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Technology and digital content determine what solutions are chosen in order to meet growing and diverse expectations of customers.

These expectations can be divided in two dimensions: interactivity across digital channels (web and mobile) and customer personalized experiences.

A Salesforce survey unveils that “66% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, yet 66% say they’re generally treated like numbers.” Moreover, “76% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments.”

In accordance, customers’ expectations are linked to continue growing number of digital channels available. Therefore, companies need to be active on as many channels as possible to meet their customer, and remain competitive. This also means having a capable content management system (CMS) that can deliver and perform in agreement with the company marketing and brand strategy.

There are numerous business variables that must be taken into consideration before companies choose which way to go, but in general these converge in two different paths. One offers the option of a custom CMS (based on a PHP or JS framework), and a second one shows the advantages of a purebred open-sources CMS as it is Drupal. Drupal empowers many thousands of websites and moreover is considered to be a winning bet for delivering ambitious digital experiences. However, according to opensenselabs.com (2018), being an enterprise and corporate solution, Drupal is specially designed for big multinational company type.

The path of Drupal CMS vs custom CMS’s way
It is mandatory to define upfront the project scope and objectives, its main needed characteristics (functionalities) and expected results before considering choosing the type of CMS. We believe that one of the main criteria are the need and the price.

The cost factor:
A custom CMS, most of the time, means that everything has to be built from scratch. If a company can’t do it in-house, they have to hire a coding agency to guide them reach their objectives. The more complex the CMS prototype (UX) becomes, the more money they have to invest. Although a custom CMS can be tailored to specific needs, every modification and every update will have to be made by the coding agency.

Drupal CMS is based it is an open-source technology. Which means it has on its side one of the biggest existed community with the main goals to protect, develop and update Drupal universe. According to Drupal.org “nearly all of the most useful modules (Drupal add-ons) are contributed (open-sourced) to the Drupal community. This is invaluable because for many other types of CMS, companies have to pay for the most important features.”
Although companies still have to hire a coding agency, native resources are embedded in Drupal sources code and available in dashboard panel, therefor, time and costs needed for development are lower.

The time factor:
In general, to develop a custom CMS requires more resources (time and budget) for the whole building process: project brief, web design (UX & UI), development, etc. In the case of complex web platforms, it may take even months to achieve the expected results and sometimes even more than one iteration (version).

With Drupal CMS things can go faster and smoother. Besides the frontend part and its implementation, most of the pieces are already built and a coding agency with experience on Drupal technology can choose among the best native or community modules.

The flexibility factor:
A custom CMS being especially tailored to accommodate project requirements can be translated in more flexibility. That means that a dev team can make changes to fit with company marketing and brand dimensions. Nevertheless this can happen if company has time and budget on their side to make the needed changes. 

Drupal CMS also enjoys a degree of flexibility. Although not at the same level compared to a custom CMS, Drupal is considered to be one of the most flexible CMS. Drupal architecture provides the means and methods to customize everything in order to fit company needs. 

The security factor:
Security can be an important advantage for a custom CMS. Being built using a specific framework it makes it a lot harder to fall victim to security breaches if correctly implemented and configured. 

Drupal CMS stands very strong when it comes to cyber security protection. A concept proof is provided by top world companies that built their websites on Drupal, among which we can mention: Tesla, NASA, ABS-CBN News, Le Figaro, or national government of Australia. Therefore, important companies and institutions trust Drupal and its level of security against cyberattacks. 

Multilingual factor:
Most of the time, multinational companies expend their international reach using localized websites translated in country language(s) to increase the exposure and overcome the culture and language barriers. For a custom CMS, this means a lot of work and requires a coding agency with experience. This is not a strong point for this type of CMS.

On the other hand, Drupal CMS has the most user friendly and practical multilingual system for both content and file upload, being the third most important advantage after security and scalability. After installation and configuration, one can enable language native module from the dashboard panel. Every operation comes with plenty of documentation and examples. 

Life time factor:
Also, another important factor to keep in mind is that the framework used to build a custom CMS it becomes deprecated over time, and this is why, in general, the life span of a custom websites varies between three to five years.

Drupal CMS thanks to its community can be kept updated and secured for many years if the maintenance team runs the core and module updates at least two times a year or whenever the community alerts strongly suggest a particular updates.

If the project involves extra flexibility, big data processing, complex or many custom functionalities, and the most important features are not CMS component and multilanguage functionality, in this case a custom CMS could be the logical solution. However, time, budget and a coding agency with experience are factors that weigh heavily on the project success. But if the project demands strong CMS and multilanguage functionalities, Drupal has a great track record and a unique features among others.

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