Drupal Content Management System Review

Selecting the right CMS solution for your nonprofit organization - Drupal

Drupal is one of the most comprehensive open source Content Management Systems (CMS) available today. Drupal was developed and is still maintained collaboratively by members of the global Drupal community. Free to install and use, Drupal provides the framework to create, update, and organize very complex website content and functionality. For nonprofits that need a powerful system to integrate with complex online ecosystem, Drupal offers clear advantages.

Customization and Plugins

Although pre-created Drupal themes and modules (Drupal plugins) are available within the Drupal community, webmasters who want ultimate control over CMS functionality prefer Drupal because they can build it out however they desire without relying on plugins or widgets developed by someone else. Drupal also supports fully responsive website development, making it easy for administrators to build mobile websites. Other notable areas of customization include administrative management, editing permissions and versioning which are easy to set up and maintain.

Terminology

Like other CMS platforms, Drupal has its own terminology and lexicon. Below are some of the terms you’ll need to be familiar with if you are looking to switch your nonprofit over to this system:

  • Theme – This is what controls the site look and feel. Custom themes can be created from scratch or existing themes may be altered to develop a new theme. The languages needed to program a Drupal site include CSS, HTML, and PHP.
  • Regions – Areas within the website that define specifics like where content may be placed. This includes headers, footers and sidebars.
  • Nodes – These pieces of content may be organized into blocks and can be set to appear within certain pages or regions of the website.
  • Views – This allows an administrator to manipulate how content displays through database queries. The site can show specific content based on the page requirements.
  • Module – This is similar to plugins for Wordpres and is a way to extend the functionality of Drupal.

Developers

If your nonprofit is considering moving your CMS over Drupal, be aware that Drupal is an open source CMS, so any training and support must be obtained on your own from subject matter experts within the Drupal community. Most Drupal developers and webmasters are typically skilled in backend website development and the work to build and maintain these sites takes advanced knowledge of web development and experience.

Updates

While there are many positive aspects of using Drupal, there are also some disadvantages to be considered. When a new version of Drupal is released, issues may arise with regard to compatibility for existing modules and other site elements. Nonprofit organizations should be prepared to hire or contract with a Drupal developer in order to leverage the full power of this CMS. Regular updates, system back up and patches must be made to keep the site secure and working smoothly.

Bottom Line

Drupal is an advanced open source CMS system offering a wide array of functionality that will support even the most sophisticated website requirements. However, using Drupal does require a technical expertise that is not often found at many nonprofit organizations.

For more information on open source platforms like Drupal, see our CMS paper that includes more information on Blackbaud’s NetCommunity, PageBuilder, Blackbaud’s Luminate Online CMS (LO CMS), WordPress and Site.com.

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Monika McMahon

About Monika McMahon

Monika joined Heller Consulting after spending 8 years in the Boulder technology startup scene. She is an expert in Social and Digital marketing, adopting and implementing new (and old) platforms for organizations ranging from ecommerce, SaaS, and nonprofits. Monika not only understands how these platforms work but how to use them to meet business objectives. When she is not educating and sharing her online talents, she can be found enjoying the music scene in Denver.

One comment

  1. Susan Kenna Wright

    My clients that use Drupal seem very happy with the product. I like that it continues to be updated. It does seem to lead to clients needing some consultant time to manage the site.

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