Content, Functionality, and/or Presentation

Typically, a content management system allows you to do a lot more than manage content. Drupal, in particular, enables the management of content, users, and the control of functionality and presentation. Let's inspect the main three, and fairly discrete, components of a website:

  • Content: What you and the site users care most about.
  • Functionality: Facilitates the access, creation, and management of content and users. Modules and configurations are applied based on required functionality.
  • Presentation: Provides the look and feel for your content. A theme is selected based on the aesthetic considerations for the site.

Themes and the presentation layer Congratulations to those who have selected Drupal as their content management solution, as it provides the cleanest separation between functionality and presentation. Which means that the theme can be swapped out without impacting the functionality of the site (not possible with Wordpress, where themes have to be 'plugin enabled'). Also, the overall layout and navigation of multiple sites, using the same theme, can provide very different user experiences, based on each site's individual configurations.

The default Drupal install enables the Garland theme:

Drupal theme regions and elements

This theme provides the following regions:

  • Header
  • Left Sidebar
  • Right Sidebar
  • and Footer

and the following elements:

  • Logo
  • Site Name
  • Mission Statement

Drupal allows you to assign any block element within a region:

Drupal theme blocks in regions

From the many available blocks, the following are used in the screenshot above:

  • A. Search
  • B. A Menu
  • C. Another Menu
  • D. A Form
  • E. Another Form

The user experience can be tweaked by configuring elements such as the logo image, and re-configuring the placement of blocks in regions:

Drupal theme regions and blocks

And, as mentioned earlier, by applying a different theme, none of the functionality is lost:

Drupal Minelli

When selecting, or creating, a theme keep in mind whether the theme is flexible enough to be configured for your desired layout:

Drupal Minelli

Wordpress and Joomla users have long had a variety of options for purchasing premium themes. It looks like this is a growing trend for Drupal, and hopefully we'll be able to observe, learn from the other communities, and leap frog to improved offerings!