Is Drupal the Best CMS?
Why Web Developers Choose Drupal, And Whether You Should Too
As the internet tipped toward the CMS, website technology has taken strides to catch up to the needs of new, non-technical website admin.
Drupal represents the most advanced evolution of that development, combining customization capability with ease of management. For years, Drupal has been known as a developer-preferred website platform. While it’s out-of-the box solution appears rough, it’s easily capable of supporting a custom website build within just a few weeks.
According to The Forrester Wave: Web Content Management Systems, Q1 2017 :
“As static websites fade away, functionality to manage, deliver, and optimize dynamic content across digital touchpoints dictates which providers provide the most value.”
In the 15 CMS platforms Forrester assesses in their report, Drupal (Acquia) is ranked as a leader in the CMS field. Drupal represents the future of website technology, and there are a few key aspects that make it capable of handling dynamic, personalized content, organizing content metadata, supporting back-end and front-end APIs, and scalable.
Drupal Benefits to Your Business
These are features that are both unique to Drupal, and directly beneficial to your website management goals:
1. It’s flexible
Drupal is built on a modular system, which means that Drupal websites are extended with individual modules, very similar to building blocks. Features can be enabled and disabled as easily as turning them on and off. It’s simple enough that once these features have been installed, non-technical admin have the ability to manage them. You can dictate where features like blogging capabilities, comments sections, and user accounts appear on your website from a single module directory. From the same platform, you have the flexibility to create a website as simple as a single direction publishing site, to an interactive community website. With thousands of modules freely available through the Drupal community as well, creating a website with custom functionalities requires a lot less development time. Using pre-written modules instead of creating custom features from scratch, your web developers can build your website much faster.
2. Content management features
Most CMS platforms have similar content management features. You manage your content through familiar fields, WYSIWYG toolbars, and image file upload processes. Where Drupal distinguishes itself is how much freedom it allows non-technical admin to have over otherwise complicated content processes. Here’s just a few:
Views is a Drupal module (included in core in Drupal 8.0) that allows website admin to create their own data structures. Essentially, you can generate lists of content based on tags that you specify. How your Views is displayed depends on design, a Views list could be anything from a list of recent blog posts in the footer of your website, to a page of images linking to past portfolio projects. With Views you may need a designer, but you can arrange and place incredibly custom blocks of content without coding knowledge.
Content Types and Fields
Drupal’s system makes it much easier to create your own content types–blog posts, portfolio pages, webforms. You don’t have to recreate the page in each instance, saving the page as a content type that can be used again and again. And from the back-end, you can also specify the fields used to display content on the user’s side.
Unfortunately, nothing online can ever be absolutely secure. Drupal has, however, taken strides to create a system as secure as possible.
Drupal is not a proprietary system (like AEM, Sitecore, Weebly, Squarespace). You own your own code, and can manage how it’s protected.
Drupal’s core team is dedicated to security, and regularly release security patches and update their code to address found vulnerabilities.
The Drupal community augments the Drupal core team. Thousands of developers use their free time to contribute to and monitor Drupal’s code.
Just as Drupal’s open-source system allows it to easily integrate with other third-party systems, it can also communicate with additional security systems. For example, we’ve implemented Sucuri and Cloudflare for clients as part of their Drupal builds in the past.
Outside of it’s core, hired team, Drupal thrives on the code of thousands of contributing volunteers. Open-source community projects are a major source of innovation for a lot of software companies, with businesses like Magento® and Microsoft encouraging developers to engage in their code. Drupal is an example of the success of that community participation.
This is incredibly beneficial to your website in two major ways. One, your website will rest on a platform that is constantly being updated to meet the latest security and performance standards. As long as you have an ongoing strategy in place to keep your website in sync with those updates, you don’t have to worry about working from an antiquated, legacy platform.
Two, the widespread adoption of Drupal among developers means that you have a large pool of developers to choose from. This lowers your risk of developer lock-in, allowing you to more freely shop around for a development agency that works best with you, or build your own internal development team.
Drupal’s open-source build makes it easily scalable, allowing it to grow to better fit the needs of your business.
Drupal’s open-source build allows developers to directly engage with the source code of your CMS. This is especially beneficial for businesses that need custom integrations, a specific line of communication, between their website and their software. Drupal’s underlying framework–under Symphony–makes it object oriented, and easy for your developers to work with.
Drupal’s architecture means that (as long as you have the correct server resources) you can continue to serve up content to endless streams of traffic (this in particular is one of the reasons Drupal is preferred by enterprise businesses).
Unique Content Strategies
Whether you need a “headless” CMS serving content to your app, or you need a CMS that can handle the content of your online store by pairing with your eCommerce platform, Drupal is incredibly flexible and supportive of virtually any kind of content strategy.
Answers to Common Questions About Drupal
Here are the 6 most common questions we’ve come up against from folks evaluating Drupal:
1. Is Drupal the best CMS?
The answer to this question largely depends on who is asking. Depending on your business objectives, your digital capabilities, your goals for your website, and an analysis of what you need your website to do, the answer can be very different. We’re a Drupal shop and most of our clients come to us for help setting up their Drupal website, but in some instances we’ll steer them away from building with Drupal if it’s not the right platform for them.
2. Is Drupal really going to be around for a while?
As much as you can predict the lifespan of anything on the internet, we think that Drupal will be around for quite a while. The Drupal community is thriving, Acquia is growing, and with each release of Drupal the platform continues to improve. In fact, we build with Drupal largely because we believe the websites we create and the Drupal skills we cultivate will only become more relevant.
3. Does Drupal handle eCommerce?
While Drupal does offer an eCommerce functionality, we’ve actually found that Drupal shines brightest when it’s used for content management purposes. While it can be used to display product pages and other content-related aspects of an eCommerce store, it’s better paired to another platform that specifically focuses on eCommerce tasks and management. For example, we often build online stores for our clients by pairing a Drupal CMS platform with a Magento eCommerce platform.
5. Can I migrate my website from Joomla! to Drupal? From Wordpress to Drupal?
There are different methods you can use to migrate your website between platforms without losing data, design, or content. There isn’t a case where your website cannot be migrated over to Drupal, how your website is migrated and the time it takes to complete will depend on where you’re migrating your website from.
Note: You can read more about Drupal website migrations in our previous post.
6. Does building a website with Drupal require coding?
Yes. For very small organizations , this is Drupal’s biggest deterrent, it doesn’t offer an out-of-the box website that can easily be set up with pre-designed templates (a’la Weebly). The benefit of Drupal is that you can design a custom website–from both the front-end and back-end. Drupal was built for easy customization, and after a few weeks of development your website will not only look exactly the way you want but work exactly the way you think it should.
Why Drupal Appeals to Most Digital Strategies
With a majority of the internet’s websites resting on a CMS platform of one type or another, here’s a summary of why we think Drupal is one of the most beneficial platforms to businesses:
Incredibly custom websites can be built very quickly with Drupal’s modular system, and easily managed after.
As the leader in current CMS technology, Drupal isn’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future. A website built on a Drupal CMS will not be in danger of becoming a legacy, as long as it’s updated.
Drupal is scalable, and can grow to accommodate surging traffic, new martech integrations, and changing digital strategies. You don’t have to worry about outgrowing Drupal.
Drupal is fully capable of operating as the center of your digital marketing plan.
If you have any additional questions about Drupal CMS, our work and experience with Drupal, or are curious if Drupal is the right solution for your next web project, please feel free to contact us. Or, you can learn more about how we evaluate website platforms in our white paper: How to Evaluate Website Technology Platforms