In 2012 we wrote a blog post about why many of the biggest government websites were turning to Drupal. The fact is, an overwhelming number of government organizations, from state and local branches to federal agencies, have chosen to build their digital presence with Drupal, and government at-large continue to adopt Drupal as the content management system of choice. What is it about Drupal that keeps government committed to the platform? And how has Drupal evolved to help government agencies better serve their constituents?
For digital government decision-makers, there are many reasons to choose and stick with Drupal, including:
Increased content publishing efficiencies
Flexible and consistent UX
Centralized management of many sites
No licensing fees, lower operational maintenance costs
Let’s look at how these Drupal capabilities are helping government agencies evolve today.
Increased Administrative Efficiencies and Consistent User Experience
In large organizations, interdepartmental collaboration obstacles often translate into inefficient content publishing practices. This is even more compounded when content editors need a developer in the loop to help them make changes. When these hurdles aren’t properly navigated, citizens suffer by not being able to gain easy access to the most relevant and up-to-date information.
Over the years, Drupal has evolved to be more flexible and accommodating for non-technical content admins, providing a highly customizable and user-friendly administration dashboard. Drupal empowers government content admins to design content independent of developers with modules like Paragraphs, which lets content admins rearrange page layouts without code adjustments while enforcing consistency across agency sites.
To effectively serve the public, government websites must be accessible to an extremely large and diverse audience. At times, this audience may require accommodations for physical disabilities, an array of devices, and multiple languages. With its diverse, worldwide community of contributors, Drupal facilitates meeting accessibility needs on a number of fronts.
Flexible and fully customizable theming makes it possible for Drupal sites to meet Section 508 and WCAG accessibility requirements. Responsive base themes are readily available to give themers a strong foundation for ensuring compatibility with a wide range of access devices. And internationalization is at the cornerstone of Drupal 8 to provide multilingual functionality.
These accessibility features are helping government agencies create a user friendly experience for everyone, and ultimately pushing digital government to follow user-centric, design best practices.
Centralized Management of Many Sites
Government agencies are comprised of many offices, each of which requires its own digital presence, content, and architecture. Creating and managing a centralized, consistent experience for constituents across offices and devices can be tricky.
Drupal allows government to develop a platform that runs all sites off of a single codebase, providing better consistency, streamlined maintenance, and facilitating easier content sharing between sites. Editors from one centralized government office can easily publish and push content to multiple sites.
Editors can also quickly create new microsites without seeking developer assistance. This gives them greater agility in posting timely, relevant content for their visitors across many different digital spaces.
In order to truly evolve, government agencies need to allocate funds to the projects and teams that benefit their constituents, not to hosting services and site customization.
As an open source platform Drupal does not incur any licensing costs. While a large implementation can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars just to have the right to use proprietary software, Drupal’s community-developed software is free, saving government millions.
Drupal is also fully customizable from the get go—not only when it comes to features and what site visitors see, but also with regard to editor tools, workflows, user roles and permissions, and more. This means the money that would go towards customization projects is freed up for more appropriate use.
While government agencies have historically been wary of using open source software, with the adoption of Drupal by leading federal agencies like the White House, Department of Energy, and U.S Patent and Trade Office, most of the security myths around open source software were extinguished.
Drupal’s collaborative, open source development model gives it an edge when it comes to security. Throngs of Drupal developers around the globe ensure a constant process of testing, reviews, and alerts which ensure detection and eradication of potential security vulnerabilities. Since thousands of developers dedicate their time and talents to finding and fixing security issues, Drupal can respond very quickly when problems are found. With Drupal 8, there are even more ways the Drupal community has taken action to make this software secure and evolve to respond to new types of attacks.
Government managers considering Drupal, or current government users contemplating a migration to Drupal 8, should consider these benefits and how Drupal is helping digital government evolve to be a more efficient, user-friendly, and accessible environment for constituents. For more information on how to use Drupal to increase efficiency and lower costs in government agencies, take a look at the work Phase2 has done with leading government agencies.