This June, the long anticipated Drupalcon Austin happened, featuring speakers from the entire globe including the creator of Drupal himself and massive number of open source developers. This was the most widely attended DrupalCon yet, and also one of the most diverse with nearly 3,500 people from 60 countries in attendance, with a gender breakdown of 77% male, 20% female as per the conference’s official website.
As expected, Drupalcon was focused on the upcoming release of Drupal 8 and all the great new elements and functionality will bring for developers and for marketers as well.
Drupal developers, now that we mention you there are still 99 critical bugs that stand between you and Drupal 8 which certainly is a progress compared to 144 bugs that the community had to resolve in September 2013. However more is to be done. In fact, as per the words of the founder of the Drupal project Dries Buytaert, 3x more work has to be done to bring this ambitious release of Drupal under the Sun.
Marketers have the reason to be even more excited about Drupal 8 because never before in the history of CMS had so much attention being devoted to the concept of contextual digital platform and personalized customer experience across the entire sales funnel. Isn’t this a music for the ear for every digital marketer?
In order to find out more how exactly Drupal will deliver this promise we shall go slightly further and feature one of the opening keynotes which was delivered by Dries himself.
The future of the web and the appearance of the Experience Web
Dries makes a remarkable job in explaining the development of the web from its inception all the way to 2015 giving his vision about how the web would look like just 1 year from now. He identifies 3 major stages which have already been accomplished and 1 which is progressing as we speak:
- 1995 Static web (browser, HTML, HTPP)
- 2005 Dynamic Web (PhP, My SQL, Apache, Linux)
- 2005 – Assembled Web (Modules Themes, Apps, Web services
- 2015 –Experience web (rotating around commerce and search)
Since 2005 onward we are witnessing the era of CMS where the web has switched from Dynamic to what he prefers to call Assembled Web or the true beginning of the digital era where control has been shifted from developers to other parties such as marketers who are now able to assemble pre-programmed web components and create compelling digital platforms. Projects like Drupal has certainly given one of the largest contributions in this leap with its ever growing swarm of Open Source developers who contribute to a great number of ready to plug modules and themes and make the overall Drupal experience even better.
However, making the web accessible to everyone was not the last thing we saw from the Open source revolution. Today we are talking about delivering meaningful communications and personalized experiences. The shift of power has been changed, platforms like Google and Facebook have started partaking in shaping a user experience even without the user having to visit the website from where information is being indexed.
If you compare the search experience with Google 5 years ago where you used to search a keyword like Lady Gaga, you used to get a list of relevant search result and sponsored ads in on the right. Today your search experience with Google is way more personal where for the same keyword you can notice basic info about Lady Gaga displayed on the right, plus upcoming events or recent albums nested between the search results. All this has become available to us without having to visit those individual websites and get those information one by one.
Open Source is closing down.
As Dries said – Open Source is closing down but users like that and they do not intend to stop it. Many brands are not happy with the interference of Google in creating good portion of their customer’s initial experience even before they land on their website.
Drupal 8 seems to be the first platform which adopts “if you cannot fight it, join it” strategy by packing its new release with features that will deliver more engaging experience and information presentation via platforms like Google and Facebook which gradually integrated the entire web through themselves.
Let’s see how this promise is addressed through the different stages of implementing a Drupal digital platform and updates that we are going to notice in each one of them
- Code and modules – adoption of Simpfony, improving Drupal 7’s imperfect data model, adding more semantic fields that correspond to Schema.org classification (date, link, phone, email)
- Theme – responsive with HTML and adoption of TWIG, more secured themes
- Configuration – no need to write code using VIEWS and REST, because they are configurable by default
- Write – effortless authoring and responsive to the core
- Deploy – better configuration management
As results of all these updates you can create dynamic content for example events where an admin can include several types of details such as date, location etc, and they will all be treated as separate fields within the event entity. This type of structuring of data will make it easier for Google to index is as per SCHEMA standards and will enable you to create a branded experience for your Google search results.
This is the sort of Semantic markup will enable a brand to get closer to the rule of games of Google and Facebook in terms of how your Drupal site is being indexed and showcased by their search bots and more important to offer more personal experience for your potential clients and shoppers.
Here is where Dries and Drupal’s great vision lies. Web is disintermediating brick and mortar stores and Google appears as the main desintermediator. With Drupal 8 a business owner can choose to own the experience which is delivered to customers. That is particularly important and beneficial for E-commerce stores because SCHEMA, Google’s preferred format of presenting structured data is at the core of Drupal 8. Your product information will be presented in more meaningful, personalized way and adding mobile first as another one of the core updates of Drupal 8 would mean that your customers will get consistent brand experience across platforms and devices.
Web is becoming deeply integrated and more powered by social search than ever. Drupal 8 comes with this premise in mind and promises to update and unify you brand experience and present it in compelling and engaging matter no matter where in the digital realm appears.
If you wish to know more about the updates you can expect with the release of Drupal 8, you can check this detailed blog post. Also you can have a look at the entire opening keynote of Dries during Drupalcon Austin.