Skip directly to content

National September 11 Memorial & Museum - World Trade Center Memorial

Drupal Version: 
This website looks great on mobile devices!
Why does this website deserve to win?: 

    "On September 11, 2011, welcomed more than a million web visitors looking to commemorate the anniversary…We are very proud of the site, which has become an important tool for us to engage our supporters worldwide. Blink delivered a website that has become a global destination."

Sean Anderson, Chief Technology Officer for the 9/11 Memorial

"Blink is a very high energy place, but when we got the call to rebuild the 9/11 Memorial site everything stopped," recalls Blink Reaction CEO Nancy Stango. "It made all of us reflect on the events of that day and the years since. I knew immediately it would be a great responsibility to create an online destination for a worldwide audience that conveyed the Memorial's message and purpose," she said.

Blink staff applied their enterprise Drupal development skills to build, which supports the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and honors the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Blink built a new website with expanded functionality anchored in Drupal. It was the first time the Memorial staff had worked with the platform and, "we knew we would have to create a site that was an exemplar of Drupal's suitability for high usability, reliability, speed, workflow and of course security," Stango said.

"The ten year anniversary was a very huge milestone that lay ahead of us. We built the site to accommodate huge spikes in traffic but we expected to have several months of easy testing before we'd be hit by the tremendous loads of 9/11/11," Stango said.

"Well we launched at the end of April, and literally only several days later on May 2nd the news of Bin Laden's killing was announced and traffic spiked off the charts in the middle of the night," Stango said.

"It's in moments like that when you know your team has done everything right. When in the face of unexpected challenges your work stands up. We were all very proud and we knew we'd be ready for the anniversary," Stango said. "The website responded with optimal performance," said 9/11 Memorial Chief Technology Officer Sean Anderson.

Mobile Design & Multimedia looks great no matter what you're viewing it on. "We're very proud of our mobile implementation," Stango said.

Blink was charged with developing a site that was accessible across multiple mobile computing platforms. We implemented a rapid, light-weight theme that supported the Memorial's mission as well as help site visitors who come seeking comfort.

Once again the challenge of meeting high traffic loads helped inspire the Blink team to expand Drupal's limits. In this case Blink developers went beyond the standard mobile toolkit configuration and implemented javascript based device detection to eliminate unnecessary backend requests and maintain high speed and availability during high loads.

Other highlights of the 9/11 design implementation included:

  • full html 5 implementation for faster loading
  • custom coding for older browsers
  • multi-media galleries and Photoswipe implementation for mobile lightboxes and galleries, including video and hi resolution renderings
  • device detection even on cached pages with rules that can be configured from within Drupal
  • screen resolution optimization for modern phones and tablets
  • ImageMagick image manipulation and high speed, low overhead generation of text images
  • a custom-built mobile integration API to allow visitors to find their cobblestones during their visit to the memorial plaza.
  • Composite Layouts - light weight and easy to use for site managers, Blink developers created selectable templates with pre-configured blocks for content and landing pages.

25 Thousand Donors Strong

One of the key objectives of the site was to be able to engage supporters and secure support for the organization's programming.

Blink helped the Memorial meet its fundraising goals by building an enhanced set of donor features integrating Drupal with the industry standard Raisers Edge CRM. Blink imported 25 thousand user records and created new Donation Management pages with increased usability and additional donor options. Visitors to the 9/11 Memorial website can now purchase a cobblestone to be placed at the memorial and located via the site's mobile API on their next visit. Donor transactions are handled securely through SSL then synchronized with Raisers Edge for daily online and offline management. Blink also restructured donor data for better management, including flexible report creation.

Security & Speed

Security was a key consideration in the development process. Blink did an extensive review and custom configuration of Drupal's built-in Roles and Permissions sub-system to align with the Memorial's business work flow and optimize site security through access control to read and write privileges. The site was custom configured to only accept administrative log ins from network IP addresses used by authorized personnel and webserver configuration was also adjusted to enhance IP restrictions. HTTP auth and public/private key protocols were used to facilitate API access. Several additional security layers were also implemented to insure the integrity of the site.

A carefully tuned Varnish implementation formed an important part of the site's foundation for consistently fast delivery. Blink developers implemented custom page removals from cache on demand and through cron.

Optimized User Experience and Efficient Site Management

The original 9/11 site was a loosely connected assortment of independent applications including a storefront, blog, and donation pages. These were all transitioned into a single, integrated application that features a quick site-wide search and a single view of member information and site activity. Blink created an easy-to-use administrative control panel for updating web content and to manage donations, memberships, and merchandise orders. Revision control helps Memorial staff manage site updates.

Other Highlights:

  • Social - Janrain Engage integration for custom social network login by users from around the globe.
  • Commerce - a full Ubercart installation with custom configured store administration supports the Memorial's gift center
  • Search - full faceted search with Apache Solr on Acquia's Managed Cloud network
  • Migration - special custom content migration from Wordpress
  • Call to Action - Constant Contact integration for advanced permission based subscriptions to newsletters and announcements, event calendaring and Web Form implementation help Memorial staff convert visitors into supporters and donors.   
Website Launch Date: 
Thursday, April 28, 2011
How It Was Done (optional): 
Blink Reaction is a leader in Enterprise Drupal Development, delivering robust, high-performance websites for dynamic companies. Through expertise in seamless integration, module customization, and application development, Blink creates scalable and flexible web solutions that provide the best in dynamic user experience. Our clients’ websites support growing online communities with thousands of active users. These sites consistently rank highly for traffic and functionality, with clients appearing in the Top 50 Drupal websites, even higher than the well-known site. Blink Reaction delivers client success through strategic planning, creative design, content management, and expert project management. Solutions from Blink Reaction address business and marketing challenges, generating profitability, engaging audiences, and creating a more competitive online presence.
Owner's name: 
National September 11 Memorial & Museum
Development Company: 
Blink Reaction
Enterprise Drupal Development for Growing, Dynamic Companies Delivering High-Performance, Robust Websites that meet marketing & business goals