How to Make Drupal Admin Simpler

The default site administration interface for Drupal is complicated. Drupal is designed to be developer and enterprise-oriented, and requires a longer learning curve from both users and admins. While out-of-the-box Drupal can be intimidating, there are many contributed modules that provide options for friendlier administration. Whether you’re delivering a Drupal website to a client or giving a less technical colleague admin access, here are some modules worth investigating.

• Admin Menu: A better administration menu
Some Drupal admins claim that the fastest way to get around in Drupal is by typing the URLs, so start by making the admin interface easier to navigate. 

With more than 481,000 sites using Admin Menu, this is the one many Drupal developers and admins install as soon as a site gets deployed. It’s well-documented and easy to install. Drop-down menus make navigation much easier by allowing you to drill down into the admin menu structure. You will need to disable the core toolbar menu after installing this module. (Related article: A High Level Look at How Drupal Works)

Rubik, with more than 17,000 users is popular with sites that use the Tao theme base. With icons and sidebars, some users may find this a more intuitive interface. 

Module Filter: A shorter modules list
Or at least, a list that looks shorter because it’s better organized. The modules list page can get pretty daunting, especially when you need to find a module quickly and it’s hidden in a long list. Module Filter is a favourite, with more than 267,729 sites using it. Module adds a search field and tabs that organize by their package, and lists modules alphabetically. Yes, Module Filter will be brought into the Drupal 8 core, proof of its usefulness. While you’re waiting for the official release of Drupal 8, use this module.

• Login Destination: Login to a useful page
When a user logs in, by default he logs in to his profile page. This can be disorienting to users who only need to perform certain, specific tasks. Login Destination lets you change this, so that each user can log and be redirected automatically to a different page. If you limit a user’s role, make it more convenient by sending him to a page relevant to his tasks. 

• IMCE-based modules: Upload and organize
You probably have WYSIWYG and CKeditor installed already for easier content editing. Take the next step and install IMCE, IMCE Crop, IMCE for FileField, and IMCE Mkdir. Together they offer file browser and upload capabilities, with custom cropping on image uploads, and standalone file uploads via the IMCE file browser. IMCE Mkdir is especially useful, allowing users to create and manage sub-directories for organizing images and files.   

Keep it clean
You may have remarked by now how many Drupal modules for easier admin try to simplify navigation, viewing, and organizing. It’s worth noting that before you even install and modules, you can make a big difference just by cleaning up your Drupal environment.

Reduce the number of entries in the admin menu by clearing out any modules you don’t actually use. Once the site is in production, uninstall or at least disable anything that isn’t actively required. There are modules that are only useful on the development or staging server.

You can also simplify by setting up roles that are specific to the users who need to do a small range of tasks. Configure the bare minimum of permissions for each role. This also cuts down on the number of entries in the admin menu.

Identify admin style
Drupal sites can be managed efficiently if they are designed to accommodate the organization’s admin style. As part of every Drupal design and development project, we assess the users who will be managing the webserver and website content. There could be senior administrators, junior administrators, senior editors and content creators, with workflow defined by rules and restrictions. 

An organization’s administration style needs to be reflected in its website’s configuration, tools and modules, roles, and even taxonomy. If you have questions about how your existing Drupal site or a new website could be managed more efficiently, contact us