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The number of Drupal sites grew over 50% from 2017 to 2018, due, in part, to robust content management features and the growing number of stable modules available for the platform.
Drupal is a platform to consider for healthcare clients’ websites because of its flexibility and scalability. Drupal’s official definition of its platform is as follows:
“Drupal is a flexible CMS based on the LAMP stack, with a modular design allowing features to be added and removed by installing and uninstalling modules, and allowing the entire look and feel of the website to be changed by installing and uninstalling themes.” Source: Drupal.com
We spoke with our resident Drupal expert, Miranda Warlock, about why she likes Drupal for large websites such as those in the healthcare and medical sectors. Miranda started working with Ashworth Creative in 2018, and has over nine years’ experience as a website developer.
Says Miranda, “Drupal works very well for large, complicated healthcare websites. You can do pretty much anything with the platform. Once it’s implemented, it’s easy to modify. New features are simple to add. Drupal also has a large, supportive community. You can reach out whenever there’s a problem and somebody always knows how to help.”
Why healthcare websites should use Drupal
There are several reasons why we recommend Drupal to our healthcare clients. The ease of updating content combined with the flexibility of the platform are two big factors, as is security. Here’s a short list of the top reasons we recommend Drupal.
- Drupal is customizable. “You can do anything with Drupal,” says Miranda, “There’s a lot more flexibility with Drupal than with other platforms. If a client wants to do something specific, we can almost always accommodate this with Drupal.”
- Drupal is secure. Security is a key concern for all website owners, but particularly healthcare websites. With over one million installs of Drupal core (the open source framework that Drupal runs on), Drupal takes security seriously. Some of the top websites run on Drupal, including Weather.com, Whitehouse.gov and Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Per Miranda, “As long as you keep Drupal updated, then security-wise you’re pretty good. Drupal also stays on top of security for its stable modules and notifies its community whenever there’s a security issue with a module.”
- Drupal has powerful APIs. Application programming interface—or API—enables different web-based platforms and tools to communicate with each other. This is a very simplified definition, because APIs are a technical perk that can be difficult to explain. What’s important to understand is that Drupal’s API integration allows you to incorporate your existing sales tools into your Drupal site.
“Drupal has an API-First initiative,” Miranda explains, “This means that data managed by Drupal can be used with any other software that speaks HTTP. You can integrate with Square or MailChimp, use your content anywhere and display it however you want.”
- Drupal allows for easy content updates. Many of our clients work with us to upgrade or redesign existing websites but want to retain the ability to update their content without having to call on a developer each time they write a new blog post or create a new piece of copy.
“It’s super easy for clients to update content themselves,” says Miranda. “We can set up different user areas and have different permissions for different user types which restricts someone to a specific task, such as updating a blog. This way people that aren’t very experienced with Drupal won’t get inundated with the myriad of choices when they log in. This prevents someone from accidentally deleting something or “breaking” the site.”
The benefits of working with a Drupal expert
Drupal is popular and widely used, but it can also be complex. That’s why we recommend healthcare companies work with a certified Drupal expert, particularly for large upgrades (e.g., upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8).
Says Miranda, “A version upgrade is considered a major change and requires a certain amount of website rebuilding because Drupal restructured the platform for Drupal 8 compared with Drupal 7. Once a website has been upgraded, there will still be ongoing updates that are much more minor and may not require a specialist, but for upgrades it’s important to get a developer involved.”
Miranda also highlighted the importance of keeping your Drupal site updated from a security perspective. “As with any technology, you always want to keep your website up-to-date for security purposes and to maintain coding standards.”
She goes on to explain the importance of working with a Drupal expert when it’s time to migrate your website management to a new developer. “What I have found when taking over existing Drupal websites is that there are shortcuts some developers like to take with the code that can make it difficult for a new developer to change something in Drupal. If the custom code isn’t documented, it can be difficult to update, upgrade, or change the website.
“People take shortcuts when building a website, but in the long run it’s not shorter. You’ll have more flexibility if you’re not hard coding – you want to hard code as little as possible.”
Some of the biggest websites on the Internet use Drupal. Its open source community Is large and knowledgeable, and the interface is flexible. It’s the perfect platform for health care organizations that because they tend to experience constant change—perpetually growing and accommodating new services, providers, and specialties that need to be showcased.
Working with an agency that’s knowledgeable about Drupal and understands how the platform works is an important consideration for healthcare companies. To this end, a Drupal expert can work with you to train your staff on how to use the platform efficiently and safely for ongoing content updates.
“Training is always a good idea,” says Miranda, “It helps clients understand the interface so they can easily create or add content.”
Call Ashworth Creative today to discuss designing, developing, upgrading or maintaining your Drupal website.