Akshita Rawat

Akshita Rawat

Recent Posts

OpenSocial Bounty Winner from Srijan is All Set for DrupalCon Amsterdam 😃

Posted by Akshita Rawat on Aug 23, 2019 6:12:00 PM

In June, OpenSocial launched one of its kind contest inviting developers from Drupal community to contribute and win a free ticket and flight to DrupalCon Amsterdam. Jyoti Singh, Sr. Drupal Developer, won the bounty and is all ready to visit the city of canals. ✨

A regular contributor at Srijan local code sprints, elated Jyoti says, “I am very excited right now but honestly wasn’t expecting anything when I participated. I did this because I love contributing and what better opportunity than getting DrupalCon sponsored in return”.

DrupalCon is an international conference where the Drupal community joins together for a full week dedicated to sharing and growing Drupal skills. DrupalCon Amsterdam happens from 28 - 31 October 2019.

a red and blue card with a image of a girl on right and text on left

What was the Contest?

The contest required participants to:

  • Visit the bounty issue queue
  • For each issue credit on an issue marked with the 'OSBounty- DrupalConEU2019' label, participants would receive an entry ticket for the lottery. Only Open Social maintainers can add this label.
  • Once done, participants would be automatically added to the lottery for tickets to DrupalCon Amsterdam 2019.

Excited for Contributions at DrupalCon

A regular at DrupalCons, Jyoti looks forward to the code sprints and contribution days “I remember in Vienna (2017), there were areas dedicated to distributions and issues. This is a really good opportunity to meet the core distribution and module maintainers and many such important people in the community. Meeting them is inspiring, where you know about the road map of such distributions and plan ahead what you can deliver to your client. Afterparty is another place to enjoy and network.”

OpenSocial provides social business software to build and manage community strategies effectively while keeping your community safe and secure. One of its kind bounties, it is a great initiative by them, encouraging developers to contribute to opensource and make it better.

Topics: Community, Planet Drupal, Open Source Contributions, Event

Run your Drupal 40% cheaper

Posted by Akshita Rawat on Jul 26, 2019 2:43:00 PM

The expanding data landscape is feeding the demand for higher operational agility. This calls for a more responsive, reliable IT infrastructure — that doesn’t rake up millions — minimizes delays and downtime while improving security and making infrastructure more agile.

Between capacity constraints and unpredictable pricing models, AWS offers suited workloads for growing infrastructure needs with a host of services - IaaS, PaaS, SaaS - for Drupal enterprises. 

Here’s how you can run your Drupal up to 40% cheaper.

Drupal-powered enterprises need to constantly understand and adapt to the changing landscape in order to achieve the business objective

Keeping the Business Innovative and Agile

Increasing demands for performance, scalability and agility have never been higher. Success and growth for businesses depend on it. At the same time, changing landscape is forcing businesses to opt for lower costs, greater use of cloud resources and better customer service

While these changes have implications on infrastructure, compute and networking resources, they also impact storage. 

Lack of enough database storage, for example, can adversely impact application performance. Fast-growing applications may need more storage than expected or immediate storage resources.

Capacity and storage issues can hinder business agility

The continuous need for speed and efficiency is driving businesses to opt for storage as a service (STaaS) model. But there is more to it when it comes to the the benefits. Businesses get:

  • Better insights at reasonable cost: Providing a highly scalable environment at a low cost capable of handling the massive volume and velocity of data, organizations can shift from the two available models (CapEx and OpEx) for more predictable costs.
  • Better collaboration: Cloud-based business solutions accelerate innovation, delivering business analytics at the point of impact and enabling collaboration by creating and linking business networks.
  • Innovation and variety of solutions: Forward-thinking enterprises adopt for STaaS to speed up business innovation, improve overall data-centre efficiency, achieve integrated and innovative business results.  
  • Proven results: Organizations achieve their desired business outcomes by improving the responsiveness of their IT infrastructure without increasing risk or cost.

Capacity and storage issues can hinder your business agility. 

In order to avoid such challenges in the future, Drupal-powered enterprises need to constantly understand and adapt to the changing landscapes.

 

Azim Premji Foundation, Georgia Technical Authority, Department of Homeland security, USA are powered by Drupal and supported by AWS

While Drupal helps balance the rapid data growth, the right cloud storage solution needs to offer security and robust scalability without constraining the budget and prepare IT and marketing for what comes next.

Run your Drupal 40% cheaper

Choosing the right technology is crucial to avoid equipment failures and the costs of upgrading hardware. Small to medium enterprises and non-profit especially need sustainable solutions for future needs to run its operations without overcommitting budgets today. 

Finding the perfect match, organizations such as Azim Premji Foundation, Georgia Technical Authority, UCAS, Department of Homeland security - USA,  are powered by Drupal and supported by AWS.

Enterprises need sustainable solutions without over committing budgets today

AWS offers cloud web hosting solutions that provide businesses, non-profits, and governmental organizations with low-cost ways to deliver their websites and web applications.

The pay-as-you-go approach lets you pay only for the individual services you need, for as long as you use, and without requiring long-term contracts or complex licensing. 

Similar to how you pay for utilities like water and electricity.  

You only pay for the services you consume, and once you stop using them, there are no additional costs or termination fees.

The pricing models give your enterprises the flexibility to grow your business unencumbered by  IT

  • Pay-as-you-go
    With AWS you only pay for what use, helping your organization remain agile, responsive and always able to meet scale demands. Allowing you to easily adapt to changing business needs without overcommitting budgets and improving your responsiveness to changes, reducing the risk of over positioning or missing capacity.

Drupal-AWS-PriceBy paying for services on an as-needed basis, you can redirect your focus to innovation and invention, reducing procurement complexity and enabling your business to be fully elastic.

  • Save when you reserve
    By using reserved capacity, organizations can minimize risks, more predictably manage budgets, and comply with policies that require longer-term commitments.


For certain services like Amazon EC2 and Amazon RDS, enterprises can invest in reserved capacity. With Reserved Instances, you can save up to 75% over equivalent on-demand capacity.

Drupal-AWS-Reserve-price

When you buy Reserved Instances, the larger the upfront payment, the greater the discount.

  • Pay less by using more
    Providing volume-based discounts, organizations can save more by increasing usage. . For services such as S3 and data transfer OUT from EC2, pricing is tiered, meaning the more you use, the less you pay per GB. 

In addition, data transfer IN is always free of charge.
As a result, as your AWS usage needs increase, you benefit from the economies of scale that allow you to increase adoption and keep costs under control.

As your organization evolves, AWS also gives you options to acquire services that help you address your business needs. For example, AWS’ storage services portfolio, offers options to help you lower pricing based on how frequently you access data and the performance you need to retrieve it.

Drupal-AWS-storage-price

To optimize the savings, choosing the right combinations of storage solutions can help reduce costs while preserving performance, security and durability.

The pricing models give your enterprises the flexibility to grow your business unencumbered by  IT.

Case Study: Reducing cost & improving operational efficiency for Drupal application with AWS

Our client which is a legal firm and helps provide jurisdiction and litigant simple, seamless, and secure access to the record of legal proceedings. They built a SaaS-based workflow management application on Drupal to manage and track digital recordings of legal proceedings, transcripts including appeals to the stakeholders.

The goal was to build a robust, cloud-based server to effectively handle the processing and access to a large volume of text, audio and video files.

Since the business model was dependent upon frictionless uploading and downloading of text and media files, AWS cloud-based server came out as a unanimous solution. 

Business benefits

  • Simplified integration of the client's Drupal application with AWS S3, to enable flexible, cloud-native storage
  • As a result of going all-in into the AWS Cloud, the client reduced costs by 40% and increased operational performance by 30-40%
  • Dynamic storage and pay-as-you-go pricing enabled the client to leverage a highly cost-effective cloud-storage solution

Read complete case study on Cloud-Native Storage for Drupal Application with AWS

Get no-cost expert guidance

Designed to help you solve common problems and build faster, Amazon Web Services provides a comprehensive suite of solutions to secure and run your sophisticated and scalable applications.

Srijan is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner. Schedule a meeting with our experts at no cost or sales pitch and get started with your cloud journey.

Topics: Drupal, AWS, Planet Drupal

One Retail Travel Outlet Turned Planning into Utility

Posted by Akshita Rawat on Jul 4, 2019 3:51:00 PM

 

Travellers, no matter how big or small their budget is, if travelling international or local, do their homework. As of 2019, budget travel searches are on a rise. It should be, after all, travelling means a different thing to each one of us and in order to enjoy it to the most, the itinerary needs to be planned.

One of our clients - a giant retail travel outlet - went out to get a realistic travel budget in mind for the travellers to plan ahead and avoid any spending shocks along the way. 

Understanding the user intent

Customer insights, machine learning, and automation give us an opportunity to make sort out things from digital chaos — to not only work in smarter ways but to drive measurable business outcomes through marketing.

There aren’t a lot of tools available online today to help travellers with budget planning. An umbrella term, it covers every possible opportunity you would be spending during your travel. 

Travel, accommodation, food, shopping and most importantly currency rate are all an important part of the planning. 

As a result, their approach to making change depended upon the real insights from the site visitors - a key request from the users was to be guided for real on how much money they would be spending. Although they had currency cards on the website, those were static. 

The client’s approach to bringing change depended upon taking insights from the site visitors and offering them real value through a dynamic budget planner and currency convertor.

currency-card-srijan-1

Currency cards were static

What is a budget planner?

Deciding how much money to take on holiday can leave you feeling confused. This budget planner is an easy to use calculator, among other features added, to help provide a realistic travel budget value. Built on React.js on top of Drupal, this is a dynamic feature and can be added anywhere in the website (under blogs, services) without coding. 

Here’re are a series of images on the working of the budget planner: 

Step 1: User needs to add information about the destination, people, currency

travel-info-1-srijan

Step 2: User needs to add information around their food plans

step-2-user-needs-add-information-food-plans-srijan

Step 3: A basic idea of how much they would spend on shopping.

step-3-travel-srijan

Step 4: How much they would spend on transport

step-4-srijan-tech

Step 5: And you have an actual estimate based on your plan how much you need.

step-5-srijan

Once the person has determined how much they would be spending, they can further meticulously plan out how much do they need and in which form with currency calculator.

covert-currency-srijan-tech

The buy online option can help them buy it through their services. The budget planner and currency calculator leave the audience more engaged and empowered with their decision and planning. 

The budget planner is:

  • An intuitive and easy-to-use calculator
  • With a responsive UI
  • It is lightweight and fast giving real-time results
  • And can be added in their other  pages without coding
  • It is also extendable in future. The client can add more features and steps

Getting the audience on board

The client went beyond its usual even-paced strategy of blogs and service pages to reach a wide audience, offering them something to fiddle with.

Engagement is an important part of the customer experience strategy. In the travel industry especially when one traveller engages in over 500 different digital touchpoints during her research for a flight for an upcoming trip.

The budget planner helped them increase their sales just after 3 months of implementing the tool on their website.

The client realized that people are no longer following a linear path from awareness to consideration to purchase. By offering them something to fiddle with, they narrowed and broadened their audience consideration in a unique way.

Helping this client with technical execution, Srijan is working with leading travel enterprises assisting them to execute insights actionably. Ready for a scalable and innovative solution? Drop us a line and let our experts get in touch with you.

Topics: Travel, MarTech

How Beauty Brands can use Drupal to Drive Engagement with Virtual Try-on

Posted by Akshita Rawat on Jun 23, 2019 5:04:00 PM

With every fashion show look, there is a new lipstick colour or hairstyle instantly becoming ‘the look of the season
’. While traditional print publications and word of mouth have chartered beauty trends in the past, trends are established, today, on digital screens.

The next frontier in marketing and advertising is augmented reality. With virtual try on apps and kiosks in the news and red carpet, the beauty industry is definitely keeping up with the fast-changing digital landscape.

virtual-try-app-technoligies


Combining classic retail truths with digital savvy customer needs, Drupal can help beauty and fashion retailers transform the customer experience. Providing connectivity and contextual relevance to the business logic it can change both online and offline shopping experience.


Augmented reality is redefining consumer engagement

Shopping has Changed. Businesses too Need to

The beauty industry is one of the first sectors to heavily invest in augmented reality (AR). Primarily this is taking the form of creating virtual makeup apps that are transforming how customers sample and buy beauty products.

Brands are leveraging these apps to elevate the customer experience for buyers. The most obvious way is where people can sample a range of products and see how each shade and effect looks on their face and skin, from the comfort of their homes, using these apps.

But the in-store experience is also being digitized by having these apps on the counter, as a very persuasive aid for the beauty advisors. They can help customers try out practically the entire product range, or several different looks, in a matter of minutes. This ease of use is becoming a critical element in ensuring a final purchase because:

Beauty advisors can showcase a wider range of products, increasing the chances of the customer actually finding something they like

  • The customers’ know exactly how every product will look on them, taking out the uncertainty, and thus encouraging them to spend more in store
  • This integrated in-store experience is what the Srijan team is creating for one of our prestige beauty clients. We’re leveraging the YouCam Makeup solution and Drupal 8 to build AR applications that customers can use at the stores, to try on various products and looks.
Drupal has been steadily making inroads into the AR space, with consumer experiences in retail as one of its first points of entry. Here’s a quick look

While that was AR for coffee, AR in virtual makeup apps gives a far more immediate and intimate experience, all managed at the backend by Drupal. Here’s a deep dive into the technology behind the scenes.

Building an AR-based Virtual MakeUp App

The goal was to build a highly engaging AR application that allows visitors to sample multiple beauty products. Ideally, solutions like these would have the following workflow:

Users have an AR application that they interact with, clicking on different shades and types of the product they want to try out:

  • The application overlays the desired effects onto the users’ features
  • The information on which overlay to create is drawn from the extensive and highly detailed product information added to the application backend
  • Business logic around product filtering, tagging, availability and recommendations on the app are handled by a CMS
  • And finally, all communication between the CMS and the AR app is ensured via APIs.
The Srijan team put this solution architecture in place using three key elements for the app and the backend CMS:

The YouCam MakeUp SDK

The YourCam MakeUp SDK brings in the AR technology that enables virtual trials of different beauty products. It has been significantly improved and advanced over time to deliver an immersive AR experience and is one of the best solutions currently available. And this was used as the base to create the virtual try-on application for our client.

SDK and Perfect Console

SDK-Perfect-Console-srijan

The Perfect Console

The second element of the solution architecture is the Perfect Console. This is a CMS that acts as the repository of all products. Every product seen on the app is created here, along with metadata on category, name, colour, finish and several other detailed product information points. It syncs with the AR application via REST APIs, to ensure that relevant product data is pulled as users try on different products.

The Perfect Console can also be used to create specific looks that combine different product effects together.

Drupal and Perfect Console

druapl-and-perfect-console-srijan
The Drupal 8 CMS

The Drupal 8 CMS is the final piece of the solution and is used to apply business logic into the application. This handles different features of the virtual try-on app:

Information on which products are available for purchase at which stores/markets are maintained in the Drupal 8 CMS. This determines which products buyers can try out on the app at those particular stores/markets.

Meticulous tagging of each product is done in the Drupal 8 CMS, to make them easy to search and filter based on common features.

Product recommendations for customers, based on current and previous trials and choices, is also delivered by the Drupal 8 CMS.

Comparing different looks side-by-side is another function achieved through Drupal 8

Drupal 8 ensures two-way sync with the Perfect Console, so that all product information and business logic is up-to-date, and reflects correctly on the app.

Drupal’s oAuth module is used to manage access and authorization, to ensure only relevant people can view and edit products in the CMS and in the app.

Drupal communicates with the app via REST API to display the relevant products.

So there you have it, an AR-based virtual makeup application, built atop available YouCam solution and leveraging Drupal 8’s powerful CMS capabilities.

While this has started off as an in-store application where users can try a product before they buy it, the potential is way bigger. The application will include e-Commerce capabilities to make in-app product purchases. And all this brings in higher customer engagement and increased sales.

Looking to create compelling AR-based virtual try-on experiences? Drop us a line, and our team of experts will be in touch to explore how we can help.

Topics: Drupal, AR/VR, Architecture

Customer Experience is Your Defining Micro moment. Brace Yourself

Posted by Akshita Rawat on Jun 18, 2019 5:27:00 PM

The attention span is getting shorter. Reaching out to acquire new customers is good, but retention gives better ROI. Getting to know your customers and building relationships with them is easier. As per Hubspot, the cost to acquire new customers has increased by over 50%, in the last five years.

With consumer expectations and behavior continually evolving this shouldn't be surprising. Micro moments filling in the consumer experience journey, they want to discover, resolve their problems, watch, buy, ‘now’.

These are intent-rich moments (for businesses), exactly where the decision is made. You miss out on the important intent signals, and they move ahead.

How do you plan to acquire and retain your customers before running out of patience?

Uncovering Concept and Some Stats, First

People today reach out to their smartphones before anything. The behavioural changes and expectations for speed, driven by smartphones, has fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of smaller decision making, impressive moments.

The predominance of social media and importance of speed can be an enormous barrier or an effective tool.

Click, swipe, check, exit.

Repeat.

In these smaller moments of discovery, 64% of people find customer experience more important than price. Since customer experience is not static, micro-moments, as Google calls it, have truly changed the way decision journey is driven.

It is an overall impression you leave with your customer, resulting in how they think of your brand, across every stage of the customer journey. Multiple touch points factor into the customer experience, and these touch points occur on a cross-functional basis. 

The predominance of social media and importance of speed can be an enormous barrier or an effective tool.

Here’s why you should care about your customer experience strategy:

  • Customers who have had an unpleasant experience on a brand website are 88% less likely to return
  • 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing, and 40% visitors end up visiting a competitor’s site instead
  • After one negative experience, 51% of customers will never do business with that company again.
  • 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for great customer experience. In fact, by the year 2020, customer experience is expected to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.


In all this, 

  • It is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.

Everything is not just about new acquisitions.

What Do Your Customers Want?

The #1 reason customers switch to a new brand is feeling unappreciated.

Daunting as it may feel now after reading the statistics, it’s really no different from your overall business strategy. Foremost, understand that you need to listen and empathize with your customer.

Because “..when customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points. They’re actually teaching you how to make your product, service, and business better” (Kristin Smaby, Being Human is Good Business).

If you can understand what makes your customer feel the way it does and why, it would be easy for you to find a solution between your brand and their needs — providing meaningful service.

Another important part of the strategy is to ensure, it is not limited to the customer-facing roles. Sharing the feedback and solution across the organization helps you improve overall customer experience and relationship.

How to Prepare Yourself?

#Customers remember the service a lot longer than they remember the price

Your relation with your customer starts the moment they discover your brand but it doesn’t end with the sale. It sums up any and every interaction they have with your business, both pre- and post-sale across different marketing channels.

What you sell bothers least, if you don’t know how to sell it, therefore start with:

  1. Understanding your consumers’ need

    While customer trust is quite hard to earn, things can be sorted with knowledge. Know about you customer -- their problem, goals, demographic, and so on -- the better chance you have to create meaningful experiences.

    Google identifies the micro-moments into four stages.
    “I-want-to-know” moments
    “I-want-to-go” moments
    “I-want-to-do” moments
    “I-want-to-buy” moments

    These can be leveraged by analyzing the data and working on the prospective ideas. A person searching for ‘Drupal 8.7 upgrade features’ on Google is provided with an awesome feature list blog on your website, you capture them in their I-want-to-know moment.

    That’s when they come back to your website again.

    A customer-first email communication strategy with appropriate CTA, later, should be able to help them to turn into their ‘i-want-to-buy’ moment.

    Ultimately, showing up gets your brand in the game to be chosen, not just seen.

    Make it easier to map out content and services, allocate your team’s time and resources, and achieve. 
  2. Listen them out. Patiently

    Other than assuming and translating data into perspective, the more accurate way is to listen and not speak!

    As it has been pointed out earlier, how when customers share their story, it is rather an opportunity instead of looking at it as a problem.

    Learn to listen.

    Because you know your opinion and needs well, except you don’t know theirs.

    Remember that even if your happiest customer will go about appreciating your service, bad word-of-mouth will travel faster and reaches more people.

    Americans tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience, versus the 11 people they’ll tell about a good experience.

    The best way to get started is through asking your customers to be part of an honest customer satisfaction survey. It can help you gauge how your customers feel about your
    company, where you need to improve, what are your strong points.
  3. Share meaningful and real-time information

    The attention span is getting shorter. Reaching out to people is important but creating the right kind of messaging, all the more important. It’s important that you don’t allow automation to compromise personalized service.

    The predominance of social media and the importance of speed can be an enormous barrier or an effective tool. Whichever you choose to proceed with.

    Look what people are searching for - terms they are using, their key areas of interest – and create content and provide solutions that help for different channels of communication.

    Customers expect businesses to respond to their emails within an hour. And on social media it is even lesser. Simply, put, being there as part of the micro moments just isn’t enough.

    A delayed response can signal to the customer that you’re avoiding responsibility or you’re unprepared to fulfil their request.

    At the end of the day, people want to know that they are not only being helped by other people, but rather, that they are being helped by other people that understand their needs.
  4. Be Ubiquitous

    #Only 9% of customers will stay on the mobile site/ app if it doesn’t satisfy their needs.

    New smart devices are emerging, and consumers are embracing new ways to interact with them, like voice commands. As a result, the micro-moment behaviors kick-started by mobile will only multiply.

    50% of internet users looked for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store.

    Mobile quickly delivers results when they’re impatient, provides inspiration at their fingertips when they’re curious, and gives them a personalized experience when they’re demanding one. And customers overwhelmingly show appreciation for great service with their wallets.

The ROI of Customer Lifetime Value

Offering outstanding customer services is easier with proven better ROI. Lifetime customers also mean an increase in referrals, so you definitely understand the importance of customer loyalty. Turning the customers into the advocates for your business gives out better returns  

And the way to create advocates is to offer superior customer service.

  • Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increase profits anywhere from 25% to 95%.
  • A moderate increase in customer experience generates an average revenue increase of $823 million over three years for a company with $1 billion in annual revenues.
  • After having a positive experience with a company, 77% of customers would recommend it to a friend.
  • When it comes to making a purchase, 64% of people find customer experience more important than price.

Businesses should invest heavily in measuring customer satisfaction over time and work to consistently give better service

In this day and age, customers are making purchase decisions based on more than just the best price — they're making buying decisions based on shared values, engagement, and the emotional connection they share with a brand.

Be Genuine

Customer perception is one of the most valuable aspects of a company. Managing that perception in all its forms should be a top priority and is the responsibility of every single person in the organization. Keeping customer a priority should be a part of company culture.

Topics: Omnichannel, MarTech, Digital Experience

Going Global: Leverage Multilingual SEO with Drupal 8

Posted by Akshita Rawat on Jun 6, 2019 5:55:00 PM

Enterprises can find their websites attracting visitors and clients from different geographies, speaking different languages. The market is so huge (and international) that targeting only English speaker based users means deliberately missing out on an effective way to grow audience, ROI, customer trust, and rank on Google.

Language can be an enormous barrier, or an effective tool.

With an intent to create a great digital experience, enterprises often find themselves in a tough spot having to use and experiment with tools wrapped in an unfamiliar language.

Only it doesn’t have to be so.

In order to take advantage of the international and multilingual market with your Drupal 8 website, you need to make sure you have set your SEO just right (along with the language, of course).

But is it really that easy?

Why Opt for a Multilingual Website?

The world wide web makes it easy for the online businesses to be looked around from across any part of the world. While, the right SEO strategy will give you a place on the first page of Google, making it exclusive to one language is actually not a good idea (even for your SERP).

Smart marketers don't keep all eggs in one basket because it is bad for business. So is keeping all content in one language.

Here’s why a multilingual website will help:

Increases Your Possible Customer Base

Contrary to the common belief, not many people speak or use English outside certain geography.

Interestingly, the statistics collected by Internet World Stats reflect why your content shouldn’t solely be in English. While it dominates the scenario, English represents only 25% for internet searches.

horizontal graph with ten blue bars on a white background
source: Statista

Not a small number, however, English’s relative share of cyberspace has shrunk to around 30%, while French, German, Spanish and Chinese have all pushed into the top 10 languages online since 2008.

Language profoundly affects the user experience on the internet. In a pan-EU survey (2011) 44% of respondents feel they are missing interesting information because web pages are not in a language that they understand.

Availability of content in different languages can also affect the user’s understanding and succeeding action.

In an interesting case study of the Tel Aviv, Israel, searching for “restaurant” locally in Hebrew, Arabic and English brought back different results for each language. 

three blocks with a map image and text written on top

Gets Loyal Customers

According to Gartner, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience. And language is the secret trailblazer.

“The web doesn’t just connect machines it connects people”

Native language helps companies connect, forge more trust and increase customer satisfaction. In fact, 74% of consumers are more likely to repurchase if after-sales care is offered in their native language.

In fact, there is an undeniably strong link between in-language content and a consumer’s likelihood of making a purchase.

Improves Your SERP

Search engines value quality content and user engagement. By providing your website in different languages, traffic coming from either version will improve the search engine ranking for the whole site, given you are using the right hreflang tags.

It also helps search engines understand your site, as it’s clear which languages you’re providing the content in.

Google doesn’t view the content in different languages as a duplicate, because it has multiple version of itself too.

Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative

The multilingual initiative (started with D8) aimed to rebuild language support from the ground up so that everything in Drupal understood the language from the start.

Drupal 8 offers much more out of the box for building multilingual sites. More powerful than Drupal 7, it has greater flexibility, all without the need for any contrib module.

Providing content translation in an additional 94 languages, the number of modules have reduced from 22 (as in Drupal 7) to 4.

  1. Language: This is the base module needed to allow Drupal to add and choose the language of choice. Natively, it is available in 94 languages.
  2. Locale (Interface Translation): It helps to translate the interface, from both core and contributed modules and themes. It also provides built-in translation UI for easier editing.
  3. Content Translation: This module translates all the content types and content entities including site content, pages, taxonomy terms, blocks, etc., possible with its inbuilt API. Providing the language selector, you can choose your preferred language by selecting the checkbox.
  4. Configuration Translation: Allows you to translate configuration interface, such as of field labels, views, field settings, blocks, panels, etc. It also has a built-in responsive translation interface.

“Drupal 8 is easy and efficient for multilingual businesses.”

Other than the core modules, developers can also take hreflang into consideration. While the core Content Translation module adds hreflang tags only to translated entity pages hreflang module, on the other hand, adds hreflang tags to all pages.

An example of a Drupal 8 multilingual website: Drupal-North-en-Srijan

The Drupal North Website in English

Drupal-North-fr-Srijan

The Drupal North Website in French

Drupal Multilingual SEO Challenges

Multilingual SEO can be intimidating. In fact, it is the elephant in the room, if not addressed, can potentially deflect your overall SEO efforts.

Language and cultural differences, website architecture, content duplicacy are amongst some of the challenges. Understanding these challenges can help marketers come up with better strategies to tackle the problem.

Here’re some of the multilingual SEO challenges and how Drupal helps you fight them off.

Multilingual and Multi-Geo are Different


A multilingual site must not be confused with multi-regional website. A multilingual site can create a ripple effect in the sense that a mistake in the original site will be replicated in all the duplicate sites.

A multilingual website is any website that offers content in more than one language. For example, a Canadian business with English and French versions of its site. Google Search tries to find pages that match the language of the searcher.

A multi-regional website is one that explicitly targets users in different countries. For example, a product manufacturer that ships to both Canada and the United States. Google Search tries to find the right locale page for the searcher.

Some sites are both multi-regional and multilingual: for example, a site might have different versions for the USA and for Canada, and both French and English versions of the Canadian content.


  • Site Structure, Navigation and Menu

    Navigation isn’t just for the viewers. If the navigation structure prevents visitors from easily finding the information it might also be blocking the search engines from indexing the content.

    It’s difficult to determine geo-targeting on a page-by-page basis, so it makes sense to consider using a URL structure that makes it easy to segment parts of the website for geotargeting.

    In Drupal, Entity translation solves the issues related to site structure, navigation and menu by default.

    Each variant has a language assigned and is called an entity translation. It allows (fieldable) entities to be translated into different languages, by introducing entity/field translation.

    It synchronizes taxonomy and fields across translations of the same content. Translation fallback for menus is not configurable by default

  • Content revision and publication workflow

    Content revisioning, proofreading, and approval are part of the critical content editing process.

    The Workflow module allows to create arbitrary Workflows, and assign them to Entities. Transitions between states can be allowed as per the role. For example, a workflow with states of Draft, Review, and Published could be assigned to the story node type. Only users with the role of 'chief editor' can set Stories to the published state.

    You can set up the Workflow to alter states from form, page, comment, a special block, and workflow tab.

    However, the module follows a linear approach. It would need revision if it is not one way.

    Another module, the Workbench moderation suite is modular, allowing site builders to build the workflow that best suits the content administrators on their site. The Workbench suite provides authors, editors, and publishers with a unified interface for managing content relevant to them.

  • User permission and role for different editorial teams

    Since a number of users (read editors) are involved with the content editing a multilingual website, chances of accidents on the website are high. Editors can be clubbed together with set access limits.

    The Group module allows you to create arbitrary collections of your content and users on your site and grant access control permissions on those collections.

    All of the functionality this module has to offer is based on custom entities, opening up the door to various extensions or alterations that the user sees fit. The relationship between a group and its content or users is also an entity, allowing you to easily add metadata to that relationship.

  • Dealing with Duplicate content

    Drupal 8 provides schema out of the box. It is semantic markup text that provides search engines with a basic blueprint to categorically divide and simplify the information by breaking it into simpler blocks for easy description and discovery.

    Schema, in multilingual and multiregional SEO provides each and every language content with same content id letting the search engine know that variations of same content, thus, cancelling out the content duplicacy issues.

    While this feature was part of Drupal 7, it was in the form of separate entity translation plugin, which wasn’t part of the core.

    The main challenge, however, remains how to concatenate content so search engines don’t think it’s duplicate.

    This can be solved with the Entity Translation module which allows entities (such as nodes) to be translated into different languages. It provides field-level translation, so that site builders can select which fields should be translatable. It provides a UI for users to translate these fields into other languages.
  • Path alias

    As a foundational element of the global SEO, URLs need to be determined your multilingual URL structure strategy early on in the process.

    While pathauto module automatically generates URL/path aliases for various kinds of content (nodes, taxonomy terms, users) without requiring the user to manually specify the path alias.

    By default, Drupal doesn’t allow the same URL over translated pages. It can be done by applying the patch and it will run.
  • Content Relevance Building unique vocabulary

    it is vital that you get the translations right. Seldom content relevance can get lost during translation, like the adventure in mistranslation costed HSBC $10 million for rebranding.  

    While the above instance is hilarious, it can be avoided for your digital property. You can build your custom vocabulary with Taxonomy. It is a core module in Drupal 8 and gives your sites use of the organizational keywords known in other systems as categories, tags, or metadata. It allows you to connect, relate and classify your website’s content. In Drupal, these terms are gathered within "vocabularies".

    The Taxonomy module allows you to create, manage and apply those vocabularies. translation module allows translation of taxonomy vocabularies and terms. 

funny-translationExito in Spanish means success, not exit

A word of caution, translate only when the logic prevails. Use separate vocabularies, translated vs untranslated, for different languages to begin with.

Building Multilingual LMS for Estee Lauder

Estee Lauder is a global leader in prestige beauty — delighting its consumers with its transformative products and experiences. It takes pride in focusing solely on prestige makeup and beauty care with a diverse portfolio of 25+ brands distributed globally through eCommerce channels and retail outlets sold in 150 countries. 

We built an open-source, multilingual, decoupled learning platform where beauty advisors could consume a vast set of learning resources.

The Multilingual Challenge

To ensure an effective product training and delivering the information fast knowledge exchange needs to be user-friendly, structured, and in their own language. With more than 25 languages, the LMS needed to provide complete translation of the entire system.

The lack of direct connection between the LMS user and the language demanded that each language be provided for different geography.  

Discover the La Mer Connection LEVELS CONTENT  CHS   La Mer Learning Experience

A video quiz in Japanese

learning level content   La Mer Learning ExperienceA video quiz in English

When designing the solution, we created a relation between market and language, and this worked as a bridge between available language for user selection. With a language and market segmentation/ filter, we could now access information about user activity based on their preference. 

We also helped Estee Lauder reduce 30% cost in classroom training and provided them with solution to track ROI from the learning and training initiatives.

Other Drupal Modules You Can Use

  • SEO Checklist: It uses best practices to check your website for proper search engine optimization. It eliminates guesswork by creating a functional to-do list of modules and tasks that remain. 
  • Real-time for SEO: This module helps you optimize content around keywords in a fast, natural, non-spam way.
  • Taxonomy title: It update the heading tag at the top of the taxonomy term page
  • Menu Attributes: It allows you to specify some additional attributes for menu items such as id, name, class, style, and rel.
  • Search 404 For pages that do not exist (404), it performs a search based on the keywords in the URL, and shows the relevant result instead of the 404 page. It also includes search engine keywords detections as well as regular expression based term filtering from the URL.

Best Multilingual Practices to Consider from Google 

  • Use different URLs for different language versions
  • Make sure the page language is obvious
  • Let the user switch the page language
  • Use language-specific URLs
  • Targeting site content to a specific country (geo-targeting)
  • Using locale-specific URLs (.in for India)

Conclusion

Multilingual SEO is one of the most complicated and ignored fragments of web marketing. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to provide broader language support. With their adroit skills, our experts save you from the stress and build the best and provide you with innovative multilingual services.

Contact us today, if you are looking to build or modernize your multilingual website without losing the SEO prowess. Drop a mail at business@srijan.net.

Topics: Drupal, Planet Drupal, MarTech

Smart Content Personalization Modules for your Drupal 8 Website

Posted by Akshita Rawat on May 28, 2019 10:16:00 AM

As a marketer, you want to make sure that the content you create stays with them. But chances of standing out in the crowd are meagre.

Why?

Because

  • there's a lot of content out there on the web
  • you might not know what your visitor is looking for, so you are showing standard content
  • those of your competitors who do know the visitor needs and preferences have already started working on personalization
After all, personalized content does 212% better (Hubspot) than standard. Why should anyone miss it? 

While the value of personalization is clear, the task can be overwhelming to get started with. If your digital property is on Drupal, you can begin with some of the content personalization modules to yield higher ROIs.

But you must know the challenges before conquering them.

The Challenges with Content Personalization

Personalized messaging not only yields higher ROI but gets you more loyal customers. 45% of online users are more likely to shop on a website that shows personalized suggestions.

 

According to a 2017 research lack of resources (42 percent) and research data (23 percent) remain top challenges for marketers in implementing personalization.

Developing Content 

Content is the only component that's hyper-relevant to the concept. Catering a tailored experience means dynamic and coordinate messaging across multiple digital channels. The content cannot be isolated.

Having the right content strategy in place is crucial.  

Adding personalization to the mix, you’re dealing with the need for individualized content that fuels and satiates the psychological wants for different segments and personas.

personalization-srijan

In order to recommend that ebook on DevOps Consulting to a CTO, you need to have the basic content around.  

Gathering the Right Data  

While marketers realize that a data audit is important to understand the users, what remains a challenge is which data to refer to. For an effective implementation various pieces of customer data need to be brought together to assemble a complete view of the customer.

With a larger 'data lake' at work, identifying a single source of customer truth gets tougher.   

A Hubspot research found that targeted and personalized CTAs had a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than the ones that were the same for every user.


Well, it all can start off small with modules.

Content Personalization With Drupal

A big part of improving user experience comes down to validating the content on your website. Drupal already gives us structured content. Further, there is no restriction on which marketing tools you apply as the Drupal managed content can be turned into standardized data sharing formats with its API-first approach.

  1. Taxonomy: Taxonomy is the practice of classifying content. It is beneficial as it helps define the vocabulary for everything from menu and navigation schemes to view and display options.

    In Drupal 8, it is a core module which allows you to connect, relate and classify your website’s content. Taxonomy is important for personalization as it helps build associations between your personas and the personalized content you’ve created.

    It enable native or third-party personalization tools to identify and pick the right content to showcase to the right user. 

    This is most effective for making intelligent content recommendations content to the visitor. The vocabulary ensures your targeted persona is seeing all the content that's contextually relevant to their historical behaviour on your site.

  2. Smart Content Module: Moving a step beyond taxonomy, you would want to display targeted content that speaks directly to your prospect, to tip the conversion scales. The Smart Content module, can integrate with any data source to help you deliver segmented content based on industry, buyer stage, location or other crucial segments.
    Drupal_SmartContent_srijan
    The module is most effective in conjunction with Smart Content Blocks and Smart Content Segments.

    1. Smart Content Blocks allow you to insert a Smart Block on any page in order to hide/show/swap content within that block, based on the conditions set. They can be added anywhere that traditional content blocks can be placed.
    2. Smart Content Segments allow you to create, save and manage sets of conditions, called segments. Smart Blocks can use any segment(s) to display the corresponding content. For example, conditionally displaying a Smart Block if it's the user’s first time on the site or conditionally displaying a Smart Block to a mobile user.
  1. Acquia Lift: Providing a suite of tools for content personalization, Acquia Lift helps you create contextual digital experiences. It merges content and customer data into one tool, empowering organizations to deliver the most cohesive and personalized experiences across multiple channels and devices.

    Among its other features, Acquia Lift includes content syndication giving organizations the ability to use content from anywhere to personalize across any digital platform, including Drupal and non-Drupal sites.

    Image result for Acquia Lift logoIt has functionalities like drag-and-drop user interface for targeting messages, syndicating content, behavioural targeting, A/B testing, unifying customer profile, and combining anonymous and known online visitor profiles.

    With the ability to target audiences in real-time, marketers can scale their web personalization efforts in order to drive conversions and bottom-line results.

    This gives digital marketers more control over automation, testing and measurement of marketing activities.

Wrapping Up 

At the enterprise level, Drupal has personalization tools and features built right in. So you can show the most relevant message to each of your visitors.

And while setting up personalization can look daunting, Srijan is always at your service to realize your digital business goals. Our work with one leading US media conglomerate and Estee Lauder is a testimony of our customer service and expertise in Drupal. 

Looking to enhance your customer experience and drive more conversions? Speak to our team of experts to explore how to get started.

Topics: Drupal, Personalization, Planet Drupal

The Modern Guide to Building the Right Content Strategy with Drupal

Posted by Akshita Rawat on May 21, 2019 12:00:00 AM

To keep up with consumer demand, businesses need to tactically rethink and reform the way they produce and manage content. 

What you need is a way to stand out in the consistent content chaos. To make that happen, you need a strategy that can help:

  • push out content intuitively
  • transform disorganized assets into a comprehensive manner
  • manage real-time collaboration effectively

And that’s where the role of a CMS is important.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to building the right content strategy with Drupal, focusing primarily on the technological aspect, which will help you build and establish the right notes with your audience.

You Need to Have a Content Strategy. But Why?

With an increase in the number of content dissemination channels, it is easy to lose consistency and easier to lose track of the larger goal.

“Pushing out content without being focused on the goal, its relevance, distribution, or the target audience is a waste of time and money – even if your content is amazing!”

The 2018 Demand Gen Report revealed that buyers are becoming more discerning and selective in the content they decide to consume. 88% agree that content producers need to focus less on product specifics and more on the value that can be brought to their business.

Infographic with three hexagons and text on it on a blue background

 

These key findings from the audience can be harnessed only with a well-designed content strategy. Which means by doing as little as creating a persona you get ahead of 58% of your competition (2018, CMI Report).

According to the same study, a whopping 97% of top performing B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy, while 32% of (overall) B2B marketers do not have a documented plan. In most cases, this means that they really have no clue what they’re doing.

Some of the benefits of a digital content strategy are:

  • Aligns your team with the organization’s mission/goals
  • Helps you figure out which types of content to develop and which will work
  • Keeps your team focused on priorities
  • Helps you allocate resources for better results
  • Clarifies your target audience/s

Building Content Strategy With Drupal

Traditionally, the content strategy involves planning, creation, and governance of content. However, with an explosion of channels and proliferation of new devices, content strategy can not be limited to just website content.

One of the challenges is to remain engaging yet relevant on different channels.

This can be solved by bringing uniformity and consistency across the various touch points from which a user can access information and engage with the content.

“The goal of the content strategy must be to strategically fit the reader into the marketing funnel”

Drupal’s dynamic features at the core make it a perfect fit to cater to the needs of creating great digital experiences. Here’s how:

Unifying the Content Strategy Across Channels with Drupal

Content Governance

Often neglected, content governance is a detailed framework of content delivery and management which ensures consistent brand storytelling across all media.

Implementing a content governance framework requires different users (from the same or different teams) to collaborate with a distinct workflow and audit trail effectively. In the face of exponential growth in the variety and volume of content,  Drupal helps manage, organize, and secure the content with Workflow and Staging.

Since editing the content on live site can also result in accidental publishing, Drupal’s Workflow module provides a separate staging environment . Drupal has an easy staging and preview of content in different environments anchoring full content staging capabilities.

You can define multiple workspaces such as "staging" and "live" which are copies of your site, to create content (or modify) and the changes are visible only within that workspace. Once the changes have been verified, you can "deploy" the content to another workspace.

User, roles, and permission: Security is important and that is why not every user can have permission to access the system of the website. Drupal offers a number of security modules which help manage and secure backend access. 

With User Access Control, site administrators on Drupal can work to provide unique user experiences and different access rights to writers, editors, marketers, and site visitors.

The Workflow module helps in creating arbitrary workflows and assigning them to entities. That's  important from a security perspective too. Workflow with the states like Draft, Review and Published can be assigned to Story node type.

Thus, only the users with ‘Editor’ permissions can set stories to the published state.

Some of the other Drupal modules which can be used are:

  • Workbench Access module: helps in creating editorial access control. Admin can grant access to the users and their content which can be found at My Workbench on Homepage. It harnesses content-focused features in one unified user interface.
  • Domain Access module: allows you to share users, content, and configurations across a group of sites.

Enterprise-wide password control systems

Password security is even more crucial and needs the right kind of strategic perspective with strong policies.Default password management could be considered good, but of course, it can be improved. Here’re some of the Drupal security modules that can be used to provide additional controls for password management:

  1. Password Strength: provides realistic password strength measurement and server-side enforcement for Drupal sites using pattern-matching and entropy calculation.
  2. Password Policy: provides a way to enforce constraints which must be met before a user password change will be accepted.
  3. Restrict Password Change: Adds a new permission 'change other users password'. When the user_profile_form is loaded it checks to see if the current user has the proper permission or if they are editing their own account, otherwise, it removes the password change option.
  4. Login Security: Login Security module improves the security options in the login operation of a Drupal site. By default, Drupal introduces only basic access control denying IP access to the full content of the site.
  5. Shibboleth Authentication: Provides user authentication as well as some authorisation features.
  6. Flood Control: Add an administration interface for hidden flood control variables in Drupal 7, like the login attempt limiters and future hidden variables.
  7. Secure Login: Ensures that the user login and other forms are submitted securely via HTTPS, thus preventing passwords and other private user data from being transmitted in the clear.

Digital Asset Management System: An important part of the governance is business workflow and common identity, which is significant for the smooth functioning of marketing. The CMS needs to provide the ability as a solid repository while also able to modify uploaded digital assets.

It should give editors the ability to make iterative changes to assets to enable promotion of products and brand across channels and devices. Digital Asset Management (DAM) smartly strategizes the way enterprises handle their digital assets.

The Acquia DAM Connector can sync your digital assets with your Drupal website, allowing editors to seamlessly use content from within all the websites you maintain. In order to ensure that the site is using the latest version of an asset stored, it periodically syncs assets from Acquia DAM via a cron job.

It also empowers editors to select Acquia DAM assets directly through a media field or through the WYSIWYG integration. Further, it enables the user to view asset metadata directly in the entity browser without importing the asset and provides a usage report of assets within Drupal.

“In the digital landscape, the creation of digital assets in large numbers is almost inevitable.”

Backup: Writing content is an intensive exercise. And so you need to have a backup to save yourself in case the website system crashes or is hacked.

Backup and Migrate: Back up and restore your Drupal MySQL database, code, and files or migrate a site between environments. Backup and Migrate supports gzip, bzip and zip compression as well as automatic scheduled backups.

Content Modelling with Drupal

Before you start building the site it is important to consider your content as a whole and work out a model that will guide you and the user to smoothly navigate through the website.

It entails detailed definitions of each content type’s elements and their relationships to each other. It also helps to identify the organization’s requirements, develop relevant taxonomy that meets those requirements, and consider where the content blocks and fields should be allowed or required. 

Content modelling is a critical starting point for website content.

Drupal is an incredible CMS for building a content-rich website. Built on its entity system and the variety of field types, Drupal can support a wide range of content models.

At core, it is built on View which can help sort out the default taxonomy/term view however you want. Let’s you want a way to display a block with the X most recent posts of some particular type.

It can be used for anything that handles the display of views, and the core Views UI module permits you to create and edit them in the administrative interface. When you define views, you are interested in taking data from your website and displaying it to the user.

Breaking content types into fields, it allows you to build structured content as well.

Modules like Paragraphs and Stacks let you build rich and dynamic content.

Layout Builder, a stabilized module, in Drupal 8.7, empowers you to build layouts with ready-to-use multi-column layouts and Drupal blocks without the intervention of a developer.

It is unique since it can support multiple and different use cases from templated layouts applied to dozens of pieces of structured content, to designing custom one-off pages with unstructured content.

Here’s how it can be used in three different use cases:

  1. Layouts for templated content: The creation of ‘layout templates’ can be used for a specific content type. Example, blog posts.
  2. Customizations to templated layouts: Can customize the layout templates on a case-by-case basis. Example, to override the layout of a standardized product page.
  3. Custom pages: The creation of custom landing pages which are not in sync to any particular content type or structured content. Example, a single ‘About us’ page.

The Layout Builder is more powerful when used with Drupal's other out-of-the-box features such as revisioning, content moderation, and translations.

Omnichannel Content Strategy with Drupal

Users are always at the centre. Therefore, the content strategy needs to be as dynamic as your user experiences across different channels, if it is to succeed. Omnichannel content strategy is a way to unify the experience across all the channels and touchpoints.

Irrespective of how and where the content/ products are being first consumed at, complete consistency and unified experience is expected.

API First Publishing with Drupal


Drupal 8 is API-first which means, it can power ambitious applications of all kinds, from behind-the-scenes systems written in languages like Python, Java or Go to rendered experiences using the latest frontend frameworks, like React, Vue and Ember.

Content touchpoints are proliferating at a fast clip. You now have conversational UI, digital signage, medical and healthcare devices, and it lets you integrate with other systems, use your content anywhere, display it as you please. API-First Drupal is well positioned for entire digital ecosystems.

 

 

The JSON:API module, which is also now in core with Drupal 8.7, is meant for creating high-performance APIs to expose Drupal data in JSON. It works by creating API endpoints and requires no configuration and the module instantly accesses all Drupal entities.

It not only provides a great authoring experience but also a powerful, standards-compliant, web service API to pull that content into JavaScript applications, digital kiosks, chatbots, voice assistants and more.

This makes it easier for Drupal’s core ecosystem, of web services responsible for third-party content and application, to integrate.

Mobile-first and Out of the Box Responsive


Accessibility via any device needs to be useable too. Drupal 8 has been designed with a mobile-first strategy. The responsive design ensures that content and layout are scaled based on the viewport size available.

With  Breakpoint and Responsive Image, out-of-the-box Drupal 8 ships with two modules that ensure mobile-first behaviour .

Responsive content needs to be modular and readable so readers can easily consume it.

Drupal for mobile lets you easily define different pieces of content for different devices. Each field in the backend can be uniquely styled and prioritized according to its content type.

Personalization with Drupal

No matter how good your content is, no one will bother to read it if it doesn’t talk to them, in their own language. Every content piece needs to communicate with your audience and increase the relevance of product proposition, by addressing their unique fears, needs and desires.

This orchestrates customer experience and drive engagement.

Personalization brings familiarity, which brings strength to customer loyalty to your brand, helps track demographics and behavioural patterns and convert an anonymous user into a potential customer.

Acquia Lift solves the challenges for digital teams, by bringing together content and user profile data from any source to personalize the customer journey in ways not previously possible. More than a headline swap or banner choice, Lift presents wholly targeted experiences based on broadly observed visitor behaviors as well as specific user preferences and interactions in real time with the very first engagement across any device or channel.

“And 81% of B2B Marketers (2018, CMI Report) believe that building a content strategy makes it easier to determine which types of content to develop.”

Drupal in Other Marketing Technology

New technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) among others are reshaping how users consume content. It’s a big opportunity for companies to produce and recycle the same content through different channels and mediums. All the while keeping people engaged.

Virtual Reality

Immersive experiences created by virtual reality is the “Next Big Thing” happening. Virtual reality has seen a surge lately, with constantly emerging in Gartner Hype Cycle. While it is rapidly approaching a much more mature stage, in the enterprise sector, virtual reality has already lots of scenarios where it gets employed with success.

For instance, educational purposes. VR can enable a lot of more experiences that in reality are not possible or too dangerous.

Here’s a demo video of a high school student, Jordan who explores Massachusetts State University (a fictional university, built on Drupal) from the comfort of his couch. Jordan is able to take a virtual tour directly from the university's website.

 
Augmented Reality

Another part of the futuristic technology, AR can be used to superimpose useful information in a shopping experience.


The demonstration shown in this video displayed a shopper interacting with the AR application. The mobile application of Freshland Market (a fictional grocery store), built on Drupal 8, guided the shopper through her shopping list.

Wrapping Up

Often, it can be a virtual nightmare for content producers and marketers trying to find the right piece at the right time. Even so, if the content is all in one place, time-consuming complicated systems can mess up really bad.

Drupal 8 provides a perfect foundation for the incorporation of technologies to enable a smart strategy for your brand, content, and digital marketing needs. Your organization might be at infancy or already up with your content strategy, you can always reach out to our experts who can help you deliver quality results with personalized experiences.

Topics: Drupal, Security, Omnichannel

Drupal and Accessibility: Does the Community Stand by What it Preaches?

Posted by Akshita Rawat on May 16, 2019 3:32:00 PM

“..an inclusive community, we are committed to making sure that Drupal is an accessible tool for building websites that can also be accessed by people with disabilities.”

Calling accessibility as one of Drupal's core values and principles, the Drupal community has always stood to comply with web accessibility standards. Although with an absence of hard and fast rules to adhere to, the community has faced backlash in recent times.

First, with adopting Gutenberg (editor) and second with the release of Layout Builder, there have been some important questions and concerns about accessibility in the community.

This Global Accessibility Awareness Day, an awareness day to focus on digital access and inclusion for the more than one billion people with disabilities and impairments, let's take a look at how close is Drupal to its commitment towards web accessibility.

The Accessibility Controversy

a black and white design with G written in centreIn 2018, with WordPress 5.0 prepared to be released, the Gutenberg editor, a decoupled React based editing experience, was out for testing. Among other concerns like inconsistent user interface behaviour, difficulties with keyboard navigation through blocks ( far too heavily reliant on hover-based functionality), complexity to use it, the assessors were quick to call it inaccessible.

Drupal’s adoption of Gutenberg, got it in the fallout.

In another instance, when Drupal 8.5 released Layout Builder, the lack of accessibility in the feature brought the community into the topic of debate - how strongly does Drupal commit to accessibility?

How does Drupal ensure Web Accessibility?

Accessibility is about promoting inclusion than benefitting a small set of people with disabilities. It is about ensuring equal and inclusive access to the web resources, for the widest possible audience, without any bias.

And this has been reiterated in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), that explains how web content can be made more accessible to people.

Drupal, in its Values and Principles, effectively lays down their commitment towards creating software which conforms to the accessibility guidelines. It conforms to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines which address:

  • Authoring tools, as part of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG 2.0)
  • Web content, as part of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0)

As a result, it can be used both by developers as well as the site visitors.

Drupal has its own accessibility team, which helps identify the barriers occurring at the code level and the awareness level, and also resolves them. A number of such issues in the core have been identified and resolved, while also creating awareness within the community.

Some of these improvements included: Search engine form and presentation, drag and drop, color contrast, image handling, form labelling and so on.

Accessibility for developers is another added feature in Drupal, and through D7AX, it is an easy job to find contributed modules and themes which also support the development of accessible websites.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the key modules and features of Drupal that help overcome web compatibility issues, and ensure easier web accessibility:

Key Modules

Automatic Alt text It automatically generates an alternative text for images when no alt text has been provided by the user.
 Block ARIA Landmark Roles  It adds additional elements to the block configuration forms that allow users to assign an ARIA landmark role to a block.
 CKEditor Abbreviation  It adds a button to CKEditor which helps in inserting and editing abbreviations in a given text.
 CKEditor Accessibility Checker  It enables the Accessibility Checker plugin in your WYSIWYG editor, which then helps inspect the content accessibility level; and solve them.
 High Contrast  It allows the user to quickly switch between the active theme and a high contrast version of it.
 htmLawed  It utilizes the htmLawed PHP library to limit and filter HTML for consistency with site administrator policy and standards and for security.
 Style Switcher  Themers can provide a theme with alternate stylesheets. Allowing special styling for some part of the site, the module presents all those styles as a block with links. So any site user is able to choose the style of the site he/she prefers.
 Text Resize  It provides the end-users with a block for changing the font size of text on your Drupal site.
 Accessibility  It gives a list of available Accessibility tests, aligned to guidelines like WCAG 2.0 or Section 508.


Key Features:

  1. Semantics in the Core

Drupal has been built to encourage and support the proper use of semantic markup. Thus composing semantically correct HTML informs the browser and the assistive technology about the type of content it is managing with, and how this relates to other content.

This helps the assistive technologies carry out its activity effortlessly since they now have a structure to work with.

 2. Aural Alerts

Drupal provides a method called “Drupal.announce()” which helps make page updates obvious, in a non-visual manner. This method creates an aria-live element on the page.

 3. Controlled Tab Order

Drupal’s TabbingManager is an awesome medium to direct both non-visual and non-mouse users on the page, to access the prime elements in a logical order. And thus permits more control while exploring complex UIs.

 4. Accessible Inline Form Errors

Drupal forms are now more open to the expansion of available inline form errors. So now, it is easier for everyone to identify what errors made while filling in a web form.

 5. Fieldsets

Fieldset labels are utilized as systems for gathering related segments of forms. When effectively implemented, these labels give visual diagrams around the shape field gathering.

Presently, Drupal uses fieldsets for radios & checkboxes in the Form API. This helps towards additionally upgrading forms in Drupal.

What was the Outcome of the Controversy?

As always, the community has stood by accessibility as one of the core tenets. In a blog, Drupal's commitment to accessibility, Dries Buytaert - Drupal Founder - writes on the issue and how seriously the community takes the commitment to accessibility.

With that said, he announced that the Layout Builder functionality would be in a "stable" state for production use after ensuring that it passes the accessibility gate (Level AA conformance with WCAG and ATAG). This holds for both the authoring tool itself, as well as the markup that it generates.

With accessibility maintaining team, it has been jointly agreed that:

  • The first priority is WCAG 2.0 AA conformance. This means that in order to be released as a stable system, the Layout Builder must reach Level AA conformance with WCAG. Without WCAG 2.0 AA conformance, a stable version of Layout Builder won’t be released. This happened with a stable release of Layout Builder in 8.7.
  • The next priority is WCAG 2.1 AA conformance. Because these guidelines are still new (formally approved in June 2018), the stable version of Layout Builder won’t be held on them but are committed to implementing them as quickly as possible, even if some of the items are after the initial release.
  • While WCAG AAA conformance is not something currently being pursued, there are aspects of AAA that we are discussing adopting in the future. For example, the new 2.1 AAA "Animations from Interactions", which can be framed as an achievable design constraint: anywhere an animation is used, it will be ensured that the designs are understandable/operable for those who cannot or choose not to use animations.

The commitment to this ideal, by the leadership at Drupal and by the larger community, has remained steadfast despite challenges. The announcement and commitment to conform to AA level has reinstated the faith in the community towards its values.  

Ready to build digital experiences that are truly great for your customers - frictionless, accessible, and inclusive? Drop us a line, and our Drupal experts will be in touch.

Topics: Drupal, Accessibility

Hello, Drupal 8.7! We've Been Expecting You

Posted by Akshita Rawat on May 1, 2019 4:52:00 PM

Web development has moved forward from writing websites by developing codes to a place where people can assemble the websites. And that is where the Drupal community is focusing on to advance - building assembled web experiences.

Drupal 8.7 releases today, on 1 May. It is in sync with that same roadmap (building assembled websites) providing enhanced customization, stable features, better UI and what not?

Here’s a quick and comprehensive guide for you to track what’s new in version 8.7 and how it paves the way for Drupal 9.

Drupal 8.7 Features and Updates

This is a significant update. It brings with it a stable Layout builder and Media Library, JSON API at the core, tour integration, seamless working of Content Moderation and Workspaces together, and a continued stabilized migration path.

Drupal 8.7 update retains the relevance in the emerging world of web technologies and competition. Riding on its API capabilities, new changes are aimed to be user-friendly.

Here’s a look at the host of features it brings along.

  • JSON:API at Core

    The update brings with it JSON:API at the core, marking another milestone towards making Drupal API-first. API-first means using the flexibility of Drupal to integrate it with other systems and be able to use content anywhere, display as you please.
    Content creators can, now, create their content models without having to write a single line of code.


    JSON:API module for Drupal 8 in action

    The JSON:API module is meant for creating high-performance APIs to expose Drupal data in JSON. It works by creating API endpoints and requires no configuration and the module instantly accesses all Drupal entities.

    Developers and content creators, now, can create their content models without having to write a single line of code. It not only provides a great authoring experience but also a powerful, standards-compliant, web service API to pull that content into JavaScript applications, digital kiosks, chatbots, voice assistants and more.

    This makes it easier for Drupal’s core ecosystem, of web services responsible for third-party content and application, to integrate.
  • Stable Layout Builder

    Released in 8.6 as an experimental module, Layout Builder is stabilized in Drupal 8.7 update. The module allows you to build layouts with ready-to-use multi-column layouts and Drupal blocks without the intervention of a developer.

    It is unique since it can support multiple and different use cases from templated layouts applied to dozens of pieces of structured content, to designing custom one-off pages with unstructured content.


    Drupal Layout Builder in action

    Here’s how it can be used in three different use cases:

    • Layouts for templated content: The creation of ‘layout templates’ can be used for a specific content type. Example, blog posts.
    • Customizations to templated layouts: Can customize the layout templates on a case-by-case basis. Example, to override the layout of a standardized product page.
    • Custom pages: The creation of custom landing pages which are not in sync to any particular content type or structured content. Example, a single ‘About us’ page.

      The Layout Builder is more powerful when used with Drupal's other out-of-the-box features such as revisioning, content moderation, and translations.
  • Workflow

    The workflow module enables you to create arbitrary workflows in Drupal and associate them with entities.
    The support for more revisionable properties would allow the staging of both content and associated properties
    However, taxonomy terms were not revisionable.

    The main issue with non-revisionable terms is site-wide previews of not yet published content (nodes, media items, taxonomy terms, menu links, etc.), through the Workspaces module.

    Taxonomy terms are now revisionable using the new API. This comes as part of the Entity system that helps retrieve an entity for converting the schema of a content entity type from non-revisionable/ non-translatable to revisional/translatable.

    This works well with other pre-existing data for the entity type whose schema has been changed and comes handy with content revisioning. The support for more revisionable properties would allow the staging of both content and associated properties.

    EntityDefinitionUpdateManage is now deprecated with no replacement.

    At the moment core only supports sequential revisioning, parallel revisioning support will be added in 8.8.
  • Media Library

    Shipped as an experimental module in 8.6, Media library is now stabilized and good to use.

    It provides a visually appealing interface for browsing through all the media items in your site. With the new version, multimedia properties can be added to content either by selecting from existing media or by uploading new media through bulk upload support. Once uploaded, users can remove or reorder any images ready for import.


    Media Library in Drupal 8.7

    It provides an easy way to upload several media assets in your Drupal website quickly. Let’s you add alt-text, check the images before uploading.

    Powered by Views, it allows site builders to customize the display, sorting, and filtering options.
  • Configuration Management

    The configuration management system in Drupal 8 is quite decent and allows configuration to be synced between installations of the same site in different environments. Configuration Management is part of the Configuration Management 2.0 Initiative which aims to include core support for extended workflows.

    The current workflow presumes that the configuration will be exactly the same in different environments. Developers have to edit the configuration when it is not present.
    The idea behind CM 2.0 is to the use case of sharing reusable packages of configuration among multiple sites
    The major drawback which comes as an API for both the DX and API architecture is:

    It allows modifying the sync storage as it is manipulated but since it has no concept of intent, the developer has to know which methods are called in which order of both the import and export process to correctly interact with it.

    Configuration Management 2.0 in version 8.7 allows the altering and importing the configuration. The idea is to the use case of sharing reusable packages of configuration among multiple sites is on (at least!) a fully equal footing with that of staging configuration on a single site.

    This allows the site administrator to review and safely import available configuration updates from installed modules, themes, and the install profile without overriding customizations made on the site. With 8.7 it can add the ability to select and use an existing configuration directory or storage at install time.

    Configuration Transformer API as the fundamental cornerstone has been added to bulk update configuration. It makes it easier for configuration on dev to be different from production

    New/expanded configuration management UIs for the issues (mentioned above) added to par with a new-to-Drupal site maintainer persona in mind. Experimental module for allowing environment-specific configuration has been introduced in 8.7.
    D8.7 INFOGRAPHIC-srijan

And Drupal 9 readiness...

In order to give people reasonable upgrade time from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9, Drupal 9 will be released no later than a year before Drupal 8 goes end of life, that is in 2020.

Also, Drupal 9.0 is skipped, as it's intended to be only deprecated code removals, no new capabilities.

Other Important Information

Some other important information to take note of, are:

  1. Removed support for PHP 5

    Drupal 8.7 would no longer support the obsolete versions of PHP. Version 5.5 reached the end of life in 2016 and 5.6 in December 2018 meaning it no longer receives bugfixes, even for very serious bugs that (might) impact Drupal development. Moving forward Drupal encourages to use PHP V.7 or above.

    Since Drupal 8's automated tests require the PHPUnit library, continued use of obsolete version can put security at risk.
  2. End of support for Internet Explorer 9

    Due to a limit of 31 style sheets per page, Drupal dropped support for Internet Explorer 9 and 10 in 8.4. Since Drupal 8.5 and 8.6 retained a workaround to allow 32 or more stylesheets, this workaround has been removed in 8.7.

    Sites dependent on Internet Explorer 9 support should enable CSS aggregation (preferred) or install the IE9 Compatibility contributed module.
  3. Better Symfony 4 and 5 compatibility

    Drupal 8.7 will provide better compatibility with both Symfony 5 and Symfony 4 for faster web development, since Symphony 3 enters the end of life in November 2021. This includes changes in the Container and Translator Interface Symfony components, as well as resolving critical compatibility issues.

    Additionally, numerous critical Symfony 4 and 5 compatibility issues are resolved in this release.

What to expect from Drupal 8.8?

Here’s what you need to look forward to in Drupal 8.8.

  • The Welcome Tour
    Adding Tour content for those unfamiliar with Drupal. This would help to teach people Drupal with hands-on experience, explaining backend/frontend choices made to build Umami.
  • Composer Support in Core
    Involves making an official method for starting a Drupal site with the composer kickstart template.
  • Admin UI and Javascript Modernization
    The new admin theme is part of the Admin UI and JS modernization initiative and will be released with Drupal 8.8.

    The goal is to create and update the admin look, that defines a complete set of principles while also consisting of visual and behavioural components to combine into a user-friendly interface.

    This will be based mostly on Seven’s styles theme.
    drupal-theme-layout
    menu-theme-layoutThe navigation pages on the admin UI has been designed with an emphasis on readability, and reusability of existing styles from other components.
    language-theme-layoutMockup of the interface with text written using the Devanagari writing system

    This would come with various benefits, including improved performance and better support for various writing systems. Using system fonts will also make the UI feel more familiar to the user since it will be closer to the users' environment.

    Drupal 8.8 Feature Freezes: October 2019
    Drupal 8.8 Releases: December 2019

    With Drupal’s commitment to reinventing itself to enable ambitious digital experiences, the community is getting ready for the launch of Drupal 9, and current updates are well in sync with it.

    Have questions about Drupal 8 features or 9 and how it might impact you? Already chalking out an upgrade plan? Our team of Drupal experts and range of Drupal development services are ready to help.

    Drop us a line at business@srijan.net, and get the conversation started.

    Srijan is Signature Supporting Partner to the Drupal Association. With 140+ seasoned Drupalers of which 56+ are Acquia Certified, Srijan has the largest team of Drupal experts in Asia. 

Topics: Drupal, Planet Drupal

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