Tips for the Drupal Ecommerce Beginner

Posted by Emily Miller on October 07, 2013


Drupal is a state-of-the-art, open source CMS platform for development of websites of any size. It's a framework designed to be completely flexible. Because of this flexibility, building and managing sites can be intuitive because things have a structure that enables them to fit together in a logical way. What sets it apart from other platforms is its enormous resource of modules and flexibility of design. Is it popular? You bet. If you're a developer perusing employment opportunities, you might see openings at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, University of Maryland, Accenture and the Boston Museum of Science.

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Drupal in Perspective

Drupal has three basic parts. Content is stored in a database and includes things like text and html. Designs or themes are stored separately. Drupal technical design is stored in a third area. WordPress themes and Joomla templates serve the same purpose as Drupal templates. WordPress is the easiest way to start a simple website. Joomla has intermediate complexity and Drupal is the most complex and can handle the larger sites and heavier traffic.

For ecommerce development, you might want to consider eBay's acquisition of Magento. This comprehensive, flexible commerce platform can accommodate projects from small to intermediate size up to very large. For educational purposes, open source products are available. Magento excels because of its well-structured yet flexible design, which enables you to incorporate comprehensive functionality including shopping cart, product information, logistics, ERP, product display, mobile templates, transaction options, multi-store and multi-site functionality, user accounts, loyalty programs and product categorization.

If you can get over the huge number of available modules with overlapping features and organize yourself by creating a good project plan, you'll be able to enjoy the vast possibilities that Drupal provides to sophisticated and inexperienced developers alike. Absolute Beginners Guide to Drupal is a great way to familiarize you with this exceptional development and CMS. Once you look inside, you'll very likely want to learn more. Drupal case studies can help you see a wide range of completed projects. You'll get a great idea about how your next project might benefit by a Drupal implementation. Before you start developing, though, you need to make sure you have a Drupal hosting company that can handle your needs. Look for a cloud host with a good reputation and familiarize yourself with that before you dive into Drupal itself.

Getting Started with Drupal development

Know your tools. Ubercart is an out of the box ecommerce system providing shopping cart, multiple payment systems and automated workflow without any coding at all. Over 18,000 live sites are using this system. e-Commerce is a simplified API defining components necessary for including ecommerce functionality. If you go this route, you will need to do substantial development on your own.

Refrain from modifying modules. While it may seem easy to alter a line of Drupal code here and there, by doing so you may exclude your altered module from being compatible for automated Drupal bug fixes. When you need to make changes take a look at some Drupal literature in order to educate yourself on best practices for adding and modifying Drupal features. Two recommended sources are Cracking Drupal and Drupal E-commerce with Ubercart 2.x.

Provide secure ecommerce with Secure Pages module. Secure Pages is a module that protects one or more paths on your website employing a pattern matching technique. Once you have installed an SSL certificate, you can navigate to the module's administration form to configure those pages you need to secure.

Your customized theme will highlight your product. Drupal's theme layer makes it easy for you to create custom templates and CSS to enhance the appearance of your site's pages. Acquia Prosper is a free theme directed at Ubercart sites. A free ebook can help you make the changes you need.

Product reviews and ratings will engage your customers. Enable Drupal's core comment system to provide product reviews for your product pages. Add ratings to these comments by installing and configuring Drupal's Fivestar module. You can select and sort products based on the ratings and reviews recorded by your customers.

Drupal offers thousands of prewritten modules offering extensive out of the package functionality and provides robust ecommerce capabilities. It is easily customizable by software developers as well as by knowledgeable users who are not programmers. You can educate yourself by reading some of the literature links on this site as well as by viewing the many available online videos. Drupal is now used by many leading universities and is recommended as an inexpensive yet comprehensive platform for start-up companies.

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