted by OISE.

Website Fundamentals

Deliverable OISE Affiliated Researcher (OISE Affiliated)
Departmental and Centre Websites  https://oise.utoronto.ca/yoursitename   Not applicable
Researcher Website Address  https://oise.utoronto.ca/yoursitename  https://oise.utoronto.ca/yoursitename 
OISE Applications Website Address  https://yourappname.oise.utoronto.ca  https://yourappname.oise.utoronto.ca 
OISE Drupal Website Template Approved OISE Drupal template only Under consultation
AODA Compliance  Managed by Education Commons Managed by Education Commons
Website Content Backups 


(During lifespan of the website) 


(During lifespan of the website) 

Website Longevity  Ongoing  To be aligned with the grant timelines and expiration date 
Website Archiving  Unavailable  To be determined based on the grant’s data management plan 
Security Updates  Managed by Education Commons  Managed by Education Commons 
Single Sign-On Enabled  Yes  Yes
Website Hosting  Approved hosting options only. Managed by Education Commons  Approved hosting options only. Managed by Education Commons 
Application Hosting  Approved hosting options only. Managed by Education Commons  Approved hosting options only. Managed by Education Commons 
404 Maintenance Pages Managed by Education Commons  Managed by Education Commons 


Design Fundamentals

Deliverable OISE Affiliated Researcher (OISE Affiliated)
Colour Scheme  Defy Gravity  Defy Gravity 
Font Choice  Trade Gothic Next (Defy Gravity)  Trade Gothic Next (Defy Gravity) 
New Components / Functionality  Based on community needs. No custom builds.  Based on community needs. No custom builds. 
Paid Drupal Add-ons  Not supported   Not supported  
Search Engine Optimization (Google Analytics, FB Pixel, etc …)  Pre-set   Pre-set  
Logo  OISE Logo  OISE Logo 
Drupal Media Library Retention schedule (unused content)  Unused media older than 6 months deleted  Unused media older than 6 months deleted 
Header & Footer  OISE Header & Footer 
(Note: exceptions only to footer where unit physical address is different eg. JICS)  
OISE header & Footer 


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). In the province of Ontario, it is a legislated requirement to ensure compliance of web products to international accessibility standards such as WCAG. 

Website Content Backups 

Any content on OISE Drupal CMS is backed up nightly and weekly. Daily backups are retained for one week and weekly backups are retained for one month. 

Website longevity 

Longevity refers to the length of time that the website will be available on the Drupal system and can be found by a member of the public on the Internet. 

Website Archiving 

This refers to a preservation of a website in a long-term storage.

Website Hosting 

This refers to the physical and/or virtual location of the website artifacts (files, images, configuration, etc.). 

Application Hosting 

This refers to the physical and/or virtual location of the web application, its components, attributes, and other elements that make up the application.

404/Maintenance pages 

Every website requires a page that is displayed if a page is not found or an error occurs. In the context of this document, this means that a standard page will be developed and will reside in the OISE Drupal CMS that will be used every time there is an error. Similarly, maintenance pages would follow a standard that will be developed and used as required, such as during web outages.

Paid Drupal add-ons 

These are components that provide functionality or features that are available through the global Drupal community of practice. These are deemed considerable risk for OISE Drupal CMS stability and for the purposes of this standard, will not be considered in the OISE Drupal CMS. 

Drupal Media Library 

In order to manage finite Drupal media storage, a sustainable practice of deleting accumulated content is required. For the purposes of this document, media that is unused for six consecutive months will be deleted.  

 “Unused media” refers to any file imported to the website through the media bank that is not being used on the website, including images, PDFs, and any other stored documents. 

Used vs Unused media 

Actively used media is media with at least one (1) link to it on the website. For instance, an image may be used on a page or in a news story, or a link to a file may appear on a webpage. The content is in use and viewable by the general public without going into the backend of the Drupal system.  

Within the Drupal interface, Education Commons receives detailed information about everything uploaded. We can see the size, upload date, upload user, file type, and more. 

In the final column available to us, we can also see if the media file is being used. 

If an item is being shown as “Used in 0 places” it means it is unused. It may be a temporary image, uploaded incorrectly, was never used, or is no longer being used. These are the items we will be deleting from the system to save space and prevent accumulation of abandoned content. 

***Note: videos should not be imported as media and should only be available by linking. Should videos be found in the media bank, they will also be removed. 

We're here to answer your questions

Drop in online if you have questions about these standards, or preparing your site and pages for re-platforming. You are also welcome to book a consultation to ask questions or see a Drupal demonstration.