I often liken the Drupal environment to that of photography. All of us can use a basic camera and get decent results but in the hands of a seasoned professional photographer, a pro-level camera can give far superior results, yet that same camera in the hands of an amateur will often yield poorer results than the basic camera. Drupal is a toolset for pros; it has a depth and configurability that takes time and talent to master and for those that do, the result is web designs that far exceed those from simpler tools.
To enable this development environment, the Drupal user community has developed over 21,000 modules. These modules are freely available and add an incredible range of sophistication to the basic features thereby enabling developers to easily design web sites with amazing functionality and elegance. A few of the modules that we find very helpful are the Content Types, Views, Panels and Meta Tags modules.
Perhaps the most significant feature in Drupal is the ease at which new Content Types can be defined. This feature enables the developer to add custom data elements to each type of content to be managed by the web site. By carefully designing the content types a web site can handle a wide range of needs in a graceful and easy to manage way. This single feature moves Drupal out of the ‘you change to fit the system’ model to ‘change the system to fit your needs’. Which results in a site that best works for your organization.
The Views module goes along with the custom content by providing the designer with the ability to develop an infinite variety of views looking into the content. Views can select and sort data, it can display it in many fashions and enable security and publication control. Views is the module found on every Drupal site controlling the display of your content so that your site delivers the exact content you want at a given place.
The Panels module is now part of the core Drupal structure, this module allows the designer to finely craft each page in whatever structure is best to present your information. Panels makes it easy to have a site with multiple page layouts and fine-tuned blocks on a page.
The final module – Meta Tags – is a behind the scenes tool that allows the designer to carefully prepare each page to maximize the search ability of your site and pages. This feature provides the structures so that search engines can properly categorize your site and increase the number of people who find your web site.
Although these are only four modules, they already enhance the power of Drupal beyond that of most competitive systems and enable professionals to deliver web designs that meet the needs of their users exceptionally well.