How to Best Design a User Friendly Drupal Website
Many developers are shying away from using Drupal to develop websites because many people consider that a website cannot be user-friendly if designed with Drupal.
You are likely to lose a potential client if you mention that you are using Drupal as your content management system. You will get questions like "Don't you find it hard to develop user friendly websites with Drupal?"
However, for those who know how to use it will tell you that it is not. I know people who have mastered using Drupal and if they show you the websites they have developed using, Drupal you will be amazed. In this article, I take into consideration the best practices of some of best Drupal web developers. They all agree that Drupal cannot achieve the best without additions and modifications. Many features or modules can be hooked into Drupal to help design a user-friendly website.
Most people that complain that it cannot be used to develop user-friendly websites have no idea what these modules can do. You may not believe it, but Drupal can be used to design beautiful and user-friendly websites. Achieving this requires you to do some things such as these outlined below.
Careful Planning and Wireframing
An excellent user interface that is user-friendly requires careful planning and wireframing. You do not need to worry about Drupal because it is a powerful CMS tool that is also highly flexible. It will allow any developer to present their concepts and content in any configuration that they want. And with the right modules that you can add to Drupal, you can achieve any design.
Do not proceed and start designing the interface before you think about how the design will look. Drupal in itself does not have an influence on how the user interface will be. The benefit of doing this is you are avoiding the possibility of going back to the drawing board because of poor design. To ensure that all content is well structured, use a grid when structuring the wires and components to get everything aligned properly. With this, you will be able to come up with a user-friendly website.
Design Generic to Specific
When designing a Drupal website, start with the elements that are going to be displayed consistently across the whole website, and then proceed down to more specific elements that are only available on specific pages. The way Drupal outputs its websites, the most generic elements are shown first, and the specific elements come later by applying the appropriate styles. Therefore, it is good to ensure that the base generic styles are working before proceeding to the more specific ones.
Get a WYSIWYG Editor Module
One of the reasons developers shy away from Drupal and say that building a user-friendly with Drupal is not easy is because it does not have a WYSIWYG editor. Yes, if you did not know, it is true that Drupal does not come with a ready to use WYSIWYG editor.
A WYSIWYG will help in designing a user-friendly interface. Therefore, you need to install a WYSIWYG and correctly configure it to get the best out of it. Some of the things that you need to configure are the styles, colors, and fonts so that they can show in the WYSIWYG editor. Get all the custom styles in one menu and decide on which toolbar buttons you need.
Images play a critical role in the usability aspects of a website. From time to time as you design the user interface, you will need to do image cropping as you test and tweak to get the best feeling. Having to do it on Drupal and seeing the results instant contributes to coming up with a user-friendly website. Having to go back to another editor and switching back and forth is time-consuming and tiring. If you do the image manipulation on Drupal, you can do adjustment and modification to get what you need.
Get Page Preview
You probably do not like the built-in Preview that comes with Drupal because it may have gotten you confused when designing the user interface. Yes, this is true especially if you are using the administrator theme that has a theme that is different from the website you are designing. A bad theme will not let you see the lovely styles and colors the way you anticipate.
Besides, if the interface has blocks, then you will not be able to see them. One of the Drupal developers says these issues can be solved by installing Page Preview. It allows you to preview the website you are designing as it will look, and be able to scroll and navigate.
Without a link style, you cannot get the desired shapes such as those of rounded corners for buttons. Rather than use Photoshop to achieve the desired styles, you can create them easily in CSS and include them in the WYSIWYG editor.
Keep Site speed in Mind
The website speed is an important aspect when designing an interface that is user-friendly. Apart from getting a good web hosting for Drupal, as a web developer, there are things that you can do to make the website faster. Many users are not patient to wait for a website to load.
One of the mistakes that developers do that slow down Drupal websites is installing too many modules and forgetting to remove the ones that they are not using. This will hurt the user experience. Therefore, for the sake of great user experience, get good web hosting for Drupal and minimize the use of modules.
From the discussion above, Drupal is an excellent and flexible CMS that can be used to design a user-friendly website. You just need to know what to do to achieve the best for your website.