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Mar 11 2019
Mar 11

Few things are as good for a business as a website that looks great and runs well. When you’ve established a strong digital presence and rank well on Google, then you’re set to chase and convert leads to your heart’s delight.

Before any of those gains materialize, however, there’s the tricky task of building that website.

If you’ve chosen to use the Drupal CMS, then congratulations: you’ve made the right choice. Drupal is agile, powerful, and home to a wide community of developers and entrepreneurs.

Moreover, Drupal makes it possible to choose themes: templates that do most of the legwork of designing a site so you need only worry about the parts that matter (ex. your lead magnets, SEO, and copy).

Since not all themes are created equal... we’ve compiled a rundown of the 7 best Drupal themes to use in 2019:

1. Progressive by NikaDevs

Best Drupal Theme: Progressive By NikaDevs

Progressive is a theme that offers great value for money.

Its creators have packaged it with over 200 interactive elements, meaning you’ll be sure to find a function that lets your site move and behave just the way you envisioned it. It comes with video hosting, unique slider effects, and visual features that are guaranteed to capture an audience’s attention.

Our favorite thing about the theme is the set of four homepages offered at entry. While other themes force you into a single aesthetic mode, Progressive offers its solutions without placing implicit restrictions on your design options.

Price: $59

Compatibility: Drupal 7 & 8

Best used for: Businesses of all shapes and sizes.

2. TheMAG by PinkDexo

Best Drupal Theme: TheMAG by PinkDexo

Today’s marketing is all about content that informs, entertains, or intrigues. It’s for this reason that TheMAG by PinkDexo ranks on our list of the best Drupal themes for 2019: it’s built to house content and house it well.

TheMAG is ideal for sites that want to rake in ad revenue, profit from content, or showcase products. It comes with a wide range of layout options and interactive elements, but it shines the most when used to present content in the style of a --you guessed it-- magazine.

We recommend taking a look at the theme before getting too excited. It’s a perfect fit for certain niches (blogging, journalism, entertainment) but other types of businesses would do best to continue reading through our list.

Price: $54

Compatibility: Drupal 7, Drupal 8, Drupal Thunder, & Drupal Commerce

Best used for: Media and Entertainment.  Businesses that lean on blogging activity.

 

 

3. Winnex by gavias

Best Drupal Theme: Winnex by gavias

Winnex perfects soft and professional design through its clean look and implicit geometry. It took the best lessons out of the adage, “less is more,” and used them to create an intuitive theme for professionals looking to market their services.

The theme gives users an easy time of site development thanks to its block-based, drag-and-drop interface, its support staff, and the numerous video tutorials they’ve produced.

Winnex gets all the basics right, but our favorite feature is how effortless it is to upload and display videos. After all, when it comes to pitching a service, it pays to set your site up with content that builds user trust.

Price: $48

Compatibility: Drupal 8

Best used for: Consultancy and other B2B services.

 

 

4. Porto by refaktor

Best Drupal Theme: Porto by refaktor

Part of a CMS’ job is to simplify the job of web design. In this regard, Porto is a theme that surpasses expectations. We’re hard-pressed to think of any other theme that can get so much done in so simple a way.

Porto features an unparalleled level of customization, with nearly endless options for page layout, header design, color mixing, and media hosting. This means that any business -- from consultants to home repair services, to e-commerce businesses -- can build their dream site using the theme.

Price: $59

Compatibility: Drupal 7, Drupal 8, Drupal Commerce, & Bootstrap 3.x

Best used for: E-Commerce. Businesses of all shapes and sizes.

 

 

5. Jango by NikaDevs

Best Drupal Theme: Jango by NikaDevs

NikaDevs is back on the list with another highly versatile theme. Like Progressive, Jango offers endless potential for web design. Unlike Progressive, however, Jango presents itself as a theme for more timeless web design.

You’ll see fewer colors and gimmicks in their marketing, which can work well to favor businesses that need a site that keeps things simple. As with all themes on this list, Jango is structured, responsive, and offers support for its users.

Jango is a straightforward Drupal theme in the sense that it performs as needed, with minimal flash and maximum impact.

Price: $59

Compatibility: Drupal 7, Drupal 8, Drupal Commerce, & Bootstrap 3.x

Best used for: Any business that wants a simple and effective website.

 

 

6. OWL by gavias

Best Drupal Theme: OWL by gavias

Cafe and restaurant owners can breathe easy knowing there’s a Drupal theme specially designed for them. OWL is a quick and easy to use theme that knows the needs and demands of the food industry.

Our favorite feature of OWL is its capacity to host high resolution, Retina-ready images that food photographers are sure to appreciate. Coupled this with a simple interface and support for all kinds of modern programming tools (ex. Bootstrap, Custom CSS, SASS, etc.) and you have the perfect theme for restaurateurs.

Price: $48

Compatibility: Drupal 8, Bootstrap 3.x

Best used for: Hospitality. Restaurants and Cafes

 

 

7. Edmix by gavias

Best Drupal Theme: Edmix by gavias

Our final entry, and our third from developer gavias, is a theme that caters to educational sites and businesses that offer online courses or tutorials. Edmix appears to take the best design features from of popular sites like Coursera and Udemy, giving its users the ability to shine a spotlight on their courses and videos.

As is the standard for gavias themes, the interface is easy to use and comes with assistance in the form of their support team, and library of tutorial videos.

Price: $56

Compatibility: Drupal 8, Drupal Commerce, & Bootstrap 3.x

Best used for: Online universities, masterclass services, etc.

 

This list covers what we think to be the best Drupal themes for a business operating in 2019. As you’ll notice, the best themes are versatile, and they allow for a high degree of customization to let businesses present the best sides of themselves without sacrificing style.

If you’ve had luck with any of the themes above, or if you know of a theme that you feel deserves a place on the list, feel free to write to us or leave a comment below.

Likewise, if you need help using Drupal or deploying any of the themes we’ve listed, Varbase is a powerful website builder platform that empowers businesses to build fast, reliable, and search optimized websites in record time.

Feb 17 2019
Feb 17

"Content is king! SEO is so 2017." Sure, why not.

Where is that king's throne? Where do you find content?

Content is found on web and mobile pages across the internet, amongst millions of millions of pages. Search Engine Optimization is about the process of being found by your content consumers and readers.

What Search Engine Optimization is not is that it's all about keywords; a common and prevalent misconception. You still need to create content that is of relevance to someone searching for it.

and of course, follow Google's rules and learn their ranking factors.

Basic stuff really.

Google SEO

"SEO? Gotta follow the Google machine's rules bro"

 

A critical consideration that usually escapes the decision-making process of what to use to publish that content: Which CMS suits my needs the most? 

A CMS (Content Management System) is the beating heart of your digital platform, website or experience. It is where you develop, manage and publish your content. Most websites look like Ferraris' but drive like an Austin Allegro.

Long story short, the CMS you built your site on will play a key role in your SEO efforts.

 

4 Ways Drupal CMS Enhances Your SEO

I am not here to shamelessly promote Drupal CMS (I really am though), but if you are looking to create the best digital experience for your users without bothering about on-site SEO then look no further than Drupal.

At its core, Drupal was built with SEO in mind. It has the power, flexibility, and tools needed to optimize every facet of your website for search engines, and in its huge kit of modules, there are quite a few that are dedicated to giving you an easier time when it comes to improving the optimization of your website. 

 

1. Implementing Meta tags

Meta tags | Vardot

Meta tags are bits of text that are integral when it comes to improving your website’s search ranking, because, in a way, it tells search engines what the content is on each page on your website. This could be the titles of your pages to the little descriptions you see underneath the website links on a Google results page. You and your search engine need these bits of information to properly present and index your site on the search results page.

Usually, you can leave it up to your search engine to generate your page’s metadata for you, but by using the Drupal Metatag module, you can customize the metadata yourself. Set your own information such as page titles and descriptions to more properly and correctly present your site to your search engine and the online world.

 

 

2. Cleaning up Your URLs

SEO URLs | Vardot

 

Having bad, messy-looking links is a no-no when it comes to SEO. You want links that are easy to read and not just a jumble of letters and numbers so that they look more attractive to prospective visitors and to your search engine, who may be looking at your URL for keywords when it determines your site’s ranking.

Many web developers never realize the implications of messy URLs and leave their link syntax as-is, but going through each and every page on your website and manually setting the URLs isn’t an attractive option either. Luckily, Drupal generates clean URLs by default, improving the readability of your links and making things a bit easier on you.

If you want your links to be better and even more easy on the eyes, popular Drupal module Pathauto is a configurable system that automatically creates clean and extremely readable links that are perfect for your site’s optimization.

Another thing to keep in mind is making sure that your links actually go somewhere. Nothing sours the user experience more than clicking a link and being presented with a 404 page, and this in turn negatively affects your search rankings.

You can avoid this from happening by using the Redirect module. If you happened to have changed the page’s URL after Google indexed it, or moved the content to a different URL, this module allows you to make 301 redirects from that old link to the new one, quickly and painlessly, without having to go through the headache of cleaning up after yourself and fixing broken links.

 

3. Improving Page Speed

Improve page speed | Vardot

Google has been using the speed your page loads as an influencing factor in search rankings for years at this point. As they point out, sites that load faster have users that stay on for much longer, so it’s not only Google that you’re pleased by speeding up your website.

You might have to spend a little to have your website up to speed, but Drupal comes with several measures to help pages load faster, such as using BigPipe.

However, it’s not only desktop users you have to keep in mind, but mobile users, too. Given the leaps and bounds that technology has undergone in the last couple of years, you now find more and more people browsing the web on their smartphones and tablets. It’s important to make sure that your site experience is just as friendly and accessible on mobile devices as it is on desktop computers. As anyone who has used a desktop site on a mobile device knows, it’s not a pleasant experience.

Drupal’s default theme is responsive by design, which means it will display well on mobile screens of any size without having to do complicated rewrites of code or having to juggle multiple URLs to make sure your site displays correctly. With Google now also looking at the page speed of mobile sites, it’s now more important than ever to focus on delivering a good, well-optimized mobile experience to improve your SEO.

 

 

4. Talking to Your Search Engine

Search engine optimization tips | Vardot

Optimizing your website can be a little tough when you don’t even know basic things such as where your site traffic is coming from. Installing modules like Google Analytics makes you privy to such information, and for someone with their finger on the pulse of the site’s SEO, it’s perhaps one of the most important tools they can have.

With Google Analytics, you get to know things about your site visitors: Where in the world they come from, which links they followed to get to your site, which pages they visit and how much time they spend on those pages, what keywords they searched to find your page and more. If you’re concerned about SEO, then getting information about your website directly from Google, the most popular search engine in the world is valuable information to have, and can help you make decisions on what to improve on next.

And while you’re pulling information from Google about your website, you can also provide information about your website to Google in the form of an XML sitemap. These are specially formatted, condensed summaries of the pages of content on your website that you can submit to Google to help them find your site and let their bots crawl through your pages. Google can crawl through your site without an XML sitemap, but you take on the risk of them possibly missing pages.

With Drupal, generating an XML sitemap is as easy as installing the XML sitemap module which creates one for you, and modules like Cron can automatically make sure your sitemap is kept up-to-date with the latest information from your website.

Drupal is inherently optimized for search engines after all the whole idea behind Drupal was to enable the creation of digital experiences that are user-centric. That user includes the development team who are always aided by the open-source community of experts that provide us with awesome SEO tools such as the SEO Checklist.

You see, friend... SEO is not dead. Content's prominence just made SEO eternal.

Want to boost your site’s traffic and rank #1 on Google with Drupal? Message us through our Contact Us page, or via email at [email protected].

Jan 15 2019
Jan 15

Amongst ambitious brands and serious digital operators; Drupal adoption rate on the rise.

Governments and major brands across the globe are already testifying to the positive impact that Drupal has made on their digital business.

As a developer, you might be approached by a client that insists on developing their digital platform and/or experience using Drupal.

Here are 3 key reasons why Drupal distributions will make your life much easier:

1. Time

“How long do you need to complete the project? That long?!?”

Dealing with continuous amendments and changes to the project requirements is the bane of all developers.

Distributions feature tons of tried and tested best-in-class features, modules and components that are already integrated and tested together. This allows developers to successfully complete project tasks that normally consume a scary amount of time to build.

For example; should you be required to build a Media Entity Browser for a certain project may consume up to 6 to 8 hours from your time.

Varbase Media Entity Browser

Source: Varbase

Imagine it took you that long for project A... now you have to repeat the same process for project B.

However; with Drupal distributions such as Varbase, the Media Entity Browser is already built-in, optimized and integrated with other modules you might require.

Total time consumed on Media Entity Browser development: Zero.

Thanks to DRY (Don’t-Repeat-Yourself); Drupal distributions will shorten the project development time by hundreds of hours. You won’t ever have to repeat the same development process for any other project.

LEARN MORE ABOUT VARBASE

2. Efficiency

Not all programmers and web developers are equal in skill and expertise. But, we all face challenges and issues that might arise during the project development process.

Drupal distributions offer a wealth of solutions that fix issues you might not even realize you had. Why? Open-source.

For example; you are currently developing an e-commerce platform for a client and face an issue with a particular component.

The fact is that you weren’t the first developer to encounter this issue.

When using Drupal distributions, you will find almost all challenges and issues related to components or modules you may need have been solved and addressed by someone before you.

Working on almost ready-built websites not only saves time but also affords you the opportunity to personalize any ready-made component or feature based on your project requirements.

Take the aforementioned example; you already have a Media Entity Browser ready, but you wish to match it to your clients’ requirements. In no time at all, you can build upon the ready-made feature via customization or integration. Simples.

3. Standards

At Vardot, we refer to “websites” as digital experiences. The difference between them?

Standards.

Drupal has built a name for itself due to the focus on building the best user-friendly digital experiences possible and the fact that Drupal is open-source has enabled its evolution based on actual feedback from various practical perspectives.

Your ability to develop a website (e.g.) the best online equestrian market; depends entirely on the standards you apply throughout the development process.

For example; Varbase is an ideal distribution to develop platforms that rely on rich multi-media content such as Al Jazeera and Georgetown University. On the other hand, Drupal distributions such as Commerce Kickstart feature every possible component needed by a developer to build an e-commerce digital experience.

Of course, when we speak of standards; we are not referring solely to quality standards. You will be able to develop the best possible digital experience for any industry using Drupal distributions whilst maintaining all W3C standards and accessibility standards.

Bonus: Drupal Distributions Maintenance

Drupal distributions are rich in features that are all integrated with each other.

You will never have to scour for individual updates for each module you need. All you’ll ever possibly need is to update the distribution itself.

Since all modules and features are integrated. All would be updated and tested together.

If you are considering starting a Drupal project or to build a Drupal-based digital experience, let us know. We'd love to help.  Contact Us.

Nov 14 2018
Nov 14

The role of marketers has evolved beyond simply managing and coordinating online advertising campaigns to drive traffic to their respective websites; successful marketers must transform themselves to become storytellers.

Storytelling is an essential skill to master the art of crafting a digital experience for your digital business would-be customers and users. 

Therefore, as a digital business, you must be strategic when it comes to choosing the appropriate platform for your digital experience. 

The fact that you can easily publish and manage multimedia content across multiple websites under one brand has made Drupal a popular and strategic platform for enterprises, the media, healthcare and even powering digital governments.

In short; Drupal is a dream come true for marketers working in the aforementioned industries and sectors.

 

Here are 5 Drupal modules that were created by the Drupal community for marketers:

 

 

HubSpot is a widely used and popular inbound marketing software platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers.

HubSpot Integration Settings

Lead generation is a carefully planned ongoing process; deliberate in targeting users based on personalized content marketing.

HubSpot CRM is relied upon by marketers to enable them to qualify the leads generated from the landing pages they developed on their websites.

Marketers that use Drupal-based websites have saved a lot of time and effort by connecting their HubSpot CRM with their web forms that capture the desired user data.

For example, a Webform-based contact form on your site can send its data to HubSpot, where you may already track potential clients and contacts; or a Webform-based e-newsletter signup could send the lead to HubSpot's targeted marketing system, letting you use your pre-existing email campaigns.

Moreover, marketers that create content on HubSpot, can easily display it in Drupal 8’s front-end.

With almost 5,000,000 downloads and nearly 500,000 websites using this module; this makes Webform one of the most popular Drupal modules out there.

Webform Wizard Admin

Forms are an essential feature of a digital experience that relies upon gathering user data relevant to content marketing and personalizing user experiences across all relevant digital platforms.

Webform enables integration with various 3rd party marketing solutions such as MailChimp, HubSpot, and Salesforce to name but a few. You can find a comprehensive list of Webform add-ons here.

A great and simple guide to how you can get started on form building using Webform is available here courtesy of OSTraining.

This Drupal module adds the Google Analytics web statistics tracking system to your website.

Google Analytics Admin Section

According to Builtwith.com, Google Analytics is the most popular analytics tool in the world with at least 37 million live websites currently using the giant tracking and performance monitoring platform.

Marketers that use Drupal website benefit from the Google Analytics module to identify their traffic size, traffic sources and track the performance of their website with regards to ongoing personalization of their user experience.

Being able to seamlessly integrate Google Analytics also provides marketers with real-time data for current site usage and user behaviour. In addition to the aforementioned; marketers can track almost every statistic imaginable such as User ID, domain, as well as how many and which files were downloaded and by whom.

For full details regarding the statistics that marketers can track, visit the official Drupal module webpage for Google Analytics here.

This module provides integration with MailChimp, a popular email delivery service.

MailChimp Logo

Regularly maintained and reliable, MailChimp is a favourite tool amongst email marketers. That is mainly due to the attention to both sides of the email exchanges taking place.

This Drupal module allows email marketers to create and send email marketing campaigns from your website and analyze the performance of the campaign while monitoring the behaviour of users interacting with your emails.

On the other hand, your website visitors can choose to subscribe (or unsubscribe) easily to the email list of their preference.

MailChimp is not limited to email delivery only; you can also integrate MailChimp E-Commerce which allows marketers to optimize their online store sales via personalized email marketing campaigns and automation workflows.

This module provides integration with the Crazy Egg heat map service.

Crazy Egg Heatmap

Much of digital business and marketing success comes down to the ongoing enhancement of your digital experience.

This requires a consistent effort of monitoring feedback from your users who in the end must be able to enjoy an engaging user experience that doesn't feature frustrating issues such as slow page load speed and irrelevant content.

The aforementioned frustrations can heavily impact your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts to rank higher on search engines like Google; which makes monitoring online user behaviour on-site all the more imperative for marketers.

Crazy Egg is a simple Drupal module that is easy to install to your Drupal 8 (or D7) website to gain access to various reporting formats that showcase online behaviour on your web pages.

By recording the user behaviour, marketers are able to gain a visual insight into how users interact with different elements, features, and components of their website. Marketers are able to understand where users face challenges browsing the site, which aspects of the website they spend most of their time on and which they avoid completely.

Ultimately, the feedback gained allows marketers to develop the best UI, UX, and content in a more informed manner.

This is a core Varbase feature. We strongly recommend Varbase as the ultimate starter kit and distribution to build your Drupal digital experiences.

Varbase SEO

Enterprise level organizations and governments that rely upon an ongoing content marketing process require a content publishing and management solution that can handle heavy traffic without compromising performance standards.

This is where Varbase saves the day.

Not only is Varbase inherently optimized for all search engines it also enables you as a content marketer to optimize your multilingual content regardless of the media format to a diverse and global target audience.

  • Optimized markup that is compliant and accessible to WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards
  • XML Sitemap that is also language aware
  • Content SEO grader and recommendations
  • Full-suite of meta tags and descriptive tags that makes your site more optimized, integrated and favourable to search engines such as Google, Yandex, and Bing, and social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and many other
  • Total control over how your site will look when appearing on search results
  • Handle redirects with ease and prevent dead links
  • Readable and SEO-friendly URLs that automatically reads your site's structure and hierarchy
You can view our work on digital experiences that were built using Varbase here.

Honourable Mentions:

Honeypot

One of the popular Drupal modules available out there. Used by marketers and Drupal platforms that wish to avoid spam.

Honeypot keeps your database clean by blocking spambots from using your web forms using both the honeypot and timestamp methods and is not as intrusive as CAPTCHAs.

 

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

The AMP module is designed to convert Drupal pages into pages that comply with the AMP standard

AMP is important because it helps web pages load faster which potentially improves usability and convinces visitors to stay longer on your site engaging with your content.

The logic is straightforward: faster load time leads to better engagement, which reduces bounce rate and improves mobile ranking.

If we were to feature every Drupal module out there the list would be way too long, so which Drupal modules do you prefer? How does it help you achieve your marketing goals?

Share with us your own preferences and we will surely feature them as soon as possible.

About Drupal Sun

Drupal Sun is an Evolving Web project. It allows you to:

  • Do full-text search on all the articles in Drupal Planet (thanks to Apache Solr)
  • Facet based on tags, author, or feed
  • Flip through articles quickly (with j/k or arrow keys) to find what you're interested in
  • View the entire article text inline, or in the context of the site where it was created

See the blog post at Evolving Web

Evolving Web