Permaculture in action

Permaculture Association

A grassroots approach to website migration

We’ve been supporting the Leeds-based Permaculture Association for at least five years; ever since their then web manager Debbie Jones attended some meetings of the North West Drupal User Group (or NWDUG, for short) in Manchester looking for help. She got some free support from our senior developer Chris Maiden, back when he worked for a Drupal company - Menus & Blocks - that ultimately folded into Code Enigma.

So we inherited Permaculture and Debbie’s heroic efforts to build and maintain various Drupal sites on a very tight budget. As a grassroots organisation without big reserves, the best way to help was to provide training and developer support to Debbie.

Last year Permaculture approached us asking for advice about how to upgrade their website from Drupal 6, in face of the imminent arrival of Drupal 8. It was immediately obvious that a professional upgrade to the site would be prohibitively expensive; although Permaculture don’t have money to throw at web development they have nevertheless built a content-rich website with a lot of transactional features.

There’s probably a warning or a conundrum in this; despite having to operate on tight budgets, many community-based organisations still have complex online communication requirements.

The solution we came up with was to create a simple Drupal 7 site that can act as a sign-posting site to the old site. This means Permaculture can keep their content on the old site with essentially links back to it from the new site. Then they can move content across from old to new site piece by piece, as and when they see the need. This isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s a great example of a principle that holds for many development projects: do the simplest thing that works.

Photo by solylunafamilia and published on Flickr under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.