International Joint Commission website redesign and redevelopment

Moving from a proprietary CMS to Drupal's open source framework. 

IJC screenshots on desktop, tablet, and mobile


The IJC needed to move off of a proprietary CMS, which they found cumbersome and costly, onto a Drupal 8 website that was visually impressive, less text-heavy, technically robust, and AODA/WCAG 2.0 AA Standard compliant.

Coldfront Labs redeveloped and redesigned the International Joint Commission’s (IJC) public-facing website. We also facilitated a content audit of their old website before migrating content.

The IJC needed to cater to both first-time users and regular users who are a part of the their daily workings. Through our discovery process, we learned that beyond a new information architecture, being able to highlight board-level micro-sites, newsletters, and maps were a primary focus for both of these user groups. 


During the site redesign and build, we worked with the IJC to determine their desired look-and-feel, as well as what content they wanted to showcase on their homepage. We used UXPin to iterate the design in an Agile manner, allowing stakeholders from all levels of their organization to provide feedback without having many lengthy design meetings. This allowed our design team to tweak the design in an incremental manner rather than wasting project hours on multiple designs that would not get used.

Given the IJC’s desire for a media-heavy design, we’ve ensured site performance remained a top priority. We used lazy-loading strategies to prioritize loading objects until they are needed (rather than loading all content at once). Additionally, we have optimized for the critical render path for a page to greatly improve the user experience.

We integrated extensive controls to meet IJC's layout and media heavy needs by creating tile-like regions on the homepage. These tile regions pull content and data from other pages (board micro-sites, blog posts, etc.) and creates a preview of that content on the homepage using Drupal’s Views. This functionality is easily managed by IJC’s content administrators by simply flagging pieces of content they want to populate in the tile-carousel. This tile system allows the IJC to showcase content without it being text- or link-heavy. The look-and-feel is highly-visual and interactive while still highlighting key messaging and content.

Alongside site development and design, we supported the IJC as they underwent an extensive content audit of over 128,000 content assets and a limited budget. Our content strategist helped the IJC’s communications team prioritize their ROT analysis, focusing on assets that would be first-level in the new information architecture and content that supported the comm’s teams’ key-performance indicators (KPIs). We harnessed Google Analytics data to inform which pages had the most traffic as well as user-flow issues (i.e: high bounce rates) and focused time and attention there. Given the IJC is a multinational, government-adjacent organization, we were not able to substantially decrease the number of content assets on the site (due to legal-need for public record of information). However, we were able to better organize those assets by developing a closed-tagging/taxonomy system, making them easier to search through the Apache Solr search index. 

The design is fully-responsive: tile carousels adjust and content-breaks are applied depending on the user’s device. We’ve also ensured that the site is not just merely AODA compliant, but is actually built in a manner that caters to varied assistive technologies and needs. The site is also configured to be multilingual.


The site launched in October 2018 and has significantly improved IJC’s user experience from both a technical and content perspective. The site has not experienced any major outages since being deployed and page-load times have improved ten-fold. The information architecture more directly answers user stories and we reorganized content assets to ensure valuable information was not buried deep in the site. 

The IJC’s boards are now empowered to disseminate information to their regions through individual micro-sites. While each board-site is managed independently, the upper-level navigation is consistent across micro-sites, ensuring users have a consistent experience.  

Lastly, the IJC is now able to showcase their work in dynamic ways they were unable to previously. The IJC has an extensive collection of maps--historical and modern--that were not easily accessible until their new site launched. We worked with IJC’s team to ensure easy embedding of complex javascript maps into any page. Their GIS team can create maps and then have them appear within the CMS without the need for a code change or deployment. 

We continue to work with the IJC, providing a monthly support and maintenance service level agreement.