Online presence often forces companies to build multiple websites: a website for each brand, product or a website for each country. Maintaining tens or hundreds of websites can quickly turn into a time consuming costly effort.
Luckily Drupal is here to help.
Multisite functionality is built into Drupal
Drupal offers a very robust mechanism for serving multiple different websites from one codebase. The cost of managing the multisite platform is substantially lower than that of managing hundreds of separate websites.
A website per country
A multinational corporation maintains a fleet of websites. Each country has its own marketing or content team which manages the content for the country. The languages vary per country.
With Drupal, we can easily build one engine which provides each country with a separate instance of a website allowing for full control of the user experience, however within the boundaries of the corporate identity enforced by the head office. The cost is massively reduced compared to a scenario in which each country creates its own website from scratch.
A website per brand
A company maintains many brands. Each brand requires a website. Websites are visually different (each brand has its guidelines), but functional requirements are mostly the same (banners, videos, sliders, contact forms, etc.)
Because in Drupal backend functionality is separate from the visual presentation, we can create functionality once for all the websites to use and only change the visual presentation to tailor it to the needs of each brand.
The same brand, many websites
Sometimes one brand requires a few websites. They will be similar in appearance but might have some slight visual changes.
In Drupal, we can use theme inheritance, by which one website inherits the look and feel from another and only changes the few elements required.
This massively reduces development and maintenance cost over longer periods of time.
Drupal is an extremely flexible multisite engine
You can build very complex scenarios in Drupal with various configurations of shared functionality and shared or inherited visual presentation.
How it works
A Bank saves time using a Drupal multisite setup
A client of ours, from the financial sector, let’s call it Bank ABC, utilises a multisite set up to manage a portfolio of websites targeted towards its customers in European countries.
1. By using a single codebase it is able to create a new functionallity once and easily deliver it to all the markets.
2. It can deploy security releases with confidence because they are delivered to all the instances at once.
Drupal multisite project considerations
If you have to create many websites, a website factory is often a good option, there are however things you have to take into account:
1. Architecture is paramount - correct architecture of the solution early on is critical. It is very difficult to fix errors done at this stage. Incorrect decisions on how to set up theme and settings inheritance are very costly to reverse.
2. Workflows and testing framework are a necessity - although multisite setups bring massive cost reductions, they require a thorough testing framework. Since all websites are on the same codebase it is imperative to test each change well to ensure it does not break any of the websites. With hundreds of websites a manual process if of course not possible. An automated testing framework is required.
3. Deployment mechanism - deploying one codebase to many websites with confidence requires an automated pipeline which is thoroughly tested. A failure which takes down many websites can be a substantial problem.
1. Experience in architecting - we successfully delivered and maintain numerous multisite Drupal installations both on Acquia Cloud Site Factory and elsewhere.
2. Experience in development- We are maintaining multisite installations for many years. With our vast experience, we can help maintain even very complex systems.
3. State of the art quality and testing processes - our Quality Assurance team is very experienced in testing multisite installations to ensure no regressions are introduced on any of the portfolio websites.
Droopler - a distribution great
for Website factories
We are the authors of a Drupal distribution (a packaged installation) which is great for creating multisite installations. Droopler consists of multiple visual elements which can be turned on and off depending on the website needs.
It also includes a layered theme where defaults can be set to match corporate colours but variations and overrides can be added on a website by website basis.
BOSSA.pl (DM BOS) chose Drupal as their web development platform. This helped them deliver a fantastic, fresh experience while increasing time to market and reducing the overall cost of ownership and maintenance.