As a follow up to our previous article - 12 Modules You Need to Know About - we've been asked about Drupal modules which are essential to any web design and development project. So, here is a list of the best modules for Drupal 7 that we routinely add to every project we set up. I haven't included modules such as Ctools or Entity in this list, these are nearly always needed as dependencies of other modules so you'll end up with those anyway!
- admin menu
The admin options in Drupal are so wide ranging that you need a good system to navigate them. Of all the different options we find admin menu to be the best, it's simple, clear and gets you to anywhere in one click. Add the Adminimal theme and the adminimal toolbar style and you have a great backend setup.
Once you have your files aggregated and compressed, Authcache will help to speed the whole thing up more by caching the new combinations you have made. Instead of the site querying the database then creating the files, Authcache lets you just serve up the latest editions. This makes the site faster and reduces load on the processor. The other benefit of Authcache is that it works for logged in users as well as anonymous visitors, so it's ideal for e-commerce, community or charity websites.
- Backup & Migrate
As soon as you've started to build your site you will want to have backups of the work you have done. We very often have backups set at hourly intervals during the build process - so if anything goes wrong we can take the site back to the previous hour. We can also go back in time and spin out another version of a site from a week ago and get data from that. An absolutely vital tool.
It's a shame that Drupal 7 doesn't have a good Wysiwig editing system out of the box, it's pretty easy to set up though, install the Wysiwig module, download the library of your choice, add in the IMCE and IMCE Wysiwig bridge modules and you are away.
Anybody developing complex Drupal websites is going to need the Devel module at some point. Whether it's for getting a list of variables or generating dummy content, you'll be glad of it.
Does anybody not use web fonts? This module connects with Google fonts, font Squirrel or fonts.com giving you a good choice of free and paid fonts.
This is one of those modules that does nice things for you without you having to worry too much about it! It basically does some housekeeping of redirects to make sure there are no duplicates or formatting problems. Works out of the box and lets you fine tune it, highly recommended.
- Google Analytics
To keep track of the success of search engine marketing efforts, you need to know about your site visitors and Google Analytics is vital. This module adds the code in an easy, lightweight way.
It's highly likely that SEO is part of your marketing strategy. If it is then you will need this module. Control the meta information in your pages.
- Module Filter
As you add more modules you start to need modules to help you manage them all. If I ever come across a site without this module installed I get very frustrated with the regular list of modules and generally end up installing it.
Sets up automatic aliases to pages based on page titles. This is a key part of any SEO strategy.
- Security Review
Security is a growing concern for anybody on the internet, this module asks a bunch of questions and points you in the direction of solutions. It's not a guarantee of a secure website, but it's a great help.
This is a very useful module which fixes file names of anything you upload to be safe and consistent. You won't notice it is running - but you might notice things are not working quite right if you don't have it.
This is the heart of Drupal, now part of core in Drupal 8 it's a must-have on any Drupal 7 site.
At some point you will need to sort a list of nodes in an order other than alphabetical or date, the weight module gives you the power to do this easily and in a Drupal-friendly way.
Phew! That's a pretty long list, you might not need all of them, but you will definitely need quite a few of them. There are lots of good modules out there and this is just our starting point, if you think we've missed anything vital, leave us a comment!