As we’ve been talking to people about consolidating Drupal sites into larger sites in Drupal 7, questions come up about how to set up navigation for a much larger site. With academic units the navigation breaks down nicely along the lines of colleges, schools, departments, and programs, but with administrative units it is not always that clear. When Information Services was faced with this task a decision was made to de-emphasize the organizational structure and instead focus on the services provided. This makes a lot of sense as most visitors to our websites really don’t care that much about our department structure but rather what we do and what services are available to them. As CWS was designing how we would use Organic Groups to combine the old Drupal 6 sites into the new Drupal 7 site for IS we wondered how well OG would work with this service oriented approach. Fortunately IS had already done the hard work of coming up with logical groups of service categories, and the services within each one. We then were able to map the groups directly to the services, and organize them into “parent units” which were mapped to the service categories. By including the names of the service. and the category, in the site name header, we accomplished the goal of having these appear as distinctive sections of a website.
Each title is a link back to that level of the site, just as the site name has always been a link back to the front page.
The services based navigation solves many of the problems of organizing a large website, but sometimes there is still a need to represent the department organization as well. For example to see where people work, and where they are located, you still might want to have an organizational view of your website. At first we were not sure how to approach this, but then realized that we could have a parallel structure of parent units and groups that matched the department structure. So for example a parent unit for Media Services, and a group for Central Web Services. Once we determined the right approach this was easy to implement and works well in practice.
To see this for yourself please visit the Information Services website at http://oregonstate.edu/is . The services and categories are all in the “Services” menu and the departments are under “Directory & Contacts” => “Organization”. As you explore this site think about how we can use this model on your Drupal site when it comes time to upgrade it to Drupal 7.