Drupal is a popular and powerful Content Management System (CMS) used for making websites. Web projects created with Drupal can be very simple or extremely intricate. Many popular sites are built on the Drupal platform, such as the US White House and the Economist.
Though not as easy to learn as Weebly or Wix, you can make a website with Drupal without too much trouble. This tutorial will guide you through the creation of a simple website with Drupal. If you would like to tap into the advanced functionality and power of Drupal you can find many detailed and easy to follow instructions in the documentation and the online support community.
With time and practice, you will gain confidence with Drupal and easily create highly functional and robust websites.
Why Should I Use Drupal?
There are many Content Management Systems to choose from, such as WordPress, Joomla, Wix, Weebly, etc. They all have their pros and cons. Here are some reasons why Drupal may be a good choice for you.
- Drupal is versatile and scalable. You can create websites of all sizes with limitless possibilities for expansion.
- The Support community for Drupal is well informed and very helpful. Should you have a problem with your project, you can search the excellent documentation or consult experts on the forum at drupal.org.
- There are thousands of themes you can use to change the appearance of your site available for free. Just try doing a Google search for “Drupal Themes” and you’ll find a huge selection to choose from. There are also paid versions of themes, which can expand a free theme’s functionality.
- Drupal installs easily on your web host. Most hosting companies have a link to automatically install it in the cPanel section.
You’ll need a few things before we can set up Drupal.
- A credit card or PayPal account to pay for domain and web hosting services.
- A hosting account and a domain name.
- A browser of your choosing (e.g. Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.).
- Some text and images to populate the website.
- A basic understanding of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) in order to upload files to your website.
Get a Domain Name and a Web Host
The first thing you will need is a domain name and a hosting account. The domain name will be a URL unique to your website. The hosting account is the service that will contain all of the files for your website. There are a lot of different hosting companies to choose from and a quick web search will generate an extensive list. Find one you like and sign up for a domain and web hosting account. Make sure that the web host you choose supports the latest versions of PHP and MySQL. When this is done you can then begin the installation and configuration of Drupal.
- Login to the cPanel of your web host with the username and password you created during setup.
- In the cPanel, there will be an option to install Apps or Software. Drupal should be listed.
- Click on the Drupal link and you will be directed to install the software.
- At some point you will have the option to specify the domain for installation. Select your domain and leave the directory setting as it is. This will install Drupal in the root directory of your web server.
- Drupal uses a MySQL database to store data and will set it up automatically. At some point in the process you may be prompted for a username and password. You do not need to know how MySQL works but you should make a note of the information it displays when it has completed.
Note: If you have just set up your hosting account and domain name you may not see your site when you enter your web address in your browser. This is because it can take up to 48 hours for the DNS records to propagate. Be patient and keep checking on it. When you can access your website you can move onto the next step.
After you login you will be in the admin area. There will be a menu bar across the top of the page. Click on the “Dashboard” link. If there are any updates available you will be notified. It’s best to run them now to make sure your installation is up to date.
- You can now name your site and enter a slogan under the menu heading “Configuration” and sub menu heading “Site information” on the top right.
- Click on “Save Configuration” when you are finished.
- Click on the “Home” icon on the top left side of the screen and you will see that your site name has changed.
- The home page now mentions, “No front page content has been created yet”. We’ll do that after we explore the appearance of the site.
Themes change the look and feel of your site while leaving all of you content intact. The default Drupal theme is called “Bartik” and is very basic. We’ll continue to use it for this tutorial, but here is how you change the theme.
- Navigate to the “Dashboard” and select “Appearance”.
- You will see the list of installed themes. You can even change the theme of the admin area.
- You can customize the Bartik theme by clicking on the “Settings” link. There are options to change the colors and activate or deactivate various parts of the theme.
- Try changing some things and then click “Save configuration” and then “Home” to see the changes.
Your site is now ready for content. We will create an “About” page. Before we start adding content, here are some concepts to consider:
Pieces of content are referred to as “nodes”.
The footer, header, sidebar, etc. are referred to as “regions”.
“Regions” contain “blocks” of content.
“Menus” allow you to navigate the content.
- From the home page, click on “Add New Content”.
- You will be given the choice to create an “Article” or a “Basic page”, select “Basic Page”.
- In the Basic Page editor enter “About” as the title and add some text under the “Body” section.
- Under “Menu Settings” tick the “Provide a menu link” box. This will add it to your site’s menu bar.
- Click the “Save” button when finished.
- Now you can add a blog article. Click on “Content” then “Add Content” and select “Article”.
- The Basic Editor will have some new options, such as the option to add an image to your post.
- With this example we’re not going to “provide a menu link”. Make sure to leave this box unchecked. By default, Drupal will display articles in descending order on the home page.
You should now have a functional website with an “About” page and a blog post.
Practice Makes Perfect
It can be challenging to make a website with Drupal but it is definitely a powerful tool. I suggest you start building your site and refer to the documentation or conduct a web search when you get in a jam. You should be able to get over your hurdles one step at a time. After some time you’ll become more competent with Drupal and be able take advantage of the more advanced features of this dynamic CMS.