The goal of a content audit is to understand the current state of your website content, i.e. what content is relevant, what can be merged with other content and what can be safely removed. You can then analyze the information and organize the content based upon your users feedback, industry trends and site analytics. Theoretically, it seems a very simple process, but in practice, conducting a site audit can be a messy exercise if you don’t have a plan in place. Some reasons to conduct content audits include:
ARE YOU AT RISK?
- Your website has information worth stealing (ex. ecommerce site with membership records)
- Your website has a lot of visitors
- Someone wants to shut your website down
Have you ever dreamed of automating your Drupal site? Want to send out customized emails automatically to notify your users about updates? Automatically update a Block on the Home page after the 100,000th user visits your site? Create custom redirections, system messages, breadcrumbs? Rules for Drupal 8 can help you do this and much more!
How Rules Works
The Rules for Drupal 8 module allows site administrators to define conditionally executed actions based on occurring events (known as reactive or ECA rules). With Rules, site builders have a powerful interface to implement custom workflows on their site. This has proven to be an essential tool to the whole Drupal ecosystem. By 2014, the Rules module had over 200,000 reported active installations. Rules currently ranks amongst the top 20 most popular Drupal modules and is used at 1 out of every 5 Drupal sites in the world.
Rules integrates with Drupal Core APIs and all structured data exposed using the Entity and Fields systems. Over 350 other contributed modules integrate with the Rules API to provide their own custom events, conditions, actions or exposing custom data in a reusable way.
Supporting #D8Rules through Crowdfunding
The D8rules project has proven to be a key to opening trust and success of any future crowdfunding projects on Drupalfund. Drupalfund was first announced during Drupalcon Munich. The very first Drupalfund project was created during Drupalcon Prague. Before D8Rules, Drupalfund has seen 7 successful campaigns, but none of this size. The folks behind Drupalfund believe that if they can raise enough funds to fully support the project, the community will begin to trust crowdfunding – a huge boost to the entire Drupal development project, enabling those who contribute.
The Status of Rules for Drupal 8
The upcoming revolutionary release of Drupal 8 is a complete rewrite that the community has been working on for the past three years. The folks behind Rules for Drupal 8 believe that the D8 release will be as successful as how complete its ecosystem is. For this reason, they plan on having Rules ready as early as possible.
As of early April, #d8rules has reached their second milestone. The last four months, the team has been busy getting the Rules MVP ready for Drupal 8. Thanks to funding provided by Acquia, drunomics and epiquo, #d8rules contributors were able to dedicate over 300 hours to implementing the most critical features to reach 2 out of 3 of their planned milestones. Milestone 3 is all about getting a final release of Rules for Drupal 8 ready.
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- You manage a large number of products (eCommerce sites like REI)
- You publish and manage a lot of content (content aggregators and news sites like Reuters)
- You have complex service offerings requiring a lot of supporting content (large association sites, higher education sites like Cornell, government sites like The White House)
- Your site is information-oriented, diverse, and you offer a lot of long-form web copy
- Your site is small without too much content (small businesses, restaurants)
- You have fewer pages and focused content
- Your site is dedicated to a singular function, such as a tool or online calculator
When it comes to web design, don’t underestimate the power of color.
- Black: sophistication and power
- White: cleanliness, sophistication, virtue
- Red: courage, power, strength; can also stimulate appetite
- Blue: calmness, peace, trust, safety
- Yellow: optimism, happiness
- Green: balance, sustainability growth
- Purple: royalty, spiritual awareness, luxury
- Orange: friendliness, comfort, and food
- Pink: tranquility, femininity, sexuality
- Complementary: colors opposite to each other on the color wheel
- Analogous: colors that sit next to each other. These are “related” colors that create pleasing and relaxed visuals when used together. They don’t stand out from one another, but can create subtle and beautiful content. You may need to add a complementary color to make a particular item stand out.
- Triad: a color combination made of three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel
- Split-complementary: Choose one color as your base, and combine with two complementary colors adjacent to its opposite
- Rectangle: a color combination made up of four colors in complementary pairs
- Square: similar to a rectangle palette, but the two sets of complementary pairs are colors evenly spaced around the circle
Caution: Color Blindness
- colr.org – lets you upload an image and see the range of colors within that image
- colorblender – generates a set of five colors that will work well together
- Adobe Colour CC – lets you try out and create different color schemes
- Check my colours – lets you determine if you’re using the right color combinations in your web design
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What is Drupal?
Drupal is an open source content management system (CMS). CMS are the back-end infrastructures of websites that allow content to be created and managed with greater ease. Of all major content management systems, WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are the most popular. All are open source platforms. “Open source” refers to any software that opens its code to anyone with programming skills. The major advantage of using open source software is anyone can modify it to suit the needs of the individual project.
When compared with WordPress and Joomla, most developers agree that Drupal is more difficult to master, but much more powerful and flexible. You can find a more detailed comparison of the three open source CMS options in our post, Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, Oh My!
Drupal is no ordinary CMS. By design, Drupal is the perfect content management solution for nontechnical users who require simplicity and flexibility. Through a modular approach to site building, Drupal offers its users both. For this reason, Drupal can be described as having the strengths of both a content management system and a content management framework. With Drupal, you can build almost anything. It’s just a matter of combining the right modules.
The History of Drupal
Dries Buytaert started the Drupal project in 2000 while attending the University of Antwerp. It was originally designed as a simple message board system. Originally called “Drop,” Drupal looked eerily similar to what would become Facebook. Dries and his friends would use the system to leave each other messages, coordinate dinner plans and write updates about their lives.
Over time, others became interested in the project. Strangers would email Dries patches for Drupal. These interested parties grew into a mailing list and then a much larger community. Eventually, Drupal gained the recognition and respect it deserved as a very capable CMS by the web development community.
Drupal Core Concepts
Nodes vs. Modules
A single web site could contain many different types of content (informational pages, news articles, polls, blog posts, etc.). In Drupal, each of these items of content is called a node. Each node belongs to a single content type, which defines the various settings for nodes of that type (such as whether the node is published automatically and whether comments are permitted).
So, a “node” is a piece of content. Anything can be a node; a page is a node, an article is a node, a product is a node. It is a developer’s responsibility to define their nodes and how each will be displayed and handled on your site.
A module, on the other hand, is a piece of code that serves to extend Drupal’s functionality. As a new Drupal user, you’ll start with Drupal’s core module, the simplest version of Drupal with very few features. When you add modules, your site can do more. There are plenty of modules that have already been created by Drupal’s developers to address a number of website needs. Rather than reinventing the wheel, a new Drupal user can add these modules onto their site. The modules that can be added are called “contributed” modules because they have been contributed by members of the Drupal community. As the size of Drupal’s development community is quite large, there are plenty of modules available that can handle almost anything. For example, Ubercart is a popular eCommerce module that offers a website the infrastructure necessary to sell products online.
Nodes and modules are the basic building blocks of Drupal. On top of nodes and modules are layered other Drupal controls, such as permissions for different types of users, menus and themes or “skins” of the website. Your development team has complete control to customize and tweak the site as you’d like. It’s this level of customization that makes Drupal so powerful yet so difficult to master.
An entity type is a way to group together fields. Entity types are used to store and display data, which can be nodes, comments, taxonomy terms, user profiles, etc.
Each comment is typically a small bit of content that a user submits and attaches to a particular node.
Taxonomy is Drupal’s system for classifying content provided by the core Taxonomy module. With Drupal, you can define your own vocabularies and add new terms. Each vocabulary can then be attached to one or more content types. In this way, nodes on your site can be grouped into categories, tagged, and classified in any way of your choosing.
Users & Permissions
Next to content, users are the most important component to your website. By default, a user has a set of associated properties including a username, password, role, and e-mail address. You can extend these properties through additional modules. For example, you could add a “Link” field to a user to log their Twitter address.
With Drupal, you can easily manage users, divide them into types or groups and define different levels of permissions. Permissions can be set to control what users have access to view and/or edit in particular areas of a site. Permissions are a powerful feature to use when developing your site’s structure as they can be very specific
Every visitor to your site is considered a user, whether they have an account and log in or visit the site anonymously. Each user also has a numeric user ID special to that type of user.
Types of Users
- Master Administrator: This user has the ID one (1). The Master Administrator is the primary admin user account created during Drupal installation. This user has permission to do absolutely everything on the site.
- Logged In: Users that log in are assigned a user ID when they register for the website. A user name and email address is associated with any user that isn’t anonymous
- Anonymous: Anonymous users who visit the website but do not login all share a user ID of zero (0).
You can assign permissions for other users on your site via roles. Drupal permissions are quite flexible as you can assign permission for any task to any role, depending on the needs of your site.
Regions & Blocks
Pages on your Drupal site are laid out in Regions. These include the header, footer, sidebars and main content regions of your site. Your chosen theme may define additional site regions.
Blocks are chunks of information that display in the regions of your site. Blocks can take the form of HTML or text, menus, the output from modules, or dynamic listings (e.g. list of upcoming events).
By default, content on your Drupal site is not placed in any particular structure. The best way of bringing structure to your Drupal site is to use menus.
A standard installation of Drupal has four initial menus: main menu, management, navigation and user menu. You can add more menus via Drupal’s interface. You can also choose where and how they will be displayed.
With Drupal, you aren’t limited to a single way of presenting your site’s content. You can define custom themes or designs for the site. You can find some contributed themes here.
The Theme layer is separate from the data layer, the functionality extension layer (module) and Core. Your Theme controls the look and feel of your site. How your site is displayed, including the graphic look, layout and colors are defined by your Theme. The Theme consists of one or more PHP template files that define the HTML output of your site’s pages, along with one or more CSS files that define the layout, fonts, colors, and other styles.
Not all sites will have Views, but those that do benefit from the excellent tools it provides. Views allows you to choose a list of nodes or other entities and present them as pages, blocks, RSS feeds, or in other formats. With Views, you can create dynamically updating lists or content (i.e. latest news), based on properties of that content.
More reasons to choose Drupal
- Drupal is a powerful and flexible content management system used to build virtually any kind of website. Drupal offers custom functionality, flexible implementation, complex components, easy configuration, customize-able content types, list, sort and search information.
- An ordinary CMS uses plugins. Each plugin is responsible for tracking and tracking a particular kind of content, and each remains relatively isolated from the others. With Drupal, modules interface with a common underlying system so you can build, mix and match clever, customized features.
- Like other open source CMSs, Drupal is free and install to use. A CMS like Microsoft SharePoint can handle the same level of technical complexity that Drupal can, but it’s expensive to use due to licensing fees. Almost all of Drupal’s extensions are available free of charge as well.
- Drupal’s installation is surprisingly easy. If you wanted to, you can have your first Drupal site up and running within an hour.
- Unified interface: No default distinction between viewing and editing a page
- Drupal provides an excellent out-of-the-box solution to eCommerce sites
- Drupal sites can handle heavy traffic. That’s why sites like WhiteHouse.gov and choose Drupal. Drupal has a special built-in cache system that facilitates speed. To see other projects being built in Drupal, check out our post, Three Cool Drupal-Based Software Projects
- Drupal’s community is 800,000 people strong. This dedicated group of contributing developers who help to update and expand the software has extended Drupal’s capabilities with more than 18,000 modules.
Who shouldn’t be using Drupal?
Drupal isn’t always the best choice. Not every web project requires the sophistication, power and flexibility that Drupal provides. If your only requirement is to write a personal blog, Drupal is not the right tool for you. For large and technically complex websites, however, Drupal stands out amongst its competitors.
The Future of Drupal
Drupal 8, the latest version of Drupal, is specifically designed with mobile in mind. Buytaert’s goal for Drupal is to be the best CMS for mobile websites. There are even a number of ready-made themes and modules available to Drupal users designed to specifically enhance a user’s mobile experience.
Drupal is one of the best open source web development platforms. It’s best used for large sites with number of different content types planning to grow over time. With premium design capabilities and technical capacity, you can’t go wrong with Drupal
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What is a 404 (Not Found) Error page?
A 404 Error Page is essentially a non-existent page that returns a status code of 404. The 404 error is generated whenever a server can’t find the specified page.
How do 404 errors occur?
A 404 page can happen for a number of reasons. These reasons fall into two buckets: user errors or website glitches. Either way, an informative 404 page is the most effective solution.
A web server will typically generate a 404 Not Found web page when a user misspells a URL or attempts to follow a broken or dead link. 404 errors also occur when pages have been moved or deleted, the page has expired, or the page was blocked.
Why are 404 Error pages important?
One of the biggest mistakes you could make when you launch a new website is ignoring all of the links, pages, and content from your old website. If Google has Site Links indexed and listed for a website and the navigation menu changes, Google considers these to be broken links. Google will then remove the links and lower the overall ranking of your website in its Search Engine. Any links to your site from other blogs or directories will also break, and you can expect your site to take the hit.
To avoid the headache, make sure to use error pages! Adding 301 Redirects and 404 Error pages can ensure that you don’t lose business because of an upgrade to your site. A 301 Redirect is a permanent redirect which passes between 90-99% of link ranking value to the new page. This is the perhaps the best way to retain online marketing efforts from old websites. If you have redesigned, added or removed content from your site, a custom 404 Error page is essential to direct site visitors to content on your new site when they’re looking for content from your old site.
A customized 404 Error page is an advantage for your site. It can help visitors find the information they were looking for and provides them with a much better overall user experience.
What should I include on my 404 Error page?
When a user lands on an error page that doesn’t contain any helpful content, it’s very likely they’ll navigate away from your site. To avoid frustrating site users and losing out on potential business, we recommend developing a custom 404 page.
The typical content a user sees when they reach a 404 Error page is a “page not found” message. This doesn’t provide users when any helpful information or instructions as to where to go from that point. To minimize visitor loss, a good 404 Error page provides a clear, helpful message that informs the user that the page they’re looking for can’t be found and points them in the right direction. You may want to ask the user to re-check the URL they’ve entered.
It’s also recommended that you use an error page that has been designed to look like the rest of your website. Maintain the main navigation menu, logo, fonts and colors. If the 404 page looks drastically different from the rest of your site, the user may become confused and abandon the site all together.
To prevent a visitor from leaving your site, include links or other elements that requires the user to take action. Include a link to your home page in addition to your main navigation menu. You can also provide a few key links to your most popular categories or pages on the site. If you have one, feature a link to your site map or search function. This will help the visitor find exactly what they were looking for. Here’s a good example of a 404 Error page with a search function from MailChimp.
To avoid having your 404 Error page appear in Google search results, make sure your webserver returns an actual 404 HTTP status code when a missing page is requested.
Build a better website and stop turning visitors away with your 404 Error pages. To learn more, contact Sanmita today!
Let us know what you think of this blog post in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you!
Drupal has long been known for its incredible versatility and extensibility. Here are a few interesting Drupal-based software projects and solutions you should know about:
CiviCRM is used by more than 10,979 organizations on a daily basis. This free and open source CRM solution is web-based, offers a complete feature set out of the box, and integrates with your website. CiviCRM is specifically designed for the needs of nonprofits, non-governmental organizations and civic sector organizations. The CiviCRM community envisions that “all organizations – regardless of their size, budget, or focus – have access to an amazing CRM to engage their contacts and achieve their missions.”
CiviCRM is built for constituency, or customer relationship management. This CRM solution is designed to manage information about an organization’s donors, members, event registrants, subscribers, grant application seekers and funders, and case contacts. CiviCRM can also manage volunteers, activists, voters and more general sorts of business contacts such as employees, clients or vendors.
CiviCRM’s core tracks contacts, relationships, activities, groups, tags and permissions, while its components keep track of contributors (CiviContribute), events (CiviEvent), member lists (CiviMember), cases (CiviCase), grants (CiviGrant), campaigns (CiviCampaign), petitions (CiviPetition), bulk mailings (CiviMail) and reports (CiviReport).
CiviCRM is a competitive, powerful piece of software, but like any decent software project, the core team has plans for improvements in future releases of the project. CiviCRM’s roadmap includes a new and powerful form designer built with modern tools to make it quicker and easier for users to customize screens. The team also has plans to improve the API as well as polish the look and navigation of the interface in order to put more of CiviCRM’s functionality within easy reach.
CiviCRM downloads are available from SourceForge, where it was ‘project of the month’ in January of 2011.
RedHen is a Drupal-native CRM originally designed for common nonprofit needs. It is a flexible CRM system with functionality for managing information about contacts, organizations, and their relationships with you and each other.
Although it’s fully-functional on its own, RedHen is also designed to integrate with enterprise CRM solutions suchas Salesforce or Blackbaud. RedHen is created and maintained by ThinkShout, who wrote the latest version of the Salesforce module.
RedHen also has capabilities for engagement tracking, customizable one-page donation forms, and website-integration for purposes such as event registration.
Because it can integrate with your website, you can use relationship and interaction information to change the way your site behaves and the way your users interact with it. For example, users who have logged in to your site can update their mailing address and that information is reflected in your CRM database.
RedHen allows you to customize your CRM data in the same way that you can customize Drupal. Its modular structure is similar to Drupal Commerce. The modules you get won’t give you an instant functioning CRM. This requires configuration and customization for your specific needs. It’s possible that one day, RedHen will produce “Features” and “Apps” that provide prepackaged CRM solutions for different use cases, but these don’t exist just yet
FarmOS is a Drupal web-based farm management and record keeping tool. With farmOS, you can manage areas, plantings, animals, equipment and more with a number of pre-packed contrib modules. The distribution also includes fourteen farmOS-specific modules including Farm Admin, Farm Asset, Farm Crop, Farm Equipment, Farm Map and more.
FarmOS allows different roles to be assigned to managers, workers and viewers. Managers have access to the entire system while workers can use the record-keeping tools only. Viewers have read-only access.
Because farmOS is built on Drupal, it is modular, extensible and secure. Both Drupal and farmOS are licensed under the GNU General Public License, which means they are open source. You can download and set it up yourself on your own web server, or you have the option of using a farmOS hosting service called Farmier.
The lead developer of the project, Mike Stenta’s inspiration for farmOS came from software he developed for a CSA program. He says, “If you can think of it, you can probably build it in Drupal – and chances are someone already has.”
FarmOS is currently looking for beta testers and other contributors to the project.
Let us know what you think of these Drupal-based software solutions. We’d love to hear from you!
So you’ve decided to create a new website. First of all, congratulations! A web design or redesign project can be a big undertaking and we want to help simplify this process for you by getting one big decision out of the way.
You have a few options when it comes to deciding on a content management system. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are the three most popular CMS choices online and are all open-source and free to download and use. How will you ever decide? We’ve made it easy for you by comparing these three CMS providers in terms of features, flexibility, capability, and ease-of-use. Below, we take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each solution:
- Can accommodate multiple authors
- Expansive plugin library
- Easy to customize
- Security – WordPress is often the target of hackers. You will have to install third-party plugins to boost your site’s security.
- Limited in terms of design options: Even though WordPress is customizable, WordPress sites often look like WordPress sites.
- Incompatible with older plugins
- Limited CMS capabilities: You may find that WordPress is incapable of handling a very large volume of content. WordPress is often called a ‘mini CMS.’
- Recommended use
- WordPress is perfect for those who manage simple, good-looking sites or blogs with or without multiple authors
- Smooth and easy to install
- Expansive extension library: Joomla extensions are divided into five different categories – components, plugins, templates, modules and languages
- Content management capable: Joomla is far more capable at managing a large volume of articles than WordPress
- Robust developer community
- Brittle codebase makes it difficult to extend or customize your site
- The learning curve isn’t as steep as with Drupal, but the installation and management process can be intimidating
- Lacks SEO capability
- Limited access control (ACL) support
- Limited to a single level of sections and categories
- Recommended use
- Joomla is a great option for consumers and small to mid-tier e-commerce brands. If you want something more powerful for enterprise use, consider Drupal.
- Extremely Powerful & Flexible: Drupal can do almost anything. It’s easily extendable and there are modules available to customize your site
- Thousands of modules
- Offers unlimited article nesting using taxonomy, or by using the Category module
- Fast: Caching improves the speed and performance of your site
- Robust developer community – over 30,000 participants
- Supports Multi-sites
- Strong version control and ACL capabilities
- Stable and scalable: Drupal is enterprise-ready and can be easily scaled to support even the world’s busiest websites
- Steep learning curve: Drupal requires the most amount of technical skills, so you either have to be dedicated enough to learn, or have a strong team of drupal developers and consultants who can help you with your site. The DrupalAnswers team understands these challenges and can help you get started and be your partner throughout the Drupal journey.
- Recommended use
- Drupal is the ideal CMS option for complex and professional sites or any large project where stability, scalability and power are of the upmost importance. If your project requires customization, or finely grained access control – Drupal is what you are looking for.
WordPress, Joomla and Drupal vary in terms of features and capabilities. We hope this information helps you to choose the CMS that best fits your requirements! We invite you to contact us with your website or CMS needs and any further questions you may have. We look forward to hearing from you!
What CMS does your site use?
Every successful project begins with a Discovery phase. This is the part of the project that includes research, analysis, exploration and planning. The goal here is to grasp the bigger picture, define business goals, establish project scope, acknowledge constraints and define success.
Unfortunately, this phase is often overlooked so as to save time and/or money. Without the discovery process, you risk consequences such as overspend later on in the production phase or misguided development. Not all development agencies use a Discovery phase, but they should. Beyond projects with very simple objectives, a designer or developer couldn’t possibly understand your business well enough to give accurate estimates without a detailed analysis. Most project managers would agree that if the requirements are identified early on in the project cycle, this would result in reducing the project schedule and/or budget. It also results in project deliverables suitably meeting the business user and technology requirements. Reworking and fixing errors adds unnecessary time, cost and avoidable headache to your project.
One option is to go forward with in-house discovery. Think about it: it’s already your job to think about how you can best serve your users. You probably know the subject matter better than anyone else and you already have some of the research you would need on hand. But, proceed with caution. Be mindful of your assumptions and internal bias. This process takes time and effort and it can be frustrating to admit failures to make the improvements necessary for success. In-house discovery is as effective as the people conducting it. Lack of discovery experience or blind spots in a team’s collective knowledge will limit the value of the process and its outcomes.
Another option is to work with an agency that can assist you with the discovery process. Our process begins with a discovery phase to fully articulate the goals, constraints and measures of success for your project. We set out to bring clarity to your vision and concept. We meet with you and your key stakeholders to ensure that project goals and stakeholder expectations are fully aligned and that all potential opportunities are explored. We work together to develop real understandings of what achievements are expected in terms of outputs and outcomes.
The goal is to develop a blueprint or detailed plan that reduces the risks of your project. At the end of the discovery engagement, you’ll walk away with the following deliverables to inform the production process:
Revised Information Architecture
This is how the content should be organized, classified and expanded/reduced to match the goals and stakeholder expectations.
This is how the content should be arranged on a webpage to let the target user access the most relevant information with the least amount of effort, letting the user navigate your site naturally. Wireframes give you a glimpse of how visitors will interact with your site. At this stage, we focus exclusively on the user experience and functionality of your site.
Detailed Project Requirements
The project requirements document is the foundation for all subsequent project deliverables, describing what inputs and outputs are associated with each process function. The requirements document also includes the system, performance, integration and interface requirements for your website project.
Launching your website project with a discovery phase is one of the most important things you can do to set them up for success. Following discovery best practices would result in reducing project costs, shortening the development cycle, enhancing team productivity and most importantly, a better website.