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Drupal 8 is fast approaching its first birthday and a question we keep hearing is, “is Drupal 8 suitable for my smaller site?”. There’s no denying that a lot of focus has been on enterprise level features and this has led to some concerns that Drupal 8 might not be suitable for some smaller use cases. So, is it true that Drupal 8 is only suited for enterprise clients?

The Theory

In a word, no. In a few more words, Drupal 8 is far more suited for use on small sites than Drupal 7 was when it first launched.

Moving the Views module into core, the huge amount of accessibility improvements and the greatly improved editor experience all mean that Drupal 8 provides the majority of tools needed for modern websites out of the box. Furthermore, the clearer release scheduling allowed the community to convert many contributed modules before Drupal 8 was even officially released.

The Practice

The theory is all well and good but lots of things sound good until they’re used. Here at CTI, we’ve recently developed and launched two Drupal 8 microsites with Manchester Central; The Town Hall and Central Library. In addition to providing our client with a great, modern site, developing these sites with Drupal 8 allowed us to evaluate it under real world conditions. Hopefully you agree with us that the sites turned out great.

The majority of the code behind these sites was provided by the Drupal community. As I mentioned in the theory section, Drupal 7 caused some problems for early adopters. Many popular contributed modules weren’t ready, had major bugs or simply didn’t exist. These two sites are using more than twenty contributed modules between them along with a handful of custom modules that we developed for more bespoke functionality.

“So”, I hear you ask, “there’s plenty of modules out there but do they do what I need?” Well, Google Analytics is ready to connect your site for tracking customer behaviour. Admin Toolbar will make it easier for site administrators to get to the pages they want. Pathauto can set consistent, SEO-friendly URLs for your content. Simple Sitemap is ready to provide sitemaps for search engines. Even modules that provide development benefits such as Devel and Stage File Proxy have functional Drupal 8 releases. This is just scratching the surface.

I won’t pretend there weren’t any teething troubles. A handful of the contributed modules required fixes but our developers either provided patches or worked with the community to identify and solve the issues. Additionally, there weren’t any full featured base themes available when development started. The custom base theme we developed, along with the responsive, HTML5 site specific themes were able to take advantage of the many Drupal 8 theme layer improvements. The Twig template engine, instead of the old PHPTemplate, was a particular favourite here as it minimises extra code in the template files and helps enforce the separation between presentation and data processing that we always strive for.

Clearly, Drupal 8 is more than suitable for smaller sites. The difference is Drupal 8 has the foundations in place to grow with you and your organisation. If you have any doubts or questions, get in touch with the helpful team here at CTI. If it turns out Drupal isn’t right for you, well, we have other expertise too, such as Marketing and Magento services.