Drupal Goes to College


Hundreds of colleges and universities around the world, including Harvard, Yale, Bentley, and the University of Colorado, use Drupal as their content management platform. Why? In addition to the widely recognized benefits of Drupal, one benefit that is often under recognized is Drupal’s ability to support responsive design and its ease of implementation. The four universities’ websites mentioned above all provide a responsive user experience. 

According to a recent study done by eMarketer, by the time the class of 2016 graduates from college an estimated 90 percent of college students in the country will own a smartphone. A study done in 2012 found that nearly half of all 18-29 year olds who use the internet on their cell phones do most of their online browsing on their mobile device. With mobile users and mobile usage constantly growing, especially among college students, it’s fair to say that these users will be viewing their college or university's site on their mobile device. As mobile users and usage increases, so does the expectation of what users can do on mobile devices. While users once expected less of the mobile experience compared to the desktop experience, they now expect the same or better. A university’s site is no exception. In order to keep up with user expectations and advancements in technologies, academic institutions need to address the mobile experience to ensure that all users can access and enjoy the content.

Of the above mentioned sites, Harvard University’s site has the most seamless transition from desktop to mobile experience. When viewing the desktop site it is obvious it was designed with a flexible experience in mind. This was done without sacrificing any of the desktop experience and the integrity of the design is maintained across all devices. The navigation, images and content scale flawlessly between breakpoints making the experience ideal for the device in use, whether it requires the click of a mouse or tap of a finger. Unlike mobile sites based on device detection, responsive design requires little customization of content and is the most cost-effective way to ensure a good mobile experience. Drupal makes it fast and easy to create responsive sites that look great and function on a wide range of devices. 

The roster of Drupal powered academic institution sites prove it has the ability to handle large, complex, content and media rich sites. Drupal is a good choice for any academic institution looking to ensure a good user experience at every scale.