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Guide to Building on Stanford Sites

A guide to help you plan, build, and launch your website on Stanford Sites. Follow along for tools, tips, resources, and best practices that support you every step of the way.

Start the process

Building a website can be a complicated process, and Stanford offers more than one service depending on your needs. Stanford faculty, staff, and students with a full-service SUNet ID are eligible to use the Stanford Sites Drupal Platform, a free, self-service content management system available to build and manage websites for university work.  This platform-as-a-service offers:

  • centrally-supported hosting;
  • design flexibility;
  • accessible themes and content tools;
  • integration with Stanford systems;
  • and substantial functionality through Drupal.

If a website needs a bit more in terms of hosting services, Stanford's custom hosting on Acquia is available for a fee.

See below for tips on how to prepare for a website project by auditing the content and architecture of your existing website, considering hosting requirements, identifying stakeholders and budgets, and creating a project timeline. Also, you can attend training classes or request support from SWS before you begin building your new website on Stanford Sites.

Audit your content

Performing a content audit on your current site will help you:

  • Get a better handle on the size of your existing site.
  • Learn how much content you will need to review before you begin building your new site.
  • Plan to rebuild only the content that is relevant to your organization's mission, leaving outdated or non-functional aspects of your old site behind.

Why perform a content audit?

Review your information architecture

Map your site pages

Is your site organization meeting the needs of your users? Make decisions before you start your rebuild.

  • Sketch out the organization of pages on your site on paper or by using a simple, free sitemapping tool like GlooMaps.
  • Review language used for menu items and key page titles.
  • Identify possible changes to landing and interior pages.

Check out GlooMaps

Additional help

Check out the Stanford Sites Drupal User Guide to see what's possible to do with content and design on your new site.

Need more assistance? Schedule some time with an SWS User Experience designer or web producer.

Get SWS help

Identify a hosting solution

Stanford Sites managed CMS

This might be a good fit if you want:

  • Stanford branding on your site.
  • The latest Stanford Sites features.
  • Easy-to-use editing environment.
  • Someone else to manage security updates.
  • Free hosting.

Learn more

Stanford’s custom hosting on Acquia

This might be a good fit if you want:

  • Stanford branding or flexible theming.
  • The ability to add modules of your choice.
  • The option to start with the Stanford Drupal profile and extend it.
  • Acquia’s add-on services, like Acquia CMS or Migrate.

Learn more

Identify key stakeholders, staffing, and budget

Key stakeholders

Identify and document key stakeholders.

  • Who should approve content on a page?
  • Who needs to approve the site before it’s launched?

Who will build?

Determine who will be building the pages on your new site.

Do you have sufficient staff resources, or do you need assistance?

Request assistance from SWS


Plan and consider the budget for your project. Need help estimating? SWS can assist with planning project budgets.

Get budget help

Plan your project timeline

Think about your timeline for the project and be sure to allow time for reviewing, freezing, and moving website content.

  • Project discovery, planning, & scheduling
    After scoping and setting goals for the new site, schedule dates for your key site stakeholders and content editors to review and approve pages.
  • Website Content
    Break down work into tasks and block time for content editing.
  • Website Building
    Block time on your team’s calendar to migrate and review the content to your new Drupal site.

Use this sample website build timeline as a template to plan your website rebuild timeline. Not all projects have the same steps. Copy the sheet and adjust it as needed for your project.

View sample timeline about sample website project timeline

Get training and start building!

Drupal training

Sign up to attend the free “Introduction to Stanford Sites Drupal” training session to get familiar with the new product.

Sign up for introductory training

Stanford Sites Drupal User Guide

Start building your new site and refer to the Stanford Sites User Guide for help.

View user guide

Additional support

Need help getting started? If you need additional support, SWS offers fee-based services to help or can refer you to a pre-approved vendor.

Get SWS help

Accessibility compliance

Stanford's policy is to make websites accessible to people of all abilities. To ensure your site is accessible, review these concepts and consider an accessibility review with the Office of Digital Accessibility.

Get help with accessibility

Launch your site

To make sure that your website is launch-ready, review the pre-launch content checklist and logistics, which also includes guidance for creating a virtual host.

View launch checklist about Stanford Web Services Request for Drupal Assessment and Assistance