Uniarts Helsinki was created in 2013 with the merger of the Academy of Fine Arts, Sibelius Academy and Theatre Academy. The merger also created the need to renew the website of the new university. The main objective of the site revamp implemented by Digia was to combine the four previous websites into a single site serving students, faculty and citizens with a thirst for knowledge alike.
This was an extensive and ambitious website for a new organisation, so the task was not an easy one. The bar was set extremely high, but we came through with flying colours. Digia had a commendably flexible and agile approach to work.
Anna-Elina Matilainen, Project Manager, Uniarts Helsinki
Uniarts Helsinki has roughly 2,000 students and it opened its doors in early 2013, when the Academy of Fine Arts, Sibelius Academy and Theatre Academy were merged into a single university. The conglomerate of three universities had four websites – the sites of the three constituent universities and a presentation site for the new Uniarts Helsinki – which was naturally a problem.
Before the start of the website project, creative agency Bond had created an award-winning visual design for Uniarts Helsinki. Digital agency Buena was responsible for user interface planning. The layouts were ready, and the customer was eager to get started with the new website. Digia was chosen to implement the project.
The main objective of the site revamp implemented by Digia was to combine the four previous websites into a single site serving students, faculty and citizens with a thirst for knowledge alike.
It was also important to integrate various services, such as ticket sales, to the site, enable support for multiple languages and make sure that the site and content management were appropriate for all user groups: the site was required to serve the communications functions of all three academies.
Digia proposed an implementation based on the Drupal 7 content management system to Uniarts Helsinki. Drupal was a sensible choice, because it integrates quickly and reliably with different systems thanks to its APIs, and several integrations were planned for the project.
The extensive, responsive online service comprising thousands of pages was launched in December 2014. It is available in Finnish, Swedish and English.
The site was implemented with version 7 of the Drupal content management system, with Pantheon, a fast and versatile PaaS provider specialising in Drupal applications, as the server environment. The site integrates information from the university’s departments and the personal directories of staff.
The service provides excellent content management capabilities for both registered and unregistered users, along with the editing and commenting of content before publication. Since the three academies comprising Uniarts Helsinki have separate content production organisations, a lot of time and effort was spent on implementing these functionalities. Content production and management was thus made as easy as possible for users of different levels, from superadmins to users with very limited access rights.
Among other things, Digia implemented a versatile search functionality including person listings with Shibboleth authentication. The intranet of Uniarts Helsinki was also integrated to the online service. We also built an integration between the event calendar and the ticket sales systems of Piletti.fi and Lippupalvelu, making it possible to see the availability of tickets on the Uniarts Helsinki site.
A customised integration with the interface of Valve Group’s Musiikkitalo online service was created, enabling the display of the concert, event and payment information of Uniarts Helsinki in the calendar of Musiikkitalo’s online service.
The service’s search engine is mostly custom-built, but was also integrated with the Solr engine, enabling versatile searches with less need for customisation.
The technical implementation was carried out by a four-person team according to the principles of agile development. A dedicated project manager supervised the project.
“This was an extensive and ambitious website for a new organisation, so the task was not an easy one. Additional changes were caused by changes to certain things and specifications along the way. The bar was set extremely high, but we came through with flying colours. Digia had a commendably flexible and agile approach to work”, says Project Manager Anna-Elina Matilainen of Uniarts Helsinki.