As marketers and content editors, one of your biggest frustrations is not getting content out quick enough, right?
Not through lack of trying - trust me I’ve been there.
You're trying to get images to sit right on the page, the layout doesn’t ooze awesome user experience but it’s beyond your skills to fix it. Now, we’re stuck in limbo of publishing content quickly but not quite right or waiting goodness knows how long for your development team or agency to fix it. If your internal team or agency don’t run a tight ship when it comes to support services, you’ll really have no idea how long you’ll be waiting.
But what if I told you that there’s a new(ish) kid on the block who can remedy that and help you become self-sufficient?
Drupal. Yes, we know it’s not new but Drupal 9 is.
There’s a mountain of information out there about all the exciting technical advantages which will make developers' lives easier with both Drupal 8 and the newly released Drupal 9.
But, as the team which spends the most time creating amazing online customer experiences, shouldn’t we be talking about how Drupal 8 and 9 will end your frustrations.
So here we go...
Easy Content Editing
When information changes, which it does, updating your content is key to giving your website visitors the best experience. Your team originally spent ages meticulously writing content and then equal amounts of time making it look alluring on the page.
Now you’re editing content and continually flipping back and forth between edit and preview mode, trying to understand the connection to the rest of your content.
Drupal 8 and 9 means this is a thing of the past. Your content team can edit on-page surrounded by the context of the rest of the page just as your visitors would see it.
With the introduction of an in-place editor, your content editing team can select any editable element on the front end of your website and edit it directly in place without the need to go anywhere else.
The in-place editor uses a What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) experience meaning your content is shown as it will appear as shown in the image below so no need to learn any HTML to get it formatted correctly.
Image source: drupalize.me
This in-place or inline editing experience has been created with content editor’s in mind and it’s not the only easy way to edit or create content. Whether you’re making a quick change from your mobile before a meeting or rewriting a whole paragraph on the train while commuting, you no longer need to be tied to your desk to update content because the backend of your site is mobile-friendly.
How often does your content get stuck in the review cycle because there’s no set workflow or anywhere for you to approve content for publishing?
In terms of moderation, Drupal has introduced the use of workflows to allow you to keep track of your team’s content flow using ‘states’ and ‘transitions’.
State: States are the different statuses your content can have (draft, published etc). The default states are "Draft", "Published" and "Archived". You can set up new states, such as "To Review" or “Approved” to manage your workflow and content better. Your workflow can be as basic or granular as you need to manage your team and content best.
Transition: After you set up the states, you can create the actual workflow between them. You decide which direction content moves from state to state for example, from ‘draft’ to ‘ready for review’.
Beyond just being able to create workflows and determine the direction in which content can flow, you’re able to choose which level of user can and should move content from one state to another. You wouldn’t want a junior content writer approving content for publication however you may have a state where your team can proof one another’s work on a peer-to-peer level for basic things such as grammar, spelling and fact-checking.
With the use of content moderation, there are times when your content needs approval from other teams or departments in your organisation. The legal team, for example, may want to approve your content message isn’t going to cause any legal issues. For a charity, the fundraising team may want to ensure that the content is on message for their current goals.
Revisions have been around for a long time, however, they haven’t always been used to their full potential. Drupal 8 and onwards gives you better visibility of revisions. Track who changed what and when in your content using revisions across more areas of your website. A well-trained content or web editor team will also be able to log a message to any edits so everyone knows why a change was made.
Drupal keeps a log of all revisions in the system, so you can easily revert to a previous version if and when needed.
How much time and budget is spent on your development team or agency fixing page layout issues which seem so simple to just ‘move it over there’.
Well it’s time to refocus your budget back onto core marketing activities because the long-anticipated ‘drag-and-drop’ layout builder is Drupal’s answer to Wix and SquareSpace.
You can easily and quickly create layouts using drag-and-drop meaning you no longer have to submit a support ticket to your agency or wait for your internal development team to make layout changes in your sites theme that prevent you from publishing your content and creating positive customer experiences.
There are three ways you can use the layout builder:
- Layouts for templated content. The creation of "layout templates" that will be used to layout all instances of a specific content type (e.g. blog posts, product pages).
- Customisations to templated layouts. Override your layout templates on a case-by-case basis.
- Custom pages. The creation of custom, one-off landing pages.
Digital Asset Manager
Have you found you and your team have ‘favourite’ images that seem to get used over and over again? Are images always saved onto the content author's machine?
Digital Asset Management is becoming increasingly important and Drupal has recognised this. If you don’t already have a Digital Asset Manager elsewhere, this is a great start. With the introduction of collections, you can save files and images as collections that are all related. You can add labels to folders, files and collections for easier sorting and searching.
The file type you can store within Drupal is endless with the ability to add extra file types to your library (although some may need extra modules to work for more complex needs).
Your files can be added either individually or using bulk upload.
The feature we really love is that when you’re adding media to your library you can set the maximum number of times that media can be embedded in your content. Meaning one image isn’t over used across your site.
So, Why Should You Care About Drupal 9?
It’s boring, we know, but understanding why Drupal 9 exists as a major release is important to everyone. So, let’s get it over with…
Until the release of Drupal 9, each new version (Drupal 6, 7, 8 etc.) was considerably different. They boasted new and exciting features that Drupal website owners and developers had never seen before, but...
Upgrading your website, let’s say from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, meant a complete rebuild of your website and a full content migration - almost as much work for developers (and cost) as moving from WordPress to Drupal.
Upgrading to Drupal 9 from Drupal 8 will be significantly less effort and costly to everyone’s delight and that’s the future of Drupal.
With little to no new features for marketing or otherwise, Drupal 9 has been released as an opportunity to clean up the code and remove any functionality that is no longer needed for the future, before Drupal 8 is no longer supported in November 2021.
Drupal 9 is not a big deal, it’s the start of a new future for Drupal using a ‘continuous innovation model’.
The big deal about Drupal 9 is that it shouldn't be a big deal.
Plan for the Future
If you’re one of the almost 20,000 UK sites still running on Drupal 7 or below, it’s really time to start planning for the future. Your final hurdle in upgrade fatigue will be Drupal 8. After which, using Drupal’s new model will relieve your development team or agency of needing to rebuild your website each time a major upgrade is required.
Ultimately, it’ll be one of the last times your budget will need to be diverted away from core marketing activities for anything more than a rebrand or redesign which is planned and dictated by you and your organisation.
Want to upgrade your website but don’t know where to start? Read Dan’s blog on how upgrading your Drupal website is Easy if it’s done smart.