This is part one of a series that critically examines if Drupal is a good Content Management System (CMS) choice for various vertical markets.
We will start with the Health, Wellness & Fitness industry. For a more general comparison of Drupal versus WordPress and Joomla, please refer to an earlier post.
The Health, Wellness & Fitness industry
The Health, Wellness, & Fitness industry is a fairly saturated and mature one. What differentiates the industry players is not so much the products and services as the brands. Despite the high tech science-based products and services that they offer, it is the high touch that will set them apart from their competitors. The trust and relationship they build with their customers over time is what keeps them in business.
Is Drupal a good CMS for Health, Wellness & Fitness organizations?
The Drupal community
Drupal is an open-source project with a sizable active community. In the 12-month period ending June 30, 2021, Drupal received code contributions from 7,000+ individual contributors and 1,000+ corporate contributors. As a direct result of their contribution, feature updates and bug fixes are regularly made available to deploy on Drupal websites. This is important for Health, Wellness & Fitness organizations because a stale digital experience is a sure thing to cause erosion of the brand and the clients' trust.
While Drupal is generally known for its power and robustness for building awesome websites, the trade-off is that it demands a steeper learning curve for new web developers than say WordPress. A shortage of skilled Drupal developers will ultimately inflate the cost of web projects. The Drupal community, through its website and community events (such as DrupalCon), has proven to be a vital resource and promoter of life-long learning for both new and seasoned Drupal developers. The vibrant and supportive Drupal developer community lowers the barrier of entry for new Drupal web developers, creating a steady stream of qualified Drupal professionals
The sizable Drupal community and the strong support it provides for web developers lower the overall development cost for Health, Wellness & Fitness organizations.
Open source model
Drupal is the sum of 2 open-sourced parts: the Drupal core, and the contributed modules. The core provides the basic features of a website such as blogging, forums, and contact forms. The contributed modules can alter the existing core features or extend them by adding new features. As of May 2022, there were 7,000+ contributed modules under active development with at least one supported stable release.
As an open-source project, Drupal makes available to web developers a huge pool of free core and contributed modules to jump start any web development project. Instead of having to start from scratch, a Drupal project can build on top of the tested modules and customize them as necessary to meet the organization-specific requirements.
Because of the sheer size of the community, long-term viability of a Drupal project is more or less assured. Health, Wellness & Fitness organizations can expect to receive free regular updates of the core and contributed modules, driving down the overall cost of website maintenance and support.
A caveat is that the more customization one makes to the out-of-the-box features, the more complex it will be to port those custom changes to future software updates. The good news is that if the code changes are generally applicable to a wide audience, one can contribute the code back to the Drupal standard codebase so that it is integrated and tested up-stream as part of any future software updates.
Overall, Health, Wellness & Fitness organizations save money in the long run by taking advantage of the free core and contributed modules and their updates.
The Health, Wellness & Fitness industry is relatively mature and a venerable example is the YMCA which has its origin in the mid 19th century. Despite its long history, the industry is undergoing a digital transformation as its work flow is gradually being expanded to embrace the web. To support its digital transformation, Health, Wellness & Fitness organizations are calling for novel web applications that provide advanced features such as e-commerce, web-based activity scheduling, digital signage, etc.
A CMS must be extensible to properly support the industry's growing demand for digital presence. Drupal is an excellent match for that requirement because the technology was designed in the outset to be modular, meaning that Drupal was architected in such a way that additional future modules can be built on top of the stable underlying Drupal core.
Drupal is an excellent CMS choice for Health, Wellness & Fitness organizations to future-proof their websites.
Open Y distribution
While Drupal is a truly global pan-industry platform for website development, pockets of industry-specific Drupal developers have joined forces to share knowledge, code, and ultimately cost in their web development projects. Open Y is such an endeavor by various YMCA's in the US.
Instead of each individual YMCA organization laboring to develop a website from the vanilla Drupal core, the YMCA's making up the Open Y community collaborate to assemble the customized modules they use in a structure called a distribution, and make it freely available to everyone. As of May of 2022, 189 YMCA's already had a live website using Open Y, and many more were currently planning or developing one.
The benefit of Open Y is more than just packaging an out-of-the-box working solution; they are packaging efficiencies and cost savings for Health, Wellness & Fitness organizations.
Summary & conclusion
Is Drupal a good CMS for Health, Wellness & Fitness organizations? The answer is a resounding YES.
Using the open-source model, the global Drupal community as well as Open Y, the industry-specific micro community, regularly churn out innovative out-of-the-box web solutions for the Health, Wellness & Fitness industry, all at a lower total cost than implementing custom solutions from the ground up.
Five Jars is a full-service Open Y partner, and we have successfully created transformative digital presences for Health, Wellness & Fitness organizations such as YMCA in the North and YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties. Let us know your web plan, and we'll gladly share with you our experience and knowledge of driving digital transformation in the Health, Wellness & Fitness industry.
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