How to use Drupal effectively

Drupal can be a challenging CMS to utilise effectively. The creation of high-quality websites with Drupal requires exceptional attention to detail and a strong understanding of best practices and coding standards.

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Described as an open source platform for constructing seamless digital experiences, Drupal is innovative in its mission to provide scalable flexibility to its users. The following tips have been collated to help you create effective and highly-functional Drupal sites that are easy to manage and maintain long into the future.

Avoid amendments to key modules

Amending or hacking any contributed or core themes should always be avoided. By ignoring this advice, you will run the risk of losing core functionality in important contrib modules, threaten the validity of automated testing, and struggle to successfully install key CMS updates.

Standardised workflow and automated testing

Implementing a standardised workflow development process will help to ensure that all team members are working within the same environment. This will mitigate the risk of any avoidable cross-environmental problems occurring, saving you valuable time and resources in the process.

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When using Drupal to develop large sites, you will quickly find that writing automated tests during the development process will be highly beneficial in the long term. There are several key tools that will convert user stories to task scripts, which can use websites in the same ways a real person.

Follow Drupal’s best practice advice

Adhering to the best practices outlined by Drupal is recommended. You may find working with a Drupal design agency, such as Drupal design by Website Express, advantageous in both the short and long term.

Folder structures and module versions

Maintaining accurate and organised folder structures is imperative, as it will make both automated testing and site maintenance much easier in the long term. You should place all customised modules in the custom folder, and any patched modules from Drupal in the patched folder.

Dev and alpha module versions should be avoided where possible. Beta modules with upgrade paths will generally be OK to use, but you should always conduct a close reading of each module’s documentation before going ahead.

Maintenance

Regularly monitoring Drupal’s watchdog for warnings, errors and PHP notices is imperative. You will also find notifications from contrib modules here, which will help you to maintain your site efficiently and effectively.