What Is Drupal?

Drupal is an open-source content management system (CMS) that's free to download and use to create and manage websites, intranets, and web applications without writing any code.

It's the CMS of choice for large, complex websites (like university websites) thanks to its highly flexible content management capabilities and powerful API-first architecture.

👨‍🏫 Get up to speed on the latest version of Drupal! Join us on September 24 for a free webinar on Drupal 9.

Drupal functionality

So why use Drupal?

Most websites share a common set of features. They typically have navigation menus and lists of content, pages of content with nice URLs, a header with a logo, a footer with contact info, etc. At the same time, there are a lot of differences between websites. They often have a unique content structure, a customized look and feel, and customized features.

Drupal works well for websites that need those shared features. Drupal provides lots of functionality out-of-the-box that most websites need, for example:

  • Content management
  • Taxonomy for organizing content
  • Flexible navigation system
  • Comments
  • Search
  • Content listings
  • Contact forms
  • WYSIWYG editor
  • Nice content authoring experience
  • Multilingual content & user interface
  • User management
  • Accessibility
  • Responsive design

At the same time, Drupal is really flexible, so you can customize the aspects of your website that are unique and add custom features.

What is Drupal used for?

Drupal powers a wide range of digital experiences, including:

  • Corporate websites: contents types of services, workflow for publishing, corporate branding, etc.
  • Intranets: private content, custom workflow for internal processes, listings of internal contents such as internal news and meeting notes. 
  • Online directories: search tools, embedded listing, etc. 
  • Interactive websites: user accounts, multi-step form, custom JavaScript, decoupled front-ends, etc. 
  • Marketing portals: landing pages for SEO, mix of content and marketing material, campaign landing pages, etc.

Drupal definitions

Here's some handy Drupal terminology to know:

  • Node - Piece of content
  • Content type - A template for content
  • Vocabulary - A way of categorizing your content
  • View - Content listing
  • Module - Functionality that you can add to a Drupal website 
  • Theme - Defines the layout, look and feel
  • Block - Displays content, a list, menu, form, etc. on the page (often in the sidebar, header, footer)
  • Permission - A task that a user can do
  • Role - A type of user

Fun facts about Drupal

  • Drupal was created by Dries Buytaert in 2001.
  • The word Drupal comes from “druppel”, which means drop in Dutch.
  • Drupal Community is originally used for university discussions but there are now thousands of organizations using Drupal, including companies, non-profits, governments, universities to power their web presence.
  • As of January 2018, the Drupal community reached over 1.3 million users, including developers, designers, content writers, sponsors etc. According to statistics, there are more than 100,000 members that are actively contributing to the community. This results in tens of thousands of free modules that allow to further personalize Drupal functionality, thousands of free themes that help customize the appearance of Drupal and more than one thousand distributions that allow users to easily and efficiently set up Drupal websites.
  • Drupal is the most popular CMS among higher education institutions

Learn more about Drupal 9, the latest version of Drupal