Drupal: Beyond The Basics - Themes

Once you have Drupal installed and ready to go, you will want to customize it by adding or creating a THEME. Drupal requires more advanced coding knowledge when it comes to customizing as opposed to the simple theme processes in other common scripts like WordPress and Joomla. If you are not comfortable with coding, you may find Drupal a bit intimidating, but really it just takes some practice and planning to get you on the right track.

There are several options for customizing your Drupal site, ranging from simple to advanced. Once you have a theme, you will want to upload it to the server into your /sites/all/themes directory. From within the Drupal admin panel, you can see all of the themes you have uploaded to the server. You can enable or disable individual themes, and then set one of the themes as the default theme. Whichever theme is set as the default theme will be the one that is used when visitors view your website.

If you are a beginner, you will want to find a completed theme that fits your needs and install it. You can find many themes through the Drupal Themes Site which allows you to search or browse the many themes that have been uploaded to their database by the community. You can also purchase professionally designed themes from developers if you wish to.

Once you have uploaded a theme, you can then use the administration interface to modify some of the aspects like the colors, visible features, and other basic information. These changes do not require you to know any coding, you simply add, change, or remove things through the administration interface and refresh your page!

For intermediate users, you may want to consider taking an existing theme and tweaking it to better fit your needs. If you have CSS design knowledge, you can edit the code of the existing CSS files so that they mold into the theme you really want. Uploading your new versions of the CSS files to replace the theme's CSS files will cause your new layout to be visible when your visitors view your website.

If you want to claim a new theme as your own, you only need to change the .info file to reflect your own unique theme name. You can also make your own unique sub-theme of an existing theme. This only requires you to create a directory for your sub-theme and put a .info file in that directory which contains a line in it that points to the “parent” theme.

If you are an advanced designer and wish to create your own theme, you can start from scratch and build an entire theme to your own specifications. You can create your own template files which contain HTML or PHP code that generates pages the way that you like. If you do choose to design your own theme, you should share your work by contributing it to the Drupal community so that people just starting out can utilize your theme in their own site.

No matter how you do it, you will want to spend some time drawing out exactly how you want your website to look, and then look for themes that fulfill your needs. It is difficult with Drupal to start with a theme and then try to build your website around the theme. Once you have a master plan for your website, you will find basic themes that you can customize along the way to provide your website with all the glitz and attention it deserves!

May 19th, 2011

Introduction to Drupal - Powerful Content Management System

Drupal is one of the most advanced, feature rich Content Management Systems available today. Drupal is a free, open source software package that allows anyone to easily publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website.

You can use Drupal to build everything from personal blogs to enterprise applications. There are thousands of add-on modules and designs that let you build any site you can imagine. Drupal is very flexible and is constantly being improved by hundreds of thousands of passionate people from all over the world through the Drupal community network.

By using Drupal, you can build internal or external-facing websites in a matter of hours, with no custom programming knowledge necessary. You can manage your content with an easy-to-use web interface. Drupal's flexibility handles countless content types including video, text, blog, podcasts, and polls with robust user management and menu handling.

We have a convenient installer in the Account Manager that will allow you to install Drupal with just a few quick clicks. You can log into the Account Manager and click the Install Popular Scripts link under the Website Marketing and Design section, then click Install Packages to view all of the popular scripts that can be installed.

Once you have read over the Package Description and you are ready to install Drupal, click the Install link to begin. You will want to read the installation information and the important notice on the next screen, and once you are done click the Continue button.

On the Drupal Installation page, you will only need to fill out a few quick items relevant to your installation. In the Installation Directory field, you will enter the name of the directory you wish to install Drupal to. If you want to install it to the root of your website, you will leave the box blank. If you want to install it to a subdirectory, simply enter the directory name like /drupal and it will install it there.

Next you will want to set your Admin Username to something you will remember, and note your admin password as well. Please keep this information safe and don't forget it, since it is unique to your installation.

You will then want to provide the email address of your site administrator in the Admin Email field. Make sure that this email address is valid, since it will be used for any communications through your Drupal website. You will then need to read and agree to the Agreement and then click the Install button to begin the pre-configured installation of Drupal to your hosted website.

Once your Drupal installation is complete, you can log in at the URL where you installed it to begin your design adventures!

May 11th, 2011

SEO - Search Engine Optimization and You!

Now that you have a blog up and running, how are you going to get people to visit to your site? Search Engine Optimization, commonly referred to as SEO, is the art of optimizing your site to increase its rankings in common search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing. The higher your ranking in search engines, the more visitors you will receive to your web site.

The art of Search Engine Optimization is very complex, and there are so many factors to consider in the process that we cannot list them all. Hopefully we can cover the basics to get you started with Search Engine Optimization, and you can build on it from there.

The most important part of Search Engine Optimization is your content. You will want to make sure you always have fresh, unique content that is linkworthy on your web site if you wish to remain successful in the search engine world. In order to best optimize your web site, be prepared to update your site at least twice per week with new, unique content. Just because the content you posted is awesome, does not mean you can sit back and let that one post garner you rankings forever.

The second key to Search Engine Optimization is choosing relevant keywords and building your posts around those crucial keywords. Be careful not to build your site around keywords that nobody searches. Think like a person who is interested in your topic, and do the research into the keywords that would be relevant to your topic. Don't limit yourself to just one word either, use keyword phrases that are descriptive to best capture visitors.

One helpful tool for improving your Search Engine Optimization is creating a sitemap. A well organized sitemap gives the search engine spiders a way to quickly and more efficiently scan and index all of your content. We have a convenient tool in the Account Manager that will assist you with creating a Google Site Map. Once you log into the Account Manager, look under the Website Marketing and Design section for the Google Site Maps tool.

A powerful tool used to enhance your Search Engine Optimization is building quality backlinks. The number of backlinks your web site has is one indication of the popularity or importance of your web site. Basically, a backlink is a link from a completely separate web site linking to your site. The more times your web site is linked to from an external web site, the more important your site is going to appear to search engines. You want to make sure you create quality backlinks, and avoid irrelevant backlinks or excessive backlinks in a short period of time which may cause a web site ranking penalty.

Finally, you will want to submit your web site to popular search engines so it can be crawled and indexed. You will at least want to submit your site to Google, Yahoo, and Bing to get started, since these are the most popular search engines. It takes time for your site to be crawled and indexed, but once you get into the system, you will want to take a proactive approach to keeping your site moving up the search rankings. Write fresh content at least two times a week, and make sure that the content is unique in its nature, and your site will be crawled and indexed frequently, improving your position in the search engine rankings.

There is much more to do in order to improve your Search Engine Optimization, but this is a good basic plan of attack. Make sure you do the research, follow the guidelines, and soon your web site will be rocketing up the search engine rankings!

See you on the first page!!!