Introduction To Drupal - A Beginner`s Guide

3 Jul 2012 / Freeparking Team / Web Design Website Hosting

About Drupal

Drupal is one of the world`s most popular open source content management systems (CMS) that is used to power millions of websites and web applications. Drupal is developed, used and supported by a very strong web community. As a free and downloadable application, Drupal has many options for customisation which enable anyone to create, publish, organise and manage web content. It can be used to develop all major web architectures including social networking sites, personal blogs or enterprise applications.

Who Uses Drupal?

Some of the widely recognised websites that use the Drupal platform include Yahoo, Mensa, The Onion, AOL, Forbes, British government, Human Rights Watch, Metallica, Linux Foundation, Java.net and you guessed it…The White House. It is also a favourite among collaborative publishing communities such as online newspapers and magazines, educational institutions, and campaign sites. You can find good examples of websites that run on the Drupal platform atDrupalsites.net.

Why Drupal?

There are numerous reasons why Drupal is a favoured content management system. These include:

A) Administration and project management. With Drupal, you can easily separate web developers, web administrators and those who normally edit content. Tasks can be broken down and assigned as you like without requiring a central web administrator who is charged with managing everything.

B) Collaboration. Drupal is equipped with several user friendly collaborative features such as community moderation, multiple blogs, user role or functions management, and polls, among many others. You can control what one can access and what role he can or can’t perform.

C) Modules. Drupal is built on a module like design. Through block like modules you can add more features to a website or pare it to its basic functionality. What I am saying is that you can add or even enhance modules for social networks, speed, performance, link management, podcasting, security, customer relations management (CRM), e-commerce, email newsletters, search, events, surveys, WYSIWYG editing, administrative reports, project management etc. Similarly, if you are web developer you can add or modify modules to suit your website`s functionalities.

D)Open source flexibility.  It is not locked like other vendor products and therefore works perfectly well with other robust open source systems such as web servers and databases.

E)Maintenance and operation. Unlike other content management systems which have many complications when running multiple websites, with Drupal, a single installation is enough to run all of your websites without any complications.

F)Content management. One of the best features of Drupal is the ease in which you can manage content. It has a simple to use keyword tagging system which doesn't require you to shoehorn your content into those restrictive hierarchies. It also allows you to edit data or content type or you can simply create your own.

G)Support and documentation. Drupal has rich history of support and documentation for both free and commercial use. This is delivered via video, eBooks, white papers, tutorials, seminars, training and service providers.

H) Structure. Drupal categorically separates a site`s structure and content from its interface, meaning you can easily modify each independently. In addition, you can use or modify any of the users’ generated graphic themes to your liking.

I) User-friendly. One reason why many people love Drupal is because it has so many user-friendly features which most users can handle on their own.

F)It’s SEO friendly!

Question is, is it perfect?

Although Drupal has many exciting and user friendly capabilities, it does not lay claim to be the best in the market. Installing and setting it up is simple even for the most novice of users, but turning it into a website that you want may require more modules and configuration. This may include WYSIWYG and image handling.
Unlike the old-fashioned way of creating a website using static pages, Drupal is much more flexible and has a dynamic way of organising content but for some web developers may want their content organised in a hierarchical manner instead.
Drupal will also allow you access many graphic themes but a little tweaking might be needed in case you want your website to have a truly outstanding look and feel. Finally, like all open source projects, features are developed all the time to improve the usability.

Will you need HTML or programming skills to use Drupal?

This depends on your needs. If you just need a basic website where you only need to upload, edit, or modify content you really don't need any special programming or html skills.

Is it hard to install Drupal?

No. Installing Drupal is not hard at all. But configuring it to meet your requirements may require you to hire a pro to do it for you. You don't need any special tool to administer the website or even edit its content.

I hope you have found this article helpful. While it is not comprehensive, it nevertheless gives you an insight on what Drupal is all about. Trying Drupal will not hurt. Initially it may look odd but once you get used to it, you will realise how powerful it is.

Drupal is available for free with any Freeparking Web Hosting account,find out more.

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