27 - January - 2017

How Drupal 8 can help drive the self-service model

Post by Mike C

Local authorities are facing a tough and complex set of challenges. Budget cuts and rising demand for services are squeezing authorities at both ends and many councils are responding to these challenges decisively through digital transformation.

Placing people, citizens and employees, at the heart of digital self-service is the key to reducing costs, giving councils the freedom to innovate and be the best that they can be. Digitisation enables multi-channel services that drive further efficiency gains and improve citizen satisfaction.

Open Source content management systems play a key role in driving the development of self-service. Representing exceptionally good value for local government websites, Drupal has long been a strong choice for local authorities because it enables managers to think ahead when developing their strategies for digital transformation.

November marked the first year anniversary since the launch of the latest version of the world’s leading open source web content management platform, Drupal 8. The update made huge improvements to the developer experience but for busy local authority digital teams, wrapping your head around all the changes can be challenging but it doesn’t have to be.

Drupal has an enormous market share in government as well as the public sector in general. In the US, over 150 of the federal government sites are using Drupal, including the biggest sites like the White House and NASA.

With 12 months under Drupal 8’s belt, we are seeing many public sector organisations already recognise the impact and improvements that have been acquired from the technology update. But how exactly does it help to drive digital transformation and self-service?

Meeting public sector needs

Local authorities in the UK have a specific set of needs because they’re under pressure to make efficiency savings at the same time as meeting government targets for performance,

For starters, open source wins the financial argument because Drupal is free for download, use and share. The software spares users from expensive licensing fees and proprietary lock-in and as a result the saved costs can be reallocated to other departments and functionalities, adding value in other areas.

Drupal’s core functionality and open source roots provides public sector agencies with innovation, speed, scalability and flexibility. With Drupal, agencies can share and reuse code, reducing labour costs, and drastically accelerate the pace with which every agency can innovate

Upgrading the experience

Drupal 8 builds on the collective works of the Drupal community over the past four years, bringing 200 new improvements and features. What makes Drupal 8 so special in providing local authorities with the platform to innovate with self-service digitisation is some great new features that ship with the core.

1)      Improved authoring experience

Self-service requires content editors to quickly and easily build the web pages they need. If you’re responsible for creating or editing content, Drupal 8 makes your job easier. Site Builder and Administrator, for example, are now more user-friendly. Drupal 8 also has a built-in WYSIWYG and it's possible to conduct in-line editing simply by clicking the text on a page that you want to edit.

2)      Speed and scalability

Council web infrastructures need to be able to cope with heavy web traffic and potentially thousands of visitors at busy times. This could be certain times of the year, such as the start of the school year, when people need to find information quickly and easily. Drupal 8 is a system that scales well and is able to not only maintain but also increase its level of performance and efficiency over time. For websites hoping for traffic, it’s the best system to have on hand when success hits – perfect for local authority sites used as part of marketing campaigns which could attract thousands of visitors very quickly.

3)      Mobile compatibility

Drupal 8 has gone mobile all the way by making it easy to quickly create a site that works on mobile, build APIs that can be used for mobile apps, and edit content and images from any mobile device.

4)      Better localisation for multilingual websites

Local authorities need to be able to provide services to a wide range of communities and in multiple languages. Drupal 8 has new capabilities that can radically accelerate multilingual site development. With a singular module implemented into the core of Drupal 8, developers will no longer need to rifle through 28-30 modules to manage multilingual functions.

5)      Improved integration and accessibility

Drupal is architected for easy integration with existing marketing automation, email, and CRM tools.

Improvements to accessibility have also been made to both the admin interface and also to how users with special access requirements (such as screen readers) can interact with forms, such as sign-ins, or preferences.

Making the transition

Overall, Drupal 8 provides more of an integrated experience with the added benefits of enhanced accessibility, mobility, and editing features. The time and money saved by digital teams in local government could prove crucial as many organisations look to tighten their belts and drive their self-service capabilities. This involves driving residents to the council’s website for key information and services, including payments, housing, waste collection and transport information. It can also include enabling council’s to communicate directly through the website and social media to the residents when there is important news or urgent information.

Whether your site currently runs on an earlier version of Drupal, or a non-Drupal platform the above points are key considerations to evaluate Drupal 8 for your organisation.

The release of Drupal 8 officially marks the end of support for Drupal 6 and although Drupal 7 will continue to be supported at least until the release of Drupal 9, expected around the end of 2018, the fundamental changes in the new version make the case for migration convincing.

Profile picture for user Mike C

Mike C

Technical Director

12 years of Drupal development wrangling and a background in digital project architecture.

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