How Open Source CMS Drupal helped transform Qimtek.co.uk
Before we can really talk about Drupal, we need first to explain its foundations as an Open Source software. Put simply, Open Source is: “computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose...”
To be clear, while the implementation of Open Source isn’t free (in basic terms, you still need to pay for the developer time to build the site) the software itself is already ‘there’ in one form or another, so no costly reinventing the wheel as is the case with some proprietary software.
“Drupal is produced by over a million users in 230 countries”
About Drupal and its community
With no upfront or ongoing licensing costs, Drupal is a highly flexible Open Source Content Management System (CMS). Modularity is one of the core principles, while it’s tools can be used to build dynamic web experiences. So instead of battling with complex and confusing systems that have been perhaps built from scratch, Drupal empowers small and large organisations to take control of their CMS and focus on their core business.
But one of the things that really set’s Drupal apart it it’s huge community: First released in 2001, it’s now produced by over a million users in 230 countries, from developers and designers to editors and strategists, all working together to further develop the Drupal project.
Why we chose Drupal for Qimtek project
Qimtek’s website and team helps the custom manufacturing industry win more work from UK manufacturers. But there was a problem. After 10 years, Qimtek’s technology had plateaued. MD, Karl Wigart, had originally built the website and therefore a lot of responsibility rested on his shoulders: before Five Mile got involved, only he could make the changes to the site, while also running the business. Not only was it becoming unmanageable, it was also a high risk strategy for the company.
Qimtek needed a much better CMS and front-end design to realise their huge potential and in order for them to grow, they needed to use the best platform for the job: something that was flexible, powerful and crucially would relieve the dependency on Karl.
“This wasn’t about saying “Drupal can do everything”. This was about making sure we implemented a solution that met Qimtek’s main needs”
Karl was already aware of Drupal - the large, knowledgeable and passionate community was of particular interest and value - but we still needed to educate him and his team on the benefits it offered. This wasn’t about saying “Drupal can do everything”. This was about making sure we implemented a solution that met Qimtek’s three main needs:
- Deliver the right tech: To build and improve on the legacy bespoke .net code while ensuring the system was fit for purpose throughout development
- Respect users: To empower customers to carry out tasks intuitively on a responsive site
- Make the offer relevant and engaging: To create a site that could be marketed and ‘owned’ by everyone in Qimtek
Drupal: a modular approach
Once we’d agreed on Drupal, the idea was to use as little code as possible so it was easy to maintain with solid functionality and strong performance, especially given Qimtek’s traffic. These issues highlighted another benefit of using Drupal. As of April 2015, the Drupal community has provided more than 31,000 contributed modules. So thanks to Drupal’s modular ‘building block’ approach, we could pick and choose which ones were appropriate for Qimtek.
Drupal and .net
But… we still faced challenges, the biggest one being how we incorporated Drupal into the .net legacy system without causing the system - and therefore Qimtek’s entire business - to come to a grinding halt. The answer lay in an API and AngularJS. (You can check out how we did it here!)
Drupal and the bigger picture for Qimtek
Using Drupal for Qimtek.co.uk has proven a great way to educate the company about other third party platforms. It also sets the foundation for Qimtek to grow the site over time: It’s opened the door to new ideas, helping the company understand how solutions such as Drupal can make their business, and life, much simpler. This means Qimtek have options to grow the site - and the community - with a strong foundation rather than having to rebuild a site from scratch in five years years time. In other words, Drupal is helping Qimtek future proof their offer. Oh, and they’re no longer restricted by Karls capacity...
The Drupal ecosystem
Here at Five Mile, we’re proud to be part of a growing Drupal ecosystem. Our work on Qimtek.co.uk reaffirms this. It joins a growing list of over one million sites around the globe that are built using Drupal, many of them household names including RoyalMail.com, economist.com, msnbc.com and rackspace.co.uk.
Want to talk to us about your site?
Got a project you think could benefit from Drupal? Get in touch with me for an informal chat: [email protected]