5 Tips for Higher Ed Websites to Get the Most Value From Drupal
Proper implementation is essential for effective use of Drupal
- Keep it consistent: Make the UI experience for users and editors predictable with reusable themes and modules.
- Set limits but also offer flexibility: Create content fields for accessibility and consistency but offer tools that allow for creative flexibility.
- Apply governance: Use a simple workflow, provide the right tools, and train editors and users.
- Scaling is easy: You can start small and go big over time with Drupal’s flexibility and robust source code.
It’s no secret why Drupal is the most popular CMS among larger universities – you can create powerful higher education websites that include forums, image libraries, blogs, RSS feeds, e-commerce, and more. Not only that, but Drupal.org and many other websites offer free, downloadable modules and themes to add features and tailor the look and feel of your website.
By using Drupal, educational institutions share a common web platform among all sites, unifying the communications experience while accommodating differences in communication needs, staff, workflows, terminology, and voice.
More than 27% of universities with over 6,400 students use Drupal for their content management, including Stanford, MIT, University of Oxford, and every Ivy League school. This is due to Drupal’s flexibility, scalability and security, but getting the most value from Drupal requires proper implementation.
5 ways to make the most of Drupal
1. Start small
Rather than begin with a home page or really important campus website, start your Drupal journey with something smaller that, once perfected, can become a prototype you can use to build out the balance of your websites. When scheduling, be sure to leave time to make adjustments based on user and other stakeholder feedback.
2. Create a consistent experience
Don’t confuse users and content editors with wildly disparate themes and confusing user interfaces (UI). Create a predictable and user-friendly experience with reusable themes and modules and keep your UI consistent.
However, rather than building a template that robs departments, faculty, and research groups of their individuality, offer options they can use and adapt. Layout Builder lets content editors and site builders customize their web presence by creating visual layouts that personalize the arrangement of content on a page, across types of content, and on custom landing pages. The Paragraphs module puts even more editing power in the hands of your end-users.
Develop a set of approved modules that can be shared across campus. This should include a small set of custom modules to make consistent pages easy while providing the needed abilities for customization.
3. Offer flexibility, but build in limitations
Flexible tools are great, but not to the extent that they are detrimental to the overall operation of a large platform. Create predefined, structured content fields for links, text, and images to facilitate content accessibility and consistency. Editors will still have flexibility, but they will have the built-in direction to keep all the sites consistent and high-quality.
Again, Layout Builder and Paragraphs shine when it comes to maintaining consistency while empowering creativity.
4. Get involved in the Drupal Community
At least one member of your team should engage with the Drupal Community, a group of over 100,000 users who share their knowledge and ideas to improve Drupal software, translations, and documentation.
It’s an opportunity to practice and improve your skills, no matter what the discipline, from technical to creative. You can also find mentors and teach others while meeting people from around the globe who have similar personal interests.
And because Drupal is open source, all of your work can be taken anywhere to demonstrate your skillset.
5. Implement content governance
All projects need policies, documentation, and training to be successful. By offering tools like Layout Builder and Paragraphs, content editors will have a simplified experience and governance is made easy.
Facilitate this with simple workflows, use real content to test the structure, develop a content style guide, and use tools that provide actionable insights.
Drupal’s offers flexibility now and for the future
One huge advantage of Drupal is that it is free and open-source. This means you can use it to craft a simple website or a complex system of sites, depending on your changing needs.
- It’s easy to scale up: Modules let you extend your Drupal core, and if the module you want doesn’t exist, you can create one or edit an existing module to meet your needs.
- It’s reliable: Previous versions are supported, and documentation for all versions is kept permanently.
- Robust source code: The robust, open-source code makes modifications for complex and advanced work are easy.
- Flexibility: This means you can customize functions and content to create your desired look and feel.
In addition, Drupal is both accessible and multilingual, which helps you to reach your current audience and those in the future.
Realize the Full Potential of Drupal With KWALL
You can count on KWALL to support the development of your higher ed website, help you implement a CMS, and support you while you use it. We can also help you create a maintenance and support plan that works, so you can focus on creating and managing great content through the content management system.