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10 Essential Modules to Start Building Your Drupal Site from Scratch: Toolkit Must-Haves
So, you've installed your version of Drupal and you're now ready to actually start building your website. What essential tools should you keep close at hand, as a site builder? Which are those both flexible and powerful must-have modules to start building your Drupal site from scratch? The ones guaranteeing you a website that:   integrates easily with all the most popular third-party services and apps is interactive and visually-appealing, irrespective of the user's device is a safe place for users to hang on, interact with, shop on, network on... is conveniently easy for content managers and admins to handle   Luckily, there are plenty of modules, themes and plugins to overload your toolbox with: Long gone are the code-centric webmaster's “glory days”! Nowadays, as a Drupal site builder, you have a whole array of tools at your disposal to just start building and getting a Drupal site up and running in no time. Sometimes without the need to write a single line of code! But, let's not beat around the bush any longer and have a close look at these 10 essential modules that you'll need for your “Drupal 8 site building” project:   1. Password Policy Definitely a must-have module: Just consider that Drupal accepts ANY user password, be it a... one-letter password! So, in order to set up your own stricter and safer password policy, you need to install this module here. Then, you can easily define:   the minimal (and maximal) no. of characters that any user password on your Drupal site should include the no. of special characters that it has to include specific restrictions Like: "one can't use his/her email address as his/her password"   2. Comment Notify Why should this module, too, be in your essential toolkit of modules to start building your Drupal site with? Because it implements the functionality to get notified — you, the admin or content manager —  as soon as a user posts a comment on the website. Note: you can get “alerts” about both the logged in and the anonymous visitors' comments.   3. Breakpoints, One of the Must-Have Modules to Start Building Your Drupal Site  It goes without saying that one of the Drupal site building best practices is providing it with a responsive web design. And this is precisely what this module here facilitates: Setting the proper media queries, once you've defined your own breakpoints.   4. Simple Hierarchical Select             A module whose functionality bubbles up to the content manager's experience. Whenever he/she will have to make a selection involving both categories and subcategories, this hierarchical type of selection will prove to be more than useful: Practically, once you/they select the “main” option, a new drop-down menu/widget including the subcategories to select from, pops up, as well. Like in the image here below: 5. EU Cookie Compliance And complying with this EU notification is mandatory.  So, this is why EU Cookie Compliance is another one of the essential modules to start building your Drupal site with: It displays the given notification — providing visitors with the option to agree or/and to read more information about your cookie policy —  in the footer of your website.   6. Shield               Any Drupal site building guide would advise you to install a module that shields your website from anonymous users and search engines when running your test environments. And this is what Shield is built for: To screen your site from the rest of the world —  except for you and the logged in users — when you deploy it in a test environment. A more than convenient method, as compared to manually setting up a .htpasswd and then integrating it with .htaccess.   7. Beauty Tips     If you're not just another Drupal site builder, but a user experience-centric one, you must consider also those modules to build your Drupal site with that boost the level of user interactivity. Like Beauty Tips here. It displays balloon-help style tooltips whenever a user hovers over a certain text or page element on your website. Pretty much like Bootstrap tooltip does.   8. Secure Login           Another one of the Drupal site building best practices is to turn it into a safe place for your users to be.  In short: to protect their privacy. And if you're building a website that's available on both HTTP and HTTPS, the Secure Login module comes in handy as it makes sure that:   the user login form all the other fill-in forms that you'll configure for extra security   … get submitted via HTTPS. It locks them down, enforcing secure authenticated session cookies, so that user passwords and other critical user data don't get exposed all over the internet.   9. Menu Target   It's another one of those essential modules to start building your Drupal site with if you're determined to provide the best user experience there. What does it do? It enables particular visitors on your site — those granted permission to edit and to add new menu items — to choose whether they open menu items in new windows or in the current ones.   10. Persistent Login A module that makes up for the “Remember me” feature that's missing from the user login screen in Drupal: It comes to implement this missing option, one independent from the PHP session settings. So, we're not talking about the conventional, too long “PHP session time” here, but about a more secure and user-friendly “Remember me” feature added to the login form. Furthermore, the module enables you to define some extra security policies, too:   the no. of persistent sessions that a Drupal user can enjoy at the same time specific pages where users still have to log in again after how long the logged-in users will need to re-enter their credentials once again   And 2 “Extra” Modules to Consider When Building Your Drupal Site By “extra” I mean that they're not really essential modules to start building your Drupal site with. Yet, they're the first 2 ones to consider right after you've put together your “survival” toolkit as a site builder:   1. Site Settings & Labels     Take this common scenario: You need to display a social network URL on multiples pages on your Drupal site.  What do you do?   you hard coding this single setting in the source you start building a custom Drupal module for handling this variable you install the Site Settings & Labels module and thus display a checkbox to render page elements through a template conditional   The “c” variant's undoubtedly the winner here.  A win-win for you, in fact:   you save the time you'd otherwise have spent coding you improve the user experience on your Drupal site   2. Slick/Slick Views/Slick Media           It's actually a suite of modules to start building your Drupal site with. One “injecting” the needed functionality so that you can easily set up:   carousels slideshows   … on your freshly built website. Note! I won't lie to you: setting up the library dependencies is not exactly a child's play. Yet, once you've succeeded it, configuring the modules in this suite, right in your Drupal admin, is piece of cake. The END! These are the 10 must-have modules to start building your Drupal site from scratch with. Would you have added some more?  Or maybe you wouldn't have included some of the modules listed here, as you don't consider them “essential”? A penny for your thoughts! ... Read more
RADU SIMILEANU / Jul 20'2018
How to Add Autocomplete to Text Fields in Drupal 8: Defining a Custom Route
Let's say that it's a WhatsApp-like, a decoupled, Drupal 8-backed, real-time chat platform that you're building. One using Node.js. In this case, implementing field autocomplete functionality becomes a must, doesn't it? But how do you add autocomplete to text fields in Drupal 8? Needless to add that such otherwise "basic" functionality — implemented on fields like node reference and user/tags — would instantly:   improve the user experience  increase the level of user interactivity and engagement   Users would group around different "channels" and be able to easily add new members. The auto-complete text fields will make the whole “new member coopting” process conveniently easy: Users would only need to start typing and an array of name suggestions (of the already existing team members) would spring up. But let's see, specifically, what are the steps to take to implement autocomplete functionality in Drupal 8:   1. The Drupal Autocomplete Form Element: Adding Properties to the Text Field The first basic step to take is to define your form element. The one that will enable your app's users, on the front-end, to select from the suggested team members' names. For this:   navigate to “Form” (you'll find it under “Entity”) scroll the menu down to ”NewChannelForm.php”   Note: using “#autocomplete_route_name element”, when defining your form element, will let Drupal know that it should ignore it on the front-end. And now, let's go ahead and assign specific properties to your form's text field! For this:   define “#autocomplete_route_name”, so that the autocomplete JavaScript library uses the route name of callback URL define “#autocomplete_route_parameters”, so that an array of arguments gets passed to autocomplete handler   $form['name'] = array( '#type' => 'textfield', '#autocomplete_route_name' => 'my_module.autocomplete', '#autocomplete_route_parameters' => array('field_name' => 'name', 'count' => 5), ); And this is how you add #autocomplete callback to your fill-in form's text field in Drupal 8! Note: in certain cases — where you have additional data or different response in JSON —  the core-provided routes might just not be enough. Then, you'll need to write an autocomplete callback using the “my_module. autocomplete“ route and the proper arguments (“name” for the field name and “5” as count, let's say). And here's specifically how you write a custom route:   2. Add Autocomplete to Text Fields in Drupal 8: Define a Custom Route How? By simply adding the reference to the route — where data will get retrieved from — to your “my_module.routing.yml file”:   my_module.autocomplete: path: '/my-module-autocomplete/{field_name}/{count}' defaults: _controller: '\Drupal\my_module\Controller\AutocompleteController::handleAutocomplete' _format: json requirements: _access: 'TRUE' Note: remember to use the same names in the curly braces (those that you inserted when you defined your “autocomplete_route_parameters”) when you pass parameters to the controller!   3. Add Controller with Custom Query Parameters In the custom route that you will have defined, you'll have a custom controller AutocompleteController, with the handleAutocomplete method. Well, it's precisely this method that makes sure that the proper data gets collected and properly formatted once served. But let's delve deeper into details and see how precisely we can generate the specific JSON response for our text field element. For this, we'll need to:   set up a AutoCompleteController class file under “my_module>src>Controller > AutocompleteController.php"   then, extend the ControllerBase class and set up our handle method (the one “responsible” for displaying the proper results)   it's the Request object and those arguments already defined in your routing.yml.file (“name” for the field name and “5” for the count, remember?) that will pass for your handler's parameters   the Request object will be the one returning the typed string from URL, whereas the “field_name” and the “count” route parameters will be the ones providing the results array.   Note: once you get to this step here, as you add autocomplete to text fields in Drupal 8, remember that you should be having data in “value” and “label” key-value, as well: Next, you'll set up a new JsonResponse object and pass $results, thus generating a return JsonResponse.   Summing Up That's pretty much all the “hocus pocus” that you need to do to add autocomplete to text fields in Drupal 8. Now the proper data results should be generated. Just reload your app's form page and run a quick test: Try to create a brand new channel in your app and to add some of the already existing team members. Does the text field have autocomplete functionality added to? ... Read more
RADU SIMILEANU / Jul 18'2018
7 Common Mistakes in Interpreting Analytics Data: Statistical Pitfalls for Your UX Team to Avoid
All sorts of highly likely confusions, data taken out of its context, “obsessing over” numbers, approaching analytics with no clear goals in mind, metrics subjected to your own biases... We're all prone to making mistakes when analyzing data. Still, as a UX team striving to pull off an accurate picture of the user behavior, you need to take note of the most common mistakes in interpreting analytics data (UX analytics).  … of the biggest "gaffes" in reading data. Those responsible for all the wrong assumptions about your users that you'll end up making:   that low numbers are always a bad sign that if results show a correlation, there is definitely a causal relationship, as well   ... and so on. Now, allow me to “expose” to you the 7 most common mistakes that one can make when interpreting statistics:   1. Visits and Views: Confusing Them and Obsessing Over Them Using these two notions interchangeably is a pitfall that not only rookie data analysts fall into: With different UX analytics tools using different terminology for the very same concept and (even) confusing terminology used within the same tool, no wonder that you end up taking views for visits and vice versa. And still: make sure you fully understand the terminology, otherwise you risk to:   report on the wrong data put together some dangerously inaccurate reports   This is, no wonder, one of the most common data interpretation errors. Now, let's define views and visits and present them as two different concepts once and for all:   a view (or “pageview”) refers to a view of a page on your website tracked by the analytics tracking code a visit (or “session”) refers to a user's whole of interactions taken on your site, within a specific time frame   And now, speaking of views and visits, another one of the too common mistakes in interpreting analytics data is: Obsessing over views and visits! As a UX designer though, you may want to leave the challenge of increasing visits and page views to the marketing people in your team to handle. And, instead, to focus your efforts on that data that 's relevant to the user experience.   2. Settling for a Birdseye View Instead of Digging Deeper into Data Scratching the surface of the available data:   a quick assessment of the data at hand rapidly going over the “headline”  figures   … will only tell you something about your website's current performance in terms of traffic, but won't give you any clue on how to improve UX. How to increase the conversion rate. In other words: visits are no more than metrics signaling you how many visitors landed on your site during a given period of time, but this metrics won't reveal anything about how they actually engaged with those visited pages. See? Analyzing data as broadly as considering sessions to be the key indicator of performance and UX is another one of those common pitfalls in interpreting statistics: By far the best method of reading analytics data, as a UX-er, is to approach it with some well-defined goals in mind. This way, you'd focus your efforts on specific metrics, relevant for understanding user behavior, instead of getting yourself “drown” in a sea of data.   3. Common Mistakes in Interpreting Analytics Data: Not Looking Beyond Numbers … and not putting them in their contexts. For that's the proper way to interpret them. Otherwise, you're just... analyzing quantitative data stating the obvious: The “what” and not the “why”. This is undoubtedly one of the most common mistakes in interpreting analytics data: falling under the “spell” of numbers! Instead, you'll need to keep in mind that:   it's real users that those collected numbers represent once taken out of their contexts, numbers lack their true value they become truly valuable only when interpreted in connection with the user experience:   What do they tell you about the overall user experience on your website? This is why you should always apply qualitative methods when analyzing quantitative data. User research methods that enable you to go from “what has happened” to: “Why is it that visitors behaved that way on my website?”   4. Always Taking Low Numbers for a Bad Sign Another one of those more than common mistakes in data analysis is: Always thinking that low or a drop in numbers is a bad thing. Context is everything here! Just think of reading data analytics as a three-phase process:   what you want to see in those numbers what the available data seems like what it really means   Let me give you one good example: Less time spent on a web page could be good or bad. If we're talking about your redesigned homepage, it could very well mean that users do find its new design more intuitively efficient. That they can get to the pages on your site that they're interested in far more easily. In other words: do put those drops in numbers against their contexts before you alert everyone in your team that the site's going down the hill!   5. Overlooking to Segment Users For you surely agree that every given visitor uses your website differently:    on desktop  on mobile at different times of the day    And that multiple users interact differently with your site. Need I say more? Don't overlook these valuable considerations on your users' behavior when interpreting your quantitative data. Before you rush to make all the wrong assumptions reading your analytics data, make sure you break those figures down into multiple relevant segments:   mobile users desktop users users from different countries users falling into different age groups and so on   It's user base segmentation that turn quantitative data into... relevant data. And which, most importantly: Provide you with priceless clues regarding the areas on your site that you should be focusing your UX efforts on. Let's just say that your site has a conversion rate of 7%. Before you get overexcited about it, make sure you break that figure down. You might just discover that 9% comes from your desktop users and only 1% from your mobile users. And there you have it, there's your clue! Now you know just where to focus your UX efforts.   6. Not Setting Clear Goals Before Approaching Your Analytics And, as already stated, this could get you “tangled up” in a huge amount of data. But, if you take some time to define your goals first things first, you'll know just what you'll want to achieve from your data analysis session. And to:   direct your UX efforts towards those specific objectives focus exclusively on those metrics relevant for interpreting user behavior   If you don't know where you're heading, how can you know just how to get there; how to improve UX on your website?   7. Settling for a One-Size-Fits-All Reporting Setup Another one of those common mistakes in interpreting analytics data is sticking to a standard reporting setup. That instead of trying to custom-tune it so that it should deliver you precisely the data you need. The one relevant for your own website. Since each site works differently, you can't expect a one-size-fits-all approach to data analytics to perfectly suit them all, in the slightest details, now can you?   So, You've Analyzed Your Data: Now What? For reading your analytics data is just the first step. Now it's time you:   get some actionable takeaways from your analyzed data get to action   Are there usability tests that you need to run to figure out why the conversion rate is higher on your desktop site than on its mobile version? Or maybe you need to implement some user research methods to identify those contexts where users visit your site from their mobile devices? Time to put together your “data-fueled battle plan”! ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jul 12'2018
These Are the 15 Best Drupal Security Modules Worth Installing on Your Website
  I'm a woman of my word, as you can see: here I am now, as promised in my previous post on the most effective ways to secure a Drupal website, ready to run a “magnifying glass” over the best Drupal security modules. To pinpoint their main characteristics and most powerful features and thus to reveal why they've made it to this list. And why you should put them at the top of your own Drupal security checklist. So, shall we dig in?   1.  Login Security   It's only but predictable that since the login page/form is the entry to your Drupal site, it is also the most vulnerable page there, as well. Therefore, secure it! In this respect, what this module enables site admins to do is : define a certain number of login attempts; too many invalid authentication attempts will automatically block that account block/limit access for specific IPs   Moreover, you get notified by email or via Nagios notifications when someone is just username/password guessing or using other kinds of brute force techniques to log into your Drupal site. In short: the Login Security module, through its variety of options that it “spoils” you with, empowers you to set up a custom login policy on your site. To define your own restrictions and exceptions. 2. Drupal Core Update Module     As already mentioned here, on this blog, when we've tackled the topic of Drupal security: Keeping your Drupal core updated is that easily underrated, yet most powerful security measure that you could implement! Now what this module here does is assisting you in keeping your Drupal codebase up to date: safely patched and having all the crucial upgrades. And I don't need to remind you the security risk(s) that all those site owners ignoring the latest patches to Drupal core expose their websites to, right?    3. Captcha   Captcha is one of the best Drupal security modules since it's one of the most used ones. And no wonder: could you imagine submission forms on your website with no Captcha? The age-old system is one of the handiest ways to keep spammers and spambots away. So, having this module “plugged in”, providing you with the needed captcha support, becomes wisely convenient.   4. Password Policy   The module enables you, as your Drupal site's admin, to define specific rules for “wannabe users” to follow when they set up their account passwords. From constraints related to:   special symbols that those passwords should include, to ramp up both the given account's and your own site's security to uppercase letters to numbers...   … once you plug in this Drupal security module in, it's you who gets to set up the policy for creating account passwords.   5. Security Review, One of the Best Drupal Security Modules The Security Review module is that “Swiss knife” that you need for hardening your site's shield. Meaning that it's an all-in-one tool. One that comes with its own Drupal security checklist that it regularly goes through and sets against your website, detecting any missing or improperly implemented security measures. Moreover, it automates a whole series of tests for tracking down any signs of exploits and brute-force attacks:   arbitrary PHP execution XSS exploits SQL injection suspicious PHP or JavaScript activity in content nodes   Once it identifies the vulnerabilities, it “alerts” you and gives you the best recommendations for mitigating those security risks. All you need to do is follow the suggestions.   6. Security Kit Another module that “empowers” you to take full control over the security strategy on your Drupal site. To set up specific options for minimizing the chances of exploitable “cracks” showing up in its security shield: For instance, it could recommend you to set up HTTP headers on your Drupal site.   7. Session Limit     Here's another one of those best Drupal security modules that's also one of the widely used ones. Why is it a must-have on your own Drupal site? Because it enables you to set a limit to the number of simultaneous sessions per user, per role. This way, you trim down the chances of suspicious activity being carried out on your site and eventually leading to brute-force attacks.   8. Automated Logout       Another module that's a must on your Drupal site: It basically enables you, the site admin, to define a policy that would log out users after a specified time period of inactivity.    9. Two Factor Authentication     LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook are just some of the big names that have adopted this user authentication method for security reasons. So, why shouldn't you, too? Especially when you have a dedicated module at hand, Two Factor Authentication, to:   provide you with various methods to select from: pre-generated codes, time-based one-time PINS or passwords, codes sent via SMS etc. give you full freedom in defining that two-factor authentication strategy that suits your site best   The principle is as simple for the user, as it is effective for your website, from a security standpoint: The user gets a security code that he/she'll then need to use for logging into your Drupal site.   10. Coder   A command-line tool, with IDE support, that gives your codebase a deep scan and detects any drift from the coding standards and best practices. Why has it made it to this exclusive list of 15 best Drupal security modules? Cause vulnerabilities might be lurking right in your Drupal code, not necessarily in your users' weak passwords or unpatched core modules. Having a tool at hand that would identify and notify you of all those weak links in your code, where the best practices aren't being followed, is just... convenience at its best.   11. SpamSpan     Another key module to add to your Drupal security checklist.  For you do agree that email addresses are some of hackers' easiest ways to infiltrate into your website, don't you?  Now what this module here does is obfuscate email addresses so that spambots can't collect them. Note: a key strength of SpamSpan is that it uses JavaScript for this process, which enhances accessibility.   12. ACL       “A set of APIs” This is how we could define this module here, which doesn't come with its own UI. Its key role? To enable other Drupal modules on your website to set up a list of users that would get selective access to specific nodes on your site.   13. Paranoia       Why is Paranoia one of the best Drupal security modules? Because it will end your “paranoia” — as its name suggests — that an ill-intentioned user might evaluate arbitrary code on your site. The module practically identifies all those vulnerable areas where a potential attacker could exploit your site's code and blocks them.   14. Content Access         Limiting or blocking access to key content types on your site is no more than a common-sense security measure to take, don't you agree? Therefore, this module here's designed to assist you throughout this process:   as you define detailed permissions on your site: to view/edit/ delete specific content types … by user role and by author    Word of caution: do keep in mind that, since Content Access uses Drupal's node API, you shouldn't enable other modules using the same endpoints on your website!   15. Google Apps Authentication         A module that ramps up not just your site's security, but also its accessibility. Just think about it: Nowadays anyone has at least one Google account. Therefore, “anyone” can easily log into your website using his/her own Google account credentials. Once, of course, you will have installed and turned this Drupal module on. END of the list! These are the 15 best Drupal security modules worth installing on your site.  Scan them through, weigh their key features, set them against your site's specific security needs, and make your selection! If you want to access expert Drupal support for your development projects, contact Optasy. ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jul 04'2018
What Are Some Quick and Easy Ways to Secure Drupal? 7-Step Security Checklist
You have patched your Drupal website, haven't you? If so, then that critical 3-month-old security flaw, Drupalgeddon2, can't get exploited on your site. Even so, with the menace of a cryptocurrency mining attack still lurking around the unpatched websites, you legitimately ask yourself: what are some quick and easy ways to secure Drupal? “Which are the most basic steps to take and the simplest best practices to adopt to harden my Drupal site's security myself?” Now, using keywords such as “security measures”, “quick”, “easy” and “handy”, I've come up with a list of 7 basic steps that any Drupal site owner can (and should) take for locking down his/her website. Here they are, in no particular order:   1. Keep Your Drupal Core and Modules Updated  Not only is this one of the simplest ways to secure Drupal, but one of the most effective ones, as well. Even so more now, with the Drupalgeddon2 Drupal security threat still fresh in our memory, ignoring the regularly released security updates for both Drupal core and its modules is just plain recklessness or... self-sabotage. Keep your Drupal version updated: apply security patches as soon as they get released, avoiding to leave your site exposed and exploitable. As simple as that! And where do you add that this is one of those Drupal security best practices that's the easiest to integrate into your routine. Since to run the latest updates you only need to:   sign in to your Admin panel go to “Manage”  scroll down to “Reports” → “Available Reports” click on “Check manually” if there are any critical security updates that you're advised to run, just click “Update”   This is all it takes for you to: seal any security loopholes in your Drupal core prevent any identified vulnerability from growing into a conveniently easy to access backdoor for hackers to get in   2. Install Drupal Security Modules  Strengthening the shield around your Drupal site with some powerful Drupal security modules is another both handy and effective measure that you, yourself, can easily implement. Luckily, you're definitely not out of options when it comes to good security modules in Drupal. And I'm only going to run a short module inventory here, since I'm already preparing a blog post focused precisely on this topic. Therefore, I promise to delve deep into details about each one of the here-listed modules in my next post:   Secure Login   The Security Review (Drupal 7 only)     Paranoia    Captcha     Two-factor Authentication    Content Access         Security Kit     Password Policy       Automated Logout     Password Strength     Downloading, installing security modules on your Drupal site is both:   quick and simple to do highly effective    And they serve a wide range of purposes, from:   enforcing strong password policies to monitoring DNS changes to locking down your site from security threats to blocking malicious networks to turning on a firewall on your site   As for their selection, it depends greatly on your list of priorities when it comes to improving your site's security. Take some time to weigh and to compare their features.   3. Remove Unused Modules: One of the Easiest Ways to Secure Drupal  Being the “easiest” security measure to implement doesn't make it also “the most popular” among Drupal site owners. Owners who more often than not:   underrate the importance of running a regular module usage audit on their sites ignore the Drupal security threat that an outdated piece of code (or an unused module) could turn itself into, once exploited by an attacker   So, don't be one of those site owners! Are there modules on your site that you no longer use?  That have grown outdated and that are just... lingering there, using your site's resources and risking to grow into an exploitable backdoor for hackers? Identify them and remove them! It won't take more than just a few priceless minutes of your time.   4. Enforce a Strong Password Policy Since it's not just the admin (you do have a smart username and password for logging into your admin dashboard, don't you?) that will log into your Drupal site, but users, too, implementing some strong user-side security measures is a must. In this respect, creating a strong password policy — one that would enforce the creation of complex, “hard-nut-to-crack” type of login credentials — is one the best and the easiest ways to secure Drupal on the user's side. Come up with a policy that defines specific requirements for setting up passwords of high enough entropy (letters, uppercase/lowercase, symbols, different characters combos). And don't hesitate to rely on dedicated Drupal modules for enforcing those requirements defined in your policy:   Password Strength   Secure Login    5. Block Access to All Your Sensitive Files I bet you don't want important folders, core files — upgrade.php., install.php, authorize.php, cron.php —  to be easily accessible to just... anyone, right? So, how about limiting or blocking access to them? And you can easily do that by configuring your .htaccess file —  it's the one containing details of crucial importance regarding your website access and credentials to specific parts and core files on your site: Just specify the IP addresses allowed to access those core folders, files and subdomains. Here's one “enlightening” example: <FilesMatch "(authorize|cron|install|upgrade)\.php"> Order deny, allow deny from all Allow from 127.0.0.1 </FilesMatch> Note! Now speaking of limiting access, don't limit your restrictions to your core folders and files. Remember to restrict/block access to your web server, to your server login details, as well. How? By adding a basic layer of authentication limiting server access and file access usage. Also, do remember to cautiously manage access to certain port numbers that your site/app might be using.   6. Back Up, Back Up, then... Back Up Some More  You can't anticipate brute-force attacks, but you sure can “land back on your feet” if the worst scenario ever happens. And you can only do that if you have a clean and recent backup at hand to just rollback and restore your website. In other words: back up regularly!  And remember to always back up your files and MySQL database before any update that you run on your Drupal code and modules. It is one of those common sense Drupal security best practices that should be included in any basic security checklist! Where do you add that you even have a dedicated Drupal module —  Backup and Migrate — to assist you with this process. Some of the back up “burdens” that this module will take off your shoulders are:   backing up/restoring code and multiple MySQL databases integrating Drush  backing up files directory setting up several backup schedules AES encryption for backups 7. Review All User Roles and Grant the Minimum Permissions Necessary How many user roles are there assigned on your Drupal site? If you don't quite know the answer, then it's obvious: You must give your entire user role system an audit! And to stick to this habit, one of the simplest ways to secure Drupal, after all. Review all the user roles and, most of all, review each one's set of permissions and make sure you trim them down to the minimum necessary for each role.  This way, you'll also limit access to critical files for those users that shouldn't have the permission to download or visualize them. And speaking of permission, do keep in mind to review all your file permissions, as well! See which user roles are granted permission to access key directories or to read, write or modify certain files on your website and block/restrict access where necessary. The END! Of course, this isn't even close to a complete list of ways to secure Drupal. If it had been an exhaustive one, it would have continued with more Drupal security best practices, such as:   getting the SSL Certificate securing HTTP headers using secure connections only   Etc. etc. I've only focused on some of the easiest and quickest measures that anyone, with little, close to no technical know-how at all, can implement. And I feel like stressing out the term “practice” here: Securing your Drupal site is a constant process; a series of persistent efforts and not a one time thing. Remain vigillant and cautious and don't rely on just a one-time, multifaceted security hardening “marathon”.   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 28'2018
My Drupal Site Has Been Hacked: What Do I Do? How Do I Restore It? 10 Steps to Clean It Up
Oops! The worst has happened: your Drupal site has been hacked! Maybe it was precisely one of those critical vulnerabilities, that the Drupal security team has been drawing attention to these last months, that the attacker(s) exploited?  Now what? What to do? Should you be:   rushing to restore your website to a healthy, good-working state (that, of course, if you do have a clean and recent backup available)? starting to rebuild it? investigating how your Drupal site got contaminated in the first place: where's the “open door” that the attackers used to get in? focusing on closing any backdoors that could make new attacks possible?   Now “tormenting” yourself with too many questions simultaneously will only distract you from what should be your main objective: cleaning up your website (and preventing further hacks I should add). So, let's go about it methodically, step by step:   Step 1: Write Down Issues, Steps to Take, Preventive Measures to Apply Keep your cool and go for a methodical approach to crisis management: Just open up a document and start... documenting:   the issues and any suspicious activity that you identify on your site all the steps that your strategy for removing malware and restoring your site should include the preventive security measures you commit to taking for preventing such a scenario from happening again the future   Step 2: Make a Forensic Copy of Your Drupal Site  Before you start running your “investigations” on the attack, on how your Drupal site has been hacked, and way before you get to rebuild anything: Make a forensic copy of all your files, you database and your operating system environment! Note: go with an external storage medium for these copies and store them offsite. As you're scanning through your files, detecting viruses and malware and having them cleaned up, feel free to make new and new “working backups”. And to store them in a different directory (from your regular backup files, I mean). “But why bother? When will these backups turn out particularly useful?”   when you call out to a third party to assist you with the troubleshooting process; these “working” backups will then provide a clear picture of the site before you started “malware detecting” on your own when you try to fix the issues you detect, but instead you make them worse; then, you can easily roll back those changes    Step 3: Scan Your Servers and PC for Malware, Malicious Code Injections, Viruses Before you rush to change all the passwords on your site, pause for a moment to think through your next “move”: What if the attack has been “programmed” so that the attacker should get notified once you change your password(s)? And what if it's precisely your PC or one of your servers that's got infected? Then storing a clean backup of your site precisely there would only make it even more vulnerable. So, how do you prevent that? You give both your PC and your servers a deep scan before making any change. And, thank God, you sure aren't nickel and dimed in anti-malware tools and anti-virus software: AVG, BitDefender, Malwarebytes, ESET, AV-Comparatives etc.   Step 4: Detect & Remove the Backdoors One of the crucial steps to take, once you realize that your Drupal site has been hacked, is to “close” all the backdoors. These could easily turn into hackers' access ticket into your site even after you've removed malware and restored it to its healthy state. But, for closing them you first need to... find them right? So, where to look? Here are a few key places on your site that you should focus your “searches” on:   access logs: while scanning them, be vigilant and look for PHP scrips and POST requests added to directories that have writable access   eCommerce set up: check all the payment methods, shipping addresses, credit card addresses, linked accounts, looking for any suspicious, newly added data   passwords: FTP passwords, admin passwords, control panel passwords   email rules and filters: check that the answers to the security questions are “legitimate”, that messages are being forwarded to correct email addresses etc.   Step 5: Consider Taking Your Site Offline And your decision depends greatly on the nature of your site: If it's a hacked eCommerce Drupal site that we're talking about here, then don't wait even one more minute: take your site down (along with the internal network and servers) and install a placeholder! This way, you'll prevent:   malware from being further distributed spam from being sent to your online store's customers   Note: do keep in mind that taking your site offline will instantly let the attackers know that you've detected the malware that they've “infiltrated” and that you are about to “take action”. If you decide not to take your Drupal site offline at the web server level, ensure that you've got your clean forensic copy at hand before deleting all the sessions. Note: have you detected suspicious changes of the passwords? If so, use this query here for updating them (Drupal 7):   update users set pass = concat('ZZZ', sha(concat(pass, md5(rand())))) As for the users, they can easily use the reset password tool for updating their passwords. Word of caution: mind you don't take "Drupal on maintenance mode” for “offline Drupal". They're 2 completely different things! Once your Drupal site has been hacked, the malware could be of such nature that it allows the attacker to infiltrate as long as the site's online.   Step 6: Notify Your Hosting Provider That Your Drupal Site Has Been Hacked  They should be informed about the breach and about your site being taken offline (if it's the case) immediately. The sooner the better, this way they can:   start scanning their own systems for incursions get ready to assist you with your site recovery and securing process   Step 7: Handle Client Data with Extra Precaution  And these are the specific scenarios where you'll need to take extra precautions when handling client information:   your Drupal site stores client information on the web host … it leverages the data POST method for sending form data via e-mail … it doesn't integrate with a 3rd party payment gateway, but manages the payment processes itself   If one of these 3 scenarios suits your case, then here are some of these extra precautions that you need to make to ensure the private user data doesn't get exposed:   update your SSL certificate re-check all logfiles (have any of the hosted client information been copied, updated or downloaded?) implement AVS (address verification system)  add CVV (card verification value) encrypt connections to back-end services used for sending confidential user data    Step 8: Investigate the Attack: Identify the Source(s) of Infection No matter how much pressure you might find yourself under to get your site back online ASAP, don't let take control over your site's restoring process! Not until you've detected the main source of contamination on your site. The key vulnerability that attackers exploited, the key reason why your Drupal site has been hacked in the first place. That being said, make sure that:   you first audit, on a staging server, that “clean” backup of your site that you're planning to get online; this way, you track down and remove infected files, unauthorized settings, malicious code  you compare pre- and post-hack files, looking for any suspicious changes   Now if you have a clean (and recent) backup at hand for running this comparison, the problem's almost solved. Just use the right tools to compare your files and track down discrepancies. But if you don't have a backup at hand, then there's no other way but to: Manually inspect your files and databases to identify any suspicious changes that have been made. look for any suspicious iframe or JavaScript at the end of the files (if detected, save the code in an external file) look for any sources of “Drupal site hacked redirect”; for links to external URLs   Now, as for the places that you should be running your investigations on, let me give you just a few clues:   .php files, .html files  sessions table  newly modified/created files new/updated user accounts  in writable directories and database    Step 9: Do a Full Restore of Your Site  So, you've noticed that your Drupal site has been hacked, you've assessed all the damage caused, removed malware and even detected the vulnerability that hackers exploited to get in, not it's only but logical to: Try to repair your website, right? Word of caution: never ever run your changes on your production site; instead, fix all detected issues on a staging site. Also, once you've cleaned it all up, remember to run the latest Drupal security updates, as well! Now, getting back to repairing your site, you have 2 options at hand:   you either restore a clean backup, if you know the date and time that your Drupal site has been hacked and you're also 100% sure that none of the system components, other than Drupal, got contaminated or you rebuild your Drupal site    The latter method is, undoubtedly more cumbersome, yet a lot more cautious. Go for it if:   you do not know the precise date and time when your site's got contaminated you do not have a clean (and recent) backup available to restore you've evaluated the damages as being already too widespread     Step 10: Give Your Restored Site a Full Check Before Going Live  Do remember to give your newly recovered site a final audit before getting it back up:   remove all malicious code detected suspicious files unauthorized settings   And, most of all: Close all the backdoors!   Final Word  A pretty long, complex and discouragingly tedious recovery process, don't you think?  So, why wouldn't you avoid all these steps that you need to go through once your Drupal site has been hacked? Why not avoid the risk of finding yourself forced to take your website offsite for... God knows how long, risking to impact your site's reputation and to drive away users/online customers? Don't you find it wiser to:   be prepared instead? opt for ongoing Drupal maintenance and support services? make a habit of regularly backing up your website? keep your system and software up to date (and to install all the recommended patches)? stop underrating the security advisories that the Drupal team makes?   ... Read more
RADU SIMILEANU / Jun 25'2018
What Is the Best Way to Port an Android App to iOs and Vice Versa? 5 Aspects to Consider 
If only there was a... button that you could just press to convert your app to Android or iOS, right? Or if only a quick and easy recompilation process had been enough. Or if the “Let's just make it look similar” approach was your “winning card”... There is no such thing as “easier way” to port an Android app to iOS and vice versa. Instead, there are essential aspects to consider and to adjust your whole app porting process to, meant to stir you in the right direction:   navigation design considerations/UX screen size and resolution  code and essential app architecture differences 3rd party services, frameworks, extensions, and used libraries    And, as you might just guess, the list is incomplete. For it includes other factors, as well, such as device support, customer and business model considerations and so on... To keep your app's architecture intact, while porting your app between Android and iOS — 2 platforms with drastically different UIs and core structures — considering the above-mentioned 5 factors becomes crucial. Therefore, let's detail them, shall we?   But What Does App Porting Actually Mean? Its 4 Key Stages  Let's start with some sort of definition of the whole process: By porting your mobile app you're changing or rewriting its code so that it should work on a different mobile OS than the one that it's been initially developed for. Clear enough? “How long does it take to port an Android app to iOS and vice versa?” you might ask yourself. Usually from 1 to 6 months, but it depends greatly:   on your app's complexity on its core architecture on the entire ecosystem of libraries that it uses, on its design particularities on the business logic behind   Speaking of which, analyzing precisely the driving business logic is as critical as it is underrated by developers who usually stick to: adapting a platform and eventually writing the needed extra code. “And what are the essential steps to take to porting my app?” Glad you asked. Here are the main stages that an effective mobile app porting process should include:   analysis and plan technical assessment the porting itself intensive QA    1st Factor to Consider When You Port an Android App to iOS: Navigation  Navigation is the factor that "miles" sets apart the user behavior on Android phone from the user behavior on iPhones.  Here's why:   Android devices are equipped with 3 different buttons: Home, Back and Multitasking button iPhones only have the home button    Now, imagine tapping a multitasking button as in the Android platform: you can't get away with a simple transfer to iOS. Instead, you'll need to write the proper code for it from scratch. And there's more to navigation and to the way that it is drastically different from one platform to the other. For instance:  Both horizontally and vertically displayed elements on iOS vs vertical elements only, on Android devices. Tip: if you wish your iOS app to look similar to its Android alternative, there's always the handy compromise that you can make of placing in-app tabs in the bottom of the screen.   2nd Factor to Consider: Design Considerations/UX You'll have to reconstruct your app's user interface from scratch to convert it from Android to iOS (or the other way around)! Face it, deal with it and... adapt your “battle plan” to it! There's no way around this: When it comes to UI, Android and iOS are just... worlds apart! Android taps into material design, contrasting Apple's signature flat design. Now here are the key design elements that you should pay special attention to, along with some tips on how to make their porting... smoother:   icons: each platform provides you with its rich icon library dialogs font styles: San Francisco or Helvetica Neue in iOS and Roboto in Android content navigation lists object placement: flat vs hierarchical object placement text alignment: center aligned test in iOS vs left alignment of the text in Android buttons: iOS “favors” flat buttons with shadows, whereas in Android you'll find both flat and floating action buttons   Word of caution: when porting apps to Android or from Android, keep in mind the pixels vs points (pt) difference when it comes to measuring icons and font sizes in the two platforms             3rd Factor to Consider: Screen Size and Resolution  Briefly put: it will be conveniently smoother to port an Android app to iOS than vice versa. Why? Because in Android you have a varied collection of screen sizes and resolutions at hand, whereas in iOS it's significantly lighter. So, if it's an app porting to Android that you're planning, do take into consideration all those screen resolutions that are missing in iOS.   4th Factor to Consider: Your App's Essential Architecture  And here's the right approach to adopt when you port an Android app to iOS (or vice versa) and you're preparing to build its new architecture: Identify the minimum OS version that your ported mobile app should support and set up its architecture accordingly.    5th Factor(s) to Consider: Frameworks, Libraries, Extensions, Code Your current app's “infrastructure” of libraries, extensions, 3rd party services and frameworks play a critical role.  A “too critical role” not to turn it into an essential factor to consider once you decide to port your app to a new OS. Therefore, for each one of the used libraries that's not compatible for cross-platform usage you'll need to find a suitable equivalent. And it goes without saying that this calls for: A proper testing of each given framework and 3rd party library, to know for sure which ones support both OS and which ones don't. The good news is that most of them do support them both, making it smoother for you to duplicate most of your app's basic functionalities when converting it to another OS. Now when it comes to the aspect of code, the fact that the 2 platforms use different programming languages influences greatly the way you should port an Android app to iOS: Kotlin and Java are used for building Android apps, whereas Swift is used to develop iPhone apps. Therefore, you can't get away with simply compiling your app's current code into its new ported version. Note: I know what you might be thinking, that both OS support the C-code instead and so, that you could transfer your codebase to the other platform. Yet, it has already been proven that porting apps to Android from iOS calls for a complete rewriting in a different language. How long would it take you? It depends greatly on your app's feature set, on the used 3rd party libraries, complexity etc.   Final Word  As you can see, once you decide to create a “clone” of your iOs app for the Android platform or vice versa, you'll need to take “recompilation” out of your mind. Porting your app won't be that simple! With the 2 platforms having completely different user interfaces and core structures:   careful planning and in-depth analysis (and yes, I'm thinking business logic here) becomes crucial taking into account all those elements that set these OS worlds apart (interface, navigation...) and adjusting your porting strategy accordingly is the only effective way to port an Android app to iOS or vice versa ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 21'2018
How to Fix a Hacked WordPress Site: A Step-by-Step Guide on Identifying and Removing Malware
“Mysterious” pop-ups that you did not initiate, inexplicable auto-linking keywords, frequent freezing of your website... These are all but clear signs that your WordPress site has been hacked! Now what? Where should you look for the “infection”? Here's a step-by-step guide on how to fix a hacked WordPress site. And it goes without saying that the very first step to take is to: Keep calm! Next, you'll need to figure out how precisely that malicious individual has found his/her way into your site. What security vulnerability has he detected and exploited? Once you've determined how your WordPress website's got hacked, figuring out how to remove the malware is already a half-solved problem. So, let's dig in before this hypothetical infection has spread out throughout your entire website:   Step 1: Identify the Hacked Files (and Change Your Password) Remember what we've already agreed upon, that the very first step to take is precisely not to panic? So, while keeping your cool, start your “investigations” by asking yourself 3 key questions  — this, of course, after you've already asked yourself “How to remove malware from my WordPress site?”:   Are you able to access your admin panel? Is your site already marked as insecure (by Google)? Is your site redirecting automatically to another website once you log yourself in?   At this point, I also strongly recommend that you changed your password, as well. And this before you jump to the next step of your investigation. Note: remember to change it again after you've cleaned up your website, as well.   1.1. Give Your Site a Thorough Scan Using a Security Tool/Plugin And I do think that it never gets redundant for me to stress out: Turning on a powerful WordPress security plugin on your website is one of the best shields that you could activate around it. In case of an emergency situation, like this one here, you'd simply enable it to scan your site remotely and track down malware locations and malicious payloads and, most of all: A good security plugin would identify and alert you, in real-time, of all the changes made to your website. Note: everyone knows it, yet most website owners stubbornly ignore the importance of keeping their loads of WordPress themes and plugins updated regularly. They just overlook the fact that out-of-date files are by far hackers' “top favorite” security vulnerabilities.    1.2. Check Whether Your Core Files Have Been Compromised And since they're by far the most valuable files on your site, it's only normal to check their integrity first things first:   wp-includes root folders wp-admin   Most of these core files should never ever be modified. And there are 2 ways of checking them:   you either use the diff command in your terminal or you check them manually, via SFTP   If they're unchanged and therefore clean, move on to the next step of this “how to fix a hacked WordPress site” guide:   1.3. Check the Integrity of the Recently Modified Files It may also be that precisely the recently modified files on your WordPress site are the “corrupted” ones. To know for sure, identify the files that have been recently modified. And again, you have 2 options at hand for this type of “investigation”:   the manual check running the right commands in your Linux terminal   For manually identifying these newly changed files that might have been hacked just go through these steps here:   log into your server (use the SSH terminal or an FTP client) if it's SSH that you're using, then it's this command that will automatically list all the files that got modified the last 15 days: $ find ./ -type f -mtime -15 if it's SFTP that you're using, just scan through the last modified date column for all files on your server … detect any files that recent changes have been made to   Now for tracking down these possibly “infected” recently modified files using the terminal, just follow these 2 simple steps:   run this command in your terminal: $ find /etc -type f -printf '%TY-%Tm-%Td %TT %p\n' | sort -r  next, if you want to identify the directory files, enter this command: $ find /etc -printf '%TY-%Tm-%Td %TT %p\n' | sort -r    Are there any unexplainable changes made to those files in the last 7-30 days?   1.4. Check the Diagnostic Pages  A conveniently handy way to remove a virus from your WordPress website is to “track it down” using Google's or another website security authority's tool to give your site a deep scan with. Has yours already been blacklisted by one of these authorities? Then simply run the Google Transparency Report:   go to Safe Browsing Site Status website enter your website's URL there check both the Site Safety Details and the Testing Details sections    It's a quick and easy way to collect valuable information about any suspicious downloads, redirects, and spams on your site, as well as priceless data about Google's recent scan that ended in malware being detected. Note: another way of identifying malware that's within your reach is by using a free webmaster tool — Google Webmasters Central, Norton SafeWeb, Bing Webmaster Tools etc.   Step 2: How to Fix a Hacked WordPress Site: Removing the Detected Malware After all your preliminary investigations, you should put together your battle plan for actually removing the identified hack from your WordPress site. And for restoring it to its pre-hack clean state, too, obviously. For this, here are the most effective measures at hand for you to apply:   2.1. Is a Clean Backup Available? Use It to Compare Pre-Hack to Post-Hack Files Is there any need for me to stress out that: You should back up your website on a daily basis! And the very situation that you're in now is by far one of the strongest reasons to do that: “How to fix a hacked WordPress site” will get reduced to: “simply comparing a clean backup to the current hacked version of your site!" Identify the files that have been modified and get them removed. It goes without saying that you risk losing some of your files —  those added/updated after the last backup — but you do want a clean website now, don't you? 2.2. Remove the Identified Infected Files from Your Website Once you've restored your WordPress backup, you can easily remove any suspicious plugin, theme or other types of file. Note: do handle core files with utmost caution, though! Mind you don't accidentally overwrite your wp-content folder or your wp-config.php file. When it comes to infected custom files, you could replace them with a clean recent backup or with fresh new copies. “But how do I remove “malicious” code manually?” you might ask yourself. Let me go briefly through all the key steps required:   log into your server (via SSH or SFTP) back up your website track down the recently modified files replace any suspicious files with copies from the WordPress repository use a text editor for opening up any custom files there and remove any suspicious code that you'll detect  test your newly cleaned up website   Word of caution: manually removing a malware infection from your WordPress site does call for special safety measures. Never remove corrupted code without first backing everything up!   2.3. Remove All Malware Infections from Your Database Tables, as Well  Now, you do agree that a “how to fix a hacked WordPress site” tutorial couldn't possibly skip the step where database tables get cleaned up of any malware infection. Here's how you do it:   connect to your database using your database admin panel create a backup of your database give it a deep scan looking for any suspicious content  if detected, open the table containing that specific link or spammy keywords manually remove that infected piece of content give your website a “post database clean up” test remove any tools that you might have used specifically for this operation —  Adminer or maybe Search-Replace-DB   2.4. Check All The User Permissions: Look for New, Unfamiliar User Accounts My advice to you, when it comes to user accounts, to user roles and permissions on your WordPress site is to: Keep just one single admin user and stick to the essential user roles (and granted permissions): author editor contributor  etc.   This is one of the most effective prevention measures that you could take so you don't end up asking yourself “How to clean up a hacked WordPress site?” Now, coming back to our investigation here, here's how you remove all the unfamiliar WordPress user accounts from your website:   first, back up both your site and your database log into your admin panel and click the “Users” tab track down any unfamiliar new user accounts there, hover over them and delete them   Note: another wise thing to do is to re-check each user's roles and permissions. If you feel like updating them, simply use the users' role editor plugin.   2.5. Detect and “Close” all the Backdoors And you want to treat this aspect with maximum seriousness. Otherwise, following each and every step indicated to you in this “how to fix a hacked WordPress site” tutorial becomes... pointless. For the attackers would always have this “secret passage” to infiltrate themselves into your website over and over again. “But what are backdoors more precisely?” you might ask yourself. They're files similar to your site's core files — wp-config.php and key directories such as /uploads, /themes, /plugins —  yet strategically placed in the wrong directories.  Here are some PHP functions that you could recognize them by:   str_rot13 assert base64 move_uploaded_file eval system stripslashes gzuncompress   Word of caution: keep in mind that there are plugins on your WordPress website that could be legitimately be using these PHP functions; therefore, make sure you test all those "apparently suspicious changes" before rushing to remove the so-called "malicious" functions. Otherwise, by removing benign functions, you might just break your website.   2.6. Request a Review of Your Site, to Have all Malware Warnings Removed Now, once you've repaired all the damage caused on your Wordpress site, it's only but logical to... let the blacklisting authorities know that your site's clean now. For this, you can just request a review of your recovered website.   2.7. Change Your WordPress Salt Keys  The very last step to take in this “How to fix a hacked WordPress site” process is to change the security keys from your wp-config.php file: This way, even if a potential attacker stole your password, he would get automatically auto-logged out once you've changed your WordPress salt keys. Next, you can just change your password, as well as the ones of other users on your site.   Or, Just Cut All These Steps Down to a Single One: Preventive Maintenance Which means adopting a WordPress maintenance and support plan tailored just for you and your specific security feature needs. This way, not only that you'd save the time (and spare your nerves) that you'd otherwise invest in carrying out all the steps included in a tedious “how to fix a hacked WordPress site” process, but: From running regular updates to on-going maintenance of your website's core components to regular security audits, you wouldn't need to... move a single finger. Our WordPress maintenance and support team would handle it for you. “Prevention is better than cure” is so much more than just a saying... ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 19'2018
What Does It Take to Develop a Mobile-First Content Strategy for Your Drupal Website?
There's no way around it, not anymore: with Google's index now mobile-first, adopting a mobile-first approach when building a new Drupal site (or redesigning a legacy one) is… a must! It no longer depends on a specific project's needs or on the used technology. The need to develop a mobile-first content strategy has gone from particular to universal. And facing the challenge of:   (re)creating optimizing structuring   … content on your Drupal website means conforming to those specific patterns that mobile users have developed for reading content on their smartphones. In short: developing a fully responsive Drupal site comes down to centering your mobile content strategy around the idea that: It's for the smallest screen sizes that you should plan your content for, first things first … then scale it up from there. Now, let's see precisely what it takes to develop a mobile-first content strategy. What focus points and must-have components to include:   1. Take the Smallest Screen Size as the Starting Point In other words: think mobile-first! And by “mobile” I do mean “smartphones” — the smaller the screen size, the better.  This way, you'll be adjusting your content so that it makes the most of the smallest interface. Starting “small” is the best way to stick to the “keep it simple” approach: Thinking through every content-related decision in the light of the viewport size challenge will constrain you to keep the truly essential content elements only. Hence, this “spartan” way of eliminating the unnecessary will reflect on your site's desktop design, as well:  It will turn out cleaner and lighter.   2. Use Visual Content Wisely: Weigh Your Choices of Images  The golden rule when it comes to the imagery that you'll use on your responsive website is: If an image doesn't enhance and complement your content, then you're better off without it! And I know what you must be thinking: “But people remember what they see far more easily than what they read.” True, you need to keep in mind that visuals do come at a cost, though: Those stunning, visually-arresting images on your website risk to divert your users' attention from the message itself. And still, probably the most heavy-weighing reason why you should use images wisely when you develop a mobile-first content strategy is: weigh. Visuals risk to take up valuable screen space and thus:   outshine your calls to action themselves impact your site's overall performance (leading to frustration)   Now that doesn't mean that you should strip your content off ALL the visuals! Absolutely not! Just to be cautious and weigh your every choice, think through your every decision involving the usage of an image.  Once you've selected the truly essential ones, keep in mind:   not to no resize them (or optimize them in any other way) before uploading them to your CMS: let Drupal do the heavy-lifting here  to leverage the Responsive Image module's (Drupal 8) capabilities for resizing them to fit the given screen sizes   3. Content Before Design This is the right sequence to follow when you're designing (or re-designing) your Drupal site with mobile users in mind: First, you create and strategically organize your content and upload it to your Drupal 8 CMS. It's only then that you focus on styling and developing a responsive and visually-striking web design. If it's legacy content that you're dealing with, trying to convert it to mobile, the very first step to take when you develop a mobile-first content strategy is: Removing all the design elements from your written content.   4. Create a Hierarchy of Your Calls to Action Making the most of a small interface means also setting your priorities in terms of calls to action: Pair each one with a corresponding objective, evaluate them all wisely, then select THE call to action that's most critical for you and place it — and it alone — above the fold.   5. Organize and Optimize Your Content for Mobile Devices I'll briefly list all the key requirements that mobile-friendly content should meet — aspects to pay attention to when writing content for mobile devices — for I'm sure they're nothing new to you: the phrases should be kept short and concise, thus eliminating the burden of “never-ending-scrolling” the content should be sharp, targeted and skimmable, so users can easily “digest” it and modular, so that users can swiftly browse through it “modular” meaning made either of multiple clear paragraphs — each one standing for one thought — or chunks of 3 paragraphs at most    6. Optimize Media, too, When You Develop a Mobile-First Content Strategy And there are a couple of essential steps that you mustn't overlook when it comes to mobile-optimizing your media:   always go for thumbnails instead of video players that your users would have to load and thus strain on your site's valuable resources don't ever use autoplay on your audio and video content  optimize your sound, image and video files both for large and small devices   7. Trim Down Your Navigation Menu In other words: when you develop a mobile-first content strategy, consider simplifying your navigation to its truly essential links. No user would gladly scan through a “beefy” navigation menu taking his device's entire screen:   flatten your navigation: stay away from the technique of piling up submenus, layers and navigation points feel free to place the links that you'll remove on other places on your website (or even to turn them into calls to action)   8. Convert Your Legacy Content to Mobile-Friendly Content  If it's a legacy Drupal website that you need to restructure and to adapt to your mobile users' specific patterns for browsing through and consuming content on their smartphones, then it's time you:   dug into your static HTML … and cleaned it up   And by “cleaning it up” I do mean:   removing inline media removing the fixed-width tables eliminating floats with content  breaking it down into skimmable chunks of content   … that can be easily structured into content fields. The END! These are the 8 main aspects to focus on when you develop a mobile-first content strategy.  Now time to test the “saying” that: “Creativity strives under constraints.” … and to make the most of those small interfaces. ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 11'2018