Drupal is an open-source content management system and social publishing platform for the web. Although it has many strong advantages over other CMS platforms such as Joomla and WordPress, its diverse range of features can make it intimidating for beginners. Regardless, it is one of the best, most versatile and dependable platforms available.
Who Uses Drupal? Should I use it?
Some of the biggest and best sites on the web use Drupal including BBC, Fox News, The Examiner, Popular Science Magazine, and even the White House. It is popular among large organizations for several reasons:
•It has advanced access control features to allow multiple users to contribute in different ways.
•A properly configured site can be very easy to maintain.
•It has salted hash passwords, which makes more secure than other platforms.
•It can manage large volumes of content and many different content types.
•When caching is switched on, it can be lightning fast and will not buckle under heavy traffic.
•The platform is absolutely free, and hundreds of beautiful themes are available for free and/or cheap.
How do I get started?
First you should get familiar with (and know the difference between) the basic components of a Drupal site: Modules, Themes, Blocks, Content Types, Node.
•Modules: A module is a piece of software that extends your site’s functionality. Most modules can be turned on or off, even modules that come with Drupal Core. Using the right extended modules will save you hours of coding. Likewise, using the wrong extended modules could break your site or waste enormous amounts of time.
•Themes: Themes create the user interface of your site. You can modify a theme by editing the CSS and / or the PHP template, however it’s a good idea to add some content beforehand. Some themes have cool features built-in, like drop-down menus or slideshows.
•Blocks: Generally speaking, blocks are buttons, links, menus or snippets of code that can be positioned in various locations on your site. Available Block locations are determined by your theme.
•Content Types: Content types are really what sets Drupal apart from the other platforms. Each content type has its own set of fields and display options; for example a blog post will be formatted differently than a basic page or a forum post. Custom content types can be created with the help of various modules; for example, you can create a “Slideshow Image” content type for display in a slideshow block. The input fields for every content type are easily customized.
•Node: A node is the basic unit of content in Drupal. Each node has its own URL. Unless otherwise configured, the contents of a node will appear as the main content of your site.
Once you understand the components of a Drupal site, you’re ready to start building.
1.Start by planning your site structure and content. What is the goal of your site? What functionality should it have? What sorts of content will you be managing?
2.Go to the main Drupal site and download Drupal Core and whatever software modules that you think you’ll need. Don’t go overboard! Adding too many modules can slow your site down, and adding the wrong modules could potentially drive you insane.
3.Create content types and customize input fields if needed.
4.Add nodes of content to the site (just enough to help you style it).
5.Try out some free themes (or buy one).
6.Position blocks as you see fit.
7.Style your site by playing with the CSS in your theme folder.
Like any open source community, Drupal users tend to help each other out a lot. Whether you’re just getting your feet wet or you’ve already jumped in, your saving grace will be learning from the mistakes and successes of others. Congratulations! You’re on your way to building a high quality web site.