Selecting a CMS for a university can be a challenging decision. There are so many needs and nuances to consider - costs of implementation and maintenance, a wide-range of technical ability among site administrators, developers and content editors, a variety of end users looking for different information and the list goes on and on. While your answer likely isn’t as easy as, “let’s just do what everyone else is doing,” by better understanding why other universities made the choice they did can shed light into your decision-making process.
Drupal is far and above the most used CMS in higher education - 26% of all .edu domain sites are in Drupal, including 71 of the top 100 universities.
So why are universities like MIT, Georgia Tech, Louisiana State University, Butler, Stanford, Harvard and the rest of the Ivy League universities choosing Drupal?
Simply put, Drupal makes good business sense, especially with the added benefits of Drupal 8. At Mediacurrent, we believe your website is your greatest digital asset and can be leveraged to accomplish organizational-wide goals. Drupal makes that possible. Here’s how:Communicate With All Students - Prospective, Current, and Alumni
If you want to reach your full recruiting and fundraising potential, you need to communicate with your entire audience. There are a variety of Drupal features that ease the stress of common communication challenges.
Language: Not only are their multiple languages spoken within the U.S., but our country hosts over a million international students. Drupal makes creating a multilingual digital experience simpler. Native language handling is built directly into Drupal 8’s core APIs, giving you over 100 languages to choose from. With that functionality it is easier than ever to engage with prospective students across the globe in a meaningful way.
Accessibility: The CDC estimates that 20% of U.S. adults identify as having a disability. These disabilities often hinder people’s ability to interact with the average website. Drupal is an inclusive community and has committed to ensuring that all features of Drupal conform with w3C and WCAG 2.0. Pair that with a strong higher-education focused accessibility strategy and your potential audience could grow by 20%.
Technology: According to the 2017 College Explorer Market Research Study, the average college student owns 5.6 devices and spends 137+ hours on them! This may seem like common sense now, but if you want to engage with students, you need to account for a variety of screen sizes. Thankfully, Drupal 8 is designed with a mobile-first mentality and includes out-of-the-box responsive functionality.
Personalization: Universities face added complexity when it comes to digital strategy due to the broad audiences they appeal to. With so many unique people coming to the same pages, content strategy, conversion path mapping and optimization, and defining strong call to actions can be a struggle. By incorporating personalization into your content strategy, whether that is personalized based on user authentication or by integrating tools like Acquia Lift or Salesforce Marketing Cloud, you can speak to the masses but make them feel like you’re speaking specifically to them.Reduce Overhead Costs + Increase Operational Efficiencies with Drupal
Drupal can have a dramatic impact on reducing overhead costs and increasing operational efficiency. Universities have a big need for multiple websites: departments, colleges, libraries, and student organizations all want their own website. The direct cost of supporting this many sites along with resourcing the training and support is expensive and encourages unnecessary technology sprawl. As an open source technology (no licensing fees!) along with the multisite feature, creating sites for these different groups is exponentially easier, more cost effective, and ensures brand consistency.
You can also increase efficiency, ensure content consistency and improve the user experience by creating a “source of truth”.
Write content once and publish it anywhere it’s relevant.
Having to update content such as curriculum or an academic calendar on multiple pages is inefficient and unnecessary. Write once, publish everywhere, save time.Improve Brand Equity + Amplify Digital Strategy
As a university, your brand is a powerful asset. You spend significant energy and resources on building loyalty to bolster several organizational goals from recruiting efforts, engaging current students on campus and fundraising among alumni.
With your website being the hub of your marketing strategy, it is critical for your CMS of choice to play nice with your marketing efforts.
Drupal happens to be very SEO friendly out of the box, but there are also advanced configuration options available to support a more sophisticated SEO strategy. You can amplify your digital strategy by integrating your marketing tools and communication platforms directly with Drupal. And the 26% percent of other .edu sites using Drupal make integrating your university-specific tools to your website easier.Reduce Risk
I’d be remiss without mentioning security and GDPR compliance. As a university, you hold sensitive information about the students who have attended your school and they are trusting you to keep that secure.
The Drupal community is passionate about security and has an industry leading global security team to ensure your site is protected.
Additionally, as the landscape of privacy rights changes around the world (most recently, GDPR), it’s in your best interest to stay on top of it and reduce the risk of being penalized for data collection practices.
Have questions about how Drupal can benefit your university? Let us know. We’d be happy to chat.
As you may know, Drupal 6 has reached End-of-Life (EOL) which means the Drupal Security Team is no longer doing Security Advisories or working on security patches for Drupal 6 core or contrib modules - but the Drupal 6 LTS vendors are and we're one of them!
Today, there is a Moderately Critical security release for the XML sitemap module (version 6.x-2.x only) to fix an Information Disclosure vulnerability.
The XML sitemap module enables you to generate XML sitemaps and it helps search engines to more intelligently crawl a website and keep their results up to date.
The module doesn't sufficiently handle access rights under the scenario of updating contents from cron execution.
See the security advisory for Drupal 7 for more information.
Here you can download the Drupal 6 patch.
If you have a Drupal 6 site using the XML sitemap module, we recommend you update immediately! We have already deployed the patch for all of our Drupal 6 Long-Term Support clients. :-)
If you'd like all your Drupal 6 modules to receive security updates and have the fixes deployed the same day they're released, please check out our D6LTS plans.
Note: if you use the myDropWizard module (totally free!), you'll be alerted to these and any future security updates, and will be able to use drush to install them (even though they won't necessarily have a release on Drupal.org).
Now that Drupal 8 has gained some momentum, it is time to start planning out your upgrade strategy. You want to upgrade to get the latest benefits and take advantage of the future stability that comes with the direction that Drupal will be taking from here on out. Before upgrading you will want to consider some things about what your current site has. In this article we will be covering some of those questions with some context to assist in the decision making process. Let’s determine if you website is adequately serving the current needs of your business and which content will need to be brought over to the new Drupal 8 site. There may be a difficulty in the switch, but being prepared will put you in position to handle whatever comes up.