Learn Drupal and Build Your Own Shopping Cart

learn drupalWhen you learn Drupal, the open source content management platform, you can build terrific websites. You do not have to know how to code because all the website modules will plug together to build the site.  The only thing you will need to know is Drupal! With Drupal you can start building a website and a functional shopping cart that accepts credit cards and can support other applications.

Drupal is supported by an entire community of users and programmers.  There are thousands of modules you can use and updates are constant. The cost for Drupal is its most popular feature because it is 100% free. To learn more about Drupal you can take a class that is an introduction to the Drupal platform named “Introduction to Drupal.” With this class you will get a good introduction to what Drupal is and what you can do with it.  The class also includes some hands on time working with Drupal.

Advantages of Using Drupal for Your Website

Usually when you set up a website you are restricted to the design and features that have been plugged into the software.  It is easy to outgrow it and you will find yourself constantly complaining about how your website won’t do what you want it to do.  Drupal is an open source platform which means anyone can create new features, new modules and make changes in the core program.  There is no owner of Drupal, it is owned by everyone!  This gives you numerous options for growth.

Websites are always constantly evolving.  At first maybe you did not need a shopping cart because you were outsourcing your sales processing.  Then one day you discover that you need to be doing that yourself and you don’t have a shopping cart on your website!  Drupal has a shopping cart that you can plug in, tinker with a little bit then load in your data.  There are numerous modules you can plug into the shopping cart to give you all the features you want.  You are only limited by what code writers haven’t thought to invent yet.  Most everything you will want and need is already written and ready for you to use.  If you need some odd module that nobody else needs then you can find a code writer that understands Drupal and you can hire them to write the specific feature you need.

Another advantage to using and learning Drupal is the massive support system.  You have been there before, waiting for tech support to fix something or answer your question, only to be put on ignore for days.  There are thousands of people using and learning Drupal so someone will likely answer your question within an hour or two on the Drupal forums.  You might not find someone right away who can make changes to your website but you will find suggestions on how to handle the situation right away.  Chances are excellent that whatever question or issue you have has already been asked.  So, if you search the Drupal forums then you will find the answer to your question right away.

How to Learn Drupal

Most everything you need to know is available on the Drupal website. It is there you will find the links to download the software, view instructions and browse the community forums.  The problem is, Drupal is written by computer nerds.  Nerds are not known for their simplicity of instruction.  As a matter of fact, trying to follow the directions that a Drupal coder has given will be enough to make you pull your hair out in most instances.  So, you are going to need a great deal of help learning Drupal.

There are some great online classes that will help you learn Drupal fast and they are very inexpensive.  The first Drupal class is called “Drupal 7 for Beginners” and is a good place to start. As you get a handle on how to write a basic website for Drupal and find you need to get into more advanced parts of Drupal, there is the class “Drupal 7 Intermediate.”  With the intermediate class you will learn Drupal’s page views, panels and fields.  You will also help to duplicate the government website Whitehouse.gov to practice your newly learned skills.

Drupal Disadvantages

It does take a great deal of effort to learn Drupal. It is usually not intuitive at all and it can be difficult to find the answers you need quickly in documentation. Drupal is more of a website nerd’s hobby as well as a career. The price is right, however.  Everyone likes free!

One downside to using Drupal is that it is so complicated. You will spend many hours learning Drupal and figuring out how to accomplish what you need to set up your website to do. Word Press is a far easier system and also has many thousands of plug-ins because it is also open source. In theory, you can create a much more complex website with Drupal, but for the average person Word Press might be easier and far less of a learning curve.

Themes are not all that prevalent for Drupal. Well, there are a lot of themes to dress up the design a little bit, but there are no free themes that look gorgeous. You will need to have to hire a graphics designer that is an expert in Drupal and is extremely creative in order to design a great look. Almost all of the Drupal themes that are available for free download look very basic and outdated as far as the graphics and color pallets.

Why You Need Drupal

Drupal is a content management system that is very web friendly and Google friendly. It takes exposure seriously and gives you every opportunity to configure your website with search engines in mind. It automatically allows for META data, page titles, standards compliant HTML/CSS and url friendly names. It also allows for Google Analytics integration so that you can chart the website hit statistics for your website.

If security is what you need, top notch security is what you will get. There is nothing like a collaboration of computer nerds to get you excellent security and in this case of Drupal security, there is no matching it. Drupal’s security is along the lines of the requirements of an US government agency. It would be tough to do better than Drupal.

It is expandable and there is a lot of commercial support for it. If you need a custom module written then there are a lot of code writing companies that are experienced in the area of Drupal to choose from. You will never have to look hard to find someone qualified to help you with Drupal.

Drupal supports the use of mobile. Many of your customers are surfing your website using their Android phone or IPad and your website needs to look good to them, too. Drupal is staying ahead of the curve on mobile readiness among other new technologies.  So, when you learn Drupal you are learning something that will keep you on track with current needs of technology, such as mobile.

The cost of Drupal is minimal. Actually, Drupal itself is free. You might spend a little on classes to understand what Drupal can do and to learn how to manage Drupal, but there isn’t any cost to use Drupal or the supported modules.  There are times you might want to have a custom module written and in that case you will need to hire someone to help you.

There are no licenses to buy. The sweet thing about using an open source content management system is there are no annual licensing fees to pay. With some of these privately owned systems, it can cost you thousands of dollars each year to maintain the license fee and software updates. With Drupal there are no licenses, so you don’t have to budget for that.

Websites Built by Drupal

When you learn Drupal and build your own website, you get all the support you could possibly need. There is no charge for using Drupal, but that isn’t its best feature. The security with Drupal is unmatched by any other commonly available website system.  It can be a tough learning curve in the beginning, but once you get the general principles down it goes easier.  Some good classes to take to bring you up to speed quickly with Drupal are “Drupal Theming Essentials” to learn about themes and what they can do for your website, “Building Your First Drupal 7 Web Site” is a class for setting up a Drupal website in the latest version and “Learn Drupal 7 the Lego Way” is a class that explains Drupal 7 while comparing it to the children’s toy Legos.  Once you get a little Drupal knowledge under your belt then you can start building a fantastic, super secure website immediately.  You can add modules, build themes and hook up a credit card payment gateway and PayPal.  Within a few weeks you can be up on the web and ready to do business.