Late last year I was lucky enough to attend DrupalCon. At the conference, I heard about Layout Builder, a new tool developed within Drupal 8 that allows editors to configure content more efficiently and easily. 

Having worked with Drupal for several years, I was excited to hear that they were building on an already great foundation and improving the user interface by making it more flexible and sophisticated for editors. 

As reported at DrupalCon, this change is part of the initiative to keep Drupal relevant and impactful, as well as making it easier for content editors and site builders. The Layout Builder will allow website administrators to customise page design more easily without needing a developer.

After recently using Layout Builder on a handful of projects, and with more clients becoming intrigued about this new module taking centre stage in the Drupal community, I thought I’d share my thoughts on its benefits. 

Easy user experience 

As mentioned above, I’ve worked as a Project Manager building Drupal websites for a while now. Within that time I’ve had lots of experience adding content and helping my clients understand their Content Management System. 

When I first started my career and was introduced to Drupal, I initially found the content editing experience somewhat over-complicated, especially for those with little technical knowledge. Drupal has really moved on since then, and the Layout Builder makes big steps forward in providing a better user experience for editors. 

Creating custom visual layouts using a simple drag and drop interface is one of my favourite things about Layout Builder. This easy to use interface is highly intuitive, enabling content editors to create multimedia-rich pages by interweaving text with photography, colour sections, videos and animations in no time. 

Not only is the out of the box authoring experience something to smile about, it works exactly how today’s content editors expect it to, meaning there is also less time spent training them.

Power to the editors 

Over the years I’ve noticed the huge amount of time and effort that editors put into making sure their website content stays fresh and relevant. Therefore, being able to change the look and feel of the pages with ease is important to not only upholding their reputation but bringing in new traffic.

Having a robust page builder that gives power to the editors means they are able to keep pages fresh and test layouts without having to rely on Developers or Project Managers.  

Review your changes whilst building 

While Paragraphs in Drupal are really useful and offer more flexibility to the content editor, building a page using them can be a slow process. You edit the page, add content and then save to view your changes. In comparison, using Layout Builder, users don’t have to save the page to view any changes they’ve made to the content. This saves valuable administration time and offers users a real-time preview of pages. 

Spin up one-off landing pages for campaigns or promotions 

The ability to act with agility and be able to spin up pages quickly on your website ensures for responsive and effective marketing.  

Importantly, the layout you build in Layout Builder then applies to that particular content type as default moving forward, which again saves valuable administration hours. If you then wanted to do something a bit different this could be seen as a limiting factor… but fear not the team at Drupal have listened to our editorial prayers and have given users the ability to override the default settings on content types without a developer’s input. This new feature is a big hit with editors who want to create a one-off landing page for campaigns using different layout settings. 

Accessibility 

It’s vitally important to make sure that websites are inclusive to everyone. For that reason, it's imperative that Layout Builder meets AA compliance with WCAG and ATAG requirements. Thankfully Accessibility is at the forefront of Drupal’s values and part of its DNA. 

Dries Buytaert, the founder of the Drupal CMS shows his commitment to making sure Layout Builder is accessible: 

A key part of bringing Layout Builder functionality to a “stable” state for production use will be ensuring that it passes our accessibility gate (Level AA conformance with WCAG and ATAG). This holds for both the authoring tool itself, as well as the markup that it generates. We take our commitment to accessibility seriously.

It’s positive to see that Drupal contributors are striving to make sure the Layout Builder tool is accessible so that it empowers not just front end users but also the website administrators and content editors. 

To reiterate, Layout Builder is a new module which is only available on Drupal 8. Layout Builder does not require a full rebuild, it can be applied to an existing site, and once it's set up and installed by a developer, it is then a tool that anyone can use in order to start creating your page layouts using blocks, fields and other entities. If you'd like to find out more about Layout Builder, get in touch