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Drupal Voice Search: How to Set Up Search Based on Voice Recognition on Your Drupal Site
Drupal voice search has gone from trend to standard these days.  So, you can't help ask yourself:  "How do I enable search based on voice recognition on my Drupal website?"  And that's precisely the question that I'm about to answer in this blog post.  That, along with all the other ones that must be "haunting" you:    How does voice search impact my revenues?  How do I optimize my website content for voice search queries?  How do I set up a custom voice search engine on my Drupal site?  Can I even build a voice-powered app with Drupal? How?    1. How Does Voice Search Impact Your Traffic, Conversions, Revenues?  “Voice Shopping Set to Jump to $40 Billion By 2022, Rising From $2 Billion Today“ (source: prnewswire.com) How does making your Drupal website voice search-friendly translate into higher conversion rates?  The logic is simple:    it's more convenient for users to speak to the search bar than to type in their queries in order to find the needed products or services by allowing them this convenience, you improve their experience on your website and that'll bubble up to your web traffic, conversions... revenues  "Becoming voice-first is going to be the new mobile first" (DrupalCon Nashville 2018)  In other words:    understanding how search engines provide accurate answers to users' vocal queries optimizing your content to the patterns that you will have identified    … will have a huge impact on the user experience on your Drupal site.  Source: Gartner.com And great user experience is what sets high ranking websites apart from... the rest.    2. Here's How You Make Your Content Cater to Voice Search Queries  Spoiler alert: I'll be pinpointing just the main techniques to apply for optimizing your content for voice search.  If you feel like delving deeper into this topic, we have a full post focused solely on actionable tips for optimizing your website for voice search. That being said, here's the list of essential voice search SEO techniques to implement:   2.1. Incorporate Short, Simple, Clear Answers Into Your Content 30 words at most, according to Backlinko's research.   2.2. Fine-Tune the FAQ Page on Your Drupal Site This page alone plays a key role in your voice search optimization strategy. It's there that search engines often “extract” their answers from.   2.3. Use Natural Language When Writing Your Content A user would speak to a search bar as he/she would ask a question to a person. Which is significantly different from him/her interacting with a text search box via a robotic keyword search entry.   2.4. Configuring Drupal for Voice Search: Optimize Your Content for Google's Featured Snippets I'm not going to get into details here, but there are lots of highly valuable MOZ blog posts on this topic that I recommend you have a look at.   2.5. Center Your Drupal Voice Search Strategy Around Question Keywords “How to...”, “What to...”, “Why use...”   2.6. Make Sure to Include (Really) Long-Tail Keywords Into Your Content  5+ word keywords, I mean.   3. Set Up a Drupal Voice Search Engine in Just a Few Steps  How do you create a search system based on voice on your Drupal website?  Image by Kaufdex from Pixabay Here are the easy steps to creating a custom voice search engine with Expertrec:    First of all, you need a google tag manager account, a Gmail id, access to your Drupal admin dashboard and a valid sitemap    Set up an account on https://cse.expertrec.com??platform=cse using your Gmail ID   Enter your website's URL login to your Drupal admin panel and install google tag manager: https://www.drupal.org/project/google_tag   Enter your google tag manager ID and save the configuration   Access https://cse.expertrec.com/csedashboard/home/code and copy that code   Add the first part of the code in your control panel, using Google tag manager   Use the custom HTML option and configure the trigger to place it on all the web pages on your Drupal site where you want the voice search enabled   Go to Structure-> Block layout-> Header ->Place block-> Add custom block-> click on source and enter: <ci-search></ci-search> (opt for "full HTML"). It's this code that will display a search box in your website's header   Hit the Save button and finally, navigate to UI customization->features-> enable voice search    And that's it: 9 simple steps to add voice search to your Drupal site.    4. Building Your Own Voice App: Why Would You Want to Use Drupal?  Now, let's say that you've optimized your Drupal website for voice search, improved your search ranking and given your traffic a major boost.  And you've decided to go further and... build your first voice app, as well.  Why would you use Drupal to build it?  Here are some of the most solid reasons:    Drupal provides you with a sophisticated user permissions and access control system it allows you to restrict access to content it provides you with fieldable content it ships with a pre-built front-end Drupal it enables you to put together complex content workflows it provides multi-language support out of the box it provides you with an API module    Note: in the end, it's your use case, along with all the specific feature needs deriving from there, that should influence your final decision.  But how would your Drupal voice app work, more precisely?  Here's the whole "mechanism" in the back-end, summed up to 4 stages:    the user talks to the voice assistant (Alexa, Siri, Cortana...) the voice assistant talks to Drupal Drupal provides an answer to the voice assistant the voice assistant delivers the answer to the user    Chatbot API is the module that makes communication between Drupal and the AI voice assistant possible. It integrates, out of the box, with Dialogue Flow and Alexa. I won't go into detail on the basics of a voice-powered app and the fundamentals of a VUI design. Yet, I recommend you watched the DrupalCon session on Powering an Alexa App with Drupal. It includes a handful of useful tips and actionable information on building a Drupal-powered voice search. In this chapter, my sole intention was to outline those Drupal features and functionalities that make it the best candidate for a voice app.    The END!  I won't hide it: I'm curious whether you've already got your Drupal website voice-search friendly or not just yet.  What strategies have you implemented so far to make your content more findable for vocal queries?  Have you set up your own Drupal voice search engine? Are there any obstacles that Drupal challenged you with? That made the whole optimization for voice search more complex than expected?  Let us know in the comments below.  Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Mar 23'2020
What Major European Websites Are Built with Drupal? Top 10 Drupal Websites in Europe
In today's post, I'll share with you a selection of 10 European websites powered by Drupal. From:   the most famous higher education website in Europe running on Drupal to the most popular newspaper-website in France to the most visited recipes and cooking website in the UK   ... I'll put the spotlight on the top 10 Drupal websites in Europe. So, without further ado, here are the names listed on Drupal's European hall of fame: 1. BBC Good Food, One of the Top 10 Drupal Websites in Europe  The most popular recipe website in the UK and one of the most visited Drupal websites in Europe.  The BBC Good Food team had very clear objectives when they chose Drupal for their rebuild:    to provide engaging content on their platform to deliver a seamless experience across all devices to deliver a unified experience to its international audience to guarantee their visitors a powerful search and intuitive navigation    And Drupal was the only CMS to check all the goals off their list.  Here are just some of its features that made it the only choice for the BBC Good Food rebuild:    scalability: Drupal's built to scale up and withstand massive amounts of traffic sophisticated content workflow: from Drupal's robust WYSIWYG editor to the role-based access control system, to the preview feature and the powerful content editing and publishing tools, BBC Good Food's content team can now add, edit, and upload various types of content... on the fly, across all devices built-in multilingual support: the BBC Good Food website was redesigned with a global audience in mind  “We rebuilt the site in Drupal, which will allow us to spin out versions of the site internationally, for example with the same core content but reflecting different language and market trends, and with some local content on top of it. But we still need to develop plans for this.”  (Chris Kerwin, BBC Worldwide’s head of publishing) Other popular cooking sites built on Drupal: 24 Kitchen, Bosscaffe, Alevri.    2. Joinup, a Collaborative Platform Created by the European Commission   A Drupal-powered collaboration platform that contains a heavy load of content in the form of:    news discussions case studies events interoperability solutions (guidelines, software, code-lists, vocabularies, taxonomies, licenses, organizational assets)    “Interoperability solutions” that users (public administrations, citizens, and businesses) can share, find, re-use, and get inspired by to develop and implement new ones.  Now, you can just imagine that:   such a high volume of data such a diversified ecosystem of content   ... have turned Drupal into the unique CMS option to consider for Joinup.  Its excellent content capabilities and high scalability have made Drupal the best solution.  “On 4 October 2017, a brand new version of the platform, based on Drupal 8, went live. This migration from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8 was mainly driven by the fact that the maintenance of version 6 by the Drupal community was coming to an end and, also, by the performance and scalability improvements introduced by Drupal 8.” (source: Joinup.ec.europa.eu)   3. Jysk   The Danish retail chain is a leader in the European market of furniture and household goods, with online stores in 20 countries. Which makes its website (or better said "network of sites"), one of the most famous Drupal websites in Europe. Why did the company choose Drupal to power its web presence? Because:   Drupal provides them with a multi-site architecture: Jysk's online presence translates into 20 different domains with similar feature sets and functionalities, sharing the same codebase, yet with different databases and configurations Drupal's flexible: which enabled them to come up with fully customed e-commerce solutions, robust enough to cope with their complex business processes and backend systems Drupal provides them with powerful content management features Drupal provides them with multi-language support right out of the box: a crucial functionality considering that their website content needs to be translated into 20 different languages Drupal's built to cope with high volumes of traffic: which, for Jysk, means about 60 million page views per month   4. Carrefour.fr   Why did the leading retailer in Europe choose Drupal for its e-commerce website?  For all the obvious reasons:    Drupal's editorial workflow: it empowers content creators to edit the content on carrefour.fr quick and easy and as often as needed Drupal's one of the most secure open-source CMSs: an aspect of critical importance when handling lots of customer data Drupal's system of roles and permissions: the granular access control system allows editors/admins to monitor who edits/publishes different types of content on the website (from product descriptions to prices) Drupal's built with high-traffic websites in mind: massive volumes of traffic and intense e-commerce operations is what Carrfour.fr, one of the top 10 Drupal websites in Europe, needs to withstand Drupal's online payment system: and here we're talking about a high volume of online payments being carried out daily Drupal's equipped for content-heavy websites: hundreds of products, prices, product-specific promotions... no wonder that this retailer chose Drupal for powering its e-commerce website with: Drupal's the robust, go-to option for content-packed websites    5. Sevilla FC   Sevillafc.es is one of the most popular Drupal websites in Europe.  Why did the football club go with Drupal for their website?  Because:    they needed to appeal to an international audience and Drupal 8 provides multilingual support out of the box they needed to get their new website equipped for high peaks of traffic and Drupal's already famous for powering some of the world's most visited websites they needed a CMS that would enable their administrators and content team to add, update and publish content quick and easy and Drupal provides some of the most powerful content management workflow tools they needed powerful multimedia capabilities, that Drupal provided their website with they needed to set up a content management workflow for their mobile app content, as well: Drupal enables them to update and distribute content from a single entry point to their entire network    A "network" that includes their website, mobile app, and third party system.    6. Cancer Research UK Among the top 10 Drupal websites in Europe, Cancerreaserchuk.org stands out with its vision:  “Our vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”  It's no surprise to anyone why Drupal was chosen: it powers the websites of some globally known NGO, charity and non-profit organizations.  What I'd like to draw your attention to, in the case of Cancer Research UK in relation to Drupal, is Drupal Commerce powering its whole network of online shops.  The main goal, when bringing all the shops together on the same codebase was:    to deliver a seamless shopping experience all while preserving each shop's identity   7. University of Oxford   Multiple individual sites under the same umbrella, providing a seamless, yet site-specific user experience.  Multiple departments of the same university in full control over their web presence... Does it ring any bell?  The website of the University of Oxford couldn't have been powered by another CMS than Drupal.  And the Application Development team there, at Oxford, dared to take Drupal's capabilities even further: they developed Oxford Mosaic, a Drupal multisite solution.  “Oxford Mosaic provides an easy-to-use interface for publishing attractive, responsive websites. Centrally maintained and fully supported, Mosaic is a cost-effective and sustainable web publishing solution.“ (source: Meetup.com)  By using Drupal:    creating new customizable web pages and even whole new sub-sites, from the ground up handling a massive volume of content, highly diversified content, ranging from news and events to university research and information on the admission process withstanding high volumes of web traffic, with all the students, faculty, and alumni accessing the website on a daily basis    … became easier.   8. The Paris Opera   Paris Opera's website is another one of those Drupal website examples that stand out. Like many other large organizations in Europe (and worldwide), they chose Drupal for being:    reliable secure robust flexible to accommodate all development needs    9. Le Figaro  The online presence of the largest national newspapers in France is Drupal-powered.  No wonder why:    like any high-traffic newspaper website, it depends on Drupal's robustness for facing the challenge of live videos, media, and feeds-packed web pages Le Figaro depends on Drupal's capabilities to deliver loads of varied content at a high page loading speed it depends on Drupal's powerful features to support its social features (e.g. the comment sections on their articles) 10. Lush Cosmetics Lush.com sets itself apart as one of the top 10 Drupal websites in Europe.  It 's also one of the most complex ones, from a content and user experience standpoint. A Drupal website where content and comments blend in beautifully.  Now, let me pinpoint just the strongest reasons why this company chose Drupal:    it stores a large catalog of products, with lots of interactive features that bubble up to the user experience: star ratings, user reviews, wishlists, charity pot it's “packed” with tons of varied content that needs to be edited and published quick and easy: product videos and guides, ingredients lists, articles it provides a seamless multi-channel customer experience it addresses a global audience    In other words, Lush selected Drupal because:    it supports Lush's complex editorial workflow it provides enough flexibility so the Lush team can easily update and customize various sections on the website it integrates beautifully with third-party systems (various payment gateway, for instance) it enables them to provide highly personalized experiences to users accessing their website from countries all around the globe it grants the best user experience on all devices: their Drupal website's conveniently responsive it's built to “fuel” even a heavy and complex content infrastructure like Lush's    The END!  These are the 10 best European Drupal websites.  What do you say: do you find it accurate or have we done certain websites an injustice?  Let us know, in the comments section below, if you agree with our top 10 Drupal websites in Europe.  ... 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Adriana Cacoveanu / Mar 19'2020
Why Use Siteimprove to Check Your Website for Accessibility? 8 Good Reasons
"How do I test my website for accessibility?" And right after you type in this question you discover that there are dozens of free website accessibility testing tools to choose from. So: why use Siteimprove? In this post, I'll answer your key questions about Siteimprove:   What does Siteimprove do? Why use precisely this accessibility evaluation tool? How to use the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker? Siteimprove vs Axe: what are the key differences? Monsido vs Siteimprove: which is the best web accessibility testing tool for you? Drupal 8 Siteimprove: what does it do? So, let's dive in:   1. How Does the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker Work?  "The Siteimprove Browser Extension is a Chrome/Firefox plugin that allows you to see page specific DCI scores and if a CMS deep link is set-up, it also allows you to fix content to improve the scores directly in your CMS during your browser session." (source: Siteimprove.com) Once added to your browser toolbar, you can use Siteimprove to identify accessibility issues on specific web pages. At any given time. It provides you with:   explanations on how they impact the user experience clear recommendations on how to address them Free, handy, effective. These are the best 3 words to describe the Siteimprove extension. Note: since all evaluation is performed in your browser, Siteimprove guarantees you a secure scanning of your non-public pages, multi-step forms, password-protected pages and pages with dynamic content.   2. Why Use Siteimprove over Other Website Accessibility Testing Tools? What powerful features make it stand out from the crowd of automated accessibility testing tools that you could use? I've selected the 8 most valuable ones:   2.1. Monitors all broken links and spelling mistakes on your web page Maybe you consider these issues to be mere... negligences to be put at the end of your priority list. But just imagine how much these "details" could affect a visually impaired user. This is where the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker comes in. It keeps your website under "surveillance". Ready to spot and to highlight any broken link, any little spelling mistakes that it detects. Or any other quality issues that it identifies. 2.2. Generates an accessibility report for you to analyze From ALT missing attributes to accessibility issues spotted in your tables and forms, the Siteimprove report lists all the problem areas to focus on. A handy overview that you can use to define all future tasks that need to be carried out in order to improve your website's accessibility.   2.3. Pinpoints accessibility issues  It'll highlight them all right on-page and in-code.  In other words, you don't need to do a research on all the latest accessibility guidelines first. The Siteimprove extension for browsers will outline all the key issues that you'll need to focus on to get started. 2.4. Integrates seamlessly with your CMS Whether it's Drupal or WordPress that you're using, Siteimprove enables you to fix the signaled issues on the spot. Right there, in your CMS, while you're browsing around your website. 2.5. Allows you to automate the accessibility checks And by automating the bulk of your testing process, you get to streamline all the tasks that it covers, such as:   testing various color combinations evaluating your PDF pages' accessibility testing your form fields 2.6. Provides specific recommendations Why use Siteimprove?  Because it doesn't stop at pointing out the accessibility issues on your website: it also gives you clear explanations on how to address them. 2.7. Enables you to monitor your progress in improving your website's accessibility   industry benchmarks historical graphs automated reports customizable dashboards All these Siteimprove features enable you to measure the progress that your team makes for turning your website WCAG 2.1 compliant. 2.8. Allows you to set up a hierarchy for the accessibility issues identified In short, the Siteimprove web accessibility checker enables you to categorize and to prioritize tasks by:   severity conformance level   And to assign them by job role (webmaster, editor, developer...) or responsibilities.   3. How to Use Siteimprove Accessibility Checker? Say you want to try the Siteimprove Google Chrome Extension. Here's how you use it:   install the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker Chrome extension from the Chrome Webshop from your Chrome browser add the extension to your browser: "Add to Chrome" look for the newly added icon in your browser window enter your target web page's URL in your browser click the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker icon and let it perform its audit take a look at the results displayed on the right side of the page   Note: Siteimprove Accessibility Checker uses the same checking engine as the Siteimprove Accessibility platform. 4. Siteimprove vs Axe Accessibility Tool Why use Siteimprove over Axe? How are they different anyway? Let's compare these 2 popular accessibility testing tools: 4.1. Axe browser extension It generates detailed results, but you might find its slideshow-style controls a bit challenging 4.2. Siteimprove Accessibility Checker   it stands out as an accessibility testing tool that allows you to filter tasks by "responsibility" (or job role) also, it displays the issues that it detects following the same structure of the WCAG guidelines it presents color-codes issues by conformance level (A, AA, AAA) it points out to the specific WCAG criteria that those issues relate to   5. Monsido vs Siteimprove Accessibility Checker And why would you choose Siteimprove over Monsido? Here's what sets them apart:   Monsido provides comprehensive crawls weekly, whereas with Siteimprove you get automated crawls every 5 days Monsido could discourage you with its less-friendly UI, whereas Siteimprove has a more intuitive dashboard   6. The Drupal 8 Siteimprove Module: What Does It Do? "The seamless integration between Siteimprove and Drupal streamlines workflow efficiencies for your web team. With the module, your team can fix errors and optimize content directly within the editing environment." (source: Siteimprove.com) In short, the module (or "Siteimprove plugin", if you wish):   scans your website for accessibility issues (broken links and misspellings, A, AA, AAA conformance level accessibility issues, readability levels, etc.) that you can then turn into manageable tasks and assign to your team members who can tackle them right in the editing environment that they're using   Tip: you can even use the Drupal 8 Siteimprove module to see what would be the impact if you unpublished a "problem" page before you apply this measure. The END! Have I managed to answer your "Why use Siteimprove?" question? Are you already using it as your website accessibility checker? If not, what other tool are you using and why have you chosen precisely that one? Let me know in the comments below.  Image by Sitanshu Kumar from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Mar 12'2020
Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs: Which Drupal Page Builder Should You Use?
There’s no better way of telling which tool best fits your needs than by putting Drupal 8 Layout Builder and Paragraphs to the test, right? If you were searching for an honest comparison of the 2 Drupal 8 drag and drop page builders, you’re on the right blog. Because in this post I’ll compare Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs. What you’ll get is a straight answer to each one of your key questions regarding the 2 most popular page building tools in Drupal:   Why would you choose Drupal Paragraphs? What are its main trade-offs? What are its best use cases? What are the key advantages of using Drupal 8 Layout Builder?  What are its limitations? What are the use cases of Layout Builder vs Paragraphs?   Now, let’s get you those answers:   1. Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs: Introducing the 2 Contestants 1.1. Drupal Paragraphs The Paragraphs module was quite a revelation when it was first released. Why? Because Drupal rocked supreme at enabling users to create template-based pages, but when it came to uniquely designed pages (i.e. landing pages) it started to show its limitations. And this is where the Paragraphs module came in. It “seduced” Drupal developers with a new component-based approach to building a page’s layout. Source: Championsdigital.com   The Paragraphs layout builder would allow developers to create individual paragraph types — popup elements, plain text, code blocks — and editors to assemble those paragraphs into highly flexible pages. Moreover, they could reuse those page components to create new and new content layouts.  For instance, they could put together a page that included one WYSIWYG Paragraph, a Slideshow Paragraph, and one paragraph with both text field and image field... The idea of “flexible structured content” had taken over the Drupal planet...   1.2. Drupal 8 Layout Builder The drag and drop page builder in Drupal core designed to take the content editing experience to a new level. How? By granting editors more control over the Drupal layouts they create. Drupal 8 Layout Builder enables non-technical users to easily mix and match nodes, fields, and other types of content via a drag-and-drop UI. They can create their visual layouts and landing pages in no time. All they need to do is drag and drop, then rearrange site-wide blocks and content fields to their liking. Source: Drupal.org Moreover, users can even create new custom “inline” blocks of their own. Power and flexibility combined into one visual design tool aimed at improving the editor experience.   2. What Are Their Key Strengths? 2.1. Drupal Paragraphs In a Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs “battle”, why would you go with the “stacked components” approach to layout building in Drupal 8? Source: Drupal.org   Because the content editing experience is intuitive: editors can use the “Add a popup” and “Add a quote” tabs and rearrange their components with drag and drop   Because it enables you to group multiple fields into new complex elements   Because it allows you to come up with an unlimited no. of ways for combining your paragraphs   Because it enables you to create reusable components that you can then use per node    Because it prevents the workflow of your nodes from becoming too cluttered by providing an entity type for your sub-page components   Source: Drupal.org   2.2. Drupal 8 Layout Builder What are its key selling points? Why would you choose Layout Builder over Paragraphs?    Because it requires less custom code   Because it grants you a higher level of control over the layouts you’re creating   Because it grants you lower maintenance costs   Because you get to mix field content with blocks   Because you’re free to create and populate new landing pages from the ground up: just set up your custom content blocks and arrange them to your liking within the layout   Because it provides you with an improved authoring experience   Because you can extend the default set of layout grids through custom plug-ins   Because it allows you to keep your structured data   Because it enables you to get the most of the block system for creating your Drupal layouts: custom inline blocks, programmatic blocks, custom global blocks, custom field blocks   “Blocks” that are fieldable, translatable, templatable, reusable, and part of Drupal core, as well. Source: Phase2Technology.com   In a nutshell, this Drupal page builder provides both:   an easy way to manage fielded content in the backend the best drag-and-drop editor experience   3. Where Does Each Drupal Page Builder Fall Short? 3.1. Drupal Paragraphs What could make you… hesitate before choosing the Paragraphs layout builder for creating structured content? What are its key limitations?   You (your content editors) still depend on a developer to set everything up Managing nested paragraphs when dealing with complex layouts can get quite overwhelming   Source: Evolvingweb.ca   And this is the biggest trade-off that could discourage you from going with Paragraphs as your page building tool: You get to nest/add new and new elements, which carry their own sets of elements, up to the point where this “unlimited nesting” of paragraphs turns into a too confusing interface to cope with.   3.2. Drupal 8 Layout Builder  Where does it fall short? In a Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs “debate”, which drawbacks of this visual design tool could make you choose Paragraphs instead?   You might find block content not to be 100% explicitly connected to nodes Combining template-based with custom layouts is a bit challenging Enforcing a sitewide consistency of your custom-made layouts is quite a dare 4. When Would You Use One Layout/Editing Tool Over the Other? 4.1. Drupal Paragraphs   When you need to reuse many of the content components on your website to create new pages When being able to reuse those components “per node” is of particular importance for your workflow When your structured layout does call for nested paragraph bundles   4.2. Drupal 8 Layout Builder When would you use this particular solution for creating layouts in Drupal 8?  When is Layout Builder a better choice than the paragraphs module?   When your landing page calls for a grid-like layout, including both dynamic elements (custom blocks, views) and fielded content   When you need to “juggle with” multiple columns for creating your layout   When you need to create a fully customed page from the ground up; a “special” page, that’s not connected to any structured content on your website (i.e. a single “Get a Quote” page)   When you need to custom-tune templated layouts; to override existing page layouts   When you need to set up “layout templates”, such as the layout for your product page or your blog post page   5. Final Results: Which Approach Best Fits Your Needs? What do the results of this Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs comparison tell you? That there’s no “best” Drupal page builder. Only the one that best fits your specific layout creation needs. It all comes down to the level of diversity in your content:   If it’s a particularly intricate page layout that you need to create, you might not want to go with Paragraphs. Its nesting feature can turn against you.   If you’re “craving” flexibility and the content on your Drupal 8 website varies a lot from page to page, yet you still want to keep a level of layout consistency, the Drupal 8 Layout Builder is your best choice   Your turn now: which of these 2 page building tools do you prefer and why? Let me know in the comments below.   Image by 200 Degrees from Pixabay  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Mar 06'2020
What Are Some of the Most Popular Websites Built on Drupal in North America? Top 10
Let's say that you're considering using Drupal for your next web project. You've read about its unmatched robustness and flexibility... And still: real examples of brands that have their websites built on Drupal in North America would weigh heavier in your decision-making process than just... statements about its great features, right? But which are they? These websites powered by Drupal that are well known in Canada and the USA? We've done our research and put together a list of both highly popular and uniquely designed Drupal-based websites. So, here they are: the 10 best Drupal websites in North America to inspire you in 2020: 1. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto OISE, Canada's most reputed center for graduate studies in education, has its website powered by Drupal. And built by our own team of Drupal developers... Why did they trust Drupal 8 with their digital presence?   because it's fast and good page load time was crucial for them because Drupal's designed to “cope with” high volumes of content  because Drupal enables building websites with responsiveness in mind because of Drupal's modular structure and flexibility: the OISE editorial team can easily add, update and publish new content, whereas new functionalities can easily be implemented in the future 2. World Vision International A global organization impacting the lives of millions couldn't have chosen but a robust CMS platform like Drupal to power its website with. With:   an intuitive UI design clean and conveniently minimalistic design a reliable content management system to support a site representing +90 countries   ... the World Vision International's Drupal-powered site is built to make an impact.    3. MIT List Visual Arts Center, One of the Top Websites Built on Drupal in North America How could we have possibly left it out of our Drupal websites list? MIT's website taps into:   the flexibility of the Drupal entity system to grant visitors a content-rich user experience centered on content diversity: text, audio, lists, images Drupal's features aimed at providing the editorial team, as well, the best experience   The result? An intuitive, brand-driven content-rich experience for the users on the MIT website. One that comes to complete the actual visiting experience at the MIT physical art museum and virtual art lab.   4. University of Arizona    One of the well-known websites using Drupal 8. And it's no surprise that they've chosen precisely this CMS since Drupal's been the go-to platform in the higher education sector since... forever:     it empowers the staff to easily create, edit and publish content on the run it enables that editorial team to easily share/reuse content across multiple sections of the website (and a high ed site is usually an intricate "ecosystem" of content sections and smaller sites) it advocates for a "mobile-first" approach to website development   In the case of the University of Arizona, its old website got migrated to Drupal 8 and its design revamped, all in the name of a better user experience.   5. Think Global Health Another one of the well-known websites built on Drupal in North America is this multi-contributor site that explores the way health changes impact societies, everyday lives, and economies on a global scale. With such a heterogeneous content team and a wide variety of content being edited and added regularly on this newspaper website, no wonder that they've turned to Drupal. 6. Canadian Museum for Human Rights   Humanrights.ca has earned its own star on the Drupal websites' "hall of fame" due to a cutting-edge functionality that it incorporates: Enabling visually impared users to configure their own experience on the site. From adjusting the contrast to selecting the font size and style, they get the most of Drupal's "empower the end-user" philosophy.   7. Nature Conservancy California Another one of those Drupal website examples where content variety "rocks supreme". From video content to video footage, to interviews, to ambient sound, this platform's using Drupal for handling the multiple types of content formats that support its project stories. 8. Princeton University Admission   What makes this high ed website stand out from all the other university websites built on Drupal in North America?   the non-conventional visual storytelling techniques that it leverages in order to highlight what's representatively unique about this school the impactful content (linear media), ranging from narrative faculty portraits to textural videos of the campus life, photo content providing visitors a more in-depth view into the life at Princeton   Furthermore, they chose Drupal in order to inject" top performance and give their "Undergraduate Admission" website a fully responsive web design.  9. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey  JackDaniels.com makes a great example of a website that makes the most of Drupal's powerful content management features:   again, the site comes as a complex ecosystem of different types of content: immersive photography, video content, cinemagraphs... local markets around the world get to custom-tune the website to suit their own local customers' needs; to personalize it with translated copy, market-specific programming...   A robust content management system along with the "empower the user" philosophy, these are 2 of Drupal's defining features that JackDaniels.com taps into in order to provide:   an engaging experience to its visitors an empowering experience to its users (admins across the globe) 10. TraffickWatch The storytelling Drupal website of a nonprofit that raises awareness about human trafficking.   The END! What other famous websites built on Drupal in North America have we missed? Feel free to... scold us in the comments section down below.   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 25'2020
Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart or Apigee’s Integrated Portal? What’s the Best Developer Portal Solution for You?
Here you are, facing an impossible dilemma: is the Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart on Drupal 8 the best solution for the developer portal that you're setting up? Or should you go with Apigee's integration portal instead? How are they different in terms of provided features? How do your own requirements and constraints influence your choice? Now, let's dive right into:   what the Apigee developer portal is when to consider Apigee's integrated portal why and when to choose Drupal 8 Apigee Kickstart what could discourage you from using the Drupal distribution   1. What Is Developer Portal Apigee? You're already building APIs that expose your services to developers from your team and to those outside your enterprise, right? But you want to go beyond merely building APIs: you want to provide the best developer experience, as well. One that would entice developers to use those APIs. And this is what the Apigee developer portal is mainly designed for: To help you "lure in" those admins and developers using APIs managed by the Apigee platform.   2. Choose Apigee Integrated Portal If... ... it's a basic marketing or developer documentation website that you're planning to put together. One that should integrate with a subset of features exposed vis Apigee's API management platform. Tip: think twice before choosing this solution if you need to integrate API revisions, load balancing, monetization or various complex documentation structures with your developer portal, etc.   You'd Want to Use the Integrated Portal Solution Because: it's an easy to build, easy to use portal, integrated with Apigee Edge, that you have in mind it's a simple developer documentation website that you're setting up it's a basic, turn-key developer portal solution that you need it provides you with hosting on Google Cloud, support and maintenance it makes documenting and managing your APIs fairly easy   Apigee's Integrated Portal Top Features: Create pages using page editor API Documentation Access control to portal content and APIs Customize design elements via SCSS style sheets Advanced customizations (customize domain, configure your email, custom registration fields, extend portal using scripts) Create pages using page editor Analytics via Google Analytics and custom analytics tracking Add menus for navigation Self-service registration for developers to build apps using your APIs Markdown and HTML to compose content   3. Choose Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart If... it's a powerful developer portal platform that you need  it's a highly flexible, fully customizable solution that you're looking for you need to get your developer portal up and running, integrated with Apigee Edge, in no time   Source: docs.apigee.com Are all these 3 requirements on your priority list? Then Apigee's distribution for Drupal 8 might just be the best way to set up a new developer portal. Or to move your current one from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.   You'd Want to Use the Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart Because: it does most of the Drupal 8 module installing and configuration work for you it provides you with step-by-step guidance to install Drupal 8 core, integrate your portal with Apigee Edge, and customize its theme its theme's Bootstrap-based, enabling you to easily customize and brand your website it's faster and more extendable it's forward-compatible with Drupal 9 it's, overall, highly customizable: you get to create fine-tuned brand experiences it provides you with sample content, as well, so you can set up your developer platform quick and easy it operates with already familiar Drupal 8 concepts: content types (e.g. Basic pages, article, forums...) media types, etc.   In a nutshell: take the Apigee Kickstart developer portal as a convenient package with all the Drupal 8 modules and libraries that you'll need to quickly put together a developer community. One that's connected to Apigee Edge, exposes your APIs and publishes the API documentation that developers need.     Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart Top Features: API Catalog page Modules for FAQ, Blogs, and Forums 16 pages with preloaded content for demonstration API documentation content type Customizable site theme “Getting Started” page Developer Portal homepage API doc landing page with demo content and vocabulary   4. You'd Hesitate Using Drupal 8 Apigee Kickstart Because... it makes you dependent on this Drupal distribution's maintainers; on their updates and security patches releases  it "ties" your developer portal to the distribution's predefined theme, content layout, font, colors...   So, you'll first want to check that the distribution — Apigee Kickstart Drupal in this case — is regularly and properly maintained. 5. The Best Solution for Your Developer Portal Is... the one that meets your customization needs the one that complies with your time constraints the one that fits your team's level of expertise in setting up a developer portal   Source: docs.apigee.com  In short, choosing between an integrated portal and a Drupal-based one starts with setting your requirements (and your constraints) against each solution's benefits and key features. Are you time-limited, but do you also "crave" power of customization over your future developer portal? The Apigee Kickstart Drupal might be the best solution for you. Do you need a ready-hosted turn-key platform to set up your developer community on? Are you already an Apigee Edge for Public Cloud customer? Then Apigee's integrated portal might suit you best. The END! Integrated portal or Drupal-based portal: what would you choose? And why? ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 13'2020
Is It a Good Idea to Go with Drupal 8 Commerce? Why Yes, Why Not?
How viable is it to have your online store running on Drupal 8 Commerce? Why not go with... Magento 2 or Shopify? Or just stick to Drupal Commerce 7, instead of jumping to Commerce 2.x? What are its most “tempting” features? Those that make it a better option for you than:   the Drupal 7 Ubercart module Commerce 1.x other eCommerce platforms And also: which of its limitations could discourage you from using Drupal 8 and Commerce? Let's dig in for some answers and steer you in the right direction: 1. Why Use Drupal 8 Commerce? Because it's “extremely” customizable. And this is both its “superpower” and the main reason why you'd hesitate using it... Source: Drupal.org Commerce 2 is definitely not a “plug and play” eCommerce solution. Instead, it grants you total freedom of customization. And that can be overwhelming for some... Since it assumes nothing about your business model, you're free to tweak it to your needs. To create precisely the eCommerce customer experience that you'd like your website to provide. But that means there's more coding to do, compared to conventional webshop systems. Now, deriving from the power of customization, here are the main reasons why you'd want to use Drupal 8 Commerce for your online store: 1.1. Cart Works Pretty Much Out of the Box Since it's opinionated, you don't need to get tangled up in configuration... too deep. 1.2. It Provides You with Multi-Store Support Commerce 2 makes it easier for you to manage an entire infrastructure of online stores. Each one with its own Drupal 8 custom checkout process, its currencies, its product types, etc. 1.3. It Enables You to Have as Many Product Variations as Needed From size to color, to language. Drupal 8 Commerce comes with great product attribute handling. You're free to put together any custom combination of product attributes. To include as many product variations in your store as needed. 1.4. It Ships with Multiple Currencies Built-In Support A too powerful feature to ignore. Especially if it's a multi-store architecture that you're planning to run on Commerce 2. 1.5. You Can Easily Develop Analytical Hooks to Further Improve the UX You can fire events at any stage of the user journey on your eCommerce website to identify the weak links. Those with low user engagement. 1.6. It's Ideally Suited to a Headless Architecture Are you planning a headless eCommerce setup? Drupal 8 Commerce's the ideal “candidate” for that. It works smoothly with GraphQL, so you can use the front-end framework of your choice — say... React — and deliver the best eCommerce experience to your customers. In a nutshell: Commerce for Drupal 8 empowers you to customize every little aspect of your online store. But maybe some demo stores, that are already leveraging these Commerce 2 features, would weigh heavier in your decision-making process: Demo store 1 Demo store 2   2. What Could Keep You From Using Commerce 2.x? As I've already stated here: “The power of customization that it provides is both its “superpower” and the main reason why you'd hesitate using it.” You can, indeed, customize your online store down to the last detail, but that does come at a cost. The cost of coding. The cost of a skilled team of developers. But let us detail the reasons why you'd.... hesitate to use Drupal 8 Commerce: 2.1. It Has a Pretty High Learning Curve If you're used to Shopify's “get up and running” approach and you're not familiar with Drupal development, you'll see that Commerce 2.x isn't that non-developer friendly. It's not the type of tool that site builders without high programming skills find it quick and easy to learn.  2.2. It Requires Quite a Lot of Custom Code Writing Do keep that in mind: Drupal 8 Commerce is unexpectedly configurable and ideally extensible. Yet, you need to write plenty of custom code to unleash all that customization power. So, do expect to be challenged to write custom modules, custom templates and, overall, do a lot of custom work. 2.3. Setting It Up Is Not that Intuitive … as you might expect, being familiar with “ready-to-use” eCommerce platforms like Shopify, for instance. And all that because it assumes nothing. So, there's no preconfigured structure that you get out of the box. One that you should stick to.   2.4. It's a Completely Different System from Drupal 7's  And this is another strong “blocker” that might stop you from using Drupal 8 and Commerce 2.x for your next online store. You expect it to be fairly similar to Commerce 1.x. And yet, it's a whole new system.  One that ships with brand new concepts that you need to get yourself familiar with (i.e. checkout is no longer a form) 3. Why Move from Drupal Commerce 7 to 8? Why not just stick to Drupal 7's Ubercart module, for instance? Or to Commerce 1.x? Photo by Bruno Kelzer on Unsplash   Here are the top 4 reasons why you'd want to choose Drupal 8 Commerce instead of Drupal 7: 3.1. Drupal Commerce 2.x Provides More Out of the Box It ships with a fully functional promotions system, for instance. From coupons to discounts, you can incorporate the type of promotion that you have in mind for your customers in... no time. 3.2. It's an Upgraded Version of Commerce 1.x And that translates into improved:   product administration third-party integration 3.3. The Drupal 8 Custom Checkout  In Drupal 8 Commerce checkout is not a form. A bit intrigued? With Drupal Commerce 2 you're free to create your own custom checkout flows. Meaning that you get to customize the process according to specific:   customer profiles product types orders … and so on. For instance, you can set up 2 different checkout flows. One for your digital items and the other one for the physical ones that you sell on your eCommerce website. 3.4. You Benefit from a More Modular Design Just think about it: Compared to Drupal 7 Commerce, the Drupal 8 version is a lot more extensible and configurable. This allows you to custom-tune other elements of your website besides the checkout. For instance, you're free to configure your catalog from the ground up. From products to orders, to shops (if you're running a marketplace with several different stores), to prices... you get to tailor your catalog to your most specific business needs. Besides configuration of the default behavior for a standard eCommerce store, Commerce 2x. doesn't impose any predefined, rigid logic on you. 4. Go with Drupal 8 Commerce If... you already advocate for Drupal's flexibility and robustness you don't mind investing some time in learning Commerce 2.x and writing custom code you need more than a standard online store, that's easy to set up, but offers you no customization freedom (see Woocommerce) you're not ready to pay for every little add-on that you might need (see Shopify), that you could create it yourself The END! Would you trade flexibility for convenience? The convenience of having a generic webshop up and running in no time? Let's start a conversation on this topic in the comments here below! Image by justynafaliszek from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 11'2020
OPTASY Scores Another Perfect 5-Star Review on Clutch and Remains One the Top Web Developers in Canada
Unfortunately for many tech enthusiasts, the vast majority of web developers in Canada currently trying to implement AI, Blockchain, or IoT want them for their novelty rather than for the genuine purposes they can serve. So what happens when you do have a creative use for one of these technologies?  For many development houses, the choice between investing in emerging technology capability or staying on top of the vast set of platforms users choose from is an easy one — more platforms means more clients, and you can usually find a way to fill most functions using traditional technologies. At OPTASY, however, we knew we wanted to push the boundaries of what was possible. By focusing on Drupal development, we have been able to become leaders in our field, enabling our clients to take control of far more powerful technologies than have ever before been available.   That attitude, combined with our attention to detail and customer service, has landed us a series of excellent reviews on Clutch.co, placing us in the top 10 web developers in all of Canada. Clutch promotes leading agencies by collecting verified, unbiased feedback on vendors and displaying it in the form of written ratings and reviews. In one of our most recent projects, we built the Drupal 8 website of an equal opportunity community nonprofit. Our team worked hard to provide iterative design and development that incorporated all of the client’s feedback throughout the process. Their team was particularly impressed with our professionalism and openness to input. “We would definitely choose them in the future and recommend them to any individual looking for a website that leads to conversions and conveys a message in a smart format. They welcomed our feedback but also balanced our ideas with conversion principles. The site’s beautiful and performing exactly how we’d hoped it would.”  - Sean Kelly, Executive Director   Feedback like this from our valued clients demonstrates one of the biggest reasons we love what we do so much. Development may be our selling point, but building meaningful business relationships is what makes the world of tech go ‘round. We really appreciate the chance that Clutch provides to learn from our past engagements and reach potential future customers.  We are also featured highly on The Manifest, a platform that hosts industry-organized company rankings alongside business insights and articles explaining a variety of topics. On Visual Objects, customers have the chance to look through portfolio items to help inform their decisions, helping them to get a sense of what their project might look like with any particular team of web developers in Canada.  If you’re looking for a development partner to help make your business dreams come to life, check out our profile on Clutch or reach out to us! We’re always looking for exciting new partnerships to take on, and would love for the next one to be you.   Image by Tomislav Kaučić from Pixabay  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jan 27'2020
How to Integrate AI into Your Drupal Website The... Easy Way: 7 Drupal 8 AI Modules at Hand
How do you take advantage of AI and get the most of Drupal's content management system? Are there any Drupal 8 AI modules and tools that you could incorporate into your website and... get the most of both worlds? The best of Drupal as a reliable content repository and of a:   chatbot virtual assistant or another type of conversational interface   Or maybe you want to implement AI to boost the various content workflows happening on your website:   content that needs to be served to various markets (and thus translated into... various languages) user-generated content that needs to follow a certain editorial guideline (e.g. "adding alternative text to images") content experiences that need to be tailored to each user's activity on your site   Nothing easier. There are at least 7 different modules in Drupal to help you inject AI capabilities into your website:   1. What Are the Biggest Advantages of Artificial Intelligence in Drupal? How does building AI integrations on top of your Drupal website translate into benefits? Strong, clear benefits... Well, it all bubbles up to the user experience and to your team's efficiency:   you create and deliver more personalized experiences for your website visitors you streamline and automate your team's content and marketing workflows  you get to boost your targeted marketing efforts you provide more engaging user experience, as well, incorporating smarter features into your Drupal site   2. Build a Drupal Chatbot Fast with 2 Drupal 8 AI Modules Thinking about delivering a more user-centric experience on your website? Then you must be wondering how you can implement an AI-powered conversational interface in Drupal, right? You'd then be using Drupal for front UI, content management, user admin... Source: Drupal Camp Pune It's simple:    There are 2 dedicated AI modules in Drupal that help you create a chatbot in no time:   2.1. Chatbot API    Let take this scenario:   You want your "Drupal headless" setup to share content across an entire ecosystem of services: Facebook bot, Dialogueflow, Amazon Echo... Yet, you dread the idea of writing custom code for every single chatbot/personal assistant in this ecosystem.   How do you streamline your content serving efforts? How can you write your code once and... have your content shared with all your target chatbots and? You install Chatbot API. It will intermediate the integration of all those services into your Drupal website. And it will ensure that data gets served across the whole network of chatbots.   2.2. Drupal Chatbot    Another useful module to use if you consider creating a chatbot on Drupal data. Here's how it works:   It enables you to set up a voice and text-based bot to interact with your website visitors. One that acts as a layer between Drupal and the NLP agent.   You get to choose the block where you want it enabled and to add various functionalities, as well: Latest Article Search, Latest Pages, Top Rated Pages...   3. Implement a Virtual Assistant with Decoupled Drupal Commerce What if you want to take the eCommerce experience on your online store to a new level? To turn it into a... conversational eCommerce experience? How? By integrating a Drupal virtual assistant into your website. Nothing easier:   You connect a bot to decoupled Drupal Commerce.   Bot Frameworks + Decoupled Drupal Commerce APIs + NLU = A Conversational Interface for your eCommerce website. Since Drupal:   puts a whole collection of APIs at your free disposal (being API-first)  provides you with the Commerce Cart API module to leverage   ... storing content (and product details) and interacting with shopping carts in Drupal Commerce becomes particularly easy. And here's how your Drupal Commerce-powered bot would work:   it will trigger "review cart" and "add to cart functionality" via message-based interactions it will unblock search and "explore the products" functionality by connecting itself to the Drupal Commerce APIs   4. Create Personalized Experiences with Drupal Machine Learning Personalization is the norm these days.  To serve content tailored to your customers' past activity (what they shared, what content they searched for...) and their profiles. And for doing it right, you need to incorporate machine learning techniques into your Drupal website. "Is it possible to do that?" Of course. And here are just 2 Drupal 8 AI modules that you can tap into for personalizing the web content experience that you provide your site visitors with:   4.1. Acquia Lift Connector  Take it as a convenient 2-in-1 tool at hand: customer data & content. This way, you get to streamline your content personalization efforts. To scale and share user-tailored experiences across an entire infrastructure of channels and devices. It'll "equip" your marketing campaign with all the powerful features you need: behavioral targeting, real-time audience segmentation, A/B testing... In a nutshell, what this module does is connect your Drupal site with the Acquia Lift personalization tool...   4.2. Azure Cognitive Services API   The go-to module if you consider "injecting" intelligent features — speech, facial and vision recognition, speech and language understanding — into your Drupal website or app. Your development team can just tap into the machine learning APIs exposed and... turn them into machine learning functionalities to be incorporated into your Drupal application. Source: Drupal.org It's a package of 4 different AI modules, in fact:   Face API Module Emotion Recognition API Module Computer Vision API Module Azure Text Analytics API Module   The last one, for instance, triggers advanced natural language processing on raw text. This translates into 3 key features: key phrase extraction, sentiment analysis, and language detection.   5. Streamline Your Workflows with 2 Drupal Intelligent Content Tools  One of the biggest advantages of artificial intelligence is that of streamlining (and automating) your in-house workflows. Your content and marketing ones... So, how do you inject "efficiency" into your Drupal content and marketing teams' various workflows? You integrate these 2 Drupal 8 AI modules into their work.   5.1. Automatic Alternative Text   What if you could implement AI capabilities into the process where users upload their own content? Just ponder on this scenario for a while:   You can include "Add alternative text images" into your set of editorial guidelines, but you can't expect users to follow them, as well, when they upload content, right?   And that's what you have the Automatic Alternative Text module for. Source: Drupal.org It describes the image that the user uploads. In one sentence. It generates more than one description for the same image, actually... Furthermore, it ships with features like:   detecting mature content identifying faces in a given image determining the prevailing colors   5.2. Cloudwords for Multilingual Drupal    Another one of those Drupal intelligent content tools that you should turbocharge your team's workflow with. Just put yourself into one of your marketers' shoes:   He/she has to deliver content (lots of it) to an entire ecosystem of markets, in various languages.   And delivering localized, consistent content experiences at a global scale does take plenty of resources... What this module does is automate the entire content delivery and management process:   Just select the piece(s) of content that you'll need to localize and let Cloudwords serve it at high speed, to all your target markets.   The END! And these are but 7 of the Drupal 8 AI modules at your disposal for injecting artificial intelligence capabilities into your website/app. Have you implemented any AI integrations in Drupal 8 so far? Any chatbots or maybe AI-powered tools for personalizing the content experience on your website? What other types of AI modules would you like to find in Drupal? Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jan 24'2020