Drupal is a powerful, extremely useful, content management system. And, while some complain that the system can be a bit complex, the system has an amazing support community, and there are hundreds of modules designed to solve many of the problems that websites often face. Displaying and managing content, which is something that every site should try to do well, is thus made much easier, as long as you know what modules to use. Now there are many, many modules developed to help make displaying content easier,but we’ve always been fans of the following five.
Bean was a project developed specifically so adding new content to the site would be simpler. Essentially, it allows you to add as many blocks, with as much new content, as you need. Its interface is also extremely easy to use, which means that site administrators don’t have to get involved when a company’s content manager wants to display something new. All they have to do is click on ‘add block,’ type in the label, title, and content, and hit save. Simple, intuitive, and very useful for sites that rely on constantly adding new content.
2. Menu Block
Most themes make it difficult to create an efficient navigation system for a new website. Top-level links are easy enough, but making multi-level menus typically requires that you edit the theme files directly. Menu Block fixes this problem by allowing you to create one block with all of your pages arranged under whatever relevant parent items there are, and then allows you to place the block anywhere on your page. So, for example, you can have a sidebar that lists all of the main sections of your site and, when one of those is clicked, a sub-list of related, specialty items is displayed.
3. OG Tasks
This module was made to help avoid some of the busy work associated with creating micro-sites or new groups. Typically, new groups or micro-sites all have similar elements and pages – contact us, about us, group news, navigation, a home page, etc. OG Tasks allows you to automate the creation of those elements, meaning a new group can be created in a few clicks, without having to bother the site’s administrators. It also helps ensure that any groups created under a primary site will be fairly consistent in what type of content they display.
A lot of content-based sites like to feature particular stories or lists – things like top news or most read posts. This module allows you to collect nodes under a particular list simply by dragging and dropping the node to the list, without having to edit the permissions for that node. Alternatively, an approved user can simply click on the ‘add to’ link under the node, and it will be added to the queue. You can title the list whatever you want, and define how many items can be in the queue at any given time.
ImageCache allows a site’s administrator to create presets that allow a user to edit and process whatever photos they upload. Basic functions like cropping, rotating, desaturation, sharpening, and scaling can then all be done when the image is uploaded. Though they may not seem like much, simple and easy to use functions like those mentioned above make life much easier for whoever is uploading the content. ImageCache also has a version available for user profiles, meaning you can be sure that all user profile pictures seen on the site are of a consistent size. You can even change what that size is depending on where the picture appears, like whether it’s next to a user comment, or is displayed on the user’s profile.
Obviously, despite the unwarranted reputation that Drupal gets for being needlessly complex, using the modules that are developed for content management can help create a very user-friendly interface. Drupal’s customizability is a godsend for site administrators and developers who are often forced to spend time helping their clients to display new content, create navigational elements, and ensure that there is some consistency amongst the site’s content. It is simply a matter of knowing what modules are where, and of figuring out how best to serve the client’s needs using those modules.