I'm coming from WordPress CMS and right now (to be honest) I'm a bit overwhelmed by the (seemingly) complex Drupal theming/content management system.

I have a website with the following pages (I've simplified it a bit but that shouldn't be a problem):

  • Home (contains 3 containers with text/lists that should be editable through the CMS)
  • About (editable text)
  • Jobs (lists all available job offers, also editable)

I want to start my theme from scratch. I have my html.tpl.php where I have title and meta stuff; then I have the page.tpl.php with my layout. That layout is the same for every one of my pages; the only thing that changes is the content inside my content-div.

How and where do I code the structure for my "Home" page? Is every editable text container a region to which I assign a block I created? Is my "Home" page basically a node whose code should be in a extra node--[home].tpl.php file?

I googled a lot, but I couldn't find good instructions on starting a theme from scratch. All the tutorials I found only changed some basic things in a theme or did sub-theming but there was nothing that could show me how to structure my site.

Maybe someone can help me or point me to a good tutorial; coming from a WordPress background i'm very confused right now.

2 Answers 2


It sounds like most of the things that you need to do (i.e. creating and placing content on the site) are not related to a theme, but rather related to site building. Folks coming over from Wordpress are usually confused by the split between theming and site building in Drupal, it's very different from Wordpress.

I would strongly recommend reading Drupal's Site Structure Guide. Your homepage and "about" page will most likely be a combination of node content and blocks, while your "jobs" page will involve creating a custom content type and a Views page listing the nodes of that content type.

The majority of your work to set up the content of the site and it's output can happen before you even begin theming. Theming is usually a later step in site building and should be considered a very superficial aspect of building the site. There are few situations where you would need custom templates for each page or node type, most of the arrangement of content and even layout can be handled via the Drupal UI.

Once you complete the site build in Drupal and move on to theming, the Drupal Theming Guide will be your starting resource for learning how the Drupal theme layer works.

  • +1 for this answer. I don't think the question is so much about themes but about content. Also have a look at Panels once you've got your head around views :)
    – Malks
    Commented Mar 14, 2012 at 22:33
  • It sounds like the site in question is simple enough that the OP shouldn't have a need for Panels, but it is a very handy tool for managing multiple layouts within large/complex Drupal sites.
    – sheena_d
    Commented Mar 14, 2012 at 23:15

I would strongly recommend not starting from scratch, especially if you haven't used Drupal before. Instead look for a starter theme that suites your needs and go from there. At the very least grab a starter theme and use that as a guideline for how to start your own.

Zen is one of the most popular and is extensively documented (maybe a little too much), some other ones such as Basic or Clean are a little more sparse and might suit your needs better.

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