Case FFW

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum


The National September 11 Memorial is a tribute of remembrance and honor to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993. The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools, a powerful reminder of the largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil and the single greatest loss of rescue personnel in American history.


As the 10-year anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers approached, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum needed a newer, faster, and more efficient website to handle the predicted heavy traffic loads. The original site was a loosely connected assortment of independent applications including a storefront, blog, and donation pages. The organization needed a new site with single integrated application to increase speed and efficiency while withstanding huge spikes in traffic. In addition to these features, accessibility across multiple mobile platforms was important to encourage donations and make content available on a variety of devices. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum wanted the site to encourage support and donations for the organization’s programming, and they felt that security and speed were a priority.


FFW implemented a rapid, lightweight theme that assisted site visitors seeking comfort and supported the memorial’s mission of paying homage to the lives lost in the attack. We looked beyond Drupal’s standard mobile toolkit configuration, utilizing a Javascript-based device detection. This eliminated unnecessary backend requests and helped the site function quickly and efficiently during heavy traffic loads. We developed custom coding for older browsers, multimedia galleries that functioned on mobile devices, and device detection that worked on cached pages. We also created a custom-built mobile integration API to allow visitors to easily find their cobblestones during their visits to the memorial plaza and we created an easy-to-use administrative control panel so admins can update content, manage donations, manage memberships, and place merchandise orders.


Our team thought they would have months of easy testing ahead to prepare for the inevitable traffic spike on 9/11/11 after launching the site in late April of 2011, but then news broke of Osama Bin Laden’s death. Suddenly, traffic on the site spiked. Despite this timing, FFW was proud to see the site functioned without any problems. FFW even helped the National September 11 Memorial & Museum reach its fundraising goal by implementing an enhanced set of donor features that integrate Drupal with the industry standard Raisers Edge CRM, a powerful fundraising tool built to ease the process of donor management. Visitors can now purchase their own cobblestones online to be placed at the memorial, and this implementation has increased the frequency and number of donations. The site is also incredibly visual, featuring screen resolution optimization for phones and tablets, as well as ImageMagick image manipulation, which has helped maintain a low overhead generation of text images.

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