Review of “Drupal for Designers” by Dani Nordin, O'Reilly Media

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

If you have some web design experience but have yet to take on a larger project driven by a content management system (CMS), Drupal for Designers is a great place to start. Not only does Dani Nordin do an admirable job of introducing Drupal concepts to CMS beginners, she also provides a wealth of business advice that can be applied to any web project, regardless of the CMS one chooses.

Drupal, being the open-source/full-service CMS distribution that it is, can be intimidating to approach for the first time. Thankfully, Nordin does a great job of sifting through all the documentation and relays just what you need to get up and running. For example, the introduction to the book has a handy table that demystifies the specific terminology used by the Drupal community. Later chapters describe how to get a Drupal installation working, in addition to explaining how pages are assembled by putting together content and views. There’s even a brief section showing how to save time by quickly installing plugins and updating Drupal via the command line.

However, the great part about this book is that it really doesn’t talk about Drupal for the first few chapters. Before diving into the details of templates and configuration files, Nordin steps back and offers a wealth of advice on the design process itself from the perspective of a small design shop. I have to admit I am impressed by the breadth of discussion about the business side of things: Readers get an overview of each step involved in the design process, from initial client interviews to prototyping and post-launch documentation. Having this process outlined goes a long way toward understanding the relationship between a design shop and its clients, and the role a CMS like Drupal plays in it. There is also ample advice on how to talk with clients and how to integrate user experience (UX) principles into each step. The Appendix even has sample proposal forms.

Overall, Drupal for Designers excels at fulfilling its mission of serving as a bridge between web development and design for people who have to fill both roles.