Helping Reach an Audience of 1.5 Million Readers

diaTribe is an online publication dedicated to helping people make sense of diabetes. The publication is a program of The diaTribe Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to improving the lives of people living with diabetes and prediabetes and advocating for action.

The Problem

A new format to better help readers

When diaTribe first began discussing a new website with us, they were transitioning away from an issue-based format. Instead, they wanted to publish content on a regular basis throughout the week, sending out a bi-weekly digest to recap the highlights of the last two weeks. This new format supported their mission of helping people make sense of diabetes by delivering readers more timely, relevant information.

However, diaTribe's existing site was designed around the concept of issues, and didn't have a way to display recent breaking news. It was clear that they needed to rework their entire site to support this transition and help people become better informed about the challenges and advancements in the world of diabetes.

Challenging growth targets

In addition, diaTribe had set a goal of 50% subscriber growth over the course of next year. This meant adding 10,000 subscribers to their newsletter, among other targets for increased reader engagement. They needed a powerful, flexible website that would support their growth and allow them to quickly implement new features.

The Solution

We worked with the diaTribe team to architect a new website based on Drupal, an open source content management system. We selected Drupal to help diaTribe accomplish the following goals:

  1. Flexibility. Drupal provided a vast library of community-contributed modules that let us quickly get the site off the ground and accommodate new feature requests by leveraging the work of the Drupal community.
  2. Power. At the same time, Drupal came with an incredibly deep ability for customization. With sites such as, the Grammys, and using Drupal, we knew that diaTribe would be well-equipped to handle whatever the future held for them.
  3. Low cost of ownership. Because Drupal is open source, everything (including community-contributed modules) was free. Coupled with the amount of flexibility it provides, we knew this was the best option for lowering the cost of ownership for a non-profit.

An engaging new home page

The center of the new diaTribe site was its home page, which we re-engineered to focus on breaking news and popular stories. With this new format, the diaTribe team was able to publish new articles and control what was being featured at any given time.

This re-imagined homepage prevented diaTribe from being seen as stagnant and helped increase the return rate of visitors as they learned the site was being updated more frequently.

Custom landing pages

To help diaTribe hit their growth targets, we integrated LeadPages with Drupal to allow them to build and deploy a series of landing pages. In addition, we developed a custom LeadPages template that was branded to their organization, and integrated it with Google Analytics so they could measure the results.

Advanced search with apache solr

We beefed up diaTribe's advanced search feature by integrating it with Apache Solr, a world-class search platform. Their previous advanced search feature, while passable, was not returning relevant results unless you used very specific search phrases. This prevented their readers from being able to browse their vast library of content, and made it appear as if they had less information to offer. The new search feature exposed a much broader, more relevant set of results to users, allowing them to more easily find what they were looking for.

The Results

After launching the new site, diaTribe far exceeded their goals at the beginning of the project. Over the next 12 months they more than doubled their newsletter subscribers and quadrupled their traffic, enabling them to impact the lives of over 1.5 million people.

330% increase in traffic

330% incre


100% increase in newsletter subscribers

Spencer Brooks

Spencer Brooks is the Founder & Principal of Brooks Digital. He has nearly a decade of experience as a technology consultant for nonprofits and mission-driven businesses and spends his days happily helping organizations use open source technology and data analysis to maximize their impact. Spencer lives in Portland, OR with his wife Hannah and their son Weston.

Twitter: Follow @spencerbrooks on Twitter.