The Drupal community is home to more than 1 million developers and designers from all over the world.
Are you working on a Drupal website right now? Whether it’s for yourself for a client, if you’re new to Drupal, you might experience some confusion or run into trouble along the way to creating your finished product. Luckily, you can avoid a lot of potential roadblocks if you know what to expect throughout the website development and design process.
Read on to learn about some of the most common mistakes developers ought to avoid when creating or working on a Drupal website.
Using Irrelevant Content Architecture
One of the most common mistakes folks who are new to Drupal make is the use of irrelevant content architecture. It’s important to remember that content is the most important part of any content management system (or CMS).
Reusing standard content types and fields can help developers to avoid this issue. However, they also need to be sure that they have a thorough understanding of the content requirements for a particular website before they get started.
When they do this, they’ll be less likely to end up creating a structure that doesn’t make sense for their or their clients’ specific needs. This helps to save everyone time and energy and ensures that the website works well right from the start.
Using the Wrong Folder Structure
It’s also common for developers who are new to Drupal (or who are new to web development in general) to use the wrong folder structure and install themes and modules in an incorrect or inefficient way.
When they do this, it can lead to problems when the time comes to upgrade the CMS or to debug it, which will make everything more complicated for the developer and the client.
The good news is that this is a fairly easy problem to avoid. Developers simply need to take care to make sure they’re installing modules in themes in specific directories, rather than just in the root directory alone.
Using Excessive Coding
Using excess code can make the website inefficient.
At first, it might not seem like a big deal, but as more is added to the backend, it could slow things down or cause problems for the user. The use of excess code also causes the developer to spend more time than is necessary for creating or working on the website in the first place.
To avoid this, it helps when developers make use of customized code. They should also make use of the more than 30,000 modules that Drupal has made available to them.
Doing this helps the website to run more smoothly, and it saves a lot of time for everyone involved in its creation.
Not Backing Up the Website
Developers ought to always back up their websites. There’s nothing more frustrating than pouring hours of hard work into a website, only to have something go wrong during the creation process and lose everything.
No developer wants to have to waste time and money going back and redoing what they already did. To avoid this frustration, as well as the frustration your client will feel when they find out the progress on their website is delayed, it’s imperative that developers back up their website on a frequent basis.
It’s true that it might be hard for developers to establish this habit at first. The sooner you do it, though, the better off you’ll be, and the less likely you’ll be to end up losing your precious code.
Failing to Speed Up Search Functions
The more efficient and effective a website is when it comes to its search functions, the better.
If you fail to make a website’s search functions as fast as possible, it’ll be hard for users to find what they need, and they may end up navigating away from the website altogether as a result. This is bad news for you and your clients.
Solr Search is a great tool for developers to use when creating a Drupal website. It speeds up the site and enhances its search functions to make it easier for users to locate information right when they need to find it.
Lack of Spam Control
No web development clients want to have to deal with spam when they get a new website, and website visitors don’t want to have to encounter it, either. Proper spam control is a must for all developers, including those who are new to Drupal.
Spam control protects the website from potential problems (in terms of both security and functionality) in the future. It ensures that it runs in an efficient way, too.
Perhaps the most important benefit, though, is the fact that it helps to improve the experience for website visitors and the client. It also makes it easier for website visitors to develop a sense of trust in the website owner, which can lead to increased sales and higher rates of traffic in the future.
Not Making the Backend User-Friendly
As a developer, you have an in-depth knowledge of how to work with a website from the back-end. Your clients likely aren’t in the same boat, though. If you’re creating or working on a Drupal website for someone else, you need to make the backend as user-friendly as possible.
If you don’t do this, your clients are likely to become frustrated and will end up contacting you on a regular basis to help them figure out how to fix things or use their website. They might also be hesitant to work with you in the future. Don’t let this happen. Instead, make it a priority to write clean code and design the back end of the website in the most user-friendly way you can.
This might take more effort and time initially. It’ll save you a lot of time and prevent you from having to deal with a frustrated client later, though.
Neglecting W3C Standards
As a developer, you likely are familiar with the World Wide Web Consortium (or W3C for short).
In case you’re unaware, though, the W3C is an international community that creates certain standards for websites that allow for the long-term growth of the world wide web. These guidelines range from technical criteria that a website must meet to certain accessibility requirements for those with disabilities.
When you’re creating or working on a Drupal website, it’s important to make sure your work aligns with W3C standards.
Not only does this help you avoid potential backlash, but it also helps you create a better website. When you abide by W3C standards, you’ll have an error-free website code that’s easy to read. Your website will be cleaner and more user-friendly, too.
Forgetting About SEO
Some Drupal developers make the mistake of assuming that SEO is something that only their client has to worry about when the website is finished and they’re creating additional content for it. That’s not actually the case, though.
There’s a lot that developers can do when creating and working on a website that helps to make it better optimized for search engine results pages. The more efficient a website is, for example, the higher it’ll rank in search engine results. Efficiency and fast load times, as well as site uptime, all contribute to factors like bounce rate and overall search engine traffic.
Developers should use keywords that will help people to find the website through organic search, too. This includes focusing on keyword optimization (while avoiding keyword stuffing, of course) when creating website content and metadata. They should also install Google Analytics to help clients track their website’s performance with ease.
Not Assigning Proper Roles and Permissions
When creating or working on a Drupal website, developers also need to be sure to assign proper roles and permissions to the correct users. Doing this helps to fill in gaps that could lead to security problems in the future.
If a website is not sufficiently secured, clients will be vulnerable to all kinds of breaches, and they’re going to be unlikely to want to work with you again in the future. That’s why it’s imperative that you assign the right roles and permissions the first time around, and go over everything with a fine-tooth comb to ensure you haven’t neglected any important changes or assignments.
Not Declaring Meaningful Names
When writing code for a Drupal website, developers should make sure they’re not forgetting to declare meaningful names for all of the website’s functions and variables.
The variable’s names should reveal and be relevant to their key intent. They need to explain exactly what the contents of that variable are, as well as what it does and why it exists in the first place.
Names ought to specify the exact actions of specific methods. There should be meaningful names for method parameters, as well. This allows the methods to document themselves and allows for cleaner code throughout the entirety of the websites.
Not Replacing Loops
It helps to replace loops with calls to the array_map() function, too. When you do this, you’re able to define a function that will get executed over each element within an array. It also creates a new array that will contain mapped entries.
This method might seem complicated at first. However, it’s much cleaner than using a loop. It makes the code easier to read and understand, and it communicates intentions in the proper way.
Some people are resistant to replacing loops with the array_map() function because they think it slows the website down. However, in most cases, the changes in speed are negligible and offset by improvements in overall website performance.
If you’ve taken other steps to maximize overall website performance (such as avoiding the other common Drupal mistakes listed in this article), you shouldn’t notice any significant differences in speed and performance by using the array_map() function instead of a loop.
Failing to Avoid “Else”
Another way to keep your code clean when creating or working on a Drupal site is to make an effort to avoid “else” whenever it’s not 100 percent necessary in your code. Eliminating the use of “else” helps you to avoid the mistake of using excess coding and execution.
It’s true that your website will still work if you use “else.” However, it won’t be as clean, and it might not run as efficiently as it would have if you had left it out and used a different approach.
The sooner you get out of the habit of relying on “else” when it’s not needed, the better. It’ll help you become a more efficient and effective coder, and your clients will appreciate the cleanliness of your sites.
Not Using Relevant Services
Services are PHP objects that perform global tasks within a Drupal website. They’re separate from the “whys” of a task” and focus on the way that task gets performed. You can find services in /core/core.services.yml.
Make sure you’re using the correct services when building or working on a particular site. Remember, too, that you can often get the same end result by using one service instead of combining several. This will lead to a more efficient website and the elimination of unnecessary code.
Avoid These Drupal Mistakes Today
When you first learn about all the potential Drupal mistakes you can make while creating or working on a website, it’s easy to feel intimidated.
Clearly, there’s a lot you can do as a developer that could cause your website to slow down or be less user-friendly. Don’t let this information scare you aware from using Drupal, though. Instead, use it as a guideline to help you avoid common pitfalls and get the most out of it.
If you avoid these mistakes, you’ll have a much easier time creating a great website that you or your clients will be excited to use. Remember, too, that practice makes perfect. The more time you spend working on mastering these techniques, the more proficient of a developer you’ll become and the happier your clients will be.