Why Drupal 8 Is the Optimal Platform for Federal Websites

From the National Institutes on Health to the Commerce Department and the Department of Agriculture, Drupal 8 increasingly serves as the foundation for the government’s digital presence. Although WordPress and Joomla enjoy a similar level of flexibility and support, Drupal is more widely used in the federal government. Drupal’s ease of use, flexibility, and broad support have driven federal adoption, leaving other open source competitors such as Joomla and Wordpress in its wake.

There are a few reasons why:

  • Simple modules that provide efficient content management with NO licensing costs
  • Central management of critical infrastructure
  • Improved accessibility of web services from any device
  • High-grade security that protects personally identifiable information

We’ll consider each of these points closely.

Efficient Content Management with No Licensing Costs

Drupal 8 has several new features that increase efficiency for web content managers, as well as users of the website. Moreover, since Drupal is open source software, there are no licensing costs. Agencies are no longer locked into a single vendor — developers globally are constantly innovating and patching Drupal. Also, if you enhance Drupal, you have the option to contribute back to the community, giving you a voice in the future direction of Drupal.

One example that significantly helps content managers is the Quick Edit module, now built into Drupal 8 core. This module allows users to efficiently edit content directly from the content page — no need to switch to a separate administrative page, just click and edit.

Workflow has also been greatly improved in Drupal 8, with the content moderation module being built into Core. With this built-in functionality, users can easily create new custom workflows, track differences, compare revisions, and revert to previous versions. Now web content managers can move from site to site with minimal to zero additional training time. Using content modules, Drupal 8 has some simple techniques to assist non-technical editors in crafting an interactive experience. The new functionality of core modules allows for even more control over the appearance of content.

Check out how the new USDA.gov website sets a new standard for federal website design with improved workflow and editing functionality using Drupal 8.


Central Management of Many Sites

Even though agencies are separate, there is often one state or federal government IT entity managing groups of similar websites and services. Users appreciate a consistent experience, and Drupal 8 can help. For example, by deploying a multi-site configuration, an agency can run multiple sites (with similar features/functionality) under a single codebase. Of course, a multi-site configuration works best in an environment where each subsite has similar features, security requirements, and deployment timeline. Centralizing development under a multi-site configuration carries an additional cost-savings benefit. Reduced testing is needed to ensure elements deploy properly when they are updated, without the need to test on individual satellite sites.

Moreover, Drupal 8 has embraced Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) concepts, which adds benefits such as code reuse and encapsulation, allowing agencies to build more maintainable and structured code, resulting in reduced costs and time to launch.


Improved Accessibility

Today’s user is on-the-go and may be on her way to an office to seek assistance. Web services that allow her to access that information from her mobile device are becoming the standard user experience.

Drupal 8 is mobile friendly, which allows the government to catch up to enterprise with beautiful and responsive websites that function like dedicated applications. This functionality extends to forms, user account access, menus and navigation, and all the other site components that meet users’ needs on any device.

Discover how Drupal was leveraged to provide a seamless and accessible and fully responsive search interface for NIH’s Alzheimer Study Database.


High-Grade Security

Perhaps the most important reason that Drupal 8 continues to see extensive use in federal government is its high-grade security. Open Source is partially responsible for this improved security, but Drupal’s dedicated security team also provides responsible, timely updates that patch the vulnerabilities users uncover. Because new updates release quickly, and because websites are centrally managed, Drupal 8 users can quickly protect many websites with a simple patch.

Rapid deployment of secure patches, alongside continual testing, is the ideal environment for any security professional. Drupal also maintains a list of fundamental best practices teams can use to build their own security posture.


Final Thoughts

Drupal 8 represents the virtues of Open Source development: extensive development support and a source of new talent consisting of millions of active Drupal developers extending the platform. Additionally, Drupal is powerful enough to accommodate future development with minimal training for non-technical users. These features of Drupal 8 align strongly with the federal policy of achieving efficiency, transparency, and innovation through reusable and open source software.

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