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Drupal 8 embraces mobile technologies

Written by Jan Lemmens on 11/01/17

Mobile devices are taking center stage in the online world. Mobile phones and tablet sales surpass those of desktop PCs. According to official Google statements mobile searches outnumber desktop searches in 10 countries, including Japan and the US.

It should come as no surprise that Google is now also taking into account your website’s mobile-friendliness when it ranks search results for display on a smartphone. So you better make sure your website is mobile-friendly, or risk losing page rank.

For marketers there is even more at stake. It’s not enough for your website to be mobile-friendly, you also want the ability to set up campaigns that specifically target mobile users.

Drupal 8 embraces mobile technologies

 

Not just mobile friendly, but mobile first!

If you’re looking for a mobile friendly platform, Drupal 8 has got you covered. It’s a high-quality, open source CMS - fast, clean, customizable, adaptable, and user-friendly. And while it has a ton of features, there’s one specific property that makes it ready for modern publishing. From the ground up, it has been designed not only to be mobile friendly, but to be mobile first:

  • Responsive themes
  • Responsive image
  • Mobile administration
  • Tables shrink properly and the new admin toolbar is mobile from the start. 
  • HTML5, key to making your website compatible with mobile screens, is now fully supported in Drupal 8.

It really has got ‘mobile’ in its DNA.

Drupal 8 not just mobile-friendly but mobile-first

Responsive themes in Drupal 8

Making your website work on all kinds of devices means that you have to start from a responsive theme. All built-in Drupal themes now use responsive elements, including toolbars, images and tables. Themes can have a number of breakpoints built-in, which can be used to trigger different website layouts based on the available screen real estate. Drupal’s responsive themes take the hard work out of making your website available on any device, making it platform and device independent.

When not using standard themes, the support of breakpoints and responsive images will be ideal for custom design while using the standard (and responsive) html-output of Drupal.


Responsive images

Websites are used on a variety of screen sizes, from the smallest smartphone to phablets, tablets, and desktop PC’s. Addressing this issue with your regular content is already quite a challenge, but even more so for your graphics. Badly managed images will slow down the loading of your website on a mobile device as the page struggles to load the full size image - which the device then needs to scale, on the fly, to a proper size. Still, as mobile devices sport ever-better displays, you certainly don’t want to strip the website of all graphics or show the user tiny, blurred images.

Enter the responsive ‘picture’ element. Simply add one large image, regardless of its use on the page, and Drupal 8 will automatically size it according to the resolution of the device accessing the image. Viewing, editing and working with pictures has never been easier.


Mobile website administration

Drupal 8 sports an improved website administration interface. A better, clearer design with easy to read buttons will make your job a lot more comfortable. But thanks to the Drupal 8 Mobile Initiative, the platform is now also suitable for all mobile devices.

Managing your website on a mobile device should not be a troublesome experience of scrolling left, right, up and down and trying to find the right content; Drupal 8 will change that. The toolbar and layout will automatically adjust and adapt to the size of the device, making it much easier to make changes from any mobile or tablet.


Drupal mobile and web apps

You want to take the mobile experience another step further? Devices like the Apple Watch or Apple TV do not sport a built-in web browser. The only way to get CMS content onto these devices is by means of web services. Drupal 8 supports web services in its core, allowing a robust integration with apps.


Speed

The fact that mobile devices often have unstable connections compared to classic computing devices like notebooks or desktops means that content should be served in an ultra-efficient manner to ensure a proper user experience. The speed of content delivery has therefore become an absolute quality measure.

Companies like Google, Facebook and Apple all acknowledge this and have come up with solutions like Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), Facebook Instant Articles or Apple News. Although these products fit rather well in a multichannel content strategy, they are actually built to address the problem of slow content delivery and bad UX on mobile websites.

Drupal 8 can help dramatically reduce the need for these tools as it includes a brand new cache API, which provides various tools to greatly enhance the speed of Drupal websites. Of course caching is merely a technical tool to enhance the delivery of content to the visitor. Proper front-end architecture and optimizations of assets are equally important. Drupal 8 also helps greatly in those areas.

Read more about caching in Drupal 8 in this blogpost: Drupal's future of caching.

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Topics:
Mobile, Drupal, Digital Presence






Jan Lemmens

Written by Jan Lemmens

Jan Lemmens is Consultant at AMPLEXOR, specialized in Drupal. He is based in Belgium.

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