Websites today are a far cry from those that powered the internet 10 years ago. Today, having a content management system (CMS) is practically a requirement for larger web entities that manage a lot of content. While there are many options available when it comes to choosing a CMS, one of the most popular options is Drupal. For example, almost 70% of the 100 top-ranked higher education websites rely on Drupal to power their web presence. Organizations as varied as Stanford University, The Weather Channel, even the White House rely on Drupal—and for good reason. Drupal provides advantages in security, accessibility, and multisite functionality out of the box and is backed by a large online community of contributors.
Here are five reasons to consider using Drupal in your next complex web project:
1. Drupal is free to use.
The key to a strong CMS is that it is open source, meaning it is free to use (no license to purchase or renew) and has a large community of developers continuously contributing to and improving the codebase. Drupal boasts a strong online community of over 8,000 individual contributors and 1,200 corporate contributors who are constantly working to improve Drupal in areas such as security, performance, and accessibility, and this number continues to grow every year.
Contributors also build and share extensions called modules that can be added to the CMS to expand its functionality and make it work for specific use cases. With thousands of modules available on drupal.org, if there is a functionality that is lacking from Drupal out of the box, chances are that there is a module that you can easily add to fit your needs. Unlike other popular CMS options, most of these Drupal modules are free to use and do not require expensive upgrade fees to unlock additional features.
2. Drupal offers robust content management features.
Content can be managed in Drupal in a variety of ways, including setting up workflows for content publishing permissions, drag-and-drop editing, file management, and establishing content approval roles. Drupal is well known for its flexibility when it comes to managing content editors and their roles. Content can be placed into various states, such as “Draft”, “Ready for Review”, and “Approved”, to establish a content workflow. From there, content administrators can make content live when approved, or establish an automatic publishing schedule for weekly or biweekly content updates, for example.
3. Drupal is considered one of the most secure open source systems.
The Drupal developers and contributors take security seriously. The Drupal security team consists of 30 to 40 “bug hunters” from around the world from various organizations, both paid and volunteer, who seek out bugs within the main code and the contributed modules. In addition, all contributed modules are reviewed and approved by Drupal maintainers, and any errors or security leaks can be reported by the community. The Drupal community also has a dedicated release schedule for security updates, so site administrators know when to expect security updates.
Internally, Drupal site administrators have complete control over who can access content managing capabilities and the varying levels of access. Admins have the ability to create various user roles and can designate the editing and viewing privileges that each user role can access.
4. Drupal is highly maintainable.
Organizations with multiple holdings (like departments, sister companies, etc) will benefit greatly from using Drupal due to its multisite capabilities. Under a multisite Drupal configuration, you can create many sites with different themes and layouts, that use a shared codebase and content management dashboard. Drupal not only makes content editing easier across departments, but it also simplifies maintenance because a single update (such as a security patch) can be applied to all sub-sites simultaneously.
5. Drupal offers multilingual capabilities.
A major benefit to organizations interested in attracting individuals from around the world is Drupal’s built-in multilingual capabilities. With assistance from the internationalization module, Drupal allows a quick setup for a website that can be presented in a multitude of languages. The preferred site language can then be determined by the browser or can be switched manually by the user via a language-switching dropdown. There are no limits on how many languages can be utilized, but translations will need to be provided by a content editor proficient in each language.
Looking to Use Drupal for Your Next Project?
Drupal offers many benefits to organizations looking to build an easily-maintainable web presence while keeping security at the forefront, but as with any tool (open source or otherwise) it can also come with challenges. For example, we’ve found that many of our Drupal-using clients have significant internal teams dedicated to keeping the site up and running. Here are a few other examples worth considering:
High server costs: Drupal uses a lot of server space and therefore, hosting can get expensive.
A steep learning curve: There is a lot of documentation to read and a lot to learn about Drupal, which can be intimidating to newcomers.
An advanced admin interface: Drupal was developed by developers for developers, so the admin interface isn’t always intuitive to content editors and non-developers.
If you’re looking to build a Drupal website, but aren’t sure where to start, or need customized advice about how to overcome these challenges and more, feel free to contact us to get the ball rolling.