IHME: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

Upgrading from Drupal 7: Modernizing a Go-To Population Health Resource

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Content Management System

Digital Engineering

Research & Strategy

User Experience


Design Consultation

Design Systems


Flexible Page Building

Mobile & Responsive


Health & Wellness

Higher Education

Based at the University of Washington School of Medicine, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) develops and shares evidence that sheds light on the status of health worldwide. IHME’s website, healthdata.org, is packed with reports, tools, and news relied on by clinicians, researchers, and policymakers. With the approaching sunset of Drupal 7, IHME seized the opportunity to move the website to Drupal 9, reimagine its complex content architecture, and create a flexible design system to power this go-to population health resource.

The Brief

New Drupal, New Design

Migrating a massive site like healthdata.org is challenging enough, but implementing a new site design simultaneously made the process even more complex. IHME wanted a partner with the digital expertise to translate its internal design team’s page designs into a flexible, functional set of components  — and then bring it all to life in the latest Drupal environment. Key goals included:

  • Successfully moving the site from Drupal 7 to the latest release of Drupal
  • Auditing and updating IHME’s extensive set of features to meet its authoring needs while staying within budget
  • Translating the designs and style guide produced by the IHME team into accessible digital pages
  • Enhancing site security by overhauling security endpoints, including an integration with SSO provider OneLogin

The Approach

The new healthdata.org site required a delicate balance of form and function. Oomph consulted closely with IHME on the front-end page designs, then produced a full component-based design system in Drupal that would allow the site’s content to shine now and in the future — all while achieving conformance with WCAG 2.1 standards.

Equipping IHME To Lead the Public Health Conversation

Collaborating on a Comprehensive Content Model

IHME needed the site to support a wide variety of content and give its team complete control over landing page layouts, but the organization had limited resources to achieve its ambitious goals. Oomph and IHME went through several rounds of content modeling and architecture diagramming to right-size the number and type of components. We converted their full-page designs into annotated flex content diagrams so IHME could see how the proposed flex-content architecture would function down to the field level. We also worked with the IHME team to build a comprehensive list of existing features — including out-of-the-box, plugins, and custom — and determine which ones to drop, replace, or upgrade. We then rewrote any custom features that made the grade for the Drupal migration.

Building Custom Teaser Modules

The IHME team’s design relied heavily on node teaser views to highlight articles, events, and other content resources. Depending on the teaser’s placement, each teaser needed to display different data — some displayed author names, for example, while others displayed only a journal title. Oomph built a module encompassing all of the different teaser rules IHME needed depending on the component the teaser was being displayed in. The teaser module we built even became the inspiration for the Shared Fields Display Settings module Oomph is developing for Drupal.

Creating a Fresh, Functional Design System

With IHME’s new content model in place, we used Layout Paragraphs in Drupal to build a full design system and component library for healthdata.org. Layout Paragraphs acts like a visual page builder, enabling the IHME team to construct feature rich pages using a drag and drop editor. We gave IHME added flexibility through customizable templates that make use of its extensive component library, as well as a customized slider layout that provides the team with even more display options.

You all are a fantastic team — professional yet personal; dedicated but not stressed; efficient, well-planned, and organized. Thank you so much and we look forward to more projects together in the future!

CHRIS ODELL Senior Product Manager: Digital Experience, University of Washington

The Results

Working to Make Citizens and Communities Healthier 

IHME has long been a leader in population health, and its migration to the latest version of Drupal ensures it can lead for a long time. By working with Oomph to balance technical and design considerations at every step, IHME was able to transform its vision into a powerful and purposeful site — while giving its team the tools to showcase its ever-growing body of insights. The new healthdata.org has already received a Digital Health Award, cementing its reputation as an essential digital resource for the public health community.


Digital Health AwardsBronze Award, Educational Institution; Web-based Digital Health, 2023