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Why Drupal is the Preferred CMS for Government Websites

September 7, 2023 10 minute read
Here’s why governments in 150+ countries use Drupal CMS for their websites.
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88% percent of U.S. citizens expect to interact with government authorities digitally. That makes digital transformation for government agencies more critical than ever. Demand for reliable websites and digital services went through the roof during the COVID-19 pandemic but most agencies weren’t ready and many still haven’t caught up. Many citizens were disappointed by crashing websites for vital services like unemployment claims and vaccine appointments. But online government services don’t have to be slow and frustrating.

Government agencies can deliver personalized citizen experiences just like the most successful brands on the planet. One of the fastest and most effective ways for agencies to modernize your constituents’ digital experiences is to adopt a content management system (CMS) like Drupal. 

As of 2021, 56% of the world’s government websites use Drupal. Over 150 countries are using Drupal in government and intergovernmental agencies. That’s because Drupal meets the public sector’s evolving digital experience needs for scale, security, and compliance. 

No more waiting for updates to monolithic systems that prevent you from delivering an omnichannel experience when people need it most. Drupal improves time-to-market, increases collaboration across agencies, and helps you deliver personalized content at the right time. 

Here’s a look at why so many government agencies trust Drupal with their digital experiences. 

What government websites require most

Constituents don’t want a generic, one-size-fits-all experience. They expect personalized interactions tailored to their specific needs and preferences – just as they get from leading consumer brands. But, government agencies are faced with the challenges of doing this while maintaining a higher standard of compliance, security, and accessibility. 

That’s where Drupal comes in as a content management system. It already has the main things that every government website requires:

  • Compliance – Governments are required to follow various laws, regulations, and standards, particularly in the digital domain. This includes adherence to privacy laws, information security protocols, and other legal mandates that apply to online services and content. Ensuring compliance protects both the government and the citizens it serves – establishing a framework of trust and integrity.
  • Security – Government websites need to be safeguarded against various cyberthreats. This includes protection from ransomware, data breaches, election security issues, and unemployment fraud. Ensuring security is crucial to maintaining public trust and the integrity of governmental operations.
  • Accessibility – Governments must meet the world's highest standards for web access, particularly for those with disabilities. Many jurisdictions require compliance with WCAG 2.0 level AA and beyond, reflecting a legal and ethical commitment to inclusivity.
  • Flexibility – Government websites are expected to adapt to various needs, offering a wide array of public services. This includes accommodating different methods of communication, whether in-person or via phone lines, to reduce the burden on government employees.
  • Scalability – Government websites must grow with demand, evolving to provide access to an ever-expanding range of services. This ensures that they can handle increasing traffic, additional features, and new digital experiences as needed. For example, your agency might need to make a website available in 60 languages, and Drupal makes that possible. 
  • Transparency – Governments must be clear about their spending, especially in areas like website development and maintenance. This transparency fosters accountability and allows citizens to understand how public funds are being utilized.

So while a government website might look simple, the platform supporting it has to be both complex yet easy for non-technical users to operate at the same time. Here are some examples of government agencies that used Drupal to make complex services easily accessible to all their citizens.

Drupal for government: use cases

Government agencies use Drupal to create a central management point for networks of websites that improve access to information, services, and open data for their citizens, businesses, and other stakeholders. In some cases, like the New York City Metro system, a CMS is even responsible for digital signs in physical locations.

Drupal's flexibility, security, and multilingual features make it well-suited for these kinds of large-scale government implementations. Here are some examples of government agencies finding huge wins with Drupal CMS. 

State of Rhode is the official government web portal for the State of Rhode Island. Before Drupal, the website was a fractured landscape of websites that had to be managed statically. That meant state agencies had their hands tied when they needed to publish anything or introduce a new service, so the citizen experience was frustrating. 

The state decided to start the process of moving all their websites onto Drupal and Acquia Site Factory when they needed to build new COVID-related sites. The first site launched in only 4.5 months and 15 sites went live within eight months. Now their Drupal platform supports more than 67 sites. 

Metrics show that the new site is resonating with citizens and State staff:

  • 300% improvement in page load times compared to legacy systems
  • New site deployments achieving 96-99% Lighthouse accessibility scores and performance scores consistently above 90%
  • One-click deployment allows a new site to launch in minutes

Fannie Mae – In the current era of increased wildfires and natural disasters wreaking havoc on homeowners’ and renters’ lives, Fannie Mae wanted to provide localized relief information more efficiently. This meant they had to change their approach to connecting with their customers online by delivering extremely personalized content based on geolocation information. 

Fannie Mae decided the best approach to this pilot project was to display personalized content and calls to action about wildfire relief to seven highly impacted states. Combining Drupal with Acquia Personalization enabled them to keep the default information on their website while showing specific wildfire disaster relief info to others based on geotargeting.

This meant that everyone in the right states got the right information at the right time and customer engagement metrics from their personalized content pilot were extremely positive. 

  • Visitors who clicked on the personalized content had a 20% lower bounce rate and showed higher engagement with the loan lookup form and renter's resource finder
  • 38% of visitors in targeted states clicked on the personalized content
  • Renters who saw the personalized content had a higher number of resource form submissions
  • The targeted personalization group had 2x the appointment requests to the Disaster Help Center

Metropolitan Transportation Authority – Every day, the MTA provides transportation throughout the New York metropolitan area to millions of passengers. These commuters rely on to remain up-to-date on everything from daily traffic to emergency and severe weather events. They needed a system to sync all this info with 1,800+ digital signs in more than 400 stations across transportation platforms in New York City. 

The MTA decided to use Drupal as the CMS that powers its website and pushes content and data to physical locations. Drupal is the reason that every commuter in NYC gets the right travel experience, on the right device, at the right time. By infusing the power of digital signage into their station countdown clocks, the MTA is making its customers the priority. 

What makes Drupal the best choice for government

Government agencies at all levels are facing mounting pressure to transform their digital experiences and services. Citizens increasingly expect to be able to interact with government entities online and via mobile, in the same way they engage with leading consumer brands. 

That means government employees are tasked with choosing a content management system that meets all their needs. An enterprise-grade CMS gives government agencies the tools to deliver exceptional, trusted digital experiences citizens expect. 

Government agencies require a CMS that:

  • Has compliance and security baked in
  • Provides personalization capabilities 
  • Enables omnichannel content delivery and rapid updates
  • Is configurable for easy governance
  • Is cost-effective
  • Is easy for non-technical users

Drupal does all of the above and more. 

1. Personalizes the citizen experience

Citizens expect personalized interactions tailored to their specific needs and preferences. They want mobile services and content that’s relevant to where they are in process with your agency. 

Government agencies should look to provide:

  • Citizen profiles with contact/payment information
  • Insights from citizen data to understand preferences
  • Personalized experiences based on citizen data
  • Omnichannel communication based on channel preference

This requires consolidating data from across departments and agencies to build comprehensive citizen profiles. And that data needs to be secure, useful for building target audiences based on behavior, and simple to access at any time. The best way to do that is to integrate a customer data platform (CDP) with your CMS to strike a flexible and secure balance. 

2. Ensures governance and security

For government entities, security and compliance are paramount. A CMS must also adhere to key government standards like FedRAMP, HIPAA, and CCPA from day one. 

Drupal also enables governance through reusable components that bake in security controls, rather than relying on IT support. This frees IT resources while maintaining consistency and leads to cost savings over time.

3. Built with upgraded infrastructure

Drupal allows you to upgrade from legacy infrastructure and adopt performant cloud-based solutions that provide the foundation to scale and elevate citizens' digital experiences. 

With Drupal, you have the flexibility to select the CMS architecture – traditional, headless, or hybrid – that gives your organization the stable, future-ready content infrastructure they need to transform digital citizen experiences across channels and touchpoints.

4. Enables digital experience at scale

With Drupal, your IT teams can manage a portfolio of websites and digital applications in one central location, all while reducing maintenance and operation costs. That could mean you’re maintaining 50 websites for your federal, state, or city services all from a central location. 

Each of those websites would be easily accessible on any device and you could quickly add new sites or services without having to go through IT to update each site. This kind of scale becomes extremely important when rapid updates and resources are needed to help citizens through climate emergencies, help them navigate current events in their area, or deliver a new online service quickly. 

Drupal makes it easy to build new sites quickly, launch new government services faster and reliably, and gives your teams the ability to design seamless digital experiences at scale. 

5. Integrates with wide web of third-party technologies

You can customize your digital services with Drupal’s robust ecosystem of third-party integrations, contributed modules, and hosting services. This allows government agencies to integrate their CMS with pre-existing technology and accelerate your time to launch.

Available integrations include:

  • Analytics tools
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) systems
  • Customer data platforms (CDP)
  • Marketing automation platforms
  • Digital experience platforms (DXP)
  • Identity providers (IdP)

6. Deliver omnichannel content and services

Citizens want choice in how they interact digitally with government agencies. While the majority still use desktops or laptops, mobile usage is growing exponentially. Government sites must be optimized for mobile, and agencies should look to expand to new digital channels like voice assistants.

Content and government services need to be accessible to all citizens, which means offering multilingual support and meeting accessibility guidelines. For example, the City of Boston’s website is available in nine languages, with 30+ localization options, made possible by Drupal. Multilingual support is critical for an omnichannel strategy. If your website supports Spanish translation but your mobile app doesn’t, that’ll create a negative omnichannel experience for Spanish-speaking citizens that could be easily avoided.

Drupal has even more advantages over other content management systems for government agencies and you can read about them here

Getting started

With a modern CMS like Drupal, government agencies can pivot quickly to changing citizen needs and build a solid digital foundation for the future. The demand for digital transformation in the public sector will only intensify. 

With Drupal, your agency can have the flexibility, scale, security, and compliance it needs to deliver digital services for all of your citizens. If you’re interested in a CMS for your government agency, request a demo here.

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