Getting Started With A Drupal Hosting Plan01/11/2013
To achieve high search engine ranking and continue attracting new visitors, your website should be full of interesting and informative content. You can include written articles, blog posts, ecommerce pages, and more. But managing multiple content types becomes increasingly difficult as the size of your website increases.
A content management system (CMS) is an application you install on your web hosting plan to take care of your content for you. Using a CMS, you can guarantee that content items added to your website exist in a clearly defined, organized structure. As a result, it is easier to launch new content and edit your existing pages, while maintaining an easy-to-navigate website for your visitors.
Drupal is an incredibly popular CMS, which is also often referred to as a content management framework (CMF). It provides similar functionality to a CMS such as WordPress, but with far more fluidity and flexibility. Drupal can be used to quickly launch a fully functional website from a convenient web-based interface. Alternatively, the Drupal system is flexible enough to accommodate your most ambitious and complex goals.
Drupal’s flexibility makes it more difficult to get started with than most CMS options. To help you in this endeavor, expert hosting provider Certified Hosting has put together the following introduction to the Drupal platform, helping you make the most of your Drupal hosting service right away. Read on to discover how Drupal can help you create your website and learn some practical first steps to turn your vision into a reality.
Drupal separates your content and design into nodes
The fundamental concept you need to understand as you use Drupal is how it stores your data. Drupal uses a single MySQL database to store every element of your website as a self-contained node. However, each node is connected to other nodes through meaningful relationships.
Nodes tend to follow the same format, whether they are created as part of the core Drupal installation or as additional modules. Each node contains the following:
- The body content of the page
- META data, including Title and Description tags
- A timestamp of when the node was created
- The username of the author who created the node
Every time you create an article, blog post, or any other type of page, its data is stored in a node. Although nodes do not have any design or layout attached to them, they can be pulled into your design wherever you choose.
Drupal stores your content in nodes that are independent but related to each other. Meanwhile, your design is stored elsewhere. As a result, you can establish a site-wide layout and graphical “look,” and quickly add new content that fits with this design. You can also make changes to your design without affecting your content.
Get started by choosing your Drupal theme
The first step to creating your first Drupal website is choosing the right design. A professional layout can be the difference between impressing your visitors and sending them to your competitors. To help, Drupal can be customized with a ready-made design, known as a Theme.
The most efficient way to explore the themes that are available for Drupal is to visit the Drupal website, at http://drupal.org/project/Themes. There are currently almost 2,000 themes available, most of which are free to use. You can also preview themes in full-screen to help you imagine how your finished website will look.
Once you have selected a theme, you can download it to your computer and upload it to your server manually. However, the easiest way to install a theme is directly from the Drupal server. Simply copy the link to the tar.gz downloadable theme from the Drupal website, and paste it into the “Install New Theme” screen on your dashboard. You can then enter your FTP login details to initiate an automatic transfer and installation.
After installing a new theme, take the time to visit the “Appearance” tab on your dashboard, and enter the “Settings” screen of your theme. You will then be able to customize colors and layout elements, making your design look unique.
After installing a theme that makes your website look great, it is time to start working on your content.
Adding content to your Drupal hosting plan
Our top tip for building out content on your website is to take a step back from your Drupal hosting plan. Sit down with a pen and paper and think carefully about the key pages and sections of your website that are most essential.
Most small business webmasters start with just a few pages of content, including these:
- About Us
- Contact Details
Adding content on Drupal is easy. After choosing the “Content” tab at the top of your Drupal dashboard, you can hit the “Add Content” button. You will then be able to choose from two types of content by default:
- Articles: These are time-sensitive pages, such as news items and blog posts
- Pages: These are not time-specific pages, designed to provide static information
Once you have made your selection, you will be presented with a simple web form. You can start typing out your content, using basic HTML formatting tags to make text bold, italic, or a different size. You can also set Drupal to automatically add your new content item to your site menu, or allow visitors to post comments in response.
It is your content that will help ensure your website’s success. Fortunately, Drupal makes it incredibly easy to add new content pages in minutes.
Structuring your Drupal website
Finally, you will need to structure the content on your website.
The “Structure” tab within the Drupal dashboard allows you to create hierarchical menus, define different and unusual content types, and keep an increasing number of pages organized into a sensible structure. Most uniquely, you can define the relationships between each of your different pages, helping display your content to users in new and interesting ways.
Structure is perhaps the most complex area of the Drupal dashboard, and some additional reading can be helpful. To learn more about Drupal structure, visit http://drupal.org/documentation/structure.
Drupal hosting services from Certified Hosting
If you want to impose a structure on your content and make managing thousands of pages a breeze, Drupal can help. At Certified Hosting, we offer tailored Drupal hosting plans to get you started right away.
When you order a Drupal hosting plan from Certified Hosting, we can conduct your initial Drupal installation for you when your plan is provisioned. We also include free upgrades with each new Drupal version, and can add modules to your installation upon request.
In addition, our Drupal hosting services include unlimited domains, disk space, bandwidth, and MySQL databases, giving you the resources you need to grow your website with a vast range of content.