Selecting a Content Management System (CMS) is a very important decision when it comes to building your new website. The wrong CMS can be detrimental to your site and can leave your users and your organisation unsatisfied in many ways. If the CMS does not provide enough customisation tools to create human-centric and personalised experiences, your website might lose pace with your customer needs and fail to meet your KPIs. If the CMS is not capable of scaling up to high-volume workloads, your website risks having slow page loading, poor web performance, low security, and even crashing when dealing with high traffic. For your team, the wrong CMS can be hard to use, wasting your precious time and energy fighting with the software to make it do what you want. When you are investing tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars with the hope to launch a fantastic website, the chosen CMS should live up to, and even exceed, your expectations, and Drupal CMS can be the one.
What is Drupal?
Drupal is a free, open-source CMS released under the GNU Public License, with a large, supportive community. Drupal continues to be a leader in the CMS field. It represents the future of website technology with its inherent benefits - flexible architecture, security, speed, creative freedom, ease of use, scale and governance, connectivity and accountability - that are unmatched by proprietary software. Drupal is currently the CMS of choice for almost two million websites across the world. You probably use Drupal every day without knowing it, since many large enterprises, government agencies, non-profit organisations, top-tier universities and Fortune 500 companies use Drupal, such as the Government of Australia, The NSW Government, The Health Services Union, the University of Technology Sydney, The Australian, the Australian Conservation Foundation, The White House, Twitter, Red Cross, Harvard, NBC News, BBC and many more.
But why do large enterprises and government agencies prefer Drupal? Let us find out.
1. Community Strength, Connection and Contribution
One of the greatest strengths of Drupal is its highly flexible open-source model that encourages continuous improvement, digital innovation and rapid implementation through the support and passion of the Drupal community. The unofficial tagline of Drupal - “Come for the Software, stay for the Community” speaks volumes about the advantage of its large open-source community. With over 1.4 million Drupal developers and users in 230 countries regularly working to make Drupal better, the possibility to create exceptional digital experiences goes far beyond what a single team of proprietary software developers could imagine. The Drupal community contributes their time and resources to creating the software, writing the documentation, providing support, running events all over the world, reviewing code, testing and incorporating feedback directly from the users themselves, in order to make sure each and every new Drupal release can deliver the best digital experience possible.
2. Proper Web Experience Management System
What differentiates Drupal from much of the competition is that it is a flexible platform that performs more like a web experience management system. Drupal allows your website to be integrated seamlessly with your preferred third-party tools, whether that is your favourite customer relationship management (CRM) software, such as Salesforce, or inbound marketing platforms, such as HubSpot.
Another area in which Drupal excels is eCommerce. Companies like Puma, Tesla, Magento, IBM WebSphere Commerce, and Motorola have integrated Drupal into their commerce platforms to improve customer experience and drive sales.
3. Customer-centric and Personalised User Experiences
Drupal 9 gives you the tools you need to create customer-centric experiences, making each visitor to your site feel like their user journey has been tailored to meet their individual needs across multiple channels. All of the administrative and end-user-facing functionality in Drupal, from fundamental features such as the ability to log in or create content, to complex voting systems and dynamic photo galleries, comes from modules. The “Drupal Core” can be downloaded from Drupal.org and it comes packed with all of the most commonly used modules to build a site. There is a great variety of contributed Drupal 8 modules that are made available for free by thousands of developers on Drupal.org:
Personalisation - gives your users the experience that is unique to them with Drupal content personalisation modules, including Browsing History Recommender, Commerce Recommender and Context-Menu Block.
Layout Builder - allows the easy creation of consistent-yet-flexible landing pages, layouts and templates with the Layout Builder module, Gutenberg module and the Paragraphs module. These modules give your design uniformity and content reuse, but at the same time, provide extreme scope for as much customisation of how you present your content as possible.
Social media – easily connect online customers to your Twitter and Facebook social media feeds from your website with one of Drupal’s several social media integrations modules
Quick Edit – type directly into a text editor in Drupal to cut down on the time required for adding and uploading content to your website.
Google Analytics module - allows you to collect all-important customer data and make adjustments to optimize how well your Drupal site speaks to and engages your target market.
Responsive design – Drupal's responsive web design comes out of the box and scales to fit any visitors’ screens, whether they are using a smartphone, tablet or desktop.
Web 2.0 Features - allows you to set permissions for site visitors to comment on any content of your website. Drupal CMS is an excellent community platform provider and it outperforms all other options in this particular area.
4. High Extensibility via APIs
Deep flexibility and extensibility is core feature of the best CMS platforms, which includes the ability to integrate seamlessly with APIs and external services. Drupal’s versatile API architecture supports exponential content development across a worldwide multisite ecosystem. Drupal 8 and 9 can enhance and integrate with each and every step of the customer journey on your website through access to robust APIs:
JSON: The API module allows for serialization and communication via JSON, which enables you to boost productivity, take advantage of generalized tooling, and concentrate on your application.
Render API improves the user experience with better-caching protocols and faster page rendering.
The RESTful Web Services API in Drupal 8 can support the development of a decoupled Drupal site; allow a native mobile iOS/Android app to communicate with a Drupal site, and integrate with web services.
Drupal 8’s Translation API can change the language on your website based on the locations of your viewers.
5. High Scalability
Drupal CMS is highly capable of scaling to high-volume workloads for content-rich sites and for high traffic handling via strong support for cloud configurations and caching. Drupal caching optimisation modules allow faster page loading, optimised bandwidth and a better overall web performance even in high-pressure situations. For example, the Australian Open 2019 website https://ausopen.com/, built on Drupal, was able to welcome tens of millions of visitors and serve hundreds of millions of page views within only a two-week timeframe, with no interruptions or availability issues. In addition, many other world's largest sporting events and media organisations (such as NBC Sports who host the Super Bowl and Olympics in the US) also trust Drupal as their selected digital platform. Choosing Drupal lets web teams feel reassured that their sites can manage even the highest traffic spikes — even when the whole world is watching!
6. Deep Flexibility for User Roles and Workflow
One of the greatest assets of Drupal CMS is its complete publishing workflow capabilities – including the ability for CMS administrators to define their own workflows, determine which types of content they apply to, and which administrators/moderators receive notifications on content awaiting publication. Drupal also facilitates administrators to set permissions on who can edit, create or delete various content types, which can be an article, pictures, videos or any other media files, all managed by the admin.
In addition, the Drupal WYSIWYG module is a much-appreciated feature that allows administrators to access any page or a section of the page in visitor mode by clicking on edit. Users can preview how the content they have entered into the text editor will look before publishing it. Drupal also allows easy editing of pages or sections of a page by creating a simplified experience for the editors and administrators, all manageable from within the administration interface.
Drupal ensures an inclusive web experience for all users through its commitment to accessibility. All features and functions in Drupal conform with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C): WCAG, WAI-ARIA and ADA guidelines out-of-the-box. If users rely on a screen reader or other assistive technology, they will be glad to know that Drupal encourages and supports the proper use of semantic markup. For example, users should be able to use headings reliably for page-level navigation. Some of the other accessibility features included in Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 include:
Optimized Color Contrast Themes and Font Sizes
Control Tab Order
Alt Tag Defaults
Accessibility is a major concern for the higher education sector, where universities strive to provide opportunities and knowledge to students from a variety of backgrounds. Today, Drupal is the CMS of choice for over 70% of higher education institutions, including the University of Technology Sydney, Charles Darwin University, the University of Adelaide and Monash University. Drupal stays committed to providing accessible information and positive digital experiences to everyone, no matter their circumstances.
8. SEO: Leading Tools for Metadata and Taxonomy
Drupal SEO is one of the best and most configurable options out of any web CMS. Drupal’s auto-tagging tools, such as the Metatag module, enables you to add meta tags to your website automatically – an asset for search engine optimization (SEO). Drupal’s Metatags module also allows you to control how your content appears on social media sites with such APIs as Facebook’s Open Graph protocol and Twitter Cards, giving you the ability to spread consistent messages across multiple platforms.
Another key asset for SEO-friendly websites is having an intuitive and flexible taxonomy system. Drupal’s built-in taxonomy system is designed to make it easy for you to classify and organise your content, customise defined sections of your website with different themes, and navigate to search terms and set viewing options. With Drupal’s flexible taxonomy system, you can continue to add more content and features to your website without bursting your CMS’s seams.
Security always comes first when it comes to building digital experiences people trust. Not adhering to digital security standards can cause your organisation to damage your relationships with your customers, or even to suffer hefty legal fees. According to a research report, Drupal wins hands down when compared with other CMS in terms of security, accounting for only 2% of the hacked websites in 2016.
Drupal is architected to safeguard data from both malicious activity and data loss, and that is why highly regulated and public-facing industries, such as the Australian Government, the NSW Government, the Australian Medical Association and the Queensland Eye Hospital, rely on Drupal to protect their websites and maintain trust with their audiences.
In addition, the Drupal Security Team is made up of security experts from around the world who are committed to examining and detecting potential risks in both Drupal core and contributed Drupal modules. Drupal core maintainers make sure that every new contributed model must undergo stringent review prior to being released publicly. Despite the common misconception that open source software is less secure than proprietary models, Drupal is given an advantage by its large, dedicated open-source community where millions of developers are empowered to identify issues in the code and submit bug reports.
10. Maintenance and Upgrades
With Drupal CMS, site administrators should find maintenance and upgrades very easy to handle. In order to update your website, you need to back up the site and then replace the files using a web update interface. Backing up the website with Drupal CMS takes minimal effort as you can back up the whole website by downloading only one file that contains the assets of the website. Drupal 9.0 has also placed a strong focus on improving its upgrade experience, making upgrading to a major version as easy as upgrading to a minor version. This has been clearly seen on the Drupal 8.9 to Drupal 9 upgrade. Drupal also notifies the site admin whenever an upgrade is required, thereby ensuring that your website always stays up-to-date. However, if you do not wish to change the version, Drupal can also adapt to your option by providing security updates for the previous versions. For instance, although Drupal 9 has been released since June 2020, Drupal 7 still continues to be supported by the community.
Despite the fierce competition in the CMS market, Drupal remains one of the most popular and preferred choices for not only large enterprises and government agencies, but also for individuals, small startups, universities and non-profits to build and maintain their websites. With its easy-to-use features, high security, ability to handle dynamic and personalised content, supporting back-end and front-end APIs, scalability and flexibility, among many other advantages, Drupal CMS provides your organisation with an excellent opportunity to transform digitally and create the best digital experiences.