Information Services Division



We are now in the final year of a four-year project to replace the end-of-life Silva CMS with a more robust, flexible and scalable product built in Drupal which is tailored to UCL needs.


  • Faster, more intuitive interface for web editors, greatly reducing the time spent on website editing and support
  • Improved technical performance, faster page load times and a more robust failover solution to ensure website continuity
  • Immediate benefits in terms of increased website traffic as the information is properly structured for search engines
  • The CMS project presents an opportunity to introduce standards around website building and content management ensuring a coherent and compelling web presence for UCL


"Drupal is a great CMS to use – a huge improvement on Silva. Updating our sites is quick, intuitive and easy, and edits take only seconds to make.Drupal’s range of content types, functionalities and features really allows us to show off our high-quality web content. It has also, importantly, made our website more accessible.

For the Institute of Ophthalmology site, the migration process worked very smoothly; it was easy to make changes to the site once it had been migrated.As we’ve been Drupal users for over a year now, we’ve also been really pleased with how Digital Presence have supported us and made ongoing enhancements to the CMS; for example, the draft and moderation functions."

Therese Johns, Faculty of Brain Sciences

"Our migration to Drupal was so straight forward and easier than I had anticipated. When my checklist arrived from the Drupal migration team I completed it all that afternoon, with some hand holding from the support team. Drupal and its simplicity has allowed me to be doing minor updates as and when needed, without disrupting the work day. The training the migration team provided was really helpful and we fixed a few things there and then together! Launch day was definitely a highlight here in our office!"

Sarah Major, Transforming our Professional Services Programme

Moving all Silva sites to Drupal

Since October 2017, Digital Presence has been migrating the rest of UCL's Silva sites to Drupal. The Digital Presence team will use the policy on prioritising web projects to plan development and migration. The readiness of editors to move is also an important factor. 

Our Migration Team will be in touch to schedule the migration window so please wait to hear from them. 

We have designed a migration process which is aimed to standardise and streamline the migration approach where possible.

  • The automated scripts that migrate content from Silva to Drupal ensure that most content is brought over to the new CMS with no issues. Editors are asked to set aside some time for checking the content, creating new landing pages and carrying out any fixes before the site goes live in Drupal.
  • There is no downtime for the website; editors work on a copy of the site in Drupal until it’s ready to go live and the switchover from the Silva site to Drupal is instant
  • All URLs will be maintained via Drupal’s link management functionality
  • Training as well as online self-help documentation are provided at the point at which the site is migrated so editors can be supported with managing their own content in the new system
  • A dedicated Migration Team will support editors with fixes and with getting the most from the new system

Full details of the migration process and what web editors need to do are on the Drupal migrations page:

Service transition

We are now entering the final phase of the Drupal migration project and are aiming to have completed the majority of migrations by early 2019. Silva support has been scaled back since January 2018 as we increasingly shift our focus towards the Drupal service which has been developed in collaboration with departmental users. This means we are no longer going to be developing new websites or functionality in Silva.

Drupal features and FAQs

Here are answers to some of your most frequently asked questions. Full details of Drupal functionality and our feature roadmap are on the features page:

Drupal features

Will there be training for Drupal?

Yes, we have a blended approach of online and face-to-face training:


Face to face:

  • two-hour training for new Senior Editors
  • Weekly migration surgeries combined with Drupal training
  • Ad hoc departmental training sessions

We do not offer technical training as the new system is a content management platform not a web development platform.
To request training email web-support@ucl.ac.uk

I have a non-standard site, will my site look different when we move to Drupal?

No, the front-end of the site will not look different (if it’s already in Indigo) but there will be some improvements to Indigo and you can choose a different colour palette.

If your site is in Indigo, it will not change fundamentally but some page layouts may become more standardised (news, events, case studies). Landing pages are flexible and will be developed in consultation with web editors. If you have a bespoke non-Indigo site some features and functionality will not be replicated in Indigo or Drupal.

The CMS editing interface will look different and will be more intuitive with better performance.  

Can we have our own installation of Drupal and then merge it with ISD's version?

No. Drupal is not an ‘off-the-shelf’ system. We are building the new CMS using a selection of Drupal modules that will create the most appropriate content management system for UCL.

Your selection of modules, and the way you implement them, may be very different from the central UCL implementation which will mean that it is highly unlikely that we will be able to merge any sites built on a separate instance of Drupal with the central UCL CMS.

If we have a Drupal expert in our department, can they work with you to improve our website?

Yes, eventually. As Drupal is a well-known open source platform, we are keen to create a development community and will publish guidance in due course.

In terms of search, will Drupal be an improvement?

Yes, in that Drupal gives more opportunity to add tags and metadata which will improve both the site search, SEO and the ability to surface content across a particular site and beyond.

Can we have search on an individual site?

A filter view of specific content sets will be possible e.g. Life Learning or UCL Prospectus:

The main UCL search will have facets that allow users to delve deeper and refine their results.

What features will be available in Drupal?

We have a feature roadmap that was based on the CMS feature questionnaire, which was sent to all Chief Editors, as well as interviews and focus groups. The roadmap is based on the most requested features and is available on our Drupal features page. 

However, at the start, we are aiming for a like-for-like replacement of Silva with a robust and flexible content management system.

Will there be a cost in moving to Drupal?

There are no direct financial implications for UCL website owners provided their current site is in Indigo Silva, but the availability of content editors will be needed from departments for some manual fixes to migrated content. The next phase of the project, beta service-rollout, will help us determine how much time is needed. We are working to the assumption that a large site (500+pages) will take 4 days over a two-three week period. A small or medium site will take half this time. 

When will Silva be decommissioned?

It’s not possible to say for certain but we are aiming to decommission Silva at some point in 2019. We are working hard to ensure most sites are migrated with the support of the migration team by the end of February 2019. See above for service transition arrangements.