What is Drupal and how does it work? – A Beginner’s Guide When you start planning a new web development, whether you have previous experience or not, it never hurts to take a look at the different CMS ( Content management systems ) that exist to see which one best suits your vision.
A content manager, as you may already know, is a platform that helps you create your web pages without having to be an expert, that is, without necessarily needing advanced programming knowledge. What before only a few could do, today is within the reach of almost everyone who wants to invest a little time in learning.
The CMS you choose should be flexible, customizable, scalable, secure, and reasonably intuitive. It is possible that CMS names like WordPress (the most used in the world, currently, and by far) or PrestaShop will sound familiar to you.
Drupal is another well-known option and one that millions of websites around the world have chosen. After all, although Drupal is usually considered especially suitable for building large portals (I’ll explain why later), it is actually multipurpose and can be used for all kinds of web pages.
In this post I am going to explain a little about what Drupal is and what its advantages are (and disadvantages, we are here to tell you everything). If you finally decide on this management system,
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What is Drupal?
Drupal is an open source content management system (or CMS), based on PHP and created in 2001 by Dries Buytaert, a Belgian-born software developer. As I was telling you when I was talking about CMS, Drupal is a platform that is used to add, edit or remove content from a web page. Specifically, it works through different modules that the user can choose, activate and combine to achieve exactly what they need.
If we go into a little more detail, Drupal modules are a set of files that together work as “small programs” that are used to add functionality and perform specific tasks. Modularity is one of its strengths.
There are all kinds of Drupal extensions: to add color palettes and facilitate the design process, to prevent the arrival of spam through website forms, to edit images, to add calendars, to share content on social networks …
Drupal 9, which is the most recent update, has greatly improved the integration and use of modules created by the user community, so that right now you have tens of thousands of options available to you to do almost anything you want with your website.
Who can use Drupal
This part is important: although it is true that to use Drupal you will not necessarily have to have experience developing pages, the truth is that this platform is much better used if you have programming knowledge. You will be able to get much more out of it if your profile is not that of a basic user, but a little more advanced.
If you have previous experience building and managing a website, Drupal’s features will provide you with a scalable, robust and secure platform and allow you to create websites for large-scale projects.
Although its use has decreased significantly over the years, many government websites, educational institutions and large companies use it in their projects.
I would say that Drupal is practically like a framework and the person who will get the most out of it is a web developer. Therefore, if you do not have programming knowledge, there are other content managers that will suit you better.
Advantages of Drupal
Drupal is open source.
This means that you can modify any aspect of the Drupal platform to customize it however you see fit. On the other hand, other proprietary options (such as Shopify or Wix, to give you two examples that you may be familiar with) only allow you to make very limited changes through their own interface.
Drupal has its own team of developers but, being open source, most of the improvements are contributions made by the Drupal user community on a voluntary and free basis.
Think, for example, about security: open-source software like Drupal is much more secure than proprietary software because you don’t depend on a company to fix a security flaw. There is a whole community very interested in keeping the platform safe, detecting every possible problem and submitting bug reports.
And it is thanks to the large community of Drupal developers that your website will never be limited: if the technician, programmer or designer you have hired does not satisfy you, you can choose from hundreds of professionals and companies that can help you. You will always have the option to change yourself!
Drupal is highly configurable
I told you before, but it is worth repeating. If you imagine a Lego construction, you will have in mind something similar to what you can create on the Drupal platform thanks to its module library. We are going to put some examples of modules that you surely want to add from the first moment:
The Admin Toolbar module provides you with responsive dropdown menus that greatly improve the standard admin menu options.
The Google Analytics module provides you with statistical information on the traffic that your website receives. You can customize it however you want to track single domain, multiple domains, or cross-domain traffic.
The Simple XML Sitemap module automatically creates the XML sitemap that every website needs for SEO purposes.
The Backup and Migrate module generates backups (which you can schedule to be done automatically every so often) and helps you restore your Drupal website, as well as migrate it from one hosting to another.
The Elementor module allows you to generate pages through a “drag and drop” editor. You may know this page builder from WordPress. In Drupal it is not an “official” version, but it has been developed by Linnovate and sponsored by Elementor.
Drupal can be integrated with third-party APIs
Thanks to Drupal’s modular and scalable architecture, this platform is perfect for integrating third-party applications and systems from the most diverse sectors. Therefore, it is very easy to work with any API.
There are many applications with which you can integrate. Let’s see just some of them:
Web analytics tools: Drupal allows you to work with many of the best known, such as Google Analytics, KISSMetrics or WebTrends, among others.
Ecommerce tools: If you have an online store, you know that you will need to make integrations for order management, inventory, payments or shipping, for example. The Drupal ecommerce framework will allow you to manage all of the above and integrate the APIs, for example, from PayPal, Authorize.net , DHL, etc.
Online marketing tools: You will be able to use the usual email marketing applications (Mailchimp and Amazon SES, among others) and manage your mailings and mailing lists comfortably from your Drupal installation.
Customer service tools: From Zendesk to Salesforce to Hubspot, Drupal integrates with many of today’s customer service tools or CRMs.
Drupal is highly scalable
And this is precisely the reason why they decide to create their websites using Drupal. As I told you before, the more you know about web programming, the more you will be able to take advantage of it because you can develop what you need without limitations, as happens with other CMS.
Drupal is a powerful and flexible CMS that allows your website to grow based on your needs.
Drupal is especially secure
Properly managed and maintained, Drupal is an open source CMS that has proven robust and stable. If you need, for example, to encrypt your databases or take similar measures, Drupal can manage them.
In addition, Drupal has a good team of security experts, from all over the world, who analyze and identify potential risks both in the core of the platform and in its modules. On the other hand, as I mentioned above, the Drupal user community itself takes great pride in the robustness of the platform and works to maintain it.
However, no platform is immune to security breaches, so make sure you identify vulnerabilities and take the appropriate actions to prevent a serious problem from occurring.
Drupal is SEO-friendly and responsive
Already in its initial structure, a web page made with Drupal will be easy to crawl for search engines. Of course, you can also add specific modules to improve the SEO of your site.
In the same way, a few years ago Drupal became aware of the need to optimize itself to be viewed on mobile devices and tablets. Therefore, today you can find responsive themes and a backend that you can manage from any screen you want.
Drawbacks of Drupal
Drupal is not as easy to use as other CMS
WordPress comes to mind, for example, which is the intuitive CMS par excellence. Although Drupal has set out to improve the experience for novice users on the platform, it remains true that there is a steep learning curve that the user will have to overcome with time and patience (to put it mildly).
This is one of the main reasons why Drupal is not widely used. It is the price to pay when using a tool with so many options. It’s unrealistic to expect a complex website to be just as usable as a simple site, right? Drupal was conceived, from the beginning, to be used by advanced users. It is something that sets it apart from other rival CMS.
Once you learn to use it, yes, the evaluation that users make of Drupal improves rapidly. However, if you are inexperienced and are not willing to rack your brains too much, but want to get your website up and running quickly, Drupal may not be for you. Personally, I recommend that you look for other options.
Drupal maintenance is more complex and is not updated as regularly
Precisely because of the characteristics of Drupal, it is easier to screw up if you do not know what you are doing. For example, the installation of updates and additional modules in Drupal is done through FTP, which can be shocking to users who have only used simpler CMS. In addition to the fact that it is not updated as regularly as other managers.
On the other hand, if you put your batteries to work, you will be able to take advantage of the tools that Drupal offers you to prevent you from having problems during periodic maintenance. Drupal has version control, automated testing, automatic backups, and other add-ons that can make your life easier.
Examples of Drupal websites that use
I have included this section as a curiosity, because who does not like gossip. Also, I hope it will inspire you and to imagine what can be achieved with Drupal. We are going to see just a few of the many companies and organizations that have created their websites with Drupal (I’m sure they all sound familiar to you), because otherwise we could be here all day.
One of the many large private companies that have entrusted their digital storefront to Drupal. They have not been bad at all, don’t you think? As you can see, they have opted for a minimalist interface and have given a lot of weight to audiovisual content, including images, graphics, and videos.
Drupal gives you a robust blank slate, easily expandable and without too many pre-built frills. As a result, it is capable of managing complex use cases. The level of customization it allows is what makes Drupal stand out from other options. Not only do you already have tons of module options available to meet the needs of any project.
But the Drupal developer community continues to add new modules every day. If you have become clear about what Drupal is and you are looking for a reliable, flexible and scalable CMS, install it on our web server for Drupal and give it a try