Photo of three students and teacher at desk

Noble Network of Charter Schools

Supporting Students For a More Promising Future

Noble Network of Charter Schools (Noble) is a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that manages a network of 16 public high schools and one middle school located throughout Chicago. The schools of the Noble Network serve over 10,000 mainly low-income, underserved students, and work toward making a college degree a reality for each of them. 

Noble needed a firm with a deep bench of Drupal talent to optimize its current sites and maintain and extend the underlying platform as Noble improved and advanced its online presence. Noble’s previous support provider no longer had the Drupal staff to support their needs, and they also needed assistance in transitioning their sites to a new hosting platform.

As we do with all of our support clients, we began with an in-depth code audit that allowed Noble to see the state of their sites behind the scenes. This audit provided details on what we could implement to increase the stability and speed of the Noble sites. One of the most significant updates we made was to streamline the theme to reduce code duplication. The existing code base did not leverage Drupal’s theme inheritance properly.

Across the sites in the network, about 95% of the CSS is identical. Only colors and log images are changed. However, when the site was initially built by another firm, the code and CSS for each site was duplicated, which meant that if a change was made in one place, it needed to be changed in 17 different places. Using a base theme properly, our developers updated the codebase so that if something is fixed on the core level, then it is fixed on all of the sites. 

In addition, we implemented bonus features like a homepage slideshow, form and calendar integrations, and modified Google Translate functionality. The form and calendar integrations allows Noble students and families to more efficiently see upcoming events at their campuses and provides a quick way to contact the school by email with general questions and comments. The Google Translate functionality is very important, as many students’ families speak Spanish at home. Noble sends all official documents home with Spanish translations, and it was important that the website be just as accessible.

Working with Acquia, we helped Noble transition to a new hosting provider that provides Drupal support for the network. Because we jumped right in with a great project manager and the right resources to get started, Noble’s sites experienced no downtime which mitigated any negative user experience. Moving to Acquia gave us better tools for managing code and deployments across the sites, and as our partnership continues and more features are added, the result is a better managed and overall more reliable platform of sites.