Because Drupal is an open source technology it is a great choice for many non-profit organizations looking to revamp their web presence on a budget. Drupal is an open source web framework that can be managed by non-technical users. It becomes endlessly expandable once an experienced web developer gets “under the hood”. If you have chosen Drupal for your NPO's website, you might be wondering where to start. Let's start at the beginning.
As a disclaimer, some of this is a little technical, but it's designed to give you a good overview of the different components in Drupal.
The Drupal framework is available online for free at drupal.org. The CMS is downloaded as a directory of files that will need to be uploaded into your web server’s public folder. Once this has been completed you must navigate to Drupal’s install.php file (available at www.[yourURL].com/install.php) through a web browser to complete the installation. If you run into any issues during installation Drupal provides a step-by-step guide on their website that overviews the process.
Once your installation has been finished you're ready to begin configuring modules (functionality), constructing themes (style), and creating content. Welcome to Drupal!
Your Drupal installation comes with several core modules already enabled. These core modules are Drupal’s basic functionality and they handle many website basics from creating and managing user comments to querying search terms through your database. Some key core modules are the Menu module, the Node module, and the Block module.
The Menu module allows an administrator to place links in various regions of the website to assist users in their navigation. Your website's menus can be managed at Administration > Structure > Menus.
The Node module manages your content. Nodes are pieces of content on your website that are stored in the database. You can manage your nodes at Administration > Content.
The Block module allows an administrator to position content blocks on various pages of the website. Your website's blocks can be managed at Administration > Structure > Blocks.
The best selling point of open source technology is the enormous community that supports and enhances the software as it ages. Many of these enhancements are submitted as contributed modules which extend Drupal’s base functionality. Many of today's core modules began in the Drupal community as contributed modules that became too popular to ignore. Some popular website functionality available through contributed modules include dynamic lists of content, What You See Is What You Get word editors, and enhanced website navigation.
The Views module allows an administrator to create customized lists of dynamic content that can be displayed in blocks or through regions. You can learn more about Views' numerous capabilities on its Drupal project page.
The WYSIWYG module allows administrators and authorized users to use client side text editors (think Microsoft Word) when creating content or commenting. You can learn more about WYSIWYG's included text editors on its Drupal project page.
The Administration Menu module eases backend navigation by making every administration page accessible from anywhere on the website with the use of drop down menus. You can learn more about Administration Menu's time saving functionality on its Drupal project page.
Your Drupal installation comes with several core themes available, including Bartik, which will be enabled by default. You can see how the other core themes change your website’s appearance by setting a new default theme at Administration > Appearance.
You can also change your theme’s default color choices by navigating to its Setting page which allows an administrator to manually adjust a theme's colors by adjusting its default Hexadecimal Code values.
Drupal’s expandability is truly endless once an experienced developer or designer can directly edit the code that came packaged in your Drupal download. These lines of code are your CMS's engine and, like your car's engine, should only be manipulated by an experienced professional with a track record of success. The underlying PHP, CSS, and JS can be massaged to fine tune almost any aspect of Drupal in order to meet your NPO’s needs and desires.
Your organization's decision to employ Drupal as your website's CMS could not have been more well researched. A wealth of information exists online, for free, much like the technology itself. Almost any Drupal question can be answered through an online search, but if you're still stuck, experts can always be referenced for further assistance.
Have you hit a Drupal roadblock? Inquire in the comments section below, or reach out and contact us today.
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