Beginner’s Guide to Drupal – How to Start a Business Website

drupal-beginner-guide

Due to their extremely broad functionalities, Drupal is one of the most prominent Content Management System (CMS) platforms. Drupal is very much suitable for developers, marketers and for agencies at large.

Drupal prides itself as one of the impressive platforms out there that have stood the test of several ages. They even came into existence years ahead of Joomla and the most famous WordPress. However, it was initially built as a communication board between students

It, however, developed to be an open source platform, and has ever since, been growing to become a legend in the CMS web market. Drupal is presently coming after WordPress and Joomla on the frequently used CMS ranking. About 1.8 percent of all the websites out there run using the Drupal CMS. When it comes to CMS platforms, I can personally attest to it that Drupal is exceptionally commendable for offering an impressive website management system and being practically user-friendly.

Developing a website can be so daunting, especially to someone with little or no background in computer coding. Drupal, however, brings to the table a very comfortable platform, especially to beginners a wide array of delicacies to build your business website right from the scratch.

Drupal Makes it Easy to Create and Manage

Drupal makes creating, as well as managing websites easy for everyone. Business owners can easily add new contents to their website and keep it up to date by regular modifications of the contents.

For every business enterprise, this is a major factor to watch out for, as far as you wish to enhance your website as your business also broadens. Drupal’s flexibility offers solid ground for all enterprise business developers, as it is very easy to edit and delete some website contents, as well as add new features which conform with future needs.

Connection Establishment

It is essential for an online business to establish connections with the numerous social media networks out there to be successful. Drupal excels at going beyond the horizon of your website to the social media out there. Therefore, Drupal offers you the opportunity to be able to stay in touch with your customers out there, as well as with the outside world. This market sprouting capability enables your website to reach a significantly large audience.

It also integrates with the search engine connections.

Drupal has Impressive Performance

Drupal CMS prides itself in offering impressive high performance, as affirmed by many of their users. By the virtue of Drupal being less resource-intensive, and little need for a complicated and expensive hosting set up, Drupal built pages have the upper hand in loading very fast as opposed to many of the other CMS out there. The response time is blazingly fast.

Drupal is Highly Customizable

With thousands of plugins, themes, modules, and so many other configurable options ocean to fish from, Drupal makes it so easy for developers to have the website of their heart desire. With the help of plugins, Modifications can be easily done, even on the core files. This makes it very easy for developers, especially during the development stages. This makes the Drupal flexible and adaptable to so many functionalities.

Therefore, Drupal can easily be customized to suit your brand without any form of blemish. You can easily create suitable design templates for your brand name, as well as create matching website profiles. Delivering appealing web experiences along with the integrity that comes with an appropriately themed website pages help to foster customer comebacks and communication rates.

Drupal is Highly Extendable

Adding new functionalities to your website is a must for a business website. Luckily, Drupal offers a whole lot of modules to cater for that. The modules are very straightforward to download, install, activate, and configure also. Drupal affords you the liberty of enhancing your website to function beyond its normal core capability, by allowing you to configure and add various modules.

These modules, as minute as they may seem, they will help you build an awesome site, even without the prior knowledge of computer coding.

Drupal Comes with Great Security

Drupal is the most secure and stable CMS out there. Drupal has an active corporate level security organization, made up of proficient experts, consistently scrutinizing their codes for the slightest vulnerability. Due to the tight security measures put in place to ensure rigorous care for their customers, many big companies with high profile websites, including Walt Disney Company, University of Columbia, and even the official website of The White House use Drupal. Drupal also generates regularly, detailed security reports.  These regular updates and security reports regarding users and software installations make it easy for certain banks and industries to also engage the Drupal CMS.

Drupal has the Ability to Handle Heavy Traffic

Drupal is suitably powered to maintain heavily trafficked websites. Compared to other CMS powered websites, a Drupal-powered website can drive a relatively more abundant site.  Drupal’s scalability makes it easy for it to respond effectively to high traffic. An example of a Drupal-powered site that traffics about a billion visitors on a daily basis is Zappos. The totality of the features offered by Drupal provides search engines with anything they may ask for and also helps to generate net new leads.

Proven and Tested!

Thousands of companies all over the world employ Drupal to suit their customers’ needs. Even compared to WordPress, Drupal offers more flexibility and power, which means there will be much more configurations and options available to Drupal developer-users. Although this may imply that Drupal might be more complicated to set up for beginners, there’s little to worry about. It may take a little more work to get started with than similar platforms, but once you’ve learned the basics you’ll have more than enough options to hoist and balance your website.

How to Get Started with Drupal?

I will elucidate explicitly some basic step by step guides to building your website using Drupal. Here we go!

Step 1: Drupal Installation

Drupal installation is a bit more demanding than most of the other CMS. You might have to download the Drupal CMS and then install it manually on your website, rather than the most famous one-click installation method

The manual installation can only be done on a particular site. However, you will have to ensure that the installation requirements for software are met by your computer system. Your site will also require a MySQL database for processing. To install the core files for Drupal, you would have to download from their website. You can also use command lines to get some of the required core files. After the core files have been downloaded on your website, you can go ahead to configure your installation.

Manual Drupal Installation

Peradventure your hosting provider does not offer you an auto installer, or you want to install Drupal on VPS or localhost, you can install the Drupal manually. But if your hosting provider provides you, you can go ahead using the auto installer to do the installation

Auto installer Drupal installation method

  • Access your hosting account and navigate to the control panel
  • Search for “auto-installer” using the search bar, and select the too
  • Select Drupal from the list of CMS provided. Drupal should appear on one of the most popular categories
  • Fill up the form that comes up with your username, password, URL, and so on.
  • You can then proceed with the installation.

Step 2: Using Drupal to Set up Your Website

After installation of Drupal, let us discuss how we will create a website using Drupal. I will try my best to familiarize you explicitly with all you should know about the Drupal administrator

An Insight into Drupal’s Admin Dashboard

You will have to go to add a user/login as the suffix of your URL for Drupal login to the administrator dashboard.  You can then begin to exploit the vast resources offered by Drupal.   Once you’ve logged in, you can now access the dashboard. From here, you can begin creating and giving your website some unique customization. You should get familiar with these sections:

  • Content: where you can add and manage content, comments, and files.
  • Structure: in this section, you can manage layouts, contact forms, comment types, content types, taxonomies, menus, display modes, and views.
  • Appearance: in this section, you have the permission to install themes, as well as uninstall them if need be.
  • Extend: Extensions can be added to your website through this section. Your website has certain functionalities which you can improve on by downloading and installing nodules.
  • Configuration: the configuration section is for tweaking your settings.
  • People: user’s accounts can be managed on this section as well as permissions and roles.
  • Reports: For getting status reports and viewing log messages
  • Help: this section is where all you get all the necessary help for the installation to be completed successfully.

Classifications on Drupal – How to Create Taxonomies

Taxonomies, basically, are used to classify the content on Drupal website. Drupal taxonomy uses terms to present particular contents. Taxonomy creation is quite straightforward.

You should be familiar with these two words before knowing what a taxonomy is,

  • Term: It is a word used for describing or managing the contents in a Drupal environment.
  • Vocabulary: An assortment of terms.

Taxonomy creation steps

  • Navigate to Structure tab and select Taxonomy.
  • Select “Add vocabulary” to input a new vocabulary/term.
  • Input the name and the description for your vocabulary.
  • Select “Add terms” to include a new term to your vocabulary.
  • Fill in the form that comes up by entering a name, text format, description, URL alias (a secondary URL to access the vocabulary) and related terms.
  • Click on “Save.”
  • To create several terms, add new terms and follow the steps again.

Creating Content

There’s a so much you can achieve using Drupal, including creating a wide array of content types, alongside giving you the freedom to create your preferred content types. Creating contents on Drupal is as simple as illustrated in the simple steps below:

  • On the upper admin bar, select Content If you can’t find it, drop down the bar by clicking on Manage.

The Content page will then be displayed. Every of your site contents will be displayed here. As a beginner, this will be unoccupied.

  • Click on Add content to create something new. After that, you’ll be prompted to choose your preferred type of

The default content types in Drupal include the following:

  • Articles
  • Basic page
  • Blog entry
  • Book page
  • Forum topic
  • Poll

Articles: Formerly referred to as story, an article is the kind of content that is subject to change over time. They get altered frequently and are categorized normally.

Basic Page: They are content types that unlike articles, they are expected to change less frequently.

Blog Entry: Registered users can create and manage blogs on your website using this content type.

Book Page: A book page is typically used when you create contents for collaborative books as the name implies. Book pages are not default enabled.

Forum topic: This type of content is majorly used as the topic of a discussion. Users can discuss the subject through comments.

Poll: This type is majorly meant to accommodate questions with a variety of likely answers.

Creating an Article On Drupal

  • On the dashboard, select Content.
  • Click “Add content.”
  • Select “Article” on the displayed window.
  • A screen will pop up and prompt you to input title, body, tags, text format, and image.
  • If you wish to link an article to a menu, select Menu Settings. On the checkbox that requests for a menu link, you can add the link, description, title, parent item and also menu weight. You can as well include revision information, authoring information, comment settings, URL path settings, and publishing options).
  • Select “P0review” to see the article
  • Finally, click “Save” and publish it to make it available live.

Creating a Page for About Us

  • First, select Content then click “Add content.”
  • Select “Basic page.”
  • You will be prompted to input a title and body for the page. Enter “About us” as the title and put necessary data that should be present within the body.

You can tweak the text format as well as menu settings provided you are okay with it.

  • If you desire to connect the page to a particular menu, select “Provide a menu link.”
  • Fill in the form that comes up by entering the title, description, weight, and parent item.
  • You should include URL path settings, publishing options, authoring information, comment settings, and revision information.
  • To preview the page, select “Preview.”
  • Finally, click Save and publish it.

Building Your Menus

It matters so little what type of website you are creating. Every website needs menus as they offer a great deal of help when you need to categorize and structure your website. Drupal gives you the ability to add and delete as well as rename menus including the constituent items lined under them. Read through these steps on how to create a menu:

  • Select Structure then select

Some default menus including tools and footers will show up.

  • Click “Add menu.”
  • Input menu title and description then click “Save.”
  • Select “Add link” to include a menu link.
  • A new window will pop up, where you will be requested to input link title, parent link, path, weight, and description.

You have the option of choosing if you want to activate the menu or if you will rather show it as expanded by selecting the provided options.

  • When you are through with this window, select Save.
  • To include several links to the menu, you can keep going back to the Add link stage, and repeat the same set of procedure.

Constructing Drupal Blocks

Drupal website contents are organized with a container like elements called Blocks. Blocks give some kind of orderliness to a Drupal site by housing the website contents, and carefully settling in a particular region on a web page. After creating a block, you can adjust its shape, size, appearance, position, as well as the particular web pages you wish to place it on.

For instance, we can say a user sign in (block) is included on your web page’s header region. Placing a block is very easy and straightforward as shown in the simple steps below:

  • Navigate to “Main menu” and select Structure
  • Click on Block layout.

At this stage, you will select the region to place your block.

  • Select “Place block button” next to Header.

However, you can construct your custom block selecting “Add custom block” and input a description and a body.

  • Select “Page Title” and crosscheck the title and visibility as well as the region for your block
  • Finally, click on “Save block.”

Step 3: Add New Functionalities to Your Website Using Modules

Drupal provides some groups of code, which when installed on your website, add new functionalities and features. These groups of code are called modules. JavaScript, CSS, and PHP, are contained in each module, thereby altering your site’s performance positively. For every installation of Drupal, you will get some complementary core modules. You can also decide to download and install new ones yourself. Drupal Modules Page makes it easy to find these tools.

Drupal Modules Page houses over 38,000 modules. You can simply click on any module to see more information about them. After having a module file downloaded to your system, you can go ahead to your site for installation.

Module installation

  • Click on Extend in the admin toolbar.

Modules that are presently installed on your site will be displayed

  • In order to add a new module, select the Install new module button, which will take you to the following page.

You can do the module installation by manual upload or you can just provide a direct link to the Module file.

  • Click Install, The module will then be uploaded and installed to your site. A notification will be sent to you, informing you of the installation success.

Note that after installation of the Drupal Modules, you’ll have to activate them. The installed modules would actually just be dormant until after activating them.

Activating a Drupal Module

  • Navigate back to the Extend page
  • Select the newly added module.
  • Then, click on Install.

Once you’ve activated the new module, you can go ahead harnessing the additional functionalities without ado. Some must-have Drupal modules are:

  • Chaos tool suite
  • Admin toolbar
  • Metatag
  • Google analytics
  • Webform

Chaos tool suite: With this tool suite, which comprises an assortment of tools and API, the developer experience is improved tremendously.

Admin toolbar: The toolbar enhances the default one to be presented as a dropdown list. The module does not alter the functionalities of the basic toolbar.

Metatag: You can automatically include meta-tags and designed metadata to your site with the Metatag module. The module supports meta-tags which give you control on how your content is presented when it is shared on social media.

Google Analytics: Google Analytics allows you to include the tracking system of Google’s web stats to your site.

Webform: As the name implies, Webform allows you to make forms and surveys on your Drupal site.

Step 4:  Add New Themes to Enhance Your Site’s Appearance

The appearance of your website tells a lot about what you have to offer your visitors. Therefore, an impressive theme is another avenue to advance your site. I will simply guide you on how you can give your site a stylishly exciting design, using the Drupal themes.

Your visitor’s first impression will be influenced by the way your website appears, and you strive to give them a non-forgettable user-experience. By default, you have Bartik theme installed, however, there are other themes you can select from. But if for instance, you want a different theme for your site, you have various sources on the web who are offering third party Drupal themes. However, the best place to download these themes is the Drupal Theme Page. The download method is pretty comparable to that of the modules

Drupal Themes Page also houses over 2,500 themes that you can download and install on your site. Drop-down menus are also available to refine your search and find tools with preferred features. You can simply click on any theme in the search results to see more information about them.

Just like the modules, themes enhance the site. The difference is just that they focus their own enhancement capabilities in the site appearance, as opposed to the functionality enhancement offered by the modules. Both free and premium themes are available for download all over the internet market. After having your preferred theme file downloaded to your computer, you’ll need to return to your site to install it. The theme that you just installed will be displayed on your site, alongside some of the default themes. You can then go ahead with the installation to your site.

The theme installation procedure is precisely the same with the module installation discussed earlier.

  • Upload the downloaded file, or copy and paste your theme’s URL.
  • Click on Install.

You’ll also have to activate the theme just like the module.  However, note that you’ll have to set your theme as default for your site to rub in its enhancements.

To see whether your procedure was effective, you can check your website from the front end. After successfully extending your website with your newly added theme, you can go ahead to further customize your website pages to your utmost desire.

Creating a Back up for Drupal

Backing up your file is always a wise decision because any crash down could occur at any point in time. Luckily, we can back up our Drupal files periodically. Notwithstanding the type of hosting account you use, backing up Drupal accounts is very easy. Most people with Hostinger as their hosting provider company use the Drupal CMS. Backing up on a Hostinger account requires just a little effort. The procedure below describes backing up Drupal on Hostinger account:

  • Navigate to your control panel and log in.
  • Go to Files, and choose your Backup options.

A list of accessible backups will be listed for you.

  • Select “Generate a new backup” to create a new backup.
  • Click “Yes” on the dialog box that pops up to ask you whether to make the changes.
  • You can then go ahead to download your backup

Drupal Site Upgrade

Upgrading a Drupal site implies enhancing the old version to the latest version. I will put you through how to upgrade an older version of Drupal to the new one. The process is as follows:

  • The first thing to you have to do is to back up your Drupal files as illustrated above
  • Drupal site informs you of any available upgrade through a message. Click on the highlighted word available updates in the message.

The Available Updates page will be brought up, where you can see the available updates for your site. The recommended version to update your site is also indicated.

  • Click Release notes. You will be taken to Drupal official site page where you can see the latest version tar.gz files available in Drupal.
  • Select the most recent tar.gz file to download it to your system.
  • Extract the downloaded file, copy all the files and folder except the site’s folder available inside the latest downloaded folder. Then, paste these files into your existing Drupal folder.
  • Navigate to Reports and select Available updates,  or you can refresh the page
  • Click on Reports, and then to Status report to confirm whether the upgrade has been completed successfully.

The Drupal core update status will indicate “up to date” when your site has been upgraded to the latest version

Drupal – Site Security

The much emphasized Drupal site security is definitely worth discussing. I will suggest certain security configurations that are suitable for you.

There are some contributed modules that can help you with security configuration. One of them is the Security Review module, which automates testing the mistakes that make your site insecure. Report on a security issue can be addressed directly to the Drupal core or Drupal.org by sending an e-mail regarding the issue. The security team will see to it that your issue is resolved amicably.

You should secure your file permissions and ownership by configuring the server file system. The web server should not have access to edit or write the website files.  In order can verify how to manage the problem, Drupal adopts the NIST Common Misuse Scoring System (NISTIR 7864) for its security risk levels classification. The security risk levels are assigned numbers between 0 and 25

  • Not Critical – 0 to 4
  • Less Critical – 5 to 9
  • Moderately Critical − 10 to 14
  • Critical − 15 to 19
  • Highly Critical – 20 to 25

A number of Data Security Standards are put in place to provide security while accepting sensitive information like credit card number, and so on. This is important for each Drupal developer to know about. You should enable a more secure https to send sensitive information to a website. this sensitive information could be one of the following:

  • Identification information (National Identification number, Social Security number, etc)
  • Credit card information
  • Passwords and Usernames
  • Confidential content

You can also boost your security using security oriented modules. The major standard module categories are:

  • User access/authentication
  • Spam prevention modules
  • Security category

Summary

  • Drupal is an open source software that requires no form of licensing, and it also comes free of charge.
  • Drupal makes creating and managing your site very easy. It helps to structure and organize contents.
  • Drupal provides you with tons of configurable themes, modules and other essential elements, which makes it really easy to customize your website to match your vision.
  • Drupal connects your website to other sites and services using search engine connection capabilities

Final thoughts

Drupal is undoubtedly one of the most powerful CMS in the market, and it is widely used nowadays because of its extremely commendable features and sophisticated security.

If you can follow the simple steps I elucidated on the ways to get started with your Drupal site, you are good to go. Yes, it’s that simple. No other string is attached!.

I wish you the best exploiting your Drupal site to the utmost best. Cheers!

Do you have any questions about using Drupal?

What were your challenges during the setup and configuration process? Please leave a comment below.

Updated on: April 24, 2019

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