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Changing Drupal’s (Material) Admin Experience

Posted by: Michael Girgis on Jun 1, 2018 10:07:00 AM in Development Design


There are so many good things that we’ve heard about Drupal from clients over the years, and we truly think it is the most powerful content management system (CMS) available today. With all of that being said, though, there has always been one consistent complaint.

The back-end user experience is not as good as it could be.

It looks clunky. It looks dated. It’s not flashy.

admin controlPhoto by Katya Austin

And perhaps most importantly, it’s just not as nice as Wordpress. Users have compared the admin experience of the two platforms for years, and Drupal has always come up short. Wordpress is seen as having an easier, cleaner and more modern approach to creating and managing content.


And while Drupal 8 has brought a number of improvements to the administrator experience, it’s still not as elegant as Wordpress.


With that in mind, the Drupal community has attempted to modernize the Drupal admin experience with the development of the Material Admin theme for Drupal. It also makes for a much improved experience on smaller devices, something that is lacking out-of-the-box. At DrupalCon in April, the lead developer explained one of the reasons he wanted to create the theme was because from his experience, he saw that authoring capabilities and the admin user experience are the most important components of attracting new users. The powers of Drupal are massive, but many people haven’t been able to realize the platform’s potential because of being too turned off by the back-end experience.


material_adminMaterial Admin is based off of Google Material Design Language, which is the set of design rules Google developed for all of its products. The decision was made at Google to have all of their products look and behave consistently.


The rules are used for whatever Google makes — be it Gmail, Google Search or an Android phone — which gives users a familiar experience across platforms and products. 


Google made the design system an open-source product, meaning anyone can access it. And that is just what the Drupal community did. They took the material design from Google and turned it into an admin theme so that when content editors use Drupal, they can have an experience that feels like a Google product and is something they are both familiar and comfortable with.


The Material Admin theme looks good and works well out of the box. It’s easy to enable the theme and try it out, and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing at Duo. When we perform demos for potential clients, we like that we can use Material Admin because it looks nicer than the default, out-of-the-box admin setup.


We’ll continue to test out the theme and determine when it makes the most sense to experiment with it for our clients. In the meantime, know that Drupal’s admin experience may have been a weakness in the past. This is the present, and Material Admin is a game-changer for Drupal.

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