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7 reasons why you must insist on Drupal

About a month ago, I had the opportunity to present at Internet World London, why I believe that Drupal is the best Open Source solution to build professional level websites, e-shops or online applications and why you should dig in it and do your own research about it.

The speech is in English. You can enable the English or Greek subtitles by clicking the captions button or read the transcript below.

Presentation Transcript

Hello everybody, my name is Yannis Karampelas. I'm the owner and founder of Netstudio.

Netstudio is a Web Design and Web development company in Athens, Greece. I am Greek and this is the first time I give a presentation in English, so if what I say, sounds Greek to you, feel free to interrupt me and ask questions.

I started Netstudio 8 years ago and Netstudio got reputable in Greece for being able to tackle advanced online e-commerce sites, regular sites and online applications.

We got to a point where our development and design team got to build really big sites for Greece's standards.

So, about three years ago I thought that I should find a platform to base our work. Because until then everything we did was based on Joomla which is a free and Open Source CMS.

So, about three years ago I started researching my options in the Open Source field again and I started researching the CMS's. I got to see some of them, but what got my attention finally was Drupal.

The Drupal CMS is Open Source and free and the more I was researching about that, the more I got excited about the opportunity that lied beyond me,  because I had the experience what our clients wanted to do for them and I knew the constraints I had till then using Joomla and I got excited about the power I saw in the Drupal framework and the Drupal CMS.

So, I'm here today to describe to you the 7 reasons I think you should research Drupal and find out if it is the best choice for your site, your online shop or your online application.

So, let's start.

Reason Number 1

The number one reason that got my attention is that Drupal is really flexible.

Back when we used to use the Joomla CMS, it was very usual for clients to ask us to do things that we could not do not because we weren't good enough developers, but because the CMS did not allow us to do these things.

For example, when a client asked us to add a new field to his website, either we could not do it or we had to use external components like the K2 component or JReviews or another CCK component to build their website. But that was not always sleek and easy to do because sometimes these requirements came after the site was live, so it was not so easy to alter the structure of it.

On the other hand, Drupal has an inherent, in core Content Construction Kit that allows you to build your own Content Types with your own fields. Content Types are data sets of fields. For example, Joomla had only one content type, the Article Content Type, where you had the opportunity to input the Title of the Article, the Body of the Article, the Publishing Date and some other details. In Drupal, you can build your own content types and have as many fields as you like in them and you can add more fields even after your site goes live. So, for example, if you build your online shop on Drupal and at some point you think that you should charge shipping fees based on the weight of the products, it is very easy to add a new field to the product content type called weight and input there the weight of the products.

What accompanies most of the Drupal sites is an external module called Views. The Views module is the most famous one in the Drupal world because allows you to grab data from your database that you have build your own content types and build your web pages the way you want. So, it's not so clear here, but with the Views module, you can select the fields that you want, set your filter criteria and your sort criteria and build your web page the way you want to appear to your visitors. This is very powerful, so in the upcoming release of Drupal, which comes by the end of this year, the Views module will be inherent in the core of Drupal. Essentially, the Views module is an SQL Query Builder that allows someone who is not a coder to build the queries and get the data from the database and show them the way he wants to the visitors.

Another cool feature is that in Drupal you can have set of users which users have roles and each role can have its own permissions. So, you can set as many roles as you like for your site and allow them to do whatever you like them to be able to do. For example, you can build an ecommerce site and have some users have access to your wholesale prices because they are your wholesale customers. This is again something that you can do with a graphical user interface and most of the time you won't need developer help.

Another advanced and very nice feature of Drupal, is the Rules module which allows you to build our own custom workflows. For example you can tell Drupal to send a text message to the mobiles of your customers whenever they place an order. Again, using a practical user interface, you can build this rule and be able to customize it the way you need. To say the truth, some of these things need more reading and more advanced digging in the system and you might select to have your developer or your agency to build it for your, but after they build it for you, it is very easy for you to customize it and tweak it and make it work the way you want it to work.

Reason Number 2

The number two reason that I believe Drupal is a very good CMS, is that Drupal is search engines friendly. This is something very important for your sites and for the sites of our clients. So, when I started researching the Drupal CMS, I checked if it performs ok with the search engines. What I found out was that the Drupal community had built numerous modules that tackled this with paramount importance matter.

There are a lot of modules that help your site rank better, I could talk a lot of time about them, but I will talk only about Pathauto, which allows you to build the URL structure the way you want. So, for example, when you build a site with Drupal, you can put the articles of this site in the articles folder and have each article have its article in the URL. This is very important for search engines, but also usabilitywise for users because users look at the URL of your site and try to orientate themselves and understand in which place of your site they are. What we found out after migrating a lot of site from Joomla to Drupal and from proprietary systems to Drupal, was that right after we migrated them to the Drupal CMS, they had better rankings in Google. Here is an example about a Greek website where after we migrated to the Drupal CMS, we had almost 40% percent increase in search rankings and visits from Organic results. What we use to say is that Google does love Drupal.

Reason Number 3

Drupal is reliable and some of the biggest sites in the World use it. I got impressed when I started researching about Drupal that I found out that some of the biggest sites, like the US White House runs on Drupal. Or MTV UK. The Louvre Museum. The Economist. The Grammy Awards site. ING US. Examiner. So, I thought that if these organizations depend on Drupal, then it might be ok for my clients and I could trust it as well. Here you see the growth that the most famous Open Source CMS's have at this time. As you see, last year, Drupal had over 20% growth in its usage. Currently, over 1 million sites run on Drupal.

Reason Number 4

Drupal is secure. Vendors of proprietary systems have an argument against Open Source systems saying that since they are Open Source, everybody could look at their code, scan the code and find vulnerabilities. This is true for other CMS's, but not for Drupal. Because Drupal has taken security very seriously and has formed a team of security professionals who actively seek and patch vulnerabilities in the system. Because they know that this system is used among the biggest sites in the world. And to tell you the truth, I have seen many WordPress and Joomla sites hacked, but we had never a Drupal site hacked, at least yet.

Reason Number 5

Drupal has an active community. Why is that important for you? Because almost one million people work to make this CMS better and they are there to help you either for free via the IRC channels or in the forums, or in a paid basis. So, it is very easy for you to find good developers, good development agencies and you are free to work with anybody you like and change agency or developer whenever you like. Also, there are over 20.000 modules that are ready for you to use for free and extend the capabilities of your site.

Here you see some pictures of some of the Drupal Cons, the Drupal Conferences that are organized around the year and you can be in these conferences. The Drupal Cons are twice a year, but there are monthly smaller conferences, the Drupal Camps and the Drupal Meetups that you can attend and see the vibrance and the kind of people that are here to help. This is from Munich.

At Netstudio we have built a lot of modules on Drupal and actually two Drupal distributions. Drupal distributions are sets of Drupal setups that you can get, install on your site and have ready and running in some minutes. We have built the Open Deals Drupal distribution, which is "Groupon out of the box", you get it, you install it and your site is ready, and most of all, it's free.

Reason Number 6

Drupal is innovative. The Drupal community is very active incorporating every new technology in Drupal. So, it was Drupal that had the first responsive themes, that I will show you later, it was Drupal that started implementing inline editing, which is a technology that will be ready in the next months and will be in the current Drupal 7 for you to use and also in the upcoming Drupal 8, which allows you to edit the content of your site, without having to go to the admin panel. From the front-end, where you visit your site, whenever you see a mistake, or a typo or anything, you can click edit and you can change everything live.

Also, the are antispam mechanisms like Mollom, which I would suggest you take a look, they are very advanced and not annoying to the users.

Faceted Search is a new technology about searching, where you can use multiple Ajax filters to pinpoint what you want to find, and I will show you an example later.

And Symfony2 is the next big thing about Drupal. Symfony2 is a PHP framework developed by another community, that now gets in Drupal 8 and in a kind merges these communities and things will go faster.

Here you can see our site built on Drupal how responds to different screen sizes. This is responsive design.

And here you can see an online shop where we have built Faceted Search on Drupal where you can click and with 2-3 clicks, you can find what you want among thousands of products. In fact, we have built an external module on top of the Faceted Search API of Drupal, called Findastic, which is very fast and very advanced.

Reason Number 7

Finally, Drupal is free and Open Source and you can download it today and try it and see what you can do with that. You can choose anybody to work on your site, you don't have to pay any licenses, or any fees, you only pay for development and design time.

So, for me Drupal is the perfect system. Have I researched every system there is? No. But from what I've seen is the best choice and I'll be glad to talk to everybody of you and see if it's a good choice for you as well. Thank you very much.

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Χρυσάνθη Έλενα
Θερμά συγχαρητήρια! Σαφήνεια και καινοτομία. Εύχομαι σύντομα να μπορέσω και εγώ να συμπεριληφθώ στους πελάτες σας. Ξεκίνησα και εγώ τις "Εκδόσεις Διόνυσος-Dionisos Publications" πριν 8 χρόνια. Πάντα επιτυχίες.

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