Why We Love Drupal
To completely understand why we love Drupal, it’s important to understand our limitations with our current Web site management and what Drupal is capable of providing. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s understand some fundamentals of what Drupal is and then we can discuss why we love it.
What is Drupal? Drupal is an open-source content management framework that’s distributed under the GNU General Public License. Hold your standing ovation Eastern University, it’s not that exhilarating yet. That is, unless you’re a Web designer or developer, then clap away!
Why would something like this be beneficial for the University? Prior to our CMS days, content contributors used proprietary applications that were licensed to be installed on specific computers throughout campus, which meant that if a change needed to be made to the Web site, a content contributor would have to use that specific computer where the software was installed. For some contributors that meant a stroll across campus to borrow another staff member’s workspace. For others, content would not be updated in a time sensitive manner. A CMS, however, is web-based. This means a user can make Web updates anywhere there’s a Web connection. They could make updates from home, on their smartphone or anywhere there’s WiFi connection. The CMS was the perfect anecdote; at least for the time being.
In 2006, Eastern University implemented a CMS. This CMS was not Drupal, but a licensed product. It provided all the functionality mentioned above, but as technology evolved it was time for us to explore other options. Earlier this year, my fellow Web gurus and I were tasked with looking towards our next Web site redesign. As we compiled data from the market research of our Web site, we came to the conclusion that a large majority of items requested or desired were not possible in our current technological framework.
We begun a search for CMS vendors and we discovered Drupal. Drupal was an attractive choice in comparison to other vendors for several reasons.
1. Drupal is open source. Our current CMS has a hefty annual license price tag with additional support fees.
2. Drupal is PHP framework. This means our Web site is dynamic. We can display content in a dynamic fashion. We can now present segments of content throughout the Web site and manage it from one location. We cannot provide this on our current CMS. We must duplicate information, which as you could imagine, becomes a management nightmare.
3. Drupal is open code. This means that our framework is customizable to our needs. We can begin to mold our site based around what our users want to see, and not technological limitations. Our current CMS is not open code and has several restrictions.
4. Drupal is not company owned, it’s community owned, so the support for this product is tremendous. It’s user-base is impressive. Drupal is being used in every industry globally and has passionate developers contributing towards the community to make it a better framework, and they’re willing to share information for free! In fact, over 26.9% of all .edu Web sites using content management systems, are using Drupal. This is great news to our designers and developers of this project, because the collaboration across the board is spectacular. Our current provider has a support system, but additional fees may apply depending on the support requested.
In conclusion, we love Drupal because it’s going to let us exercise our potential of doing things we have never done before technologically. Upgrading to a PHP framework is a major improvement. Our content contributors will be able to manage content more efficiently. We can build and design a Web site around our users’ requests and what analytical data tells us, not around our software restrictions. We can collaborate with some of the most brilliant developers in our industry to improve our framework and customize our Web site to our users’ needs. Lastly, if I didn’t already mention this… Drupal is free!