Six Signs You Need Drupal
Drupal’s power and flexibility as a content management system make it a great tool for web development. But it’s not the only tool out there for building dynamic websites. How do you know if Drupal is the right tool for the job? In order to answer the question, we’ll explore six signs that Drupal is likely a good fit.
You need to support multiple workflows or are seeking the efficiency of automated systems.
One of Drupal’s most powerful abilities is its rules-based workflow system which can be used to automate otherwise time-consuming administrative and/or marketing processes.
For example, automated email can be set to notify your staff of a new user and pause their application until the administrator approves it. Alternatively, the site can send the customer an email to verify their information. Once the customer is approved, the system can welcome them with an online orientation or training course. Then, with Webgility’s eCommerceConnector, orders placed on your site will download automatically into Quickbooks, saving countless hours of painstaking data entry.
You can see how much of a time-saver this could be for your business.
- Signing on customers can be automated and self-paced, so you no longer rely upon your customer service representatives.
Data entry and reconciliation between your shopping cart and accounting system can be automated, saving accounting hours of error-prone data re-entry.
You can automatically generate PDF documents populated with content from your Drupal site. This can be used to optimize the creation of sales documentation and quotes.
Indeed, business automation is not limited to the e-commerce space. Drupal applications can include engines to calculate and deliver customer quotes, management of sales representatives, and automatic document generation.
Drupal’s openness allows it to be used as the glue between many web services and platforms. Sometimes called a mashup, this allows your data to flow seamlessly between applications. It is a great tool for turning manual processes into automatic ones.
You need a robust, flexible platform so that you can add new features as you grow.
Web development moves at a frightening pace, and very few web projects begin with a firm, unchanging end in mind. In addition to changing technology, it’s likely that your business needs and priorities will shift too. The good news is that with over 20,000 open source modules, your Drupal site can add on new functionality continuously without incurring the expense of building everything from scratch.
For example, one of our clients, NRG SunLease, designed a web application to create and deliver quotes to sales staff and to customers. Later on, however, they decided that they wanted to add DocuSign E-Signature to the application to remove the step of printing out the document and physically signing it. Even though we hadn’t planned on supporting electronic signature in the original design, Drupal gave us the flexibility to add it to the site.
You want to make “under the hood” SEO improvements.
While any site can benefit from an ongoing SEO campaign, the first step to succeeding in search is to set the right foundation. Drupal’s real SEO strength is in the way it structures your content, making it highly indexable by Google so that you get the most SEO mileage out of your content investment. Contributed modules in Drupal allow authors to define URL, title and meta tag patterns for specific content types so that when new instances of content are added to the site, less SEO-minded authors get the benefit automatically.
Furthermore, Drupal can analyze content being added to your site and create internal links between related pages. Microformats and semantic vocabularies are becoming more and more important as Google’s knowledge graph expands. Google’s mission is to organize the information of the world and their search is surfacing the answer more and more immediately - instead of passing a searcher to the result page, Google is showing the answer in the results instead. For example, search for “wind conditions in Austin today” and you’ll see the answer at the top of the results.
Notice at the bottom of the image, Google attributes The Weather Channel. This content is actually coming from The Weather Channel - but is being passed to Google through Rich Snippets, an emerging meta language that websites can use to help Google with its mission. Your website’s ability to answer Googlers’ questions better than your competitors will make the difference between being found and being irrelevant in the search results. The search-friendliness of the structure of your content is more important now than ever before. With native support for RDFA and Microformats Drupal 7 gets top marks in this category.
You need to manage a large group of users with some granular permissions.
One of Drupal’s core functionalities is the user and permission administration, which comes out of the box. This not only allows users to post content and comment, but can be used to offer entire social networks centered around your website’s core business.
Users can be assigned specific roles. (such as manager, content creator, editor, etc.) You can manage permissions for the entire group, rather than having to manually edit permissions for each user.
You have a large data set that needs to be searched for and displayed in a web page.
Like many content management systems, Drupal employs a database to store data, but it also has the ability to access data on multiple databases. Through Drupal you can pull information from many types of databases. So if you had a lot of information – business transactions, economic trends, flight information, or just a large offering of different types of goods and services, you can use Drupal as your web frontend with the Apache Solr enterprise search platform for easily searching through and displaying that information in any way you want to display it.
Whether you need the structure of a relational database (like MySQL) or the speed and limitless flexibility of a non-relational database (like MongoDB), Drupal gives developers the ability to build on both, or either. This means enterprise scalability for high traffic sites that have a large volume of data.
You want the cutting edge.
The most important reason for choosing Drupal would be if you want to take advantage of the newest web technologies. As a very modular framework, you can experiment with different technologies and new ways of displaying information, and take advantage of new frameworks and technologies without having to rebuild your entire site from scratch. Drupal works with web technologies such as Ember, Node, Angular, and while Drupal is built on PHP, it can work well with platforms in other programming languages.
Drupal is supported by a very large and very active developer community. Compared to other CMS platforms, Drupal’s featureset evolves very rapidly as new modules, patches and updates are written and contributed daily.
When Drupal is overkill.
The downside to flexibility and openness can sometimes be complexity. If you are looking to stand up a very simple site or blog, there are better tools available that require less configuration. However, if you have different types of content, each with different fields, the need to present the information in a variety of ways and user interaction that goes beyond posting comments, then Drupal just might be your best bet.
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