Free Drupal Themes wrap-up

I'm writing this page mainly as a way to not have to type it all in any more.  I do/have-done a fair number of free websites for various groups and causes.  I've done some paid sites as well.  Often I find myself walking someone thru what a theme is and how I can bust them out a simple site quick if they choose to use a free theme.  The rest of this page is that discussion. 

This page discusses a Drupal website, specifically the visual design (or template) of the site.  This is known as the "theme" in Drupal speak.

Drupal is a "Content Management System" -- a system that allows people to modify the website by using the website.  Generally, a user will log in and then add and update pages, and update the operation of the site.  Drupal makes this fairly easy.  Drupal has a modular design which is used by many community contributions that have been created for the Drupal system.  These contributions provide with enormous power to make a high-functioning website.

A Drupal website be broken down into three things: 

  1. the 'content' -- This is the pages and stories you add to the site (including any images, etc.)  The content is the most important part of any website trying to convey information.
  2. the 'theme' -- The theme is the template / the visual design of the site.  This includes things like: the site's color scheme, where any menus appear on the page, if the page has any sidebars and how they render.  (The contents of those sidebars is 'content' however.)
  3. the 'configuration' -- Configuration is the setup of the site itself -- like who gets emailed when someone fills out the contact form, the extra fields associated with a record type (e.g. "byline" on newspaper article references.)  This also includes the contributed plug-in modules that are installed into the site (and the configuration of those modules).

This article talks about #2 -- the theme.  

A Drupal Theme is a visual design that can be loaded onto a site using Drupal's modular design.  Once installed onto a site, the theme can be activated which causes the site to be rendered (drawn/displayed the ) in whatever visual design for which the theme was created.  The important thing to remember is that the theme is modular -- it can be un-plugged and replaced with another just by adjusting the site's configuration.  (There are lots of caveats, of course; but generally this is true.)

It's easiest to see this by example:

  • Head to http://themegarden.org/ -- a collection of free themes.  (I list this and other sites later.)
  • Notice the text on the site -- the content.
  • Repeatedly click the 'Random Theme' link to view the site with different themes.  (The link will move around the page depending on the theme -- just search for it.)
  • Notice that with each new theme, the content is the same -- it's just drawn with a different theme.

There are lots of free themes you one can use.

By choosing a free theme, one can get a website up quickly and get going with the content.  A custom visual design can be encoded as a Drupal theme, but it takes time and skill.  It can also be done while a website is live (or during content building).

Following are some websites you can look at while searching for free Drupal themes.  You can also search the Internet for "free drupal themes"

These sites have free templates, but not free Drupal themes:  (It takes a skilled Drupaler up to a day's work to turn one into a Drupal theme.)

Summary:

A Drupal "theme" controls the visual display of the "content".

There exist may free website designs ("Themes") for Drupal that have been contributed by community designers & developers.

Using a free Drupal theme will allow you to get your website up quickly.

 

Free Tag: