You’ve probably heard of Drupal. It’s a content management system that’s been around for two decades. Drupal started as a web board called Drop created by Dries Buytaert, a University of Antwerp student who created it as a simple bulletin board to stay in touch with friends after graduation. As Drop’s audience grew, so did its features. Buytaert, recognizing the benefit of collaborative thinking for scaling new technologies, released Drop’s software to the masses in 2001 and changed the name to Drupal (which is the Dutch word for Drop).
The platform has changed a lot over the years. The latest version, Drupal 9, was released in June 2020 and is even faster than previous versions, includes easy upgrades, better accessibility, and improved security.
We recently sat down with our resident Drupal expert, Miranda Warlock, to pick her brain about the benefits of using Drupal. She had lots of good things to say.
Benefit #1: Drupal makes it easy to update your website’s content.
The main benefit of using a content management system like Drupal is that it helps you, well, manage your content. Drupal allows website owners to assign user roles and permissions, so internal or external stakeholders can update various sections of a website, edit content, and post new content—all without the need for a developer (or programming knowledge). Drupal is also built with mobile devices in mind. The latest version of Drupal is not only responsive (e.g., your website adjusts to fit all screen sizes and devices), but it’s easy to administrate a Drupal site from a mobile device (e.g., content editors can update and change content from their phone).
Benefit #2: Drupal has a huge community which means lots of support.
There’s no shortage of CMS options for businesses. From WordPress to Squarespace to more expensive options like Adobe and Sitecore (which have rebranded themselves as “experience platforms.”) But Drupal stands out from their competitors based on the size and loyalty of their community, which includes technology decision makers, developers, users, and agencies.
Drupal powers tens of thousands of websites and boasts one of the biggest open source communities in the world. There’s a Drupal expert for everything and anything you need. “I like Drupal much better than WordPress and other CMS’s I’ve used because I know that with Drupal, you can do pretty much anything you want and there’s always support for whatever you need,” said Warlock.
Benefit #3: APIs, APIs, APIs.
Drupal is an API-first platform, meaning that it basically integrates with everything. Drupal enables developers to build low-code APIs, making it simple to integrate complicated modules that do specialty applications (e.g., scheduling appointments, creating complex forms, etc.) into your website. Drupal APIs also allow seamless integration with specialty platforms that you may already be using within your tech stack and want to incorporate into your website.
Said Warlock, “Platforms like Squarespace are limited in what they allow and integrations tend to be much more complicated. With Drupal, you can integrate everything thanks to their APIs and the larger community. Drupal’s huge community means that almost anything you need is available without necessarily having to write a lot of custom code. You can usually find modules that do whatever you want.”
Benefit #4: Drupal takes security seriously.
Drupal has a comprehensive security process overseen by the Drupal Security Team which exists to inform website owners about reported security problems. Drupal’s modules are vetted by the Drupal community, which makes them reliable and secure. Drupal has various protocols in place to stay on top of potential problems including regular weekly security updates and new releases.
“There’s a shield icon on Drupal.org that indicates the stability of a module and what state it’s in,” explained Warlock. “If there are any security issues, the shield indicates if it’s safe to use. You end up spending a lot less developer time trying to make something secure because Drupal keeps you updated.”
The shield icon is color-coded with recommended releases highlighted in green. Pre-stable releases are yellow, while unsupported or deprecated/obsolete versions aren’t color coded at all, but have warning symbols signifying they are unsupported, obsolete or not covered by Drupal’s security advisory policy.
Said Warlock, “Drupal has a huge community of great developers which means that if a module is included in their security process, it’s safe to use. They send out weekly notices if a module is no longer secure by their standards, so you can find an alternative. There are always other options.”
Benefit #5: Drupal maintenance is a breeze.
Once a Drupal website is live, site maintenance is a straightforward, simple process. We provide ongoing maintenance for our Drupal clients using a combination of automation and manual oversight, something that’s done throughout the month via daily, weekly, and monthly alerts. Since each website is different, the level of oversight varies, but the most important thing to remember with Drupal is to be consistent with updates and upgrades.
“We get the security updates directly from Drupal,” explained Warlock. “If there’s anything big coming up the pipeline, they give us a heads up a few days beforehand. We then schedule a time to prepare for the update ahead of time which enables us to be proactive and ensure that all Drupal websites remain up to date and secure.”
Upgrading to the newest version of Drupal has become much simpler recently. Historically, upgrading Drupal (e.g., version 6 to 7) entailed much planning and, in some cases, involved a near complete rewrite of your website. But the release of Drupal 8 streamlined the upgrade process. “Updating to the latest Drupal version is no longer a major undertaking,” said Warlock. “As long as you stay on top of it. You’re good to go.”
The perfect CMS for 2021
If you’re considering launching a new website or upgrading an existing one in 2021, Drupal offers lots of flexibility, mobile accessibility, and nearly unlimited scalability. Contact us to learn more about how Drupal can work for you or to schedule a free 30-minute website consultation where we’ll wax poetic about the endless possibilities that Drupal has to meet all your website needs.