1. Meet Your New Best Friend Drupalize.me
Use Drupalize.me to search thousands of helpful videos that uncover the intricacies of Drupal. The amount of content on the site can be overwhelming at first, but don’t worry. There are guides if you’re not sure where to start. An Introduction to Drupal & Build Your First Drupal 7 Site are two I recommend for beginners. The videos within each guide are pretty short, so you can take them at your own pace. Watching introduced me to core concepts of Drupal, such as what a node is and how to use views.
2. Jump in With Both Hands
After you’ve watched a few videos, go ahead and make your first site. It might start out as a simple blog, but will quickly evolve into a complex site once you start adding views with relationships and contextual filters. Add blocks, download new modules, embed videos; go crazy! It’s important to practice along with the videos to contextualize what you’re learning and get a sense for how powerful Drupal is. Have fun with it.
3. What Are Words For?
Drupal’s terminology can be confusing. Entities, nodes, panels, panes, panelizer...ahh!! After you’ve watched a few videos & practiced building a site, start to write down and clarify unfamiliar jargon. I recommend checking out the Drupal glossary. If you can get a clear understanding of these terms and when they’re used, you’re well on your way to building more complicated sites.
4. Open Source Tools Streamline Workflow
Whether you’re working at a Drupal shop or learning on your own, use the resources that help you get up and running right away. Here at Zivtech, we have all kinds of tools that make setting up sites easier, like Fetcher, Bear, and Probo. You could manually set up your database, or you could use Fetcher. You could install a ton of modules and worry about theming, or you could just download Bear. You could stick with a conventional git workflow and check your changes on the local host, change the code, then push to GitHub, or you could just use Probo and preview your changes right away. These tools made it much easier for me to get started as a Junior Dev and a first-time Drupal user.
5. Ask All The Questions
Drupal is supported by a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable community, so reach out when you need help. Come to Drupal meetups, go to a regional camp (Drupaldelphia wink wink), or just sign up on Drupal and post a question in IRC. With over 1,200,000 users on drupal.org, there’s bound to be someone who has an answer.
Fan of Lauren Lewis? You can listen to the same podcasts she loves. Read 3 Developer Podcasts to Hear.