Blog entry

Drupal for Small Organizations: the 'right tool for the job'

I want to share a blog post that I read a couple of months ago that pretty well sums up in saying the 'right tool for the job'.

From friendly machine:

Drupal for Small Organizations 

Lately there has been a lot of talk about Drupal for large enterprises, but what about using Drupal in smaller organizations? When considering any content management system, it’s not really a question of how many employees you have or your annual revenues, but the requirements you have for managing your content.

Having worked on a lot of projects for small companies and non-profits, I’ve found that Drupal is often a great choice, but it can be really tough for non-technical folks to sort out all the pros and cons of the many available CMS platforms.

What follows below is a list of some of the features that set Drupal apart and can be very useful for organizations of all sizes. If you're considering which CMS platform to use for your next project, weighing the value of these features will help you determine if Drupal will be the best fit.

Content Types and the Fields UI

One of the most useful features that Drupal has to offer is the ability to easily create custom content types. In addition to making it simple to define a custom content type, you can easily add custom fields for the new content type - or even reuse existing fields.

Other popular CMS platforms offer plugins that somewhat replicate this functionality, but they don’t come close to providing the flexibility and power Drupal offers. Being able to define custom types - things like events, news items, locations, profiles, products, etc. - as well as being able to create unique fields for each of those types, provides an enormously powerful way of organizing your content.

On many sites that use other systems, you’ll find content shoe-horned into 'page' or 'post' content types, making it very difficult to track or logically organize. If your site is likely to need multiple content types or will require custom fields, then mark this as a plus for Drupal.

Taxonomy

Another great way to organize content is through the use of taxonomy. This is very much like the tags or categories you may be familiar with from other systems, but with a few major twists.

First of all, defining new categories (or taxonomies as we say with Drupal), is very easy. These taxonomies can then be easily assigned to a content type. You’re probably familiar with tags being added to blog posts, but with Drupal, you can add your custom taxonomies to any content you like.

Imagine having an ‘event’ content type where you have added a locations taxonomy. Every time you add a new event, you can also add a location tag to make it more useful and informative. But the good stuff doesn’t stop there.

Instead of simply adding a tag, Drupal allows you to create fields for your taxonomy terms. In our ‘event’ example, this would allow us to add an address to the location, maybe even a field for an embedded Google map. This can then be displayed instead of just the tag. That’s pretty slick, don’t you think?

For most small businesses who use other systems, adding this type of feature would require custom programming, which can be costly. Most of the time they decide to simply skip the functionality. With Drupal, it’s a lot easier - and cheaper - to include this enhancement for your users. It also helps you wrangle your content, which as your site grows, will become an ever greater challenge.

Views

The mighty Views module is, without a doubt, one of the biggest differences between Drupal and some of the other popular CMS platforms.

Views gives you an amazing ability to display your content in almost limitless ways. Want to make a custom calendar with several unique displays? Views has you covered.

How about a sortable list of your products or a roster of your employees? Or perhaps a list of your three most popular blog posts for the sidebar? Yep, Views can handle those as well.

Really, any situation that requires flexibly displaying your content is something Views is going to excel at - and it’s an advantage that other systems like WordPress can’t compete with.

The Right Tool for the Job

Although I love working with Drupal, my intention here isn’t to downplay the strengths of other systems. If your site is relatively simple with regard to content, then some of the other CMS platforms will work just fine.

Of course, the benefits Drupal has to offer aren’t limited to the three features I've discussed here, but I’ve always thought of them as the ones that make the biggest difference when building flexible and robust websites. 

If you have content that is more complex, requires custom displays or advanced sorting capabilities, then Drupal is going to provide you with tools the others don’t offer.

If you have any questions or comments on this post, you may politely leave them below. 

 

About the Author

John Hannah, Drupal theme designer

I’m John Hannah, a front-end developer, avid Drupalista and the guy behind Friendly Machine. I currently work for Woodward Design Group.

When I'm not building websites, I travel as much as possible and enjoy hanging out with my wonderful family. My favorite place to spend my coffee breaks is Twitter, so please feel free to connect with me there.

 

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