If you or your competitor is moving to migrate to Drupal 8, that's good for one of you... and potentially really bad for the other.
Somebody is picking up on something big, because Drupal 8 migration is a mark of enterprise-level thought or a sign of aspiring enterprise-level vision. If you or your associates aren't sold yet, the proof is in D8's mobile, global features.
You could say accurately that modern Drupal is a preemptive, forward step, a step away from the dangers of a Closed Source, "one size fits all" mentality. See headless Drupal migration stories for even more proof.
Big question: why migrate to Drupal 8?
Well, the sense that mobile incompetence and unchecked global competition are deal breakers? That's more than a feeling. That's a fact. Today if your website isn't responsive and built for growth with features like those of Drupal 8, you're declining. Let's get why:
Decision makers like you, with a keen sense for growth, will see. Within these features are the traits of an evolving Open Source software for 2016 onward.
1. Face it, we need a different kind of responsive.
Having a responsive design means having a website that automatically looks good no matter your user device's viewport size. The way we search the internet has changed. Search technologies and site owners must account for it.
Just last year, Google rolled out a mobile friendly algorithm that led to mobilegeddon. It was labeled a doomsday because of the tremendous boost in search engine results given to responsive websites versus the whack it gave desktop-only sites.
How far does mobile reach?
In the US, one out of every three people owns a smartphone. Worldwide, it’s one out of every five. The number of users browsing on tablets, phablets, and phones will continue to rise—website responsiveness becomes more critical every day.
Responsive websites are made possible with things like CSS media queries. These queries define how page elements should be displayed to users. Its effectiveness can be checked with responsive plugins and extensions from Chrome and Safari. At Axelerant, we created a simple URL mobile friendly website tester that can check your site.
But shouldn’t “desktop” versions come first?
Not anymore. Productive websites from now on should be treating the desktop as secondary. The demand for mobile, responsive themes has never been higher and it continues to rise. The number of users accessing sites from mobile devices only is steadily growing.
Users in the US alone are accessing mobile online media 51% of the time, compared to the 41% using a desktop. These accesses drives the Drupal community to focus on mobile first because we’re passed the 50-50 mark. Having a clear focus on mobile first designs can also improve the efficiency of your desktop website. Your website's responsiveness has to be taken into account if it's going to be productive to you and your end users—to inform, deliver services, generate leads, and more.
2. What makes Drupal 8 mobile first.
Drupal 8's very essence is accessibility because it was made with a mobile first mentality—for users and end-users. When site owners migrate to Drupal 8, they solve the need for an extremely responsive website. It's an upgrade that isn't an option anymore.
For Drupalers like us, a Drupal 8 upgrade provides fresh mobile-friendly development for the content management system (CMS) and Open Source software (OSS) industries. In fact, Drupal’s original creator and product lead Dries Buytaert said way back in 2011:
If I were to start Drupal from scratch today, I'd build it for mobile experiences first, and desktop experience second.
Considering all of its modern features, Drupal 8 has been well worth waiting for. Contributors charged forward with a transforming Mobile Initiative to create a first-class mobile platform, spearheaded by the initiative's lead John Albin Wilkins. The admin interface, themes, tables, and pictures were focused on and today these are incredibly useful:
As a mobile friendly CMS, Drupal enables on the go administration. Managing content on a mobile device has become painless. The admin layer has been revamped to be simple, straight-forward, and light. Toolbars work horizontal or vertical as needed.
Great Responsive Themes
All built-in themes are responsive. These give you the power to change the way your site looks and feels. Drupal 8's new theming engine Twig is PHP-based, secure by default, easier to read, and front-end developer friendly.
This new theme flexibility enables the creation of highly attractive, highly functional sites that look great on mobile. The right theme will help power your organization’s branding while providing positive user experiences.
The goal was to transition all existing Drupal 8 themes from “desktop only” to mobile first, and for all to include a useful backend platform. This ties into the push to make Drupal the leading mobile CMS platform.
When a user views the page from a narrow device viewport, such as page’s horizontal elements will automatically become vertical, with lesser important columns being removed.
Breakpoints are built into Drupal 8, which keep track of height, width, and resolution. These breakpoints enable a site to respond appropriately to different devices: tables and the likes shrink readily to preserve mobile integrity. So when transitioning from a desktop screen to a mobile one, you’ll see tables adapt seamlessly.
With such an emphasis being placed on ease of use for end users and administrators, with a migrate to Drupal 8 images become responsive. Administrators can add large photos to their pages that automatically size themselves appropriately based on the viewer’s device.
The Drupal 8 responsive module that contains breakpoint mapping and an image formatter that efficiently reduces file weight by resizing the image. These features can be used to output responsive images using the HTML5 picture tag.
Responsive image support isn’t just visually convenient, it helps pages with large images load faster. Meaning that pictures worth 1,000 pixels don't have to make your mobile site slow or awkward.
3. You migrate to Drupal 8 for all users.
You already know that the standards of your website should be up to par with the growing number of relevant on-the-go, global web users. A huge, growing number that has a direct effect on your organization or will soon. Accessible websites existing within the digital space will either experience the positive or negative side of the expanse: one billion users in 2005, two billion in 2010, three billion in 2014, almost three and a half billion in 2015, and counting.
Now if you keep these numbers in mind, consider that the number of smartphone users in the world is expected to be a massive 6.1 billion by 2020. This growth means that in less than five years, 90% of the world will be online and at that point, 70% will be mobile.
You might be tempted to think: “these numbers don’t apply to my organization. Relevant visits to my site aren’t going to increase as these figures grow.” That’s only correct if your website isn’t mobile first and global ready. In fact, if your site isn't more accessible now than before, you can expect the number of new, relevant visitors (potential customers searching for your services) to drop.
4. Migrate to Drupal 8 for global customers.
Drupal 8 mobile-based global websites are designed to be accessible for international users from other countries and different cultures. With a migrate to Drupal 8, modern organizations looking to target specific even global reaching demographics can succeed.
However, due to rising internationalization and increasing globalization, all forward thinking businesses will eventually need to take up these searchable, accessible, localized websites. Localization is especially true for e-commerce sites, which must be prepared to cater to ever-changing global e-commerce data. If you’re selling a product or a service online, chances are you’ve been made aware of increasing numbers of international visitors. If your organization has the structural capabilities to sell to these demographics, it should.
What's this about website localization?
This isn’t the opposite of what’s called website internationalization or globalization. Website localization refers to “local” site adaptations, which facilitate particular communicative, cultural, or other demographical requirements that cater to a particular target market. Globalized or internationalized sites enable localization.
Ongoing Drupal 8 initiatives are aimed at improving its localizing interface to suit international users. Likewise, these users can create localized Drupal sites for their audience. What helps make this possible is a sophisticated translation manager in the Drupal core. This system empowers users to utilize the right translations, for example, for each targeted demographic that need to be reached.
5. And migrate to Drupal for international teams.
To be global ready is to be user-friendly on an international scale, and Drupal internationalization accomplishes this. In the late 90’s, over 80% of internet users were native English speakers, by 2010, this dropped to less than 30%.
With Drupal 8’s multilingual capabilities, international site visitors and Drupal 8 site builders alike aren’t met at a half-way mark, but where they’re most comfortable: in their language. Drupal 8’s Configuration Translation enables the translation of essential elements—blocks, toolbars, menus, etc.
- Content Translation module can address site copy
- Interface Translation module enables page elements (e.g. form labels) translation
- Language improvements allow you to define which languages your site supports.
With these essential features, Drupal 8 positions itself as the global ready website option. Multilingual feats like translation and transliteration are two pillars of this positioning.
Drupal 8 Translations
Advanced multilingual capabilities of Drupal 8 are hallmarks of this release. Whereas Drupal 7 has regional settings, language support, and usability attention given to interface translation, Drupal 8 brings this into the core. It comes with highly improved language detection abilities that are browser based, meaning it functions to identify preferred languages and present them to users automatically.
There's 94 languages and counting, one of which that you can assign as a website default for content and configurations. Blocks can also be language dependent. Further, more page elements than ever are now "blocks" in Drupal 8, granting greater translation accessibility.
There are times when characters need to be romanized for various purposes. Drupal core has addressed this. Now, built-in user interfaces transliterate key language assignments. This transliteration is an advancement from other CMS solutions, enabling efficient romanization of several challenging scripts and types (e.g. Hungarian, Czech, Marathi).
There is a variety of multilingual Drupal 8 sites in production settings of multiple industries that demonstrate Drupal 8 easily makes possible.
Migrate to Drupal 8 for results.
If you migrate to Drupal 8, you're setting your organization up for the future. The importance of a mobile-friendly and global ready website cannot be overstated. You’ve heard it more than 1,000 times that “content is king.” It's true, but it has to be accessible first so your targeted content reigns supreme. Your content after a migration to Drupal 8 can become even more SEO friendly, fast, mobile, and manageable.
Great content doesn’t just happen. Content creators and copywriters need to apply their trade strategically more than ever before. And while it’s principally a supportive means for content creation, Drupal 8 will certainly help. In so many ways, Drupal 8 and content marketers were meant for one another.
Users have tons of available modules that monitor SEO activity and track analytics. It’s also able to produce automatically customizable meta tags or create title based URL nodes for a website. Awesome tools like Yoast and Goalgorilla can now be incorporated to develop a site's SEO in all aspects. Drupal 8 also supports RDF and integrates very easily with Google Analytics.
When visitors return to a Drupal 8 website, they won’t have to wait for previously viewed content to load up. Updated or new content is presented to visitors while the cache of older unchanged content remains preserved and shown immediately.
Content Visualization For Multiple Devices: See content when editing, as it'll look when published with a real-time what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) editor for desktop and mobile devices. Via the WYSIWYG editor, users have the option to choose images and revise content for desktop or mobile versions as needed. By seeing what end users experience—in real time—is a valuable feature for saving time and foreknowing the outcome before publishing.
General Content Management: Drupal 8 offers a simple and flexible CMS. With previous Drupal versions have been seen as too challenging for new users. Drupal 8 changed all that. Now content authoring is easy and reliable performance is guaranteed. Content managers can navigate their site smoothly and use the new on-page editor quickly and with ease.
With mobile, global content taking the center stage on every stage, if you migrate to Drupal 8 your organization can get it right. It's time to leave the disappointing and the outdated behind so your organization can pursue something greater.
This article was originally published in October, 2015. It has since been updated.
Nathan Roach, Director of Marketing
Germany-based consumer of old world wine and the written word. Offline you can find him spending time with his wife and daughter at festivities in the Rhineland.