Using Drupal

CMS (content management system)

Building Websites

Updated: September 25, 2019
By: RSH Web Editorial Staff
Drupal

Before you start to build a website with Drupal, you should first know about a few different Features. Drupal has a unique way to organize its parts and it will be handy to know their names and what they do

Modules
These are small scripts that extend a Drupal site’s features and functionality

Themes
Themes control the design of your Website. They determine how Content is displayed and can be customized to fit your needs

Distributions
These are different Drupal versions that contain themes, modules and configurations for particular types of websites such as online stores, social networking sites. The "Distributions" makes creating those sites quicker and easier

Blocks
Blocks are individual boxes of content that can appear in different sections of your site such as headers, sidebars or footers. These can contain information like breadcrumbs, your latest posts, navigation menus and more

Building a Drupal Website

Before you can build your Website you will need good Domain Name and a reliable Hosting Service
RSH Web Services can help with this
Drupal Hosting
Domain Registration

Install Drupal using Softaculous

You can have Drupal installed to your Website in minutes by using the Softaculous application installer in cPanel. To install Drupal using Softaculous, follow these steps:

Log in to cPanel

After logging into cPanel you will find the Softaculous Apps Installer link in the "Software" section of the Main Page

Softaculous Apps

You will also see a section of the Softaculous Apps Installer which displays the most popular applications and the application category right on the front panel

Softaculous

It does not matter which option you click. All start the Softaculous installer. When you will click on Softaculous Apps Installer in the Software section, it will take you to the App installer interface

Softaculous Installer

You can install, modify any installation and Create as well as Manage the Backups. In the Search text box, type drupal and then press Enter. Alternatively, you can use the navigation pane on the left side. Click Portals/CMS, and then click Drupal

Click Install. The installation page appears

In the Choose the version you want to install list box, select the version that you want to install
In the "Choose Protocol" box, select the protocol
You have an SSL certificate installed on your site. Select HTTPS
In the "Choose Domain" box, select the domain or accept the default value
In the In Directory box, type the directory where you want to install Drupal, or accept the default value
If you want your Domain to show by defualt with out a "Sub" directory make the In "Directory" box blank
In the CRON Job text boxes, type the cron job intervals, or accept the default values. If you are unsure of these values just accept the default one
In the "Site Name" box type the name you would like This will also show in the title bar of users' web browsers when they visit your site
Example this page. Look at the top: "Using Drupal To Build a Website"
Next in the "Admin Username" box, type the administrator user name
"Admin Password" box, type the administrator password
Choose a strong password. Or you can click the "Random Password"
Next type the site administrator e-mail address
You can leave the "Advanced Options" set as default, or change as needed
Review the installation options and settings, and then click Install
When installation is complete, Softaculous provides information about the application's configuration

The Drupal User Interface

After you have finished the installation process, you will automatically land on your newly created Drupal site. At the top of the screen you will see links to features where you can make changes to your site

Content
You can create basic content like posts and pages. It is also where you edit comments and find your Websites media library

Structure
Manage all structural elements of your Website including blocks, forms, content types, menus and taxonomies

Appearance
Contains the settings for themes and other appearance related options as well as site updates

Extend
Install and uninstall Drupal modules here

Configuration
Gives you access to your Website settings

People
Change options for users, roles and permission levels

Reports
Reports for logs, update information, status reports, errors, search phrases and other information about your Website

Help
The main center for helpful information about basic site administration as well as thinghs like modules installed on your Website

Shortcuts
You can create your own links to parts of the Admin interface that you use most often

Themes

You will notice at the bottom you see your website. Looks rather plain? You will want to change the default theme that your site comes with to something better. You find an option for this under "Appearance" > "Install New Theme"

You will not find themes from inside the Drupal Control Panel. You will need to go to the official Drupal theme directory, for which you also find a link at the top of the theme installation page

You have a choice of more than 2,700 themes. The directory gives you several ways of filtering them so you can find what you are looking for

When choosing a theme make sure it fits your level of technical ability and one that is mobile responsive. When you have found the right one, installing it to your Website

Either download the theme from the directory (you find options at the bottom) or right click the download link and copy its location

After that, you can use either the file or the URL to upload the theme to your site

Install it from the "Appearance" tab and "Set as Default" to use it

When this is done and you go back to your Website (there is a button in the upper left corner), you will now see the new Theme

Configure the Theme

Once you have installed the Theme, click on the "Appearance" menu at the top. Most themes come with configuration options that you can access by clicking the Settings link next to them. Alternatively, use the "Settings" tab on top and then pick the theme that you want to edit

Here you are able to make any changes the Theme has and depending on your theme, even preview it at the same time. Change the color scheme. Enable disable user pictures. Upload logos and favicons. Set backgrounds and much more so you can take advantage of everything your theme has to offer

Create a New Front Page

To create a front page so that visitors get to see something go to "Content" > "Add Content" > "Basic Page"

Here you are able to create or edit content with a basic editor. At the top, you have the option define a "Page Title" that will also appear on your Website

Below that, you find a link "Edit Summary" When you click it, it gives you the option to provide a summary for your post or page

This is kind of like an excerpt that will appear in certain parts of your site

Below that, there is the option to input and format the body text. For example, you can make the text bold and italic, add and remove links, create lists, define block quotes, insert images and use the drop-down menu to define headings. Additional options such as inputting tables or horizontal dividers are available when you switch to "Full HTML" at the bottom

Make sure that on the right side under "URL Alias", you define a "slug" or URL ending for your page.

At the bottom, save the post and make sure that the box before "Published" is checked

In order to define your new page as the front or "Index" page, you have to go to "Configuration" > "System" > "Basic Site Settings" > "Default Front Page". Type in the same "Slug" that you just defined for your new page

Once you have done that and saved the configuration, your content should show up on the front page of your Drupal site.

Create Another Page and Add It to the Menu

As a next step, we now want to create an "About" page and add it as a menu item. The first few steps are the same as before. Create a basic page, populate it with content and set a slug e.g. "/about"

But before publishing, make sure to click on "Menu Settings" and tick the box that says "Provide a Menu Link"

The settings that appear are

Menu link title
This is the text of the link that users will see in the navigation menu. Make it something instantly recognizable. In this case About Me is a good choice

Description
An optional description that will appear when someone hovers their mouse over the menu link. It can say something like Find out more about what I have to offer

Parent item
If you have other menu items already, this setting allows you to create sub-items

Weight
With this setting, you can determine the order of your menu items. The higher the number the further in front they will appear

Once you are satisfied with your settings click "Published"

Drupal should automatically take you back to your front end where you will see both your new page and the new menu item.

If the menu is in the wrong order, simply hover over it and then click the pen icon that appears. then choose "Edit Menu"

Here, you can simply drag and drop the menu items into the order that you want via the icon on the left. Save when you are done to translate the changes to your site

You can also use the "Add Link" button on top to manually add more pages to the navigation menu

Activate and Deactivate Default Modules

You should have a basic understanding of how to get around Drupal. This system can do a lot more and be extended for any type of purpose.

For that, you will most likely use modules that can add all sorts of features and functionality to your Drupal site

Drupal comes loaded with them which you can find under "Extend"

Not all of the modules will be installed and active by default. To change that, simply tick the box in front and then scroll down and click "Install"

And any modules you no longer need, you can get rid of under the "Uninstall" tab

Add Contributed Modules

Besides the default modules, there are also a lot of others available from other developers. Adding them to your site very much works like installing themes

First, you need to find modules you like in the official directory. Once you have settled on one, either download it or copy its location. You can then add it to your site via "Extend" > "Install New Module"

There are a lot more modules to choose from than themes, 42,000+. If you are not sure which of them make sense to install, here are a few great options:

Administration Menu
With the default toolbar, you’ll waste time loading a ton of pages just to get to a single admin function. To speed things up, this module gives you cool drop-down menus for the entire admin area. Simply turn off the existing toolbar, then activate the Administration Menu module

Token
Tokens are little sections of text placed via a placeholder system. By now, much of the functionality of the Token module has been written into Drupal core, but some modules still require it, like the Pathauto module

Chaos Tools Suite
AKA Ctools, allows you to create your own modules as well as forms, dialogue boxes, pluggable content types and more

Pathauto
Drupal’s built-in Path module lets you create URLs by hand. This is annoying to do manually for every post and Pathauto relieves you of that drudgery. You can assign custom replacement patterns and user account page paths so the URLs match your SEO and usability standards. Remember: Pathauto requires the Token and Ctools module

Quick Tabs
Have you ever seen those cool tabbed boxes on big websites that list recent and popular content? Quick Tabs can do a lot of this easily without writing custom JavaScript. After installing and enabling the module, you’ll find a Quick Tabs selection under the "Structure" menu

Get Familiar with Blocks

Once you have the key contributed modules in place, you may want to add a sidebar with different features. Content like that comes in the form of blocks, which we already explained further up. You can place these in different areas as well as adjust their appearance, shape, size, position and which website pages they appear on

Depending on your theme, modules and other components on your site, you will have access to different kinds of blocks. You can find all the options for managing them under "Structure" > "Block Layout"

Blocks are saved by theme, so at the top you find a list of the themes that are installed on your site. Below that is a list of all the places you can add blocks to, called "Regions". If you are not sure where all of them are, click the "Demonstrate Block Regions" at the top. You will then see a view of your site with highlights and labels for where each block region is

To add a one somewhere, simply scroll to the desired region and click "Place Block". This will give you a list of available options

When you click "Place block" next to the one you want on your site, you then get to the configuration options

These will be slightly different depending on what you are placing. In this case, you are able to add a title (and determine whether to show it) and configure the visibility of the block. For example, you can restrict it to show up only for certain content types, on particular pages or depending on the role of the active user. At the bottom, you are also able to change the region where you want it to appear (in case you picked the wrong one)

Once satisfied click "Save block" will add it to your Website

Manage Existing Blocks

Of course, you can also change anything you want about blocks that already show up on your site. Use the drop-down menu under "Region" to move them to another location

On the right, a click on "Configure" lets you access the block settings from before in order to change them. If you click on the arrow icon instead, you get the option to disable or completely remove blocks

When you have made changes, don’t forget to save them at the bottom of the screen.

You can also edit particular blocks from the front end of your site. Hover over any of them so that the pen icon appears, click it and then do a second click on "Configure block". Here, you are able to change any settings, assign them to a new region and also remove blocks.

Create Custom Blocks

You can also create your own custom blocks. For example, you have information that you want to display in different areas of your site

Go to "Structure" > "Block Layout" > "Custom Block Library" > "Add custom block"

Enter a block description so that you and other administrators know what it is about. Then, enter the content you want the block to display in the editor below

Once you are done, save your custom block. When you do, you can then assign it to different regions on your site in the same way as other blocks

While the above is enough to give you a solid foundation for building a website with Drupal, keep in mind that it takes time to harness its power fully. Play around with the tools and system and figure out how to implement things you want on your Website

However, if you want a more systematic approach to learning about Drupal, the following resources are really helpful

Drupal.org Users Guide

Drupal.org Community Guide

Drupal 8 Theming, YouTube Video

Drupal 8 Beginner Tutorials YouTube Video

Drupal is a powerful content management system and a great way to build your own website. It has all the features you need for simple and the most complex Websites, is free, flexible, customizable, scalable and well supported


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