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Why The World’s Top University Websites Are Built With Drupal

Choosing the right content management system (CMS) for a university or college can be very challenging. There are so many things to consider -  the cost of maintenance, cost of implementation, usability for various site administrators, content editors, developers and much more. 

It’s no surprise that some of the largest and most prestigious universities and colleges leverage Drupal for its incredible flexibility, scalability and security. Did you know that more than 26% of all .edu domain sites are built with Drupal? Of that, 71% of the top universities including Oxford, MIT, Stanford, Duke, UCLA, Penn State, University of British Columbia and many more choose Drupal!

So why do these big names choose a platform like Drupal? 

Reduce operational costs with robust multisite capabilities like no other

Universities and colleges rely on multiple domains to serve their numerous department and branch needs. Drupal’s simplistic approach to multisite makes it possible to have an almost infinite number of sites on the same Drupal installation. 

Having this sort of flexibility allows you to manage delivery and governance for providing complete control over many sites from a single management console. By utilizing Drupal multisite capabilities, your departments will:

  • Improve governance across your organization and web experiences
  • Centrally manage your multiple Drupal sites from a single interface
  • Mitigate outages through an elastic and scalable platform
  • Cut costs per site delivered and developed
  • And much more!


Universities are always looking to spin up new sites and make content or configurations on the fly. Drupal multi-site makes this process possible all while saving you time, money and resources. Freshly branded sites are attainable in a matter of days as opposed to months by leveraging shared content such as libraries, components, sign-on kits, etc.

Drupal can have a dramatic impact on reducing overhead costs and increasing operational efficiency. The cost of supporting a multitude of sites along with resourcing the training and support is expensive. As an open-source technology (no licensing fees), along with the multisite feature, creating sites for these different groups is exponentially easier, more cost-effective, and ensures brand consistency.

Image of woman browsing multiple website pages.

Drupal’s built-in multisite capabilities also provide every department with the right tools and relevant media vehicles to communicate with students, prospective students and alumni, conveniently transitioning us to the next great Drupal capability.

Engage with prospective/enrolled students, staff and alumni more effectively

We know that empowering the wide range of needs of departments and different organizations across a university while maintaining a consistent brand and user experience is a tall order and is no easy feat. 

Communicating with your entire audience is crucial to your recruiting and fundraising capabilities. There are countless opportunities within the Drupal toolkit to make sure you can do this effectively. 

Here are just a few!

Drupal’s accessibility advantage

According to The World Bank Group’s disability inclusion report:

One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability, and disability prevalence is higher for developing countries. One-fifth of the estimated global total, or between 110 million and 190 million people, experience significant disabilities.”

Drupal provides a web accessibility advantage thanks tho the Drupal community. This ensures all web content is accessible and that people of all abilities and disabilities are able to perceive, navigate, and understand this content while being free of any barriers. 

Image of differently abled people collaborating on project free from digital barriers.

Providing accessible experiences for users who rely on assistive technology like screen readers, voice detection software, zoom magnification, switch controls and other assistive devices is not only a good thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. 

When you create a universal design, to include accessibility, you are improving your website’s framework, resulting in accessibility being built into all components of your site. This framework takes into account the preferences and needs of users of all abilities. 

So why spend more time and money creating bandage solutions for certain barriers, when you can invest in a digital project that has innovation and inclusion built into its foundation. Not only are you serving everyone equally, but your potential audience could grow by more than 20%. 

Ready for all devices, all the time

Millennials now make up most of the student body and they are a generation of mobile-first, so the method in which universities not only recruit but engage with them on campus will need to evolve rapidly! 

Drupal offers a fully responsive solution that reconfigures itself for mobile, tablet and desktops, allowing site users to efficiently access the site regardless of the device. Increase the number of student applications to your university by utilizing various engagement techniques including improved user experience and SEO techniques.

Image of millennials using different digital devices.

According to the 2017 College Explorer Market Research Study, college students, on average own 5.6 devices and spend 137+ hours on them. Though it may seem like common sense now, a staggering amount of institutions are not yet prepared for this reality. If you want to engage with students, you need to account for a variety of screen sizes.

A more personalized, multilingual education experience with Drupal

With such a broad audience, it can often be tough to truly personalize content with every user in mind. Universities face a more complex digital strategy when it comes to creating a truly personalized website. 

International students represent a greater percentage of the overall U.S. student population now than ever before, and their numbers are increasing rapidly. According to the Institute of International Education,

The total number of international students, 1,095,299, is a 0.05 percent increase over last year, according to the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. International students make up 5.5 percent of the total U.S. higher education population. According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, international students contributed $44.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018, an increase of 5.5 percent from the previous year.”

In Canada, those numbers are increasing at an even higher rate. 

“Newly released numbers from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveal that as of December 31, 2019, there were 642,480 international students in Canada. This number represents a 13% increase over 2018.”
With so many unique people hitting the same landing pages, optimization, content strategy and conversion path mapping and relevant call to actions (CTA’s) are difficult considerations to implement. With Drupal, a multilingual feature is ready out-of-the-box. 

Image of a group of diverse people from all over the world.

This is crucial for higher education institutions to hit the ground running with their new web project, delivering the best experience for everyone all while saving both time and money in the process! 

Drupal is one of the most secure platforms on the planet

Finally, with the vast amount of personal information universities are responsible for, Drupal is designed to stand up to security vulnerabilities, with a team to address and release security fixes. 

Strong evidence shows open source technologies, Drupal in particular, not only meet global security standards, but they are consistently on the cutting edge of security enhancements.

Drupal, its APIs, and its core and contributed modules, powers millions of websites on the internet. As such, the Drupal code is continuously scanned, audited, and analyzed for security vulnerabilities and breaches. Through peer review within Drupal’s continuously growing worldwide community of experts, Drupal’s core APIs have been strengthened over the long life of Drupal to mitigate common vulnerabilities.

According to CVE Details, an online security vulnerability data source, there have been 324 vulnerabilities reported for Drupal since 2002, with only 8 being reported in 2017. Compared to Drupal alternatives like WordPress or SharePoint, Drupal has 70% fewer vulnerabilities reported on average.

Image of woman holding a shield and sword defending against cyber threats.

These metrics don’t lie, they prove that Drupal is more secure than most of its competition. We believe that this is due to the following people, standards, processes, and measures:

  • Drupal’s Security Team, Project Maintainers, and Users
  • Security-focused Contributed Modules
  • Notifications
  • Secure Drupal Hosting

Your next step towards an industry-leading digital experience

So, what is stopping you from choosing Drupal as the robust, scalable, personalized and highly secure platform for your next digital transformation project? If you have an upcoming web project and would like more information on how we at Portage CyberTech leverage Drupal to build award-winning solutions for enterprises, governments and higher education, check out our customer success stories and contact us today to get started!


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