Drupal is an excellent choice for a content management system (CMS). However, many people only see it as a simple CMS, a site to build a landing page or two. But Drupal is much more than that. Not only is Drupal easy to theme, it’s got a wide range of built in functionality and a large community powering the popular CMS.
One of the great things about Drupal is that you can build almost any sort of site that you can imagine, with the help of a couple modules. Want to go beyond the basics of a simple CMS? Drupal has an excellent API that allows you to extent nearly any aspect of the software. In fact, many people have started to talk about using Drupal as a framework, as it’s robust, well written, handles lots of traffic, and has a large and helpful community.
So, if you’re thinking about building your next big site, here are a few ways that you can take existing modules and turn a project quickly, without needing to make any custom modules.
A quick note: I don’t think it’s a great idea to make exact clones of existing sites and slap a new name on them. Clones hardly become as popular as the original site. This article is merely to show the power of Drupal and what can be done with limited time and no development budget.
1. Digg Clone
There’s plenty of Digg clone software out there, but it’s pretty simple to make a site that allows users to submit links to content, vote, comment and moderate the submitted links. It’s even easier when that functionality is all wrapped up into a single module. Drigg creates an identical voting site that allows users to add web links, vote on them, share stories, and many more features.
This is one of the most obvious and common uses for Drupal, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Drupal comes primed for blogging straight out of the box, and there are many modules available that can enhance the commenting and overall blogging functionality.
3. News Portal
For those of you wanting a site that can showcase lots of information like Yahoo! or some of the other news portals, Drupal has you covered. Thanks to an excellent module called Views and some custom categories, you can quickly create many different types of content and display them in different ways on the homepage. Views is an indispensable module for a Drupal site. It’s a rare occasion that I’m not using the module on a site that I’m developing.
4. Robust user site
Here is where I think Drupal shines brighter than most (if not all) content management systems. Drupal has an excellent user management system, user profiles and even OpenID right out of the box. It also has modules that can connect to Twitter, Facebook, and it’s easy to connect to other authentication gateways with the use of custom modules.
Drupal also has a stellar module called Organic Groups that allows users to “organize” themselves into groups. Each group can have it’s own homepage, blocks, themes, taxonomy and more.
5. Awareness site
If you’re wanting to build a site specifically for a cause or organization, Drupal makes that easy as well. Aside from the Organic Groups plugin and other community-friendly features, there’s a donation module that accepts payments from Paypal, and shows the donating users on a donation page.
CiviCRM (demo) is a constituent relationship management solution module that was specifically created for advocacy and non-profit groups. Over 5,000 organizations use CiviCRM, and it’s well-supported and has many sub-modules for more specific advocacy needs.
Another great Drupal module for developing an awareness site is the Connect module. Connect allows you to easily create petitions, emails or fax campaigns.
6. Twitter Clone
Yeah, yeah… the world doesn’t need another Twitter clone, right? Well, I tend to disagree. The concept of sites and communities built around short, cross-platform messaging systems are a phenomena that just aren’t going away any time soon. With Drupal, it could be just as easy. Drupal’s Microblog module copies most of the features of Twitter. Micro-messaging, following users and public timelines.
7. File Storage Site
File storage sites like Drop.io or Box.net could be created with Drupal and the help of a module like Media Mover. Media Mover allows you to take uploaded files and copy them over to Amazon S3, the highly-scalable data storage system.
8. Flickr Clone
Photo sites like Flickr and Photobucket could also be created with the Image module and Views. The Image module gives users the ability to upload images, and then creates thumbnails and galleries from the uploads. Users could also comment on the photos using the built-in commenting functionality.
9. Delicious Clone
10. YouTube Clone
If you’re wanting to build a video sharing site like YouTube, Drupal has some modules that can greatly help with that. FlashVideo adds functionality to convert uploaded files to flash, and then moves them over to Amazon S3 if desired. FlashVideo also provides the ability to embed the videos, just like the big boys.
11. Amazon Clone
Trying to recreate the powerhouse’s ecommerce dominance is a tall order, but if any CMS is capable of it, Drupal is. Drupal has a few stellar ecommerce modules like Ecommerce and Ubercart. Both of these modules have an extensive feature list that make it easier to create an ecommerce powerhouse.
12. Tumblr Clone
Creating a social aggregation site with Drupal is easy enough with the excellent Activity Stream module. Activity Steam allows you to pull in user’s activity on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Qik, StumbleUpon and many others.
13. Blogger Clone
If you’re wanting to start a blog host like Blogger or Wordpress.com, Drupal is easily equipped to do that. Drupal has a blog module that comes shipped with the package, and it allows every site member the ability to have a blog.
14. Blog network
Blog networks like Performancing and WiseBread rely on Drupal to power their networks. This requires the use of the built-in blog module. Member’s blog posts all end up on the homepage of the site by default, and you could modify how the member’s blogs looked with the help of the Views module.
15. News Aggregator
I built the LifeRemix network site with Drupal and a single module to aggregate all of our blogger’s posts. The site updates itself without any monitoring from me.
By utilizing the excellent Activity Stream module, it would be quite easy to build a FriendFeed clone. As Drupal already comes shipped with an awesome set of user and profile modules, a quick Friendfeed clone could be made in a matter of hours, depending on your design skills.
Use your imagination! These are by no means the only uses for the popular CMS. I’d love to hear more examples of sites built with Drupal, or possible sites that I’ve left off the list.