Future-Proofing Your Content with Drupal 8
I’ve had a number of conversations with potential clients about upgrading their websites to Drupal 8, and an interesting trend has been popping up. On several occasions, I’ve heard that the companies I’m speaking with are hesitant to go through an upgrade because of the costs that come with it.
I understand that reservation, particularly because an upgrade to Drupal 8 requires a full-on redesign to fully maximize the platform’s potential. That being said, I think the advantages certainly outweigh the cost (I also know it’s easy for me to say that since it’s not my money).
Photo by Anika Huizinga
There are a number of reasons why I think it makes sense to upgrade, but perhaps the best reason is that it allows you to future-proof your content. By future proofing, here is what I mean:
Make content machine consumable
This should not be surprising, but whenever possible, users prefer personalized, customized content. This study on content personalization found that 80% of respondents believe it’s more effective to provide personalized content to consumers — and that stat is actually two years old.
I’ve found that while many businesses understand the need for customized content, few truly understand how to implement it into their overall content strategy. In many instances, the secret lies in artificial intelligence or machine-generated content. Those terms may sound scary, but they don’t need to be — in fact, key components of Drupal 8 make it relatively easy for your content to be machine consumable.
Without getting into too much detail, machines are able to read your content by reviewing your website’s metadata. A metadata structure is a controlled set of tags that let outside users and programs automatically consume and repackage your information. This metadata structure — also known as schemas — can provide context to the content of a page. That means that when search engines view your page, they are not just regurgitating your content but serving it up with additional guidance or relevant information.
Search engines like Google rely on schemas to present that information to search users in a more dynamic way, such as the popular search cards. Eligibility for this prominent display position is limited to sites that use Schema.org metadata tagging.
You guessed it: Drupal 8 uses Schema.org tagging.
Share content beyond a screen
Until recently, when you thought about sharing content with your audience, you were only thinking about a screen. It's time for that thinking to change!
Voice assisted devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo (Alexa) are disrupting the digital landscape as we know it. In the past, when you considered providing content to your audience, you didn’t have to spend much time delving on the logistics of the platform, because you knew it would appear on a screen — a desktop computer, a tablet, a smartphone, a television, etc. Today, though, you have to think about how your content is produced on products that are screenless.
Voice assisted devices — including screen readers — need to be able to understand what your content is. We help our clients make that possible by leveraging metadata structures like Opengraph and Schema.org to help clarify what information is being presented. Just like was mentioned above, this type of behind-the-scenes info makes it possible to control how your content is shared outside of your site, be it on a smartwatch, a screen reader or even on Google Home.
Make this your last redesign
OK, so I know I mentioned in the beginning that people I spoke with were hesitant to go through a redesign because of the associated costs. Here’s the silver lining, though. Thanks to several changes in how Drupal rolls out content, the switch to Drupal 8 should be the last time you need to completely overhaul your website.
Sure, you may to change the look of certain elements or update your site with new photos, but structurally speaking, your site should not need a rebuild once you have Drupal 8.
In addition, Drupal has changed its migration path to provide semi-annual updates to Drupal core and monthly security fixes. This means your site can always remain current. And then, when Drupal 9 comes out, instead of needing to build something from scratch because of all the new technical updates and changes, your product will already be as up-to-date as can be, making the upgrade to Drupal 9 far less painful. That saves time. That saves energy. And that saves money.
Are you thinking you might be ready to switch to Drupal 8? If so, or if you have any questions about the newest version of Drupal 8, please don’t hesitate to let me know.