What is Drupal? Beginner’s Guide to Drupal

September 28, 2023
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You yearn for a tool that can streamline the process of creating powerful online platforms. Yet, choosing the right Content Management System (CMS) can feel overwhelming amidst a sea of options.

You’ve probably stumbled upon Drupal, a one-of-a-kind open-source CMS that is used by leading e-commerce companies, the US government, and social media sites alike. What is Drupal, though, and what makes it such a powerful tool in your web development arsenal?

You’ve come to the right place. We’ll define Drupal and talk about what Drupal is used for, the key features that set it apart from other CMS options, and how to get started in the world of Drupal.

Here at Debug Academy, we’re proud to offer Drupal training that empowers you to reach new heights in your career. You’ll discover how our courses can transform your life in a moment. But first, what is Drupal?

What is Drupal?

You’re already familiar with Drupal being some type of CMS. But, let’s pull the curtain back even further and define it so we can set the stage for the rest of this beginner’s guide.

A Quick Drupal Definition

Drupal is a powerful Content Management System (CMS) and framework used by developers and organizations globally to build and maintain websites, applications, and digital experiences. 

It's a robust platform built with flexibility and scalability in mind, capable of handling anything from personal blogs to large-scale enterprise websites. We’ll talk about key features later on, but let’s start with the foundation: open-source philosophy.

Drupal's Open Source Philosophy

An open-source ethos lies at the heart of Drupal. This fosters a collaborative development approach. 

This means that Drupal isn’t bound by proprietary codes or a single company's whims. Instead, it's continuously improved and expanded by a global community of passionate developers, designers, and users. 

This communal spirit not only ensures the platform remains cutting-edge but also cultivates a wealth of resources, tutorials, and plugins freely available to all. 

It champions transparency, innovation, and community-driven enhancement, making the software ever-evolving and adaptive to the ever-changing digital realm.

Core Components and Modules

One of Drupal's standout features is its modular architecture. Drupal provides a set of core components out-of-the-box that give developers essential functionalities for building web platforms. 

These include user account registration, menu management, RSS feeds, taxonomy, and basic page layout customizations. Much of this is covered in our free Drupal training - more on that later. What is Drupal used for, though?

What is Drupal Used For?

As we mentioned earlier Drupal is the CMS of choice by companies like Pfizer, GE, Stanford, Charles Schwab, and even the White House. We’ll highlight all the types of websites that can benefit from Drupal development below.

E-commerce Platforms

Drupal excels in creating online storefronts with its feature-rich e-commerce modules. These tools allow businesses to seamlessly display products, manage inventory, and handle transactions. 

Drupal's customizable nature ensures that e-commerce sites cater to unique business needs, offering personalized shopping experiences, integrated payment gateways, and advanced search functionalities. 

Brands can further leverage the platform for marketing campaigns, analytics, and customer relationship management, making Drupal a comprehensive solution for online commerce.

Government Websites

Transparency, accessibility, and security are the trifecta for government websites. Drupal delivers on all fronts

Municipalities, regional governments, and even national sites have adopted Drupal for its robust security measures and its ability to handle vast amounts of content in organized, user-friendly ways. 

The platform's ability to support multiple languages and its compatibility with various accessibility tools further position it as a preferred choice for public sector websites worldwide.

Social Networking Sites

The digital age thrives on connectivity, and Drupal's capability to build vibrant social networking platforms attests to its versatility. 

Whether it's niche community forums or broader social collaboration tools, Drupal provides modules to support user profiles, activity streams, messaging, and more. 

Its scalability ensures that as your community grows, your platform can evolve and expand seamlessly, ensuring a smooth user experience throughout.

Any Website That Values Security and Customization

Drupal use cases aren’t confined to the niches above. This is truly a CMS for any project that demands a blend of tight security and unparalleled customization. 

From educational institutions to non-profits, from media houses to tech startups, Drupal's ability to mold itself around unique business needs while offering top-tier security features has made it a favorite among diverse industries. 

Its commitment to continuous security updates and the vast community-driven modules make Drupal an optimal choice for any entity aiming to establish a secure yet distinct digital presence.

Should You Learn Drupal?

The vast use cases and unique open-source framework make Drupal appealing…so should you learn this CMS? 

Whether you’re looking to build your own website or you’re interested in becoming a dev and looking for the best specializations in web development, here’s why you should consider learning Drupal

Unique Features That Make Drupal the #1 CMS

Drupal is packed with a slew of features that make it a favorite among developers and businesses alike. Here are some distinctions:

  • Highly Modular Structure: Drupal is built around the concept of modules. This means you can add, customize, or remove functionalities as per your needs without touching the core codebase, ensuring flexibility and extensibility.
  • Advanced Taxonomy: Organization becomes crucial when dealing with vast amounts of content. Drupal offers an advanced taxonomy system that allows fine-grained content categorization, making content management a breeze.
  • Built-in Multi-language Support: A global digital presence often demands multiple-language support. This isn’t an issue with Drupal as you get built-in multi-language features. This makes website localization easier than ever.

Job Opportunities in the Drupal Landscape

Can I become a web developer without a degree? You certainly can - and it’s easier than ever when you start your training foundation around Drupal. In fact, Drupal devs are more in demand than ever before and stand to make a killing if they can specialize their skills.

This is something we talk about heavily in our guide to how to get a web developer job without experience. Here are just a few of the opportunities for Drupal devs:

  • Web Developer Roles: From frontend to backend development, companies constantly seek experts who can navigate the intricacies of Drupal.
  • Site Builders and Themers: Roles focused on site building and theming with Drupal might be your calling if you have a knack for creating visually compelling sites.
  • Drupal Consultants: More and more businesses are recognizing the potential of Drupal. The need for consultants who can guide these organizations in their Drupal journey has grown tremendously.


Stay tuned if this is something that interests you. We’ll talk about how Debug Academy can help you get a jr web developer job in just a moment.

Comparing Drupal with Other CMS Platforms

Every CMS has its strengths, but here's how Drupal often stands out amidst the alternatives:

  • Security: Drupal's core is known for its rigid security standards. It's no wonder that many government websites worldwide trust Drupal for its top-notch security features.
  • Scalability: Whether you're a startup or a multinational, Drupal scales as per your needs, ensuring your website can handle traffic surges with ease.
  • Customization: Unlike many CMS platforms that may confine you to preset templates or functionalities, Drupal champions customization, ensuring that no two Drupal sites are ever truly alike.

We have a guide comparing and contrasting Drupal vs Joomla if you’re interested in learning more. But at this point, we can tell you’re eager to take a leap and see what’s possible with a career in Drupal. Let’s set you up for success and talk about how to get started.

Tips on Getting Started With Drupal

Entering the Drupal realm can be both exciting and overwhelming. But we’re here to simplify it for you and help you feel capable of taking this leap of faith into a new career.

As with any new endeavor, it's essential to break down the learning process into manageable steps, ensuring you gain both confidence and proficiency. 

Here are some practical steps to guide you as you embark on your Drupal journey.

Familiarizing Yourself with Drupal Terminology

Drupal, like any other specialized platform, comes with its jargon. Here's a brief breakdown of a few terms to get you started:

  • Nodes: These are content items in Drupal, like articles or basic pages.
  • Modules: Think of these as plugins that extend your site's functionality.
  • Themes: They control the visual presentation of your website.
  • Taxonomy: A way to classify content on your site using terms.

Gradually dive deeper into Drupal’s lexicon after starting with these basics. This foundational knowledge will simplify further exploration and understanding of tutorials, guides, and community discussions.

Accessing and Utilizing Drupal Documentation

Drupal is backed by rich and detailed documentation. This treasure trove provides insights ranging from setting up your first Drupal site to intricate module development. Here’s how to leverage it:

  • Official Drupal Documentation: This should be your first stop. It’s hosted on the Drupal website and offers a step-by-step guide catering to both beginners and seasoned developers.
  • API Reference: A must for developers. It offers detailed information about Drupal’s functions, classes, and hooks.
  • Theming Guide: This guide is invaluable for those interested in the design aspect of sites.

Practice by Building Your Own Drupal Sites

While theoretical knowledge is invaluable, the essence of mastering Drupal (or any CMS, for that matter) is hands-on practice. Here's why and how you should immerse yourself in practical projects:

  • Understand Real-world Challenges: Setting up your own site will present obstacles and challenges you won't find in tutorials. Overcoming these hurdles will significantly enrich your learning.
  • Experiment Fearlessly: You can experiment without limitations when it’s your personal project. Try out different themes, play with various modules, or even break things! It's all part of the learning curve. You’d rather break things now than on the job.
  • Portfolio Building: As you continue to build and refine, these projects can become portfolio pieces. Demonstrating your hands-on experience to potential employers or clients can give you a significant edge in getting that first gig.

Why Enrolling in a Drupal Course (Like Ours at Debug Academy) is Worth the Investment

Finding a course that truly delivers on its promises can be a challenge in the vast sea of online learning. But your search ends here at Debug Academy. Here’s what makes us a trusted partner in your career advancement: 

  • Expert-Led Instruction: Our courses are designed and delivered by industry professionals. These are practitioners who've been in the trenches, faced real-world challenges, and have come out on top. Their firsthand experiences translate into actionable insights for our students.
  • Tailored Curriculum: We understand that Drupal's vastness can be overwhelming. That's why our curriculum is carefully curated to include only the most pertinent and up-to-date content, ensuring you learn what truly matters.
  • Hands-On Approach: We believe in learning by doing. Our course is rife with real-world projects and scenarios, ensuring you don't just know the theory but can apply it when it counts.
  • Dedicated Support & Community: You become a part of a thriving community of like-minded individuals when you enroll with us. Have a question? Ask it in our forums. Need more clarity? Our instructors are just a message away.
  • Recognized Certification: You don't just walk away with knowledge upon completion. You get a certification recognized in the industry, serving as a testament to your skills and dedication.

From our Drupal training for beginners to our more advanced Drupal 9 training to our Drupal certification course, we’ve got the resources you need to propel yourself into a lucrative career path - no matter your experience with Drupal! 

We can even help you prepare for Drupal interview questions when the time comes to land that first gig. But, it all starts with building a strong foundation - and the sooner you start this journey, the sooner you can reap the benefits of this lucrative career path. 

So, what are you waiting for? Career transformation is well within your reach.

Wrapping Up Our Beginner’s Guide to Drupal

That concludes our beginner’s guide to Drupal. So, what is Drupal? What is Drupal used for and why should you consider learning this CMS? 

As we've explored, its open-source philosophy, diverse applications, and unparalleled customization make it a prime choice for budding and experienced web developers alike. 

It’s time to dive deeper now that you've got a glimpse of what Drupal has to offer. We offer tailored courses at Debug Academy that not only acquaint you with Drupal's nuances but empower you to harness them effectively. 

So, take the reins of your web development future today!

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