MIT Solve: Ideas and Innovation Festival in Boston

Project Brief

University Web Development for a Technologically Advanced Solution.

When MIT and the MIT Technology Review started their “Solve” initiative–a gathering of experts in different fields who would work to address world challenges–they were looking to create a website that would not only promote the event, but would also “tell stories about the problems we’ve identified and the progress being made on solving them.” They began with a phased approach, a static site for promotion and online registration. Then, to make the site more robust and more easily managed by MIT Technology Review staff, they engaged Knectar to design and develop a custom Drupal website. The Drupal CMS would enable the program editor to add and update news stories and photos about the Solve event as well as about work that Solve attendees and supporters are doing around the globe.

The work was done in two phases, to allow for the launch of the “News” section before Solve’s kick-off at MIT from Oct. 5-8, 2015:

  • Phase 1:
    • Design/Site Architecture: Following a discovery process that included collaborative working sessions and prototyping, Knectar developed a sitemap, wireframes and design for the responsive website. Minor updates were made to the existing static site
    • Site Build: Knectar built out a standalone Drupal site to support News stories and a framework for Solve’s “People” section–a filterable page of photos and bios of Solve supporters and participants.
    • Launch: The existing static site was maintained, with only the “News” section pointed to the new Drupal site. This made for a seamless transition without disruption to the site during the lead-up to Solve’s kick-off event.
  • Phase 2:
    • Drupal Site Structure: In phase 2, Knectar rebuilt features of Solve’s static site in Drupal. A key element of Solve is its “pillars”: four areas that each focus on a main objective (Learn, Cure, Fuel, and Make). Each pillar is associated with a series of questions that help focus the discussion and actions around a central global issue. These pillars and questions drive much of the navigation on the Drupal site. Knectar’s challenge was to determine the best way of tying these pillars and questions together, as well as to news stories and people. We accomplished this through custom content types and taxonomies.
    • Migration of Static Site into Drupal: Knectar migrated the remainder of Solve’s static website into Drupal, maintaining the existing styling and responsive design.
    • Launch: Solve’s Drupal site was built on Pantheon, providing MIT Technology Review staff with the capability of deploying code from one environment to another at the click of a button. Their work can be done in a “dev” environment, then migrated to a “test” site for review and QA, before being promoted to the “live” site.

At the close of the project, MIT Technology Review has a website that meets their goals: a primary promotional vehicle for Solve, and a medium for spreading the news of how Solve participants are making a positive difference addressing issues of global importance.

Other Knectar University Web Development projects: