DrupalCon is the name given to global conferences where members of the growing Drupal community, including developers, system engineers, designers, project managers, functional analysts, and more, gather to participate in learning sessions, talks, code sprints, and social events. Last week, Flightpathers Denise and Bart were part of the 3,102 attendees who attended DrupalCon in New Orleans.
Drupal 8 launched last November with hundreds of improvements, making it easier to use for both developers and site administrators. Translatability and localization out of the box, enhanced accessibility and WAI-ARIA compliance, REST-first native web services, and mobile-first, responsive, HTML5 output are just a few features that make D8 better than D7.
Drupal 8 has a large adoption rate. Within the 3 months of release, 60,000 websites have been developed. Popular companies that use Drupal include Tesla, The Weather Channel, Pfizer, Cisco and Nike.
Drupal 8 Features and Enhancements
Common Drupal 7 modules are now part of the Drupal 8 core like Display Suite, custom blocks, and views. This makes it easier for developers to build websites. There will no longer be a need to search for common modules and installing them. We loved the Lego cruise ship analogy presented by Josh Koenig of Pantheon:
All markup is now in Twig templates. That means developers can control HTML output and attributes like classes, data, IDs, and more. In Drupal 7, HTML was messy and there was no control over classes or IDs you had no control over it, making it hard for a developer to add/remove classes from HTML elements. Now with D8 you can easily control HTML elements and classes with TWIG templates. Only downside is that need to learn twig template engine but once you learn it, it will make everything easier.
Pattern Lab is a custom static site generator. We have used it for several projects and were pleased to learn that developers can combine a Twig version of Pattern Lab with Drupal 8. You can build out front end code once designs are produced and there no longer is a need to wait for a backend developer to build the site. You can just copy and paste the Pattern Lab CSS and code (or sync it with Grunt) to your Drupal theme, change a few class and ID names, and, voilà, you’re done.
Since you have full control of the markup and attributes, you can integrate with Ember, Angular, or React.js.
We all know credit cards are important. Security on your site is more than just a credit card – that’s not what hackers want anyway. If you’re collecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as a name and an email address, don’t store this information. By default, use SSL for your website – it will be a win for security purposes and also beneficial for SEO. Let’s Encrypt offers free SSL certificates so there is no excuse not to secure your site. Using CloudFlare, SSO (Google, Facebook) and other modules can help with security. Security is a good business investment.
UX Best Practices
Numerous presenters have stated that developers and designers should build a site together, especially after the wireframes have been created. With D8, Twig and Pattern Lab can help build wireframes to life.
Keep the user in mind. If you focus on the user, all else will follow. Set urgency to prioritize appropriate calls to action.
Creating an accessible web experience improves SEO, usability, and increases the size of your market by opening it up to the vast number of people who have restraints on their ability to interact with web content. D8 has numerous accessibility improvements, such as alt text being a required field.
A few tips:
- Color contrast – Take note of text color over images, avoid low contrast, take note of font weight.
- When writing image alt text, use descriptive phrases. Think of it like a tweet. go up to 140 characters.
- Closed captioning on videos. YouTube has automatic captioning. Subtitles are great for silent autoplay.
- Headings – avoid use of headings for styling. Use headings for hierarchy.
- When writing link text, train your content editors to avoid using “Here” “Click Here.” Use descriptive links, like “For more info, email Joe.”
There was a lot learned at DrupalCon, with topics of interest to all parties within an organization. Beyond all the trainings and sessions, there was an emotional touch. DrupalCon ended with a marriage proposal at the closing session and a D6 funeral procession and mourning party.
We enjoyed our time in NOLA and we look forward to the next DrupalCon North America, which will take place in Baltimore next spring. Did you attend DrupalCon this year? Have you attended any noteworthy sessions? Let us know. Tweet us @FlightpathNY, message us on Facebook, or find us on LinkedIn.