Drupal: Designer’s Best Friend in His Journey of Web Designing

If we talk of Drupal among web designers and compare it to other content management system, it will come up as the first choice of web designers with maximum votes. It is because of many reasons, in which one is less code, effective security and litheness for developing an online application. It is a complete frame work for online applications and is facilitated with several modules and plug-ins which are helpful in creating a reliable website.

While some of the web designers have criticized Drupal as tough to implement and difficult to learn, on the other hand some others prefer to use Drupal in comparison to any other Content Management System applications as it is more powerful, user friendly, flexible as well as more reliable in contrast to others.

Here in this post we are covering the entire concepts of Drupal through which event a beginner can get hand of expertise on Drupal framework. In this post you will be able to look over the fundamentals of Drupal framework, its features, why should you use Drupal, what are its advantages and disadvantages over other CMS applications, some important Drupal tutorials and much more. We hope this post might save precious time of Drupal enthusiast to some extent.

What is Drupal?

Drupal is the open source content management system that makes use of several modules and allows site administrators to organize and display content as well as customize appearance. By the term open source, we mean that its source code is available to anyone who is interested in working with it. It permits the site administrators to manage routine tasks, such as registration for websites requiring user names and passwords. Drupal is written in PHP programming language, which is well known for its usefulness in producing dynamic web sites, and is regarded as the best PHP Open Source Content Management System. Drupal is compatible to be used with several operating system such as Windows, Mac OS X, Linux etc. It requires database as My SQL to store contents. A web designer can create modules for Drupal and may also alter and extend Drupal’s core capabilities and add new features or customize its behavior and appearance.

Most Promising Features of Drupal

Drupal is a publishing platform which is gaining popularity due to its potential features. It has come up with many tools which help you to organize, structure, and re-use your content. Inspite of the fact that, most of the web designers claim Drupal very tough to use, it has received far-reaching great compliments for its usefulness and relatively rapid build time. Drupal is very easy to use even if you don’t know HTML, PHP etc. It offers a lot of modules and themes to build a massively content-rich and reliable website in a straight forward manner. Some of its promising features are listed below:

Easily administer the site

One can easily administer basic site configuration settings, such as changing the site slogan, modifying default language and date/time settings, creating site-wide and custom RSS feeds, and much more. Site administration becomes quite easy with Drupal’s robust user management, menu handling, real-time statistics, and optional revision control.

Highly configurable themes in Drupal

Themes are the most promising part which defines how your site is laid out. One can find highly configurable themes in Drupal that can be fully customized by a web designer. These themes are freely available for download on Drupal’s Themes page. Drupal themes are designed with an objective in mind to provide easy navigation, clear headings, logical page structure, and much more to the users.

Open source CMS

Drupal is an open source content management system which is available for use to everyone.

Dashboard

The latest version of Drupal, i.e. Drupal 7 has come up with a new Dashboard feature, which provides users with personalized dashboard pages similar to iGoogle or MyYahoo. One can add and remove items from the dashboard, or can completely disable the dashboard. Users can add widgets to their pages and arrange them through a drag-and-drop interface.

Focus on Social publishing

Drupal primarily focus on social publishing and assist in creating sites and applications with the help of which the users can express their opinions and get engaged with one another.

Point-and-click permissions system

Drupal possess a strong point-and-click permissions system that provides the flexibility to organize and distribute administrative and content access rights. This feature enables the user to create, view, administer, and otherwise interact with content on your site. With the help of this feature, one can make some of the content of the site as private, and if needed, one can also change it to become public.

Easily Connect to other sites

Drupal is featured with several modules which makes you to easily connect your website to many other sites and services across the web. For example, the “Aggregation” module allows you to publish your site via RSS feeds, on the other hand you can create content on your site from external feeds via the “Feeds” module.

Social Networking integration

Drupal extensively supports social networking integration. It possesses several modules which are responsible for connection to the social networking sites. For example, the modules like the “Facebook Connect module” and “Twitter” module enables you get connected to the Facebook, Twitter respectively and make your product or message more engaging to a wider audience.

Easily create and manage your content

Drupal allows you to easily create and manage your content with an easy-to-use web interface without the knowledge of HTML and CSS. With the help of Drupal you can conveniently countless content types, including pages, blog posts, video, podcasts, polls, and images.

Multi language Support

Drupal’s core translation module supports more than 70 languages, which allows you to create your site’s content in multiple languages.

Better Design & Display

Drupal is featured with a presentation layer which allows designers to create highly usable, interactive experiences that engage users and increase traffic. It lets you to design and display content in much better way and gives you complete control of your content presentation.

Views Plug-in: opening up more possibilities

Views plug-in are another promising feature with the help of which one can display items such as photos and text as a slideshow. It also allows you to display content that opens up when the header is clicked. Semantics Views makes design more accessible to site builders as well as end users by offering them an easier way to customize and configure themes. It gives you the power to create lists of inter-related content from both your own site and remote data stores.

jQuery and jQuery UI integration

It is another important feature of Drupal which lets the designer to make a modern and user-friendly site. Drupal features about hundreds of JavaScript modules. For example, the BeautyTips module integrates the BeautyTips jQuery tooltip plug-in to create rollover help balloons for any element on the web page; the Calendar module Date Popup creates pop-up calendars in a form for users to select specific dates and so on.

Usability and accessibility in Drupal

Drupal is a well-tooled system that is easy to set up and highly configurable for designers as well as administrators. It is so intuitive that even users with minimal prior experience can easily navigate sites. Drupal is an accessible tool which empowers designers to design sites which can be easily accessible by the end users.

Diverse range of add-ons

Drupal has many popular add-on modules which suit at its best to your site’s need and convert your efforts into great websites. For example, the Google Maps module integrates with the Location module to provide users with a clickable map for entering latitude and longitude. Not only that it also provide users the ability to create interactive maps with various map markers and content in map bubbles.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Drupal

As we know that a coin has two surfaces, in the same manner Drupal also has some advantages and disadvantages. While Drupal is a great CMS, for some it can be too much, it has some pitfalls too. But, once a web designer started to use Drupal, he/she can ignore its pitfalls. This is just because in comparison to the Drupal’s advantages, its disadvantages are very few.

Some of the key advantages and disadvantages of Drupal are listed below.

Advantages

  • Quite easy to use and update
  • It is quite reliable & secure to use.
  • Search-Engine Friendly
  • Modular and Extendible
  • Out-of-box RSS feeds
  • It possess built-in caching
  • Role-based permission system
  • Browser-based administration
  • Multi operating system (Windows, Macintosh etc) support for content editing.
  • More than 1,500 well supported modules.

Disadvantages

  • Performance: In terms of loading and scalability Drupal is one stroke behind that of WordPress.
  • Backwards Compatibility: Drupal is not backwards compatible with other software.
  • Require enhanced skills: A greater technical knowledge and enhanced skills are required to implement and control Drupal, if we compare it with other Content Management Systems.
  • Permission of MySQL and PHP language supported and enabled server is required to install Drupal.
  • Difficult to install and need technical help and support.
  • Drupal is basically a solution for small and medium traffic based websites; it cannot run very popular sites which is viewed by millions of users.
  • It does not have a control panel with graphical interface and hence a little bit difficult for new users.

Customization of Drupal required an expert user and developer.

Review of Best Drupal Tutorials

Ultimate Guide for Drupal beginners

This tutorial will make you aware of the shortcuts and secrets of Drupal. It will let you to know how to build a websites with the help of Drupal.
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Configuring menus, navigation and blogroll for newbies

This tutorial will acknowledge you how to configure menus, setting up the basic and first level navigation , breaking navigation into separate blocks, etc.
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Step by step Guide for Drupal beginners

This tutorial will make you to learn step by step about Drupal. It is divided into several section which will make you aware what is Drupal, how to use it, why to use it, Drupal modules, Drupal themes etc.
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Getting Started with Drupal

This tutorial will provide you an overview of the Drupal content management system and will describe the common building blocks and some common assumptions of the Drupal approach.
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Drupal Theme Guide

Going through this tutorial you will learn about customizing the look and feel of a Drupal site. It will explain how you can modify the appearance of your Drupal site without requiring expert knowledge of programming.
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Drupal caching, speed and performance

This tutorial will enable you to learn page cache, CSS optimization, and JavaScript optimization for Drupal. It will also let you to know server optimization for Drupal.
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Change the look and feel of Drupal site

This tutorial will provide you general information about altering the look and feel of the Drupal site using CSS and JavaScript.
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Using Drupal Views-Slideshow

In this tutorial you will learn the views slideshow, a slideshow that will be set through the views and input via CCK.
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Basics of Drupal

This tutorial will present an overview of Drupal covering the aspects like what are nodes, what are some tips to navigating the admin menus, how do you change the front page, selecting modules, installing modules, configuring modules and many more.
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Avoiding Pitfalls Installing Drupal

This tutorial will deal with all those mistakes which may occur while installing Drupal if not taken care of. It will make you clear how these mistakes should be avoided while installing Drupal.
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Other Resource:

For further reference you may go through the below given PDF. It might be helpful for you to have an in-depth knowledge of Drupal.

http://code4lib.org/files/drupal7-c4l10.pdf
http://www.24ix.de/fileadmin/documents/Drupal/Drupal.pdf

Conclusion:

In summarized form we can say that Drupal is a robust web content management system that can be customized and extended with well documented API’s. Drupal has won the title of best open source PHP Content management system and has become the perfect choice for large Enterprise websites with high traffic. It is well known for its dynamic nature; i.e. a website which is designed on the Drupal framework can be easily changed with the help of modifying modules. Drupal can be fairly used to manage every aspect of a website in very easy manner start from adding content and images to updating a product catalogue, processing credit card payments or taking online reservations or many more.

Clyde Ray

Clyde Ray is a passionate writer and a web developer at PSDtoDrupalDeveloper. Through comprehensive research, he has unearthed the relevant solutions for PSD to Drupal conversion, Drupal web development and many more. His various articles associated with Drupal technology have become a knowledge-base for many beginners and professionals.
Clyde Ray