Drupal personalization

With the right approach, it's possible to build personalized websites with Drupal using a number of open source modules.

Foundations

Any Drupal personalization project needs to start with a solid foundation. The following pieces of the puzzle need to be in place for success.

Ontology

Drupal is well known for its ability to model content and entries related to the content. In a personalization project typical content types would be page, article, event, promotion, audience and topic. Both audience and topic can be used to classify the content. Furthermore, the user also needs to be modelled with certain user attributes driving the way content is retrieved from the system. A solid ontological framework is therefore needed for a site where personalization is needed.

User experience

A typical web project will involve a discovery phase where user personas are identified, along with common tasks they would like to perform on the site. This is mapped into paths through the site which in turn involves interaction with content of different types. A personalization project takes this process to the next level where the user context takes on a much more important role. User journeys can be mapped to include personalized content to support the user and to drive the user forward in the task they are engaged with.

Content creation

Personalization works best when there is content which is able to support it. Content needs to be available for the various audiences and interest groups which may be accessing the site. Well structures content help define the affinities users will have for certain content. It is needed for recommendations and to keep people engaged with the site. Site owners therefore need to pay attention to the type of content which will be on ethe site and who will be producing it.

It takes a team to build a site

It takes a team to build and maintain a site. Editors, marketers and and site builders need to come together for a successful Drupal personalization project.

Editor

Editors produce and manage content which forms the heart of the website. They need a clean and powerful interface which allows them to create the content they need to convey information and tell their story. The content will generally be structured in such a way to support the personalization efforts of the site. A Drupal site for personalization should include a clearly defined content model for classifying content as well as a number of editor tools for building componentized web pages.

Marketer

Marketers are driven by a need to communicate messages as effectively as possible, with the aim of altering the behaviour of an individual . On a website the needs of a marketer are similar to those of an editor - they need a clean and powerful interface. However, the content they produce needs to target the attributes of the individuals they wish to speak to. A Drupal site for personalization should model user attributes which are important and allow content to be created for them.

Site builder

Site builders need to pull all of this together. In order to do this they need to combine knowhow and experience to combine the right collection of Drupal personalization modules. The modules which are showcased on this page will provide you with the required tool. A little bit of knowhow from experienced Drupal site builders will help you get there.

Personalization components

Below are a set of 100% open source Drupal projects which can be combined to forum the foundation for a personalized Drupal site. 

Personalization solutions

Morpht, a Drupal agency, has worked on many of the above components to provide a toolkit which works together to provide a suite of tools for Drupal personalization and customization. If you are interested in building a new site or would like to include some of the futures in a pre-existing site, we would love to hear about your project to discuss how it may benefit from personalization.