Is Drupal Replatforming worth it?

by | Feb 21, 2024 | Burning Questions

We’ll look into why businesses might choose Drupal over other CMS platforms. We’ll talk about the benefits of Drupal, how to go through the replatforming process, and how to pick the right CMS for your needs.

Businesses today are realising that they need a CMS that can grow and change with them, and Drupal fits the bill. It has many great features, can be customised extensively, and has a large community of developers working on it. That’s why it’s becoming more popular for big projects.

Imagine waking up one day to find out your competitor has made the big move to Drupal replatforming. This could really impact your business strategy as you start to wonder if you’re falling behind in the competitive market.

 

The Advantages of Drupal for Replatforming Projects

If your competitors are making the switch to Drupal, it’s worth exploring the reasons behind this strategic move. With an increasing number of businesses viewing Drupal as their preferred Content Management System (CMS), understanding the advantages of Drupal for replatforming can help you make informed decisions for your own business.

Suitability for Enterprise Projects

Drupal is a robust platform designed to accommodate large-scale, enterprise projects. It offers high flexibility and scalability, supporting the growth and expansion of your business. Unlike other CMS platforms that struggle to handle large volumes of content or traffic, Drupal ensures a seamless experience irrespective of scale.

A testament to Drupal’s enterprise suitability is the successful replatforming project carried out by Tesla, the leading electric vehicle manufacturer. Frustrated by the limitations and lack of innovation in WordPress, they moved to Drupal, enhancing their web presence significantly. This move allowed them to leverage advanced features unique to Drupal, such as custom content types and views, setting new standards for their digital experience.

Advanced Features and Robust Architecture

Drupal’s feature-rich nature sets it apart from other CMS platforms. It’s equipped with advanced functionalities like multi-language support, extensive API support, and superior content authoring capabilities – all out-of-the-box. This allows you to create rich, interactive experiences without needing additional plugins or extensions.

The robust architecture of Drupal ensures high performance and security. Its modular structure enables you to build and customise functionalities according to your specific needs. Also, it follows strict coding standards and best practices ensuring high-quality code which leads to less vulnerability.

Vibrant Community Support

One of the key Drupal replatforming benefits is its vibrant community support. With thousands of active contributors worldwide regularly maintaining and updating the platform, you can count on timely assistance when required.

For instance, during the Tesla replatforming project, the team received mentorship from Vijay Vijayasankar, the IBM cognitive shop manager, which greatly aided their transition process. The Drupal community offers invaluable resources and support to businesses navigating the replatforming journey.

Strategic Planning and Addressing Limitations

Replatforming to Drupal isn’t just about leveraging its benefits; it’s also an opportunity to address the limitations in your current CMS. Identifying these limitations is a critical part of strategic planning during replatforming.

During Tesla’s migration from WordPress, they encountered the challenge of migrating thousands of pieces of content across different types. By using Drupal’s customisation capabilities for content types and fields, they were able to handle this complex data structure successfully.

Here are some practical tips for enhancing functionality during your replatforming journey:

  • Perform a comprehensive content data audit before migration.
  • Plan your content entry carefully to avoid interrupting ongoing entry or accidental content loss.
  • Use step-by-step videos and demos for complex features to train your team on content authoring.
  • Identify the responsibilities of different teams (marketing, internal, vendors, legal) early in the project to reduce blockers.

Recognising the potential impact of competitors’ decisions to replatform can empower you to stay ahead in your industry. With Drupal’s advanced features, robust architecture, and vibrant community support, it stands as a powerful option for businesses looking for a platform that can scale with them.

Navigating the Replatforming Journey: A Step-by-Step Guide

Replatforming from one CMS to another can be a complex and challenging process. However, with careful planning and execution, businesses can navigate the Drupal replatforming process smoothly and achieve a successful transition from WordPress to Drupal. In this section, we will explore a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the replatforming journey effectively.

1. Assessment

The first stage of the replatforming process is the assessment phase. This involves evaluating your current CMS and identifying its limitations and shortcomings. It is crucial to have a clear understanding of why you are replatforming and what you hope to achieve with Drupal.

Actionable Steps:

  • Conduct a thorough analysis of your current CMS, including its functionality, performance, scalability, security, and ease of use.
  • Identify the specific pain points and limitations that are driving your decision to replatform.
  • Define your objectives for the replatforming project and set measurable goals.
  • Gather input from key stakeholders within your organisation to ensure alignment and support for the replatforming initiative.

2. Migration

Once you have completed the assessment stage and made the decision to replatform to Drupal, the next step is migration. This involves transferring your existing content, data, and functionality from your current CMS to Drupal.

Actionable Steps:

  • Develop a comprehensive content migration strategy that addresses all aspects of your content, including text, images, videos, metadata, and URLs.
  • Conduct a thorough content audit to identify any inconsistencies or issues that may affect the migration process.
  • Leverage tools and modules available in Drupal to simplify the migration process and ensure data integrity.
  • Perform quality assurance testing after the migration to verify that all content has been successfully migrated and is functioning as expected.

3. Development

Once your content has been migrated to Drupal, it’s time to focus on development. This stage involves building and customising your Drupal site to meet your specific requirements and objectives.

Actionable Steps:

  • Create a detailed development plan that outlines the features, functionality, and design elements you want to incorporate into your Drupal site.
  • Prioritise the development tasks based on their importance and impact on your business goals.
  • Adopt an agile project management approach, breaking down the development work into sprints or iterations.
  • Regularly communicate and collaborate with your development team to ensure progress and address any challenges that may arise.

4. Launch

The final stage of the replatforming journey is the launch phase. This is when you go live with your new Drupal site and make it available to your audience.

Actionable Steps:

  • Conduct thorough testing of your Drupal site to identify any issues or bugs that need to be resolved before the launch.
  • Develop a comprehensive launch plan that includes a timeline, communication strategy, and contingency plans.
  • Coordinate with all relevant stakeholders, including IT, marketing, and content teams, to ensure a smooth transition from your old CMS to Drupal.
  • Monitor the performance of your new Drupal site after the launch and address any issues or optimisations that may be required.

Balancing Feature Development and Content Creation

One of the unique challenges during the replatforming process is balancing feature development and content creation. It’s important to strike a balance between building new features and migrating existing content.

Tips for Effective Project Management:

  • Prioritise feature development based on business objectives and user needs.
  • Plan content entry carefully to avoid interruptions or accidental content loss during the replatforming process.
  • Provide training and support for content authors to familiarise them with Drupal’s authoring capabilities.
  • Maintain open lines of communication between the development team and content creators to ensure collaboration and coordination.

Choosing the Right Path: Selecting the Ideal CMS for Your Replatforming Needs

When you’re replatforming, it’s crucial to choose the right CMS. This decision affects what your website can do, how users interact with it, and how efficiently you can manage it. There are several options available, each with its own features and benefits. Let’s take a closer look at SaaS, Open Source, and Closed Source CMS to help you make an informed decision.

SaaS CMS

Software as a Service (SaaS) CMS platforms offer a hosted solution that’s maintained by a third party:

  • Subscription-based: Pay monthly fees, avoiding upfront costs or long-term contracts.
  • Maintenance-free: The provider handles updates, maintenance, and security.
  • Quick deployment: Set up your site swiftly due to pre-configured settings.

However, SaaS solutions can limit customisation due to their proprietary nature. If you prioritise out-of-the-box functionality and ease of use over deep customisation, a SaaS CMS could be the right fit.

Open Source CMS

Open Source CMS like Drupal are renowned for their flexibility:

  • Community-driven: A robust community actively maintains and develops new features.
  • Customisable: Modify the source code to tailor the platform to your specific needs.
  • Cost-effective: Typically free to download, with costs associated mainly with development and hosting.

Drupal shines in this category, especially for enterprise-class projects requiring extensive customisation and scalability. Yet, you should be prepared for potential security vulnerabilities and ensure regular updates and patches are applied.

Closed Source CMS

Closed Source or proprietary CMS platforms offer an environment controlled by the vendor:

  • Perceived security: Developed in a controlled setting which may offer enhanced security measures.
  • Vendor support: Access professional support directly from the software provider.
  • Exclusive features: Benefit from unique functionalities that might not be available in open-source platforms.

The trade-off here includes higher costs and less freedom to make changes compared to open-source solutions.

Key Capabilities and Criteria

Before making your selection, consider these criteria:

  • Scalability: Can the CMS grow with your business?
  • Security: How does the platform protect against potential threats?
  • Compliance: Does it meet legal requirements like GDPR?

Drupal stands out for enterprise projects because it offers:

  • High customisability with content types and fields tailored for complex sites.
  • Strong content migration capabilities suitable for handling thousands of pieces across different content types.

Remember that while cost is an important factor, it should not overshadow considerations about functionality fit, future-proofing your digital presence, or alignment with strategic goals.

As you discern between these paths for your replatforming journey, weigh each option against your project requirements. Drupal’s expansive capability set positions it as an excellent contender for organisations needing a robust architecture combined with a developer-friendly environment.

FAQs

Here are a few important questions that usually come to mind when running replatforming projects:

How much does Drupal replatforming typically cost?

The cost of Drupal replatforming can vary widely depending on various factors including the size and complexity of the website, the level of customisation required, the quality of data being migrated, and whether the website will be redesigned during the replatforming process. For small to medium-sized websites, the cost can range from a few thousand pounds to tens of thousands, while large-scale, complex websites can cost upwards of a hundred thousand pounds or more.

Several elements contribute to the overall cost:

  1. Planning and Analysis: Initial costs include thorough planning and analysis to determine the scope of the project.
  2. Development: Custom development work, such as creating new modules or themes, or adapting existing ones to fit the new platform’s requirements, can be a significant part of the cost.
  3. Data Migration: Migrating content and user data from the old site to the new platform can be complex and time-consuming, especially if there is a lot of content or the data structures are very different.
  4. Quality Assurance: Rigorous testing is essential to ensure that all aspects of the site work correctly on the new platform.
  5. Training: Training costs for staff to manage and maintain the new site should also be considered.

It’s important to get detailed quotes from experienced Drupal developers or agencies who can analyse the specific needs of the project to provide a realistic cost estimate.

What are the most common issues encountered during Drupal replatforming?

During Drupal replatforming, several common issues can arise:

  1. Data Loss: There is a risk of losing data during the migration process, particularly if the data structures between the old and new systems are not adequately mapped.
  2. Module Compatibility: Custom or contributed modules used in the original site may not be compatible with the new version of Drupal, requiring significant rework or replacement.
  3. Theme Conversion: Themes will often need to be rebuilt or substantially altered to work with the new Drupal version, which can be time-consuming.
  4. Performance Issues: New performance issues can emerge due to changes in how Drupal handles caching, querying, and other system operations.
  5. SEO Preservation: Care must be taken to maintain search engine rankings by preserving URL structures, or by implementing appropriate redirects and SEO strategies.

These issues can be mitigated with careful planning, expertise in Drupal development, and thorough testing throughout the process.

How does Drupal replatforming compare to migrating to another CMS?

Replatforming to a new version of Drupal is often smoother than migrating to a different CMS because of the continuity in core concepts and community support. However, it still involves significant challenges similar to any major platform change. When considering a migration to a different CMS, such as WordPress or Joomla, the challenges can include:

  1. Adapting to a completely different architecture and templating system.
  2. Learning new administrative interfaces and content management workflows.
  3. Finding equivalent functionality for Drupal-specific modules and features.
  4. Ensuring data compatibility and integrity during the migration process.

However, migrating to a different CMS might offer benefits such as a more user-friendly interface, better performance, or features that are more aligned with the organisation’s needs. Ultimately, the decision to stick with Drupal or move to another CMS should be based on a careful assessment of the organisation’s requirements, resources, and goals.

How do you approach a Drupal replatforming project?

Approaching a Drupal replatforming project involves several key steps:

  1. Assessment: Begin with a full assessment of the existing site to understand the content, structure, functionality, and any customisations.
  2. Requirement Gathering: Identify the needs and goals for the new platform, including any new features or improvements.
  3. Planning: Develop a detailed plan outlining the steps for the replatforming, including data migration, module updates or replacements, theme redesign, and testing strategies.
  4. Development: Execute the plan, developing and adapting the necessary components for the new Drupal platform.
  5. Testing: Conduct comprehensive testing to ensure all aspects of the site work correctly and that performance and security standards are met.
  6. Deployment: Prepare for a smooth launch of the new platform, including any necessary downtime and data backups.
  7. Training: Provide training to staff and stakeholders on how to use and maintain the new Drupal site.

Throughout the process, it’s crucial to maintain clear communication with all stakeholders and to manage expectations regarding timelines and costs.

What is the typical timeline for a Drupal replatforming project?

The timeline for a Drupal replatforming project can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the site and the scope of the project. However, a typical timeline might look like this:

PhaseDurationAssessment and Planning2-4 weeksDevelopment8-16 weeksTesting and Quality Assurance4-6 weeksDeployment and Go-Live1-2 weeksPost-Launch Support and Training2-4 weeks

It’s important to note that these are rough estimates and projects can take longer if unexpected issues arise or if the project is particularly large or complex. Adequate time should be allocated for each phase to ensure the project is completed successfully.

Ensuring a Smooth User Experience During Drupal Replatforming

The key to ensuring a smooth user experience during a Drupal replatforming project lies in meticulous planning and execution. Here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Understanding User Needs: Start by conducting user research to understand the needs and behaviours of your site’s users. This will help inform the design and functionality of the new platform.
  2. Keeping Users Informed: Communicate with your users throughout the process. Let them know what to expect and when, reducing frustration and confusion.
  3. Phased Rollout: Implement the new platform in stages, if possible. This allows for user feedback and adjustments before a full-scale launch.
  4. Testing: Perform thorough testing, including user acceptance testing, to ensure the new platform meets user needs and functions correctly.
  5. Training: Provide training, if necessary, to help users adapt to any new features or changes in the user interface.

What to Look for in a Drupal Development Agency for Replatforming

When selecting a Drupal development agency for replatforming, consider the following factors:

  1. Experience: Look for an agency with extensive experience in Drupal development and specifically in replatforming projects.
  2. Portfolio: Review the agency’s portfolio to gauge their expertise and the quality of their work.
  3. References: Ask for references from past clients to understand how the agency works and delivers.
  4. Support: Ensure the agency offers ongoing support and maintenance post-launch.
  5. Communication: Choose an agency that communicates clearly and effectively throughout the project.

Migrating Content During a Drupal Replatforming Process

Content migration is a critical part of replatforming. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Content Audit: Start by auditing your existing content to determine what needs to be migrated.
  2. Mapping: Map out how content will be transferred from the old platform to the new Drupal structure.
  3. Migration Tools: Utilise Drupal’s migration modules and tools to automate the process where possible.
  4. Manual Migration: For content that cannot be migrated automatically, plan for a manual process, ensuring accuracy and consistency.
  5. Testing: After migration, thoroughly test the content to ensure it has been moved correctly and works as expected.

Security Considerations When Replatforming to Drupal

Security should be a top priority when replatforming to Drupal. Consider the following:

  1. Security Audits: Conduct security audits before and after the migration to identify and address vulnerabilities.
  2. Update and Patch: Ensure that the Drupal core and all modules are up to date with the latest security patches.
  3. Secure Configuration: Configure Drupal settings and server configurations to adhere to best security practices.
  4. User Permissions: Review and set user permissions carefully to prevent unauthorised access.
  5. Data Protection: Implement measures to protect sensitive data during and after the migration process.

Improving Website Performance and Speed with Drupal Replatforming

Replatforming to Drupal can significantly improve your website’s performance and speed if done correctly. Here are some ways it can help:

  1. Caching: Drupal has robust caching mechanisms to speed up page load times.
  2. Optimisation: The platform allows for performance optimisation through various modules and settings.
  3. Mobile Responsiveness: Drupal’s themes are designed to be mobile-responsive, which can improve performance on mobile devices.
  4. Scalability: Drupal is highly scalable, which means it can handle increased traffic without compromising on speed.
  5. Modern Technologies: Drupal supports modern technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript, which can contribute to faster and more efficient websites.

How do I maintain SEO rankings during Drupal replatforming?

Maintaining SEO rankings during a Drupal replatforming process requires careful planning and execution. The goal is to ensure search engines can still find your content and that any changes to the structure or URLs do not negatively impact your site’s visibility and ranking. Here are some best practices:

  1. 301 Redirects: Implement permanent 301 redirects for all changed URLs. This tells search engines that the content has moved permanently, transferring the majority of the link equity to the new URLs.
  2. URL Structure: Preserve your URL structure as much as possible. If changes are necessary, ensure they are logical, SEO-friendly, and consistent.
  3. Update Internal Links: Check and update all internal links to reflect the new URL structure to prevent broken links and ensure a good user experience.
  4. Content Preservation: Keep all valuable, high-ranking content and ensure it’s migrated properly. Any improvements to content should be made with SEO in mind.
  5. Metadata: Ensure that all pages have the correct meta titles and descriptions post-migration, as these are critical for SEO.
  6. XML Sitemaps: Generate and submit new XML sitemaps to search engines immediately after the migration to help them index the new site structure.
  7. Robots.txt: Update the robots.txt file to ensure search engines can crawl your site without issues.
  8. Monitor Traffic and Rankings: Use tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to monitor traffic and rankings after the migration. This will help you identify and resolve any issues quickly.

What are the best practices for testing a site post-Drupal replatforming?

Post-Drupal replatforming, testing the site thoroughly is crucial to ensure everything functions as expected. The following best practices should guide your testing strategy:

  1. Functional Testing: Verify that all features of the site are working correctly, including forms, search functionality, and e-commerce capabilities if applicable.
  2. User Experience Testing: Ensure the site is user-friendly, with intuitive navigation and that it meets accessibility standards.
  3. Performance Testing: Test the site’s load times and responsiveness. Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights can provide valuable feedback on performance issues.
  4. Security Testing: Check for vulnerabilities and ensure that all user data is handled securely.
  5. Cross-Browser and Device Testing: Make sure the site is compatible with various browsers and devices.
  6. SEO Testing: Review SEO elements like metadata, headings, and keyword optimisation to ensure they meet best practices.
  7. Content Verification: Check that all content has been migrated correctly and that there are no issues with formatting or missing elements.

How does Drupal replatforming facilitate better content management?

Drupal is known for its robust content management capabilities, and replatforming can enhance these further. Replatforming can facilitate better content management in the following ways:

  1. Improved Content Architecture: Drupal allows for a more organised content structure, which can be customised during replatforming to better suit your needs.
  2. Enhanced User Experience: A new Drupal platform can offer a more intuitive content management interface, making it easier for content creators to manage and publish content.
  3. Scalability: Drupal platforms can be scaled to accommodate growing amounts of content and users, ensuring your site remains efficient as it expands.
  4. Accessibility: Drupal complies with accessibility standards, ensuring content is available to all users, including those with disabilities.
  5. Security: Replatforming to the latest version of Drupal can improve security, protecting your content from potential threats.
  6. Integration Capabilities: Drupal’s extensive API support allows it to integrate with a variety of third-party services and tools, streamlining content management workflows.

How do I budget for unexpected costs during Drupal replatforming?

Budgeting for unexpected costs is an important part of any Drupal replatforming project. To prepare for unforeseen expenses, consider the following:

  1. Risk Assessment: Conduct a thorough risk assessment at the start of the project to identify potential areas where costs could overrun.
  2. Contingency Fund: Set aside a contingency fund, typically around 10-20% of the total project budget, to cover unexpected costs.
  3. Regular Reviews: Schedule regular budget reviews throughout the project to monitor spend and adjust the budget if necessary.
  4. Vendor Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with your vendors or development team to quickly identify and address any issues that could impact the budget.
  5. Scope Management: Be vigilant about scope creep, as additional features or changes can quickly increase costs.

Conclusion

Embrace the future. Drupal replatforming presents a wealth of opportunities for your enterprise. It’s an initiative that offers scalability, advanced features, and robust architecture. Your competitors might have already taken this massive step. Don’t be left behind.

Gisele Blair famously said, “Perfection is achieved when there is nothing left to take away.” This encapsulates the essence of Drupal replatforming – it’s about refining, enhancing, and optimising your CMS to its ultimate form.

Consider your current CMS. Does it meet all your requirements? Is it providing the flexibility and innovation you need? If not, then a switch to Drupal might just be the game-changer you need.

But remember, replatforming is not a decision to be made lightly. It requires comprehensive planning and strategic decision-making. Be sure to consider different perspectives and explore all potential avenues before making a commitment.

You’re not alone in this journey. There are abundant resources available for guidance. From detailed articles on Drupal Enterprise Marketing Web Strategy to informative newsletters offering regular updates in the field, assistance is readily available.

So gear up and get ready to embrace the exciting potential of Drupal replatforming!

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