Drupal is a popular open-source content management system (CMS) mainly used to create powerful websites. Its popularity can be attributed to its flexibility so that you can create a simple one-pager as easily as an interactive and complex business website, that can handle large volumes of visitors and serves hundreds of pages of content.
With flexibility at its core, you can solve the same problem in different ways. This is the reason why many web developers love to work with it. At the same time, it’s also a powerful CMS for newbies, albeit you’d need to be willing to get into the nitty-gritty. The community describes Drupal as a publishing system since you can use it for blogs, forums, wikis, ecommerce, and of course business websites.
2021, Drupal sees its 20th anniversary. It’s a mature CMS with a ton of features. It’s powering over 1 Million websites and used by household brands’ websites such as BBC and 7-eleven. It was developed by 2 Dutch college students in Antwerp, the Netherlands.
As open-source software, you can download Drupal for free. To have your website up and running you need to have a hosting provider and are fully responsible to keep up with the maintenance and security.
But it gives you all the freedom and control over everything
- Your content
- Domain name
- How you solve a task
- Pros and cons of Drupal
- Who is Drupal for?
- How easy is Drupal to use?
- Drupal design and themes
- How to manage your ecommerce store in Drupal?
- Drupal integrations
- What marketing and SEO tools does Drupal have?
- Drupal security
- Drupal customer support
- Drupal pricing
- Is Drupal the right tool for you?
Pros and cons of Drupal
Drupal includes a wide range of functionalities, such as comprehensive menu management and user management. This makes it easy for you to create any kind of website, social networking, These features make it easy for users to establish a simple yet advanced website, blog, social networking page, wikis, and more.
- Open-source software so it’s free to download and use
- Great flexibility and customisation
- Strong user and developer community
- Easy to use, once installed
- You need time to set up everything
- Learning curve for beginners
Who is Drupal for?
Drupal is best suited for businesses and organisations that need a large, complex website that handle high traffic volumes well and be fully customised. That is to say, if you run a content-heavy website or have large resource libraries and databases, consider Drupal.
How easy is Drupal to use?
To drive this point home: Drupal is not an out-of-the-box solution. This means you need to plan some time to set it up. Drupal is designed to be a blank slate and is meant to be customised before you can really use it. So, out of the box, it’s a functional but poorly design website.
It’s possible to explore and apply the feature set of Drupal without coding skills. That’s to say, you can master Drupal without facing serious problems, as long as you use only ready-made tasks or download the software installation package needed to complete a particular task. Obviously, if you have programming skills, you can go about it so much quicker.
The flexibility of Drupal is because it’s designed to be modular. The CMS is based on modules. That means you have all the modules that are commonly used to build a website when you download the core Drupal code base. Whatever idea you have, most likely there’s a module with the ready-made feature set needed to successfully complete your task.
Once it’s set up, it gives anyone who contributes to your site, be it writers, editors, or site administrator tools for creating content and they don’t need HTML or coding experience. The editor is designed to be user-friendly, the sections are clearly labelled, so that it’s intuitive to write your content.
The standard Drupal comes with 2 kinds of pages, a basic page and an article. The article is for your blog posts and the basic page is for static content such as an “About” page.
Drupal design and themes
Drupal has a mobile-first approach so that the design is mobile-ready. Following its philosophy, you can customise what your audience sees (aka the frontend) as well as the admin area. This appeals to experienced web designers who want to have the system set up so as to exactly meet their needs in all aspects.
If you want to add a new theme, you have to find it on Drupal.org’s theme page, download it and then upload it to the website server through the Appearance section. In the settings of the theme, you can tweak your color scheme. If these options are not enough, you can always edit the theme files.
How to manage your ecommerce store in Drupal?
The core functionality of Drupal doesnt include a shopping cart. But you have more than 500 ecommerce modules, covering essentials such as
- Order management
- Inventory management
- Coupon codes
Drupal Commerce is its native ecommerce module. This means each store has to be set up, configured, and themed basically from scratch just like the website itself. This means every piece of your store’s design, workflow, and capabilities can be modified and improved. Moreover, you can go further and extend the functionality by adding an already developed module. This leads us to
The flexibility of Drupal lies in the many additional modules that you can add. It has more than 47’000 modules that you can add. Similar to how you install themes, you also first need to download the modules and then upload them through the Extend section
What marketing and SEO tools does Drupal have?
Any marketing tools you want, you need to install such as a web analytics and marketing modules.
By default, Drupal fulfills the basic search engine requirements. You can improve your website’s ranking by installing modules to help you with technical optimisation.
You can create your regular blog with the page-type article. You can even a book page, a forum, and a poll. The book page is a collaborative type of content many users can add to. If you run a forum, each topic has comments and reply threads. Lastly, with polls, communist members can with a set of possible answers to a question.
As you see, these default content types already show that Drupal is built to be used for more than just a website. It allows you to create a website that has user generated content.
Payment gateways are added by installing the payment modules. You have a choice of the over 150 payment processing gateway, amount them
- Amazon Pay
Even if Drupal takes security very seriously, the most vulnerable are is its modules. But as is with all open-source software, you’re responsible for
The core code base itself is well maintained and the community takes security seriously. This means that it has a security team around the world to respond to any issues as they arise.
Drupal customer support
As free and open-source software, you can’t expect any level of customer support. Still, you have access to a wealth of self-help resources such as a forum, tutorials, and guides.
You can download and install Drupal for free as soon as you have a reliable hoster. That means that you “only” have to plan and pay for your hosting provider and domain name registrar. Of course, you have to plan in the time to set up and maintain it and any developer that you commission to do work for you.
Is Drupal the right tool for you?
If you need something fast or if you’re a first-time user, you may find Drupal needs too much time. However, if you’re an experienced web designer or a web developer who values flexibility and scalability, Drupal is very interesting. Then, you’ll find Drupal a great choice to use for large-scale projects.
Drupal is a solid choice if you’re a large business or organisation which is reflected on your website. Certainly, if you have the resources for a web design team, with Drupal you can build a website exactly according to your specs with its unlimited customisation and scalability.
If you’ve got any question or thoughts about Drupal, feel free to leave a comment below.