Drupal: Advantages and Disadvantages of Choosing Drupal as Your CMS Solution

Written by Robin WildingFebruary 7, 2011

The name Drupal was adjusted from the Dutch word ‘druppel’, or water droplet, and was named accidentally by Dutch creator Dries Buytaert when he misspelled the Dutch word for village ‘dorp’ while checking a domain name. Upon further consideration Buytaert thought his misspelling of Drupal simply sounded better, and kept it—giving us the name Drupal. Since its initial inception as a message board Drupal has come a long way as the accidentalness stopped there.

Drupal has since developed into one of the most complex open-source content management systems (CMS) on the market and is represented by an array of top notch sites, including: The Economist, Examiner.com, The White House, Popular Science, Harvard, MIT, Ubuntu, Sony Music and more. Drupal now displays contents in 182 languages by over 538,813 people in 228 countries.

For those of us new to CMS tools, Drupal is essentially WordPress—on a three-day speed binge. Drupal uses a very sophisticated programming interface that has a tough learning curve and is considered more of a developing platform than simple CMS tool.  The system has in-depth reporting generating tools for advanced admins. While no programming skills are technically required for basic use, the system is generally used by more advanced developers and administrators. Basic users usually go with the more basic CMS platform WordPress, although they can create basic sites simply using Drupal.

Beginners to advanced users gather virtually in Drupal communities, increasing their commitment to the system and their knowledge base.

While Drupal is a great CMS, for some it can be too much. Consider the advantages and disadvantages to using Drupal as your CMS:

Advantages:

All the Basic Features you need:
Drupal Core is their standard release of features, which includes: user account registration and maintenance, RSS-Feeds, menu management, system administration and page layout customization. These basic features can be used to create simple sites, single or multi user blogs, brochureware, forums, community websites and more.

Great Building Tools and Templates
Drupal offers you the basic building blocks of websites in a module-styled format where content and rules can be created quickly. Through the use of templates and themes there is no need to start from scratch—no matter if you are building a simple or complex site. Pre-defined configurations of site features help users build fairly complex sites rapidly, allowing them to use their time to build in extra features.

Flexible Yet Robust Content Creation
Drupal’s bread and butter is in its content creation. Drupal allows its users the flexibility to create and manage different content types including: video, polls, user management, text, blog, podcasts, real-time stats, and revision controls.

Advanced Administrator Controls
Administrators have the options of setting up new user accounts and user permissions. These permissions can be designated per role or group and offer fine-tooth comb-style, allowing users to help create your content for you. Drupal’s new release of version 7 allows for easier administration and greater controls. 

Create Your Own Dynamic Designs
While Drupal offers themes and templates that are easily recognizable to the public many users like to use its design tools to create their own dynamic designs. The system’s presentation layers allows for easily usable and interactive experiences.

Organize Content Easily
One of the difficult parts of many CMS tools is the ability organize your content for later use and recall. Drupal allows you to categorize your content through path urls, create custom lists, associate content and create defaults. This structure helps you to organize, structure, search, find and reuse content.

More Plugins than you can Shake a Stick at
Drupal has over 7,000 plugins and extensions available to boost your building capacities. As the program is open source you can both use plugins and create your own, adding to the abilities of the Drupal platform.  

Allow your Users to Collaborate with you
Drupal is commonly mistaken for a blogging platform due to its incredible ability to publish socially. Drupal-based sites engage users to contribute while giving the administrator the ability to create, view, publish, administer and otherwise control the social content published to the site.

Tools that make it Easy to Connect with your Audience
The most important part of a site is connecting it to users, other sites, social networks, and search engines-- and Drupal makes this simple. Through increased network integration, feeds, search engine optimization tools, aggregation and other connecting tools, Drupal helps connect you to your viewers.

Disadvantages:

Usability
Drupal is not the most user-friendly platform and it has a high learning curve. Platforms like WordPress and Joomla are significantly easier to use, although they don’t offer the power and options that Drupal does. The good news though is that the new release of Drupal 7 is addressing some of the usability concerns and should be an easier adaptation for newer administrators.

Backwards Compatibility
Drupal is a relatively new system and is not backwards compatible with other software so if you have other content, systems and programs in place that you have become accustomed to then Drupal might not be the system for you.

Performance
In terms of loading and scalability Drupal is one stroke behind that of WordPress. The slow loading is simply because of the breadth of tools and capabilities. If you have a slower computer, or are simply a microwave generation kid and need things to work quickly then consider a zippier platform. Advanced users have however found ways around its problematic performance indicators, but with the big learning curve this takes a significant amount of time.

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