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Everything A Marketer Should Know About Drupal 9

Why Migrate to Drupal 9 At All? 

A question we keep hearing more and more at OPIN is “Why upgrade to Drupal 9, is it worth it?”

Hearing that your website content management system (CMS) is at its end of life is not something anyone ever wants to learn about as, like most of us, you have a ton of things to do and don’t always have the time and resources for a web migration.

So why is Drupal 9 such a big deal?

Well, as Dries Buytaert, founder of Drupal puts it: 

“The big deal about Drupal 9 is … that it should not be a big deal. The best way to be ready for Drupal 9 is to keep up with Drupal 8 updates.”

A bit anticlimactic I know, but when you take a step back and really look at everything Drupal 8 has done for us, it’s a quiet and powerful statement.

If the upgrade isn’t a big deal, why all the hype?

Well if you’re currently on Drupal 7 or 6 for that matter, to understand the implications of this newest major Drupal update, it’s important to look back at all of the minor releases of Drupal 8 that have culminated to this point and look at all of the tremendous changes that have been made in order to set the foundation for Drupal 9. 

Not just for technical users, but the end users who often get left out, us marketers, content creators, editors, and comms folks.

The D9 upgrade itself isn’t the best part, it’s that Drupal is seemingly done with major time-consuming migrations. The culmination of all D8 updates has set the foundation of what Drupal is today and what it will be going forward.

Lots of people look at Drupal and see an overwhelming amount of time and work to learn, but the reality is that Drupal has been tirelessly working to make everything much easier for everyone. 

D9 will be the beginning of a more user-friendly platform allowing you to have the peace of mind that it is providing out-of-the-box type usability with the same robust, flexible, scalable and secure CMS that we all know and love. 

But at the end of the day, when you undertake a migration, your technical team or service agency that you hire, will migrate a lot of content, but more often than not, there will be a lot of manual content movements to make, and that will fall into the hands of us content editors and creators who need a useable platform that will make our lives easier!

So what has happened so far in the Drupal 8 world that has made our lives much easier?

What Makes Drupal 9 So Great Anyways?

As I mentioned earlier, to understand everything that has culminated towards the release of Drupal 9, we have to go back in time and see what Drupal 8 has set the foundation for.

Drupal 8 builds on the strengths of Drupal 6 and 7 while bringing exciting new functionalities to the table. If you haven’t already upgraded your website to Drupal 8, you need to get on board. Your business is positioned to be a market leader, but to stay ahead of competitors, you need the right tool for digital enablement. 

The D8 update features the ability for users who come from Drupal 6 and 7 to update their Migrate Drupal and Migrate Drupal UI modules more easily. For organizations hesitating to upgrade from an older version, this will make it much easier. 

Since the release of Drupal 8, there has been a common misconception that its only for more technical users like devs or engineers. The reality is that Drupal 8 is a powerful tool that can be harnessed for agile marketing and content management efforts that require little to no tech knowledge to grasp. 

Drupal 8 was designed with marketers and content creators in mind. Empowering your organization’s conversion experts and providing them with the tools they need.

The Promote Drupal Initiative was a 4 phased plan and a key step towards bringing the perceived identity of Drupal out of the mindset of it being solely for “techie” users and to help make Drupal much more user-friendly for marketers.

The initiative brings up a very good point in that, if you are a technical user, for the most part, you already get Drupal, you can understand it or at least wrap your head around it. But sometimes there's a disconnect in helping non-technical users (like myself) understand the value of Drupal. 


Drupal has always been the CMS perfect for developers to power very sophisticated development experiences, however, following a survey of thousands of different members of the community a concise decision was made to focus 75% of all efforts towards the editorial experience of Drupal 8.

The outcome of this has been positive, we see Drupal being more and more compared with its “nemesis” Wordpress and other out-of-the-box platforms.

The Promote Drupal Initiative:

  • Update Drupal's brand and strategic messaging to connect with new decision-makers 
  • Provide sales and marketing materials that everyone can use (and translate!)
  • Coordinate PR campaigns
  • Create "marketing campaigns in a box" to support localized ad and industry event marketing

With the aid of this platform, migrating both Drupal and non-Drupal websites is effortless. The flexibility in D8 and its extraordinary feature set provide an excellent solution for the future of your business, unlike rigid and proprietary CMS frameworks.

API infrastructure 

Drupal 8 comes with an inbuilt, service-based API architecture. This makes it possible for you to develop new apps, enabling exciting digital experiences across a wide array of devices. It also enables you to manage all of your content in a single place. 

The D8 architecture ensures that you don’t have to restructure your data in a different way for every solution. Some applications of the API infrastructure include the development of apps for Roku, mobile devices, and Amazon Alexa. If your website is on Drupal 6 or Drupal 7 now, migration to Drupal 8 will unleash the power of your content using API integration.

Content first, design anytime

One of the many reasons why organizations are choosing Drupal 8 at an unprecedented rate is the ability to opt for any design or front-end experience. Businesses can truly leverage the power of their content by building responsive and engaging digital experiences. 

Users are looking for personalized and natural touchpoints at every stage of their journey. D8 allows you to stay on top of your web design and ensure that your content is being used as effectively as possible

Digital transformation of your organization

Drupal 8 is free and open-source software, developed by people who understand the unique challenges encountered by organizations and individuals across the globe. The platform comes with a set of tools that are helpful to organizations in transforming their online presence. 

In order to upgrade to Drupal 8, you don’t need to start from scratch. When planning to migrate, you have the option to upgrade the architecture of the website without making front-end changes.

The Drupal 8 ecosystem comes ready to go, out of the box. One of the several reasons why business owners choose Drupal is due to a wide array of modules available. Drupal 8 is a highly mature platform, and most of the modules on your website will continue to work for D8.

Strong and stable code

Organizations that make use of proprietary software solutions have been shown to change platforms frequently. However, with Drupal 8, you will never have to switch platforms again. The code is specifically designed for the future and it ensures the safety and security of your digital projects for years to come.

The Drupal 8 platform is a highly effective development tool. Customized web development on Drupal 8 improves upon the code base of previous versions. This has already been seen with our first D8 clients, who find development to be easier than ever. Incremental upgrades become effortless on Drupal 8.

If you are still using Drupal 6, you can migrate to Drupal 8 without any hassle, skipping Drupal 7 entirely. The upgrade process ensures that each and every module is compatible and continues to work through the upgrade and into the future. 

Drupal 6 is no longer supported and Drupal 7 will soon be reaching the end of life. This indicates that any bug fixes or improvements you make on your existing website will risk breaking the site. Migrating the website to the Drupal 8 platform will ensure that any digital investments you make will last longer than ever before.

4 Benefits of Migrating From Drupal 7 to Drupal 8

Currently, there are about 105,000 sites in the US and 6,600 sites in Canada running on Drupal 7, which means there’s a good chance many of you should really start considering your migration plans going forward.

You are missing out on a ton of new features that has propelled Drupal towards the world’s best open source CMS.

And if you’re not running Drupal at all, check out the link in the description below to find out why you should seriously consider the world’s best open-source CMS!

Here are 4 benefits of upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 for marketers and content creators!

Inline Editing

After the drive to improve the editorial experience, we are seeing specific tools for content authors and project managers alike, such as In-Place Editing.

In-Place Editing or Inline Editing is a new technology introduced in CKEditor 4 that allows you to select any editable element on the page and edit it in-place and not having to go to the backend of the system to make that edit.

As a result, the editor can be used to edit content that looks just like the final page.

It is a complete built-in WYSIWYG experience, because not only the edited content looks like the final outcome, but also the page and the context where the content is placed is the real one.

And not only that but the entire Drupal interface has been optimized for mobile editing, meaning that if you were taking the bus on your commute to work and wanted to make a change, you can go ahead and make edits to your website from your mobile phone. 

Unlike in classic editor, there is no <iframe> element created for the editing area. The CSS styles used for editor content are exactly the same as on the target page where this content is rendered! 

In the long term, knowing how content is housed and labelled throughout your site means you can more quickly file a support ticket or explain an issue to your IT help desk in the case that something does go wrong on your site.


Drupal 8.4 comes with a stable Workflow module creating a more intuitive way to set up different workflows for different content types.

For example, blog posts might not need legal sign-off but legal contracts do. To support this use case, you need to be able to set up different workflows assigned to their appropriate content types.

This is a critical factor that can help website managers and publishers to keep track of the flow of tasks. In this demo of the editorial workflow from Dries Buytaert, the Workflow module in the Drupal 8.4 update enables you to categorize content depending on their states and transitions.

These states have different tags such as “published,” “archived,” and “draft.” It also allows you to set up new states such as “review” depending on how you want to manage tasks.

Once you have created the states, the latest version allows you to create transitions between them. Transitions simply allow you to determine the direction of the workflow by deciding where the state should go. You can also choose which user should finish the move from one state to another.

Drupal 8.7 further enhanced Drupal’s existing workflow tools, supporting features like content staging, improved notifications, and updated approval workflows and version controls.

Customization of these workflows can be as granular or as high-level as the manager wishes - proving Drupal an effect content governance platform for any organization in any industry.

Drupal 8.7 also supports the ability to push content across multiple teams using its workflow process. Depending on the content, it may need approval from your legal team, SEO team, and local teams in international offices before it can be published.

Freelancing is also expected to increase in the future, meaning advanced permission sets and workflows are necessary to secure information and reduce inefficiencies.

As enterprises continue to trend toward managing distributed workforces, particularly in marketing departments, advanced workflow capabilities like those released with Drupal 8.7 will be increasingly important as companies scale remote teams.

Updated Media Library

The digital asset management market is white-hot and is expected to more than triple in size by 2024. Moreover, poor digital asset management costs enterprises thousands of dollars each year in lost productivity, as employees spend too much time searching for files and relevant information.

The Drupal community understood the importance of having a powerful digital asset management system that is also simple to use. Effective management and reuse of images, videos, and other digital assets are essential for maintaining efficiency and brand consistency, especially across different locations.  

The bulk upload feature is a great time saving aspect of the new media library as well.

Layout Builder

Thanking things a step further and jumping to one of the most sought after Drupal 8 updates, the long awaited Layout Builder. 

Drupal 8.7’s Layout Builder is the open-source CMS’s answer to site-building tools like Squarespace and Wix. The Layout Builder allows content editors to manage content and structure elements on web pages using very simple drag-and-drop functionality. 

Some other awesome features are a powerful template editor, multi-page management, instant previews, permissions workflows, and exceptional accessibility as well (Drupal 8.7 is fully navigable by keyboard).

Drupal already is widely known for having one of the most robust back-ends of any content management system, making it a popular choice for large enterprises.

Drupal 8.7 proves it’s possible to have the best of both worlds. As site-building tools narrow the gap between enterprise and non-enterprise websites, Drupal still stands apart.  

Why Upgrade to Drupal 9?

So what exactly will change for you when you make the upgrade to D8 before D9 release and should you skip D8 altogether and go straight to D9 in June? Let’s take a look at the most notable updates D8 provided us. 

If you want your site to continue to expand and evolve and take advantage of new developments and technologies as they come along, you will need to get involved in the process of updating soon.

This means that upgrading is an ideal opportunity to update your site design and modernize the navigation, look and feel of the homepage layout etc. Given how fast internet fashions change, there is a good chance that your site is due to a design update anyway.

D8 and D9 are already benefiting from superior technology to Drupal 7. The open-source community is constantly developing new systems, tweaking processes and generally making everything work better and faster. With enterprise-backing and a huge global network of developers, this is only going to keep on improving.

The upgrade process

Most of the work involved is in the preparation, the amount of work required will depend to some extent on the complexity of the site being migrated. This is a quick run-down of the migration process.

  • Set up a Drupal 8 site with the same modules as the D7 site
  • Design and build a new front end theme
  • Rebuild any complex pages
  • Perform the upgrade
  • Test
  • Promote to live site

This means that even if your site uses live data, perhaps an e-commerce site or a member’s site, there will be a minimal amount of downtime.

Providing that you are running Drupal 8 and caught up on your updates, making the move from Drupal 8 to 9 will be a breeze, however, as mentioned, moving from Drupal 7 to 9 will take time.

So far, thousands of sites have transitioned to Drupal 8, and are now ready for Drupal 9. Going from 7 to 8 will require an entire rebuild, which should be considered sooner rather than later, as many other organizations will be reaching out to agencies like OPIN to manage their upgrade, leaving less available vendors able to take on your project.

To further iterate this point, Helena McCabe, a member of the Drupal Association states: 

“Instead of waiting for Drupal 9, we recommend migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 as soon as possible. Incorporate deprecation checking tools into the migration process to make sure the upgrade is as Drupal 9 compatible as possible.”

But don’t worry, we have you covered! Due to Drupal End of Life here at OPIN, we have been helping many large enterprises create ambitious and unique web solutions.

Using Drupal, and its amazing features and functionalities we strive to take your project further than any “out of the box” content management system is capable of. 

Our websites are specially designed to enhance your agency's lead generation, marketing, conversion, and brand engagement.

Working with OPIN to create your next project means that we will be with you every step of the way. We will integrate comprehensive digital solutions, providing you and your users with a truly enterprise-level digital experience.

Ryan Pelicos

Marketing Coordinator

Ryan is a passionate storyteller who thrives on challenging the status quo. He is an avid researcher with a keen analytical mind able to strategize on technology, sales and marketing decisions by analyzing data and behaviours across various industries and technologies.

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