Drupal is an open source and free Content Management System. It is used by millions of websites around the world. If you are a Drupal user, or are planning to become one, this article will provide you with a basic idea of how to get the most out of Drupal.
What is Drupal?
Drupal was first released in 2001. This means it is two years senior to WordPress. However, WordPress has become the leader in the world of CMSs and nothing seems to be coming anywhere closer to it soon.
Yet, Drupal is not a minnow by any means. It currently powers nearly 2.3% of the total internet — this percentage spans millions. It is used by some of the world’s biggest names, such as Warner Bros and The White House. Naturally, using Drupal can put you in good company.
Drupal is a secure and versatile CMS. it can power basic websites as well as mighty enterprise portals. You can extend it with ease and even scale it down, should the need arise. It offers features that are otherwise not found in CMSs sans plugins — security settings, speed optimizations, and a lot more.
So, how can you do more with Drupal and boost the overall performance of your site? We will divide the answer in sections related to website management.
Search Engine Optimization
In the absence of proper SEO, it is very hard to get your website noticed on the internet. Thankfully, SEO on Drupal is not that difficult.
While there are various modules and options out there to help you optimize your Drupal website for search engines, the most reliable offering seems to be Real-time SEO for Drupal. This particular module makes use of the popular Yoast SEO technology (the one behind the WordPress plugin of the same name).
For the most part, you should not look beyond Real-time SEO for Drupal in order to avoid crowding your site with multiple modules and addons. It can analyze your page content, meta descriptions and tags, as well as provide you inputs about SEO concepts that you might be overlooking.
Your Drupal database serves as the back-bone of your site. Obviously, if the database itself is not optimized properly, your website will work slow.
DB Tuner is a useful module that you should always have ready and installed on your Drupal site. It can help you analyze, assess and fix database issues.
Also, try to rid your site of unwanted database thrashing. For statistics and analysis, you should rely on Google Analytics or a similar external service — most modules that count site stats repeatedly issue queries to your database and can cause lots of DB overhead.
You can also disable database logging to further lessen DB size using the Syslog-NG module. Same way, rather than a native solution that writes to your database repeatedly, try to incorporate social media elements using external APIs. AddToAny Social Share is a good module that can let you add social sharing icons to your site without having to initiate numerous database calls.
Where to Find Drupal Themes and Modules?
Unfortunately for Drupal users, Drupal is not even half as popular as WordPress. This means finding good themes or modules for Drupal is not as easy as finding themes or plugins for WordPress.
For the most part, when searching for a free module or theme, you should always stick to the official repository. Drupal users are a loyal community and all free products that are released are submitted to the official repository for inclusion. Such extensions and addons are quality tested for coding standards and are guaranteed to be free from malware. This way you can ensure the safety and security of your website and also avoid below par themes or modules.
Premium themes can be found at ThemeForest whereas premium Drupal modules are easy to obtain from CodeCanyon. Buying from independent developers is also a good idea, but make sure you do your due diligence to avoid poorly coded or malware infected products.
Also, try to opt for modules and themes that are in steady development. It is often a common practice to find out of date modules in search results — ones that have not seen an update in three years! Looking at the number of users as well as update frequency is a good strategy.
Drupal has its own security advisory policy and stable versions of certain modules are covered under the same. Opting for such modules is always a good idea. For instance, look at Drupal Commerce. While Drupal is generally not the first choice for building an eCommerce store, this particular module is what you should use if you are looking to setup an eCommerce store in Drupal. The Shield icon shows that its stable releases are covered under the Security Advisory Policy.
Drupal is an advanced software that can be daunting for some users. However, it is a powerful CMS that is both intuitive as well as developer friendly. It can make for a great software to help you build your next big website.
In the coming weeks, we will be discussing Drupal security at length, followed in turn by ways in which you can speed up your Drupal website.