Drupal developers understand that change is inevitable, and good. The ever-evolving open-source Drupal platform has undergone countless changes in the 18 years since it began as Dries Buytaert’s personal message board project, making strides in efficiency, customization, and accessibility through 8 major core version releases. Today, Drupal is a well-known, high-tech website building platform relied upon by businesses, colleges, and governments across the globe.
Drupal 6 announced Drupal to the mass market as a reliable and versatile content management platform. Drupal 7 streamlined much of what was popular and successful about d6 and made it more scalable for large and complex projects. Not satisfied to rest on its laurels, the open source community behind Drupal 8 aimed for a more transformational rethink of where web development, content management and user experience was pointing, and laying the foundation to take advantage of better ways and best practices to keep Drupal competitive and cutting edge.
Drupal 8 is significantly different from d7, and when it officially released in 2015, many of the ancillary non-core modules weren’t totally ready. Shared community knowledge of how to successfully transition to d8 from d7 was also just underway. Now, in 2019, the supporting d8 ecosystem is more mature, and for many companies, the time is right to port their site from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.
The transition to Drupal 8 will be seamless for some companies, but others will have to work diligently to take on the ambitious task. The Drupal community assures that the switch will be worth the effort, due to the unbeatable new features in Drupal 8.
Entermedia’s Drupal developer team has been building professional Drupal websites since Drupal 6. We’ve migrated sites from d6 to d7, from d7 to d8, and now we are anticipating the improvements to come with Drupal 9.
We’ve created a primer to help you get a better picture of the benefits Drupal 8 has to offer. Let’s take a look.
1. Drupal 8 Can Make Your Site Faster
Don’t we all hate a slow website? But we all love content-rich pages. Herein lies the rub: media, fonts, graphics, etc take a certain amount of time to load…though they can and should be loaded as efficiently as possible. Drupal 8 makes caching (site optimization process that stores web data) easier and smarter. When site information is cached, the server doesn’t have to reconstruct the page each time it is visited. D8 features tools and modules specifically designed to cache page and image information, allowing for faster loading speeds.
Drupal 8’s caching modules are designed to quickly and effectively:
- Group files
- Compress information
- Reduce web server load
- Retrieve information from within Drupal 8’s database
- Move standard caches out of Drupal 8’s database
With Drupal 8’s optimized caching tools, Entermedia’s Drupal developer team can improve your site’s user experience and SEO performance.
2. Save Your Precious Time With Drupal 8
Time is money. Unfortunately, building a site and managing content can be time-consuming tasks. To facilitate more efficient site creation and content maintenance, D8’s scripting language has moved into the future with PHP (a widely used scripting language that is suited for web development).
Drupal 8 uses PHP to:
- Automate processes that make static websites dynamic and responsive to user actions
- Easily render and program HTML
- Efficiently manage content by incorporating conditional statements into its script
With Drupal 8, your site and its content will go live faster than ever before.
3. Build User Trust In Your Brand
Changing your site in reaction to user feedback is crucial when attempting to build trust in your brand. You need to respond to evolving demands and you need to do it fast.
In a live site, messing with config settings (generally used in web development to determine how your site looks and behaves for the user) is risky and can potentially undo a lot of hard work.
Drupal 8’s new system stores configuration data in a central place and makes it easier to move changes from pre-production into a live site. These tools make site maintenance breezier, too. Drupal 8 makes it easier and safer to seamlessly launch production-ready data. Your site can transform fluidly with user needs as they arise.
4. Improve Your Site’s Security With Drupal 8’s Specialized Modules
Drupal 8 prioritizes security innovations. Drupal is well respected for its strong security out of the box, but its numerous modules can provide even more watertight protection.
Drupal 8 offers security modules designed to:
- Fortify the login process
- Block IP addresses
- Send alerts in response to potential attacks
- Integrate captchas to keep spammers and bots away
- Ensure users create strong passwords
- Limit the number of sessions per user
5. Drupal 8 Increases Your Site’s Accessibility
Drupal 8 has made a commitment to making your website accessible to users with disabilities. In accordance with website ADA compliance, D8 offers:
- Flexible font sizes
- Color contrast
- Meaningful code that allows assistive technology to convey information to a user with disabilities, such as:
- Semantic HTML5, or clearly labeled HTML elements (as opposed to non-descriptive)
- More WAI-ARIA practices, a set of semantic HTML describing the roles, properties, and current state of elements on the page
Even complex, dynamic aspects of your site can and should be available to users with disabilities.
6. Make Your Site More SEO-Friendly
According to Google, 4 out of 5 users begin an online experience by using a search engine. Drupal 8 offers an easier, more straightforward way to create custom views, lists, and content that search engines love.
Additionally, Drupal 8’s SEO-friendly modules help you to:
- Easily create descriptive URL path/aliases
- Implement structural metadata
- Redirect traffic from old URLs
- Configure Google Analytics
- Analyze your site for current SEO performance
With great content and a highly customized presentation, your SERP ranking can be a valuable tool that attracts qualified users to your site.
7. Display Your Drupal 8 Site Elegantly on Every Device
Being unable to access the information you need while on the go is a major disappointment. It is estimated that around 77% of US consumers own smartphones and 53% own tablets, with these numbers growing each year. It’s hard to ignore the increasing demand for mobile and tablet-friendly sites.
A fast, artfully designed mobile site can:
- Boost your site’s visibility
- Enhance user experience
- Make it convenient for customers to call
- Improve SERP rankings
Drupal 8 offers modules that can detect the type of device being used and elegantly adapt the form and functionality of your site for the user.
8. Take Your Site Global
Throughout it’s ever evolving history, Drupal has cited the global diversity of its community of creators as one of its strongest assets. It comes as no surprise that Drupal 8 continues to deliver on this strength, allowing easy operation of a multilingual site.
Your site’s users will have access to dozens of languages that benefit from D8’s improved means of content translation. In addition to romance languages such as Spanish, Portugese, French, Italian, and Romanian, languages include:
- Norwegian Bokmål
- …and more
Having a multilingual site is a cost effective way to expand your business offering to a wider audience.
TL;DR: With the help of Drupal 8’s new features, a Drupal developer can make your site faster, more accessible, and extend your reach in an efficient and cost-effective manner. If you’re still hesitant to leave Drupal 7 behind, consider this breakdown:
- Change is inevitable. Drupal 9 is being constructed in Drupal 8 and will be backwards compatible. The sooner you make the switch to D8, the easier it will be to transition to D9.
- Speed: Nobody has time for a slow website. With Drupal 8’s tools and modules designed to improve caching (site optimization process that stores web data), your site will load faster.
- Trust: Don’t tell your audience you’re listening — show them. Drupal 8 allows you to easily keep your site updated to promptly respond to users’ evolving needs.
- Security: Drupal 7’s end of life announcement will likely coincide with the official release of Drupal 9, at which time Drupal 7 will no longer be supported by a security team, leaving bugs and security vulnerabilities unmaintained.
- A 2018 study shows that over half of hacked sites using Drupal were operating under outdated versions.
- Accessibility: Is your website excluding users with disabilities? Drupal 8 works to help you achieve ADA website compliance.
- In 2018, the number of federal website accessibility lawsuits nearly tripled.
- SEO: According to Google, 4 out of 5 users begin an online experience by using a search engine. Drupal 8 instantly improves your site’s SEO performance with custom views, lists, and content that search engines love.
- Mobile-friendly: Drupal 8 caters to the growing number of US consumers who use smartphones and tablets by making your site available on any screen, anywhere.
- Global: Drupal 8’s updated means of content translation expands your reach worldwide.
Entermedia has overseen several Drupal transitions and is poised and ready for whatever future improvements the maturing Drupal project has to offer. If you’re on the fence about transitioning from d7 to d8, we’re here to walk you through it. Entermedia’s Drupal developer team can use Drupal 8 to build and manage your site with an expert eye on efficient performance, sharp design, SEO, and improved security. Get in touch today!