This past Wednesday night I presented a detailed overview of Drupal, it’s commonly used modules and the ubercart shopping cart module at the San Diego CSS Meetup. I ended up speaking for around an hour which means I usually had fun talking up a storm.
One of the attendees asked me: "which drupal modules do you guys [Best Rank] most often use when building sites in drupal?" That’s a good question, and so here are several (more to come later) of the most useful modules we’ve had the opportunity to use time and time again. Note these modules are not included in the drupal core and require installation, which is a breeze in drupal:
- Page Title – Lets you set a unique HTML title tag of any page (node) on your site, different than the page heading title (which usually appears in an H1 or H2 tag). This is a fundamental, SEO related module that you really don’t want to go without. The module allows you to determine which content types should receive a title tag field, so you could allow page titles fields on blog pages but disable them on forum pages (if you wanted to). Page Title also lets you define rule sets for each content type, say if you wanted a specific string attached to the end of each blog page title (your brand, for example).
- Meta Tags – this module (also known as nodewords) is another essential module for your website, which allows you to define meta keyword and description tags on each node. Note that meta keywords are not too important for SEO purposes but a page’s meta description can show up in the search engine results right underneath the blue link, helps let people know what your page is about before they decide to click in.
- Google Analytics – yes, even drupal has a way for us to track our sites in Google’s ever so useful Analytics product. Allows you to track users by role, so you could track only anonymous users and not admin users, using either the old or newer Analytics tracking code.
- URL Redirects – less time dealing with htaccess rules and more time managing 301 redirects through a GUI is what this module does for us. This module lets you assign not only 301 but a wide array of redirect types (if you really need them). Unfortunately there is no part to the module that lets you setup global rules, such as regular expressions, for redirect pattern matching – which would be really nice!
- FCKeditor (wysiwyg) – I must say that I’ve taken this one for granted. FCKeditor serves as a nice, wysiwyg editor giving you the ability to markup the body content of your nodes using bold, italics, underline, etc. You can also install an optional file browser for uploading and inserting images and files into your content. FCKeditor is also configurable by role, which means certain users can view and others (such as anonymous) can be prohibited. You can even specify on what path and on what field the editor appears or shouldn’t appear on 🙂
- Webform – If you need a simple to use, highly configurable contact submission form: this is it, period. We use webform for most of the basic contact forms we build and it’s been nothing but super. If you want to create more customized forms, such as multi page forms or forms with other custom features and functionality, try checking out the durpal form API which has lots of good info on creating forms from scratch.
- Admin menu – Imagine turning your frumpy, drupal navigation menu from this
into this elegant looking drop down bar with expanding child tabs
pretty cool huh? Yea I thought so too and we now use admin menu for most of our sites.