Areas of Expertise

  • CMS & Intranets


  • Life Science

Technology Used


Looking to upgrade their existing Plone based intranet, DCRI asked Six Feet Up to implement a "hub and spokes" site structure with a parent site and various child sites.


The Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) was looking to redesign their static HTML-based Intranet in order to enable their staff to collaborate more efficiently. Up to then, all changes  had to go through their web team, making updates cumbersome and scarce. DCRI tapped Six Feet Up for help with the deployment of a new Plone 3 intranet to address their content ownership and submission process problem.



The new Duke Clinical Research Institute intranet features a main intranet site (or "hub"), with multiple sub-sites (or "nodes") for each clinical trial that DCRI hosts. The idea is to distribute the ownership of Intranet content and avoid duplication.

As a result, a majority of the content on DCRI Home consists of links to content that resides and is maintained within the subsites (by the individuals creating the content) rather than having editors re-enter information or maintain multiple version. Information shared between sites include news items, calendar events, staff directory, among others. As an example, the centralized calendar displays both events from the main site and the subsites.

The system developed by Six Feet Up enables DCRI staff to switch skins for sub-sites by simply selecting the desired skin from a drop down menu. Both hub and sub-sites have their own layouts with the ability for site administrators to add and arrange boxes (portlets) on the page.

Usability and Accessibility

The solution developed by Six Feet Up had to comply with standards critical to DCRI: the site is compatible with multiple browsers and does not require plug-ins as a default for either accessing or maintaining content. The site meets ADA Requirements and was developed to meet all Federally mandated access requirements adopted by the Federal Access Board under section 508 subsection 1194.22 of the Rehabilitation Act. Finally, the site was built in accordance to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines provided by the W3C and is easily accessible to the novice as well as the experienced Internet user.

Publishing Workflows and Access Management

DCRI needed to to have a fine-grained control over the publishing process. Six Feet Up implemented a series of workflows that can act upon a single piece of content simultaneously. These workflows are chained together to allow the content to move in each workflow indepentently. Each workflow controls a specific aspect of how the content is visible in the site.

The main workflow controls access permisssions for the piece of content so that it can be restricted to users with a certain role within the subsite. The sub-site can be treated as a small intranet by leaving content in a "group only" state, while still utilizing a review workflow. The second workflow in the chain controls syndicating content to the hub. This allows special reviewers to make content available to the hub by approving the request. The third workflow in the chain provides a similar feature for the sub-site home page.

Integration with External Directory

Individuals needed to be able to search DCRI's existing phone directory (located in an external database) for the phone number of faculty, fellow and staff members. Six Feet Up helped bridge the gap to the legacy database and seamlessly integrated the search and results into the new intranet site. This was accomplished by leveraging Plone's strong integration abilities to allow direct queries to the existing staff directory

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