Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I like Drupal. I use WordPress on this site and think it is fabulous, but for sites that want to do more to connect with readers or customers, I think Drupal is one of the easiest and most powerful solutions out there for creating a quality site with as little difficulty and pain as possible. I personally administer three sites built on Drupal and have built others.
I am in the process of making a new site for someone with a nice looking, but aging site that was built on Drupal 4.7, which is no longer supported. I am looking through the site’s functionality and theme and have upgraded both to use Drupal 5, but only to be sure that it has current security updates while I make plans with the owner for a complete redesign.
While researching ideas and functionality to present for use in the new site, I ran across a brand new book from Packt Press called Drupal 6 Site Builder Solutions that I found enjoyable, and very useful. Now, I already know what I am doing with Drupal. I know how to read the project’s documentation to find and configure modules and themes, and I know how to get help if I need it. Even so, this book gave me some great ideas that I am going to share with the owner of the site I am working on and that I hope to use.
The entire book centers around creating a website for a fictional company, The Good Eatin’ Bistro. You start out with a discussion of the basic needs for the company, then begin with the basics of creating a site suitable to the customer’s needs. As the book progresses, you learn how to use some well-known and some other less-known modules to add interesting and useful functionality to the site that makes information easy to find and interesting to view.
Do you want a site that allows all members of a project you are involved in to have individual blogs, with a calendar to display events, and a map? No problem. Have a restaruant and want to put your menu online in a way that looks good, and is easily changed. Easy. Are you interested in creating a newsletter that people viewing your site can sign up to recieve occasionally? You can. All this and a ton more are in the book.
I think one of the most useful parts of the book for most people will be the last chapter, which talks about how to find out how to add functionality not discussed in the book, where to get help, and has some great tips on things that not everyone thinks about like hosting, hardware, and working with developers and artists.
One thing that crossed my mind is sharing the book with the owner of the site I mentioned. He won’t understand the technical details, but this book is written in a way that I believe will make what I am doing very clear and make it much easier for him to talk with me about his hopes, plans and desires. For that reason alone, the book is valuable to me, and it might be to others as well who are not actually interested in creating a site themselves, but who need to know enough detail to be able to discuss site building intelligently with a developer, designer or team of people working to create a site for them.
The book does not cover theming, but focuses solely on enabling features, enabling and configuring new functionality to a site built on Drupal 6. If you are interested in theming Drupal 6, I recommend a book I reviewed last month on the topic.