Drupal 8 as a Media CMS in 2017 and beyond

By Gaurav Mishra Feb 3, 2017

What publication in print and in broadcast today doesn’t need a web presence, or a mobile and tablet platform! How effective is a media platform if it doesn't provide an immersive experience across devices? How does one create and deliver content over these channels in the most cost and time-effective way?

If a media organization doesn’t have a system in place that integrates content dissemination across these digital platforms, the company ends up wasting huge resources in duplicated efforts towards creating customized content for these varied platforms it has to serve. 

Let's take a look at how Drupal 8 served as a powerful media CMS two enterprise media portals, to solve this exact problem.

A Tale of Two Media Firms

1843, The Economist

When The Economist redeveloped, re-branded, and re-launched its Intelligent Life magazine as 1843 in March 2016, it received a warm welcome from the readers. However, almost immediately, the management noticed that the magazine’s digital presence remained abysmal, and offered little aesthetic engagement. 

Moreover, the editorial team had to prep the same content approximately five times to cater to the print, the Web, the tablet, and the mobile platforms. Naturally the whole digital endeavor seemed expensive and pointless. 

A London based consultant was promptly roped in to revive the digital platforms. The Economist was using Drupal across its operations for a long time. Hence it was decided that Drupal be used as the chosen media CMS to renew and revamp the digital platforms. 

The decision benefitted The Economist in more ways than one. 

Customized User Experience
As a media CMS, Drupal allows fast delivery and scalability. It thrives on innovation. For 1843, it allowed building customized and intuitive user experiences and content management workflows for the website and apps. It made handling the huge amount of content, data, and images extremely easy, keeping the possibility of traditional user authentication in place. 

The editorial team’s effort around content customization was reduced by more that 80 percent. 

  • Drupal’s power, flexibility, and over 200 “out of the box” features took care of all 1843’s requirements, including web features, custom editorial workflows, and publishing options. 
  • Simplified workflow system where the editorial team fed the digital content in the primary source only once; it could now format and customize the content and its delivery cycle for each platform, with no additional effort. 
  • It also provided a solid base for future website improvements and maintenance, and allowed making immense SEO improvements to the new 1843 site. 

Mobile First Design

Further, Drupal enabled the creation of a mobile-first design, focusing on beautiful imagery, which could be delivered in its best form irrespective of the device or screen size. This helped to replicate the rich and luxurious feel of the 1843 print magazine on the apps. Commercially, this impressed and convinced brand partners and generated premium revenue through advertisement.

The Results

After the digital 1843 magazine was launched on May 7, 2016. 

  • page views increased by 227%
  • visits to the page increased by 295%
  • unique visits increased by 263% 
  • duplication of effort was reduced by 80%


Coverage and readership of the magazine increased massively after the launch of the new digital versions, and helped create a new brand impression for 1843, as was desired. 

OPEN Magazine

OPEN was looking to revamp their website into a powerful marketing vehicle that would help acquire prospective readers & subscriptions. They were using Drupal 6 as their media CMS, and needed a facelift as it was more than six years old. They wanted a new site with contemporary design sensibilities, and simpler user experience. Technically, they also needed a platform that allowed their team to easily edit and manage content.

Srijan decided to migrate the site to Drupal 8, making life easier for OPEN’s editorial teams. We did some rapid prototyping to lock in the look and feel of the new site, and then there was the migration.

The Result

  • Drupal 8 gave them the option to create, display and sort all the latest content according to the different categories. They had the flexibility to query the site's content and display it in a block, table, page or in any other format required.
  • Drupal 8’s CKEditor module allowed for simplified and faster website content creation. It is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, which means that text edited in it looks as close as possible to the end result that users would see after the document is published.
  • Mobile-first strategy made sure that the site had extremely high usability and article discoverability on mobile

Drupal 8's Media Initiative

While Drupal is bringing great results for companies as a media CMS, it’s getting better and stronger with every version. 

The Drupal 8.X versions offer over 200 new features and improvements. The team has already separated Media functionality into several independent modules and these components are further getting re-architectured. These smaller, independent modules are already being used successfully by practitioners to significantly enhance user experience. These advancements have also made operations and control of complex and larger websites and content management systems easier with Drupal. 

The ownership team working on Drupal Media in Core and media improvements met and sprinted for a week in December 2016. They are now trying to bring media into the core of Drupal, and not just let it lie in the contrib platform. This might look like an unnecessary investment, given their outstanding performance, in the Lightning and Thunder apps. Yet, the team is undertaking this important step to ensure standardization and documentation of the media solutions available in Drupal. This will help new and upcoming Drupal solution providers to access media solutions easily, fly out of the box with these solutions, and promote innovation.

What all of this means for media companies in 2017

It’s proven that Drupal platforms allow for flexibility, innovation, the fastest delivery, and scalability according to business needs and digital versions. It is the media CMS of choice for NBCUniversal, TIME, the Grammys, and several other high-traffic media portals. It saves effort and time, thereby reducing cost and wastage of resources.

Additionally, for media companies, Drupal 8 is good news because:  

The media module will change the game in 2017. The Drupal Media Team commits to providing the best media solution available in any web framework. Although this will take many more months of work, volunteers are committed to meet at least three more times, for a week each, in 2017 to take the framework ahead. Seeing the magnificent outcome and potential in Drupal’s future, professionals and investors are also stepping up to contribute. 

Now is the right time for businesses to look at Drupal as more than a CMS, and adopt it to power their digital interaction and customer experience because by the end of 2017, the Drupal platform will change the way websites do business for their companies. 

If you would like to take your digital strategy forward with Drupal 8, let's start a conversation about how we can help.

Let’s start our conversation

  • Business Inquiry
  • Career
  • Others

Business Inquiry