How Government Websites Can Leverage Drupal To Enhance User Experience

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By Urvashi Melwani Sep 28, 2021

The first probable instance of Drupal being used for any sort of government website or initiative was in 2004. CivicSpace, built on Drupal, was used to run the extremely popular, web-driven presidential campaign of Howard Dean. 

Drupal has come a long way since then. Now, government agencies around the world are increasingly embracing digital initiatives, such as open-source web management systems. They have now turned to Drupal to disseminate information, enable citizens to understand their agency mission and vision and streamline their internal operations and communications. 

While Drupal is already powering millions of government websites, its open-source nature and capabilities, such as security, cost-effectiveness, high performance, simple content management, and so on, make it the optimal choice for governments to deliver powerful and reliable digital experiences.

Why is Drupal the first preference for government websites?

Drupal has garnered a lot of attention in government sectors across the globe. Its solidity and flexibility have been the primary reasons why big government organizations, such as the White House, Prime Minister of Australia's website, have decided to move their online portals to Drupal.

As government websites contain colossal amounts of sensitive and private information and witness heavy traffic every day, Drupal is a natural choice due to its robust architecture, reliability, unrelenting security, and flexible functionalities.

Let's take a look at some information that substantiates the above statement:

 

Some of the other compelling advantages that Drupal offers for government bodies to be more efficient and serve their citizens better are:

Security

With cyberattacks soaring uncontrollably, it has become a do-or-die situation for government agencies to protect their site from data breaches and risk exposure. Any loss or theft of information from their website can tarnish their image and may result in loss of public trust.

Although open-source platforms are conventionally considered more susceptible to threats, Drupal has successfully put an end to this assumption. It has a proven track record of eliminating bugs and threats before any mishap takes place.
Drupal has a dedicated security team and an identical committee ( security working group) to proactively ensure that the core and contributed modules abide by the security standards and best practices. You can refer to this extensive list of Drupal security modules for your website.

Multisite and Multilingual

It is abundantly clear that the government runs multiple websites in different languages to manage various administrative tasks and simultaneously reach maximum people with the desired information.

Regardless of whether the government has just a couple of websites or a few hundred, the exercise to individually build and maintain each one of them is no mean feat. 

With Drupal CMS’s multisite functionality, it is a breeze to build and manage multiple websites simultaneously. It facilitates developers to copy the site’s codebase and create as many websites as required. This practice ensures cost and time efficiency, in terms of development, as well as maintenance.

While the ability to create multi-sites is now an ordinary feature for most CMS platforms, Drupal provides an added advantage that sets it apart from others. Being an open-source CMS, it does not charge additional fees, when you add multiple sites, unlike a proprietary CMS.

The multisite functionality allows enterprises to centrally regulate brand guidelines and simultaneously manage content in a hassle-free manner.

Government sites should be able to communicate with people in their preferred languages. So, Drupal offers multilingual capabilities and supports out-the-box translation for more than 100 languages. 

Thus, the setting up of multiple sites in multiple languages becomes a no-sweat task with Drupal CMS.

Accessibility

Visitors/Citizens anticipate that government websites should provide them with seamless access to critical information and resources, irrespective of their abilities. As a result, agencies should focus on accessible design and accessibility compliance from the beginning of the project to avoid any re-work or delays. 

An accessible design makes content accessible and provides a pleasant experience through screen readers, voice commands, and keyboard-only access to potential visitors, including those with disabilities.

Drupal’s central objective revolves around meeting web accessibility standards; a non-negotiable feature for all government and public sector websites. It is compliant with the most recent Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) and ADA guidelines, including the platform’s authoring experience. 

It implies that people with disabilities can add and edit content, read news, fill out forms, and so on. It allows screen readers to identify text correctly, suggest accessible color contrast and intensity, build friendly images, and supports skip navigation in the core theme. All of these features make Drupal an obvious choice for governments and organizations. 

Simple content management

Government organizations have to generate dynamic content every day, such as blogs, statistics, statements, videos, images, and so on, to keep citizens aware of their operations. 

 In such a scenario, Drupal comes in handy as it allows government website administrators to generate content faster and in the simplest way possible. Its ‘What you see is what you get’ (WYSIWYG) editor supports text formatting, links, embedded media, and much more.

Site administrators can also customize roles, permissions, and content workflows. This is another appealing functionality that makes Drupal a favorable CMS for governments. A team member with permission to create blogs, stories, polls, and pages can have complete control over the content; where and how it is displayed can be managed by another team member.

Cost Efficiency

More often than not, governments have tight budgets. even for high-priority tasks. With Drupal, government organizations can tap into a free, open-source platform that is supported by one of the largest developer communities in the world.

So, governments can create websites on a simple budget, deliver a pleasant experience to their citizens, and avoid exorbitant software licensing fees. Drupal can achieve this through compelling features, such as content strategy, user experience, and design layouts. Moreover, Drupal’s flexible modules reduce or eliminate the need for custom code.

Performance

Government sites need to be prepared at all times to manage a sudden surge in traffic. Traffic surges typically occur, when government notifications, such as weather warnings, civic updates, or celebratory events, are posted on their websites.

For instance, a massive internet outage that took place in June 2021 affected some eminent sites like the Guardian, the UK government’s website gov.uk, Amazon, and Reddit. Users had to wait for more than an hour to access the sites. The outage occurred due to a failure in the content delivery network (CDN) run by Fastly. Millions of visitors received error messages, including ‘error 503 services unavailable’ and ‘connection failure’.

So, government websites should be built on top of a robust CMS, like Drupal. Some of the most visited government websites in the world, such as NASA, The State of Georgia, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and so on, are powered by Drupal. These sites are capable of handling both sudden traffic surges and millions of visitors a month, without crashing or breaking.

System Integrations

Drupal’s modular framework enables the integration of your existing system with other business applications to leverage different services, even with proprietary solutions. It gives government agencies the flexibility to accommodate both current and upcoming needs. 

Drupal’s API-first approach aids government sites to link with other platforms that provide APIs. 

These Drupal integrations are possible because of the highly extensive libraries API and an extremely robust and extensible services layer, which ensures the smooth consumption of APIs from external systems.

Examples of Drupal CMS Powered Government Sites 

 

Case in point- The Colorado General Assembly

 

A person showing Drupal government website on mobile phone.

Source - Drupal.org

The Colorado General Assembly website represents the state legislature of Colorado and its four service agencies- the Joint Budget Committee, the Office of the State Auditor, the Office of Legislative Legal Services, and the Legislative Council Staff.

All these institutions collectively wanted a digital platform that simplified the task of publishing and disseminating legislative-related information.

The agency created a centralized hub, majorly focusing on efficiency, accessibility, and education.

It chose Drupal for building a digital platform to organize the vast amount of information through its internal servers and upload content to the desired location on the website, without any manual intervention. It reduced the strain of manually adding content and also ensured that it was easy to navigate to the relevant information. 

Officials were able to easily access bills and documents based on topics, content tags, or bills sections.

To enhance the user experience, bill progression graphics were introduced to showcase the history and status of the legislation. It also contained committee summaries and sponsor pages to give users an idea of how different actors can impact the process.

 

Case in point- Government of Bermuda

 

A government website with all features and capabilities

Source - Drupal.com

The Government of Bermuda knew that its existing portal was not meeting their needs of seamlessly engaging with residents and businesses. It provided a fragmented experience, with no analytics to understand and measure utilization of web technologies.

Internal hosting also resulted in frequent server crashes. Additionally, the siloed and outdated solution created multiple issues for citizens and businesses in terms of multiple login credentials and payments for all goods and services online.

Their digital agency helped them build a solid foundation on Drupal for building, expanding, managing, and promoting the Government’s online activities. Drupal 7 was used to build a fully responsive solution for multiple devices - mobile, tablet, and desktop. As a result: 

  • Content is dynamically driven with an additional focus on analytics.
  • Site editors are now able to use the CMS features, irrespective of their level of technology skills. 
  • Manual migration from multiple platforms by site editors is enabled.
  • Effective SEO tools have been included.

The Bermuda government was able to successfully innovate the delivery of its services by gathering, storing, and managing all of the country’s data in a consistent, secure, and centralized manner.

Deliver vital government services with Drupal CMS

For over the past few decades, it was acceptable for governments to have any sort of basic semblance of a website in place. However, governments today must be extensively communicative, collaborative, and innovative in how they engage with their citizens to meet their governance expectations.

Drupal is one of the most powerful and flexible CMS that powers some of the world’s largest and highly visible websites. Srijan has and continues to be a Drupal-focused company, enabling numerous organizations around the world to create new digitally-driven experiences. 

Find out how we can help you take advantage of Drupal features to manage and create content for your website, as well as deliver the best digital experiences for your users. Drop us a line and our team will get in touch with you right away.

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