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by Katelyn Fogarty
Templates have a bad rap. For some, a templated webpage conjures up the image of a stale page with a bad layout.
I’d like to rehabilitate the reputation of templates. Especially as we start thinking about Drupal 8, and the opportunity it presents to rethink how we use templates. “Template” should make you think of fast delivery with dynamic content.
Is every page on your site custom built? Custom HTML/CSS? I hope not, but it does end up happening when you have unique design and features on specific landing pages.
What about those people that edit a page and expect the layout to work like editing content in a WORD doc? The web isn’t supposed to be static pages that you print out.
So, based on these ideas above I’ve started thinking of a plan for my Drupal 8 migration to force us away from one off pages and to start utilizing templates and Drupal more effectively. It’s easy to do a quick one off landing page and we are all guilty of it; I know I am. In the long run that approach makes it harder to migrate, makes your site harder to optimize and that quick landing page probably isn’t responsive. What can we do?
Start by breaking up your main products into individual pieces. For us we have a few main products: Acquia Network, Cloud Hosting & Drupal Commons (we have many more but lets start here for my example). I’m going to create a content type called product and make many fields that will relate to that product such as:
- Product Title
- Product Sub title
- Short Description (50 characters)
- Long Description (200 characters)
- Features list
- Benefits list
- Purchase link (if there is one)
- Download link (if there is one)
The average user won’t see this page but then when you create other pages on your site, you can reference these fields. So, on Acquia.com on the pricing page I’m going to reference the price field and the purchase link field from this page. Then when I need to make a price adjustment I am only going to make it in ONE place and it will be populated anywhere I reference that price. Does this make sense? You’re breaking your content into smaller reusable chunks of data. The hardest part about creating your site this way is getting everyone to be on board and understand how you now need to manage your site. You can’t just change something on one page anymore, you will be affecting many pages. This is a good thing.
I feel marketing organizations have evolved and are finally at the point where they understand this and want this. We will be building this when we migrate Acquia.com to Drupal 8. Companies now have departments for digital and less people are treating the web as static pages. Let’s keep this ball rolling.