What is Drupal and Content Management Systems?
Almost all leading websites are now driven by a Content Management System of some kind. Content Management Systems offer so many benefits compared to the traditional approach of website design, most notably: -
- Adding, Editing and Deleting pages is quick and easy.
- What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editing is available for page edits - it looks just like your favourite word processing package.
- Menus and Navigation links are updated automatically throughout the site.
- Publishing workflows,draft pages and revision controls are optionally possible, enabling content to pass through a series of approval processes before it is published.
After careful review of many popular content management systems, we have chosen Drupal to drive most of our clients' websites. So, what on earth is Drupal?
- Drupal is the chosen platform for a number of high-profile websites including NASA, Sony BMG, MTV Europe, Yahoo! Research, Harvard University, Greenpeach UK, Amnesty International, Popular Science and many more...
- Drupal is a PHP / MySQL based CMS which runs on Windows or Linux servers with Apache or Microsoft Internet Information Server (Linux and Apache is the preferred choice, offering exceptional functionality and stability).
- Drupal is a stable, secure and highly evolved platform which can take advantage of thousands of contributed modules such as Google Mapping, OpenLayers (Bing maps, OS maps etc), Page Templates, Views (a powerful listing tool), XML Sitemaps, Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools and many other third‐party contributions.
- Drupal has a powerful and well‐documented API allowing for fast creation of
custom modules to support very specific requirements and bespoke applications.
- Drupal has a dedicated security team which tests and examines the framework of the core code and contributed modules. Security patches are released, and are easy to install with minimal (and often no) interruption to the site’s availability.
- Drupal is subject to ongoing development by a thriving open‐source community all over the world. The Drupal project is very active, and has been for many years.
- As Drupal is open-source, no licensing fees are, or ever will be required.
As far as Content Management is concerned, Drupal offers the following benefits: -
- Once configured, Drupal is extremely intuitive, facilitating easy content creation, editing, and deletion. With a small amount of training, people with very little technical knowledge will be able to make simple edits to most of the site’s content (assuming they have the correct permissions).
- WYSIWYG text editing (what you see is what you get) is available on all of Drupal's pages and text-fields, offering a user interface similar to most word processing applications.
- Content can be pasted into Drupal from popular applications such as Microsoft Word, and inbuilt filters clean up the HTML supplied by these applications, automatically removing unnecessary tags and styling.
- Pages can easily be added and removed from Drupal’s various navigation menus. Page templates can be restricted to certain menus if required (e.g., an FAQ section, etc.) or included in any part of the navigation structure.
- If required, Drupal's workflow modules can be installed offering content moderation, draft versions of current pages and revision control for new and edited content.
- Drupal's Views offers creation of “list” pages, e.g., news headlines, management board pages, career vacancies, links pages, etc. For example, a recently created news item would have its title automatically added to a ‘news headlines’ section on the home page. The views pages can provide search filters, allowing visitors to narrow down items in the list to suit their requirements.
- All published content can be indexed by Drupal's internal search engine. Indexed content can then be retrieved using the site’s own searching tool, which is highly configurable and multi-faceted.
- Multimedia support is available in Drupal, with easy inclusion of audio clips, video clips, Flash movies, and images. Streamed content can be protected by a secure private-file system.
- Drupal;s Webform module facilitates easy creation of many multiple or single-step online forms. Completed forms data can be distributed via E-mail to a number of different recipients (with certain fields excluded from the mail, e.g., payment details), stored for viewing online, as well as being downloaded as a CSV file (comma separated values).
- Drupal makes E-Commerce easy and can be facilitated online via a large number of third-party payment gateways. Payment gateways can be integrated into the main site (API based), or by sending the visitor to pay at an external provider (forms based).
- Newsletter support is available in Drupal, offering visitors the ability to subscribe and unsubscribe. Multiple subscriptions can be created with unsubscribe options in the footer of any sent mails to comply with UK spam and data protection laws. Mails can be sent in plain text or HTML, and this preference can be set individually by visitors. Mailing lists can be managed and subscriptions can be linked to user accounts. Visitors may also subscribe without becoming registered users. Newsletter issues are stored as pages on the website for non-subscribed visitors to read.
- Blogging is supported in Drupal with multiple blogs available for different users. Blogs can be syndicated via RSS.
- SSL encryption is available on some or all of Drupal's content and administration areas as well as any payment systems in place. This protects the data, login screens, and admin areas.
- Role-based security and permissions allow Drupal's different user-groups access to different areas of the website. This will allow certain content to be separated and hidden, requiring special access to view, edit, or delete.
- Optionally, a private file system can be installed protecting downloadable content such as PDFs, video files, etc., making these available only to authorised visitors.
- RSS feeds can be provided informing visitors that new content is available on the site.
- Drupal's framework separates the content from the presentation and business layers. This ensures design and functional changes do not affect the content.
- As already mentioned, there are thousands of contributed modules which allow for very quick, easy and cost-effective expansion of websites in the future, should this be required.
In short, we love Drupal and use it every day! We actively contribute to Drupal's open-source community and Drupal's modules and documentation.
Drupal can seriously enhance your online presence both now and in the future. We are delighted to offer Drupal website design and development services to your organisation.