ReadyTalk first started looking at our ongoing web redesign about a year ago as a way to increase the organization of, and access to, an increasing number of resources provided to our customers. At first we were looking at minor updates and a visual refresh, but as more requests for features and content changes came from across the company, it became apparent that we would need a major overhaul. We decided that a Content Management System (CMS) would be ideal and allow for quick content creation and publishing by the entire marketing team.
What is Drupal?
Drupal is a free and open-source CMS with a huge community of developers making sure it is always up to date and secure. Upon learning about how many high-profile sites run Drupal (www.whitehouse.gov, www.ubuntu.com, and research.yahoo.com to name a few), it was easy to get excited about the possibilities. With the thousands of modules available for everything from automated search engine optimization to automated image resizing, Drupal fits nearly every use case. Using modules, we can quickly add à la carte site functionality and create a site specifically tailored to our users’ needs. Anything that is not already available can be created as a custom module.
ReadyTalk uses WordPress for our blog and newsroom, our own CMS for the Webinar Series, and hand coding for most other pages. To unify our site maintenance practices and to reduce the overhead involved in making changes and updates, we began looking to unify the site under a single CMS. We evaluated a number of CMS options, and Drupal came out on top because of its great extensibility and ability to accept custom code, as well as modules that will help us automate search engine optimization (SEO) and improve organic search rankings.
Our dependence upon PHP was a major factor for choosing Drupal. Drupal is written in PHP and handles user-submitted PHP code wonderfully, making it easy to port scripts from our current site. If, down the road, we decide to rewrite these scripts as Drupal modules, this will greatly increase the possibilities for adding additional functionality to our site.
Drupal’s theming possibilities are also extensive. In most cases, all that is needed to make a theme is a few images and some CSS. There is little difference between theming Drupal and theming a hand-coded site. In our case, we’ll also be making a few changes to how Drupal structures pages. One of the more exciting features will be a front page carousel that uses jQuery to asynchronously load nodes into a slideshow. This will keep load times down on the front page and will make updating the carousel’s content amazingly easy.
- Relevant information and documents can be dynamically displayed on any page
- WYSIWYG editor enables ReadyTalk’s marketing team to quickly change and publish new data without the need for a web developer
- Automated editorial process for new content ensures it is reviewed by stakeholders before it goes live
- Front page will have more dynamic content, including a carousel that loads slides asynchronously via jQuery and caches them.
- Resource Center and Webinar Series will be sort-able, searchable and easily updated
- New, updated look and UI
- We will continue enhancing the website by introducing new features.
- Simplified forms
- Asynchronous loading and submission of forms
- Conversion of several scripts to modules to improve functionality and integration
- HTML 5 and CSS3 support
- Eventual upgrade to Drupal 7
As a part of our web development process, we will be featuring articles written by our website team on topics such as usability, user testing, design and web development. Stay tuned!