Website Creation with Drupal: The Basics

Drupal is without a doubt one of the best systems to manage your content with. It can be used to create pretty much any type of website but it’s a tad more complicated than with other CMSs. If you want to create a Drupal website but you don’t know where to start of you’re stuck somewhere this tutorial is for you. Follow the process over my shoulder as I create a brand new website using Drupal.

165615_8260Why I think Drupal is awesome

The online debate on choosing Drupal, WordPress or Joomla has been going for quite some time. Just do a simple search in Google and you can get lost in articles that compare the three CMSs. Here’s my take on the matter – of the three, Drupal offers the most flexibility and features. Yes, it’s harder to learn but that’s why online tutorials exist, right?

The Install Process

It’s going to take some time to install Drupal but it’s not really that complicated. The most straight-forward way to get started is to get a cheap web hosting account that supports the Drupal CMS (most of them do). Most hosts offer some sort of automation tool that installs the software for you but you can browse around a forum like webhostingtalk.com and get a feel for which host you like.

Creating the new site

It’s a good idea to open up a second browser window so you can see how changes you make take effect. The first thing you should do is to create an FTP account within your hosting control panel. In the worst case scenario if you botch your website configuration badly and it isn’t accessable you can still manage it through FTP. It’s also a faster than mucking about in the browser.

If you wrote down the details you created during the Drupal installation you’ll now be able to login to the administration area. Go to the Configuration menu under System -> Site Information and fill in the site name, site slogan and email address.

Setting up a theme

We’re almost done. Now let’s get our new Drupal site a theme. Browse to the Drupal themes page and select a theme that corresponds to your version of Drupal. You can then go to the Appearance section in your administration area and select Install New Theme. Under the message that pops up for a successful installation there will be a link that says Enable newly added themes. Click on it and go to Disabled themes where your newly installed theme can be enabled.

Getting your site online

There’s a few edits you’ll have to do before making your site publicly accessible. First you have to edit your .htaccess file and add the code below. Let’s say your installation is in a directory called drupal (if it’s not use the name of your directory):

RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule (.*) drupal/$1 [L]

Next, search for the sites/default/setting.php file and change its’ permissions to 0644. Then look for the $base_url = line bit and enter your own home URL which makes it possible for visitors to see an address like www.something.com and not www.something.com/drupal. After that go back and change the permissions of the file to read-only.

That’s pretty much it! For more info and documentation make sure to check out drupal.org.