Author: Stephanie Brooker
Why Drupal? This is one of the many questions I’ve pondered since I started at Stauffer. Why Drupal over Wordpress? Why Drupal at all? So when a potential client asked me those same things, and when I was unable to find more than one or two well written, qualified articles on the subject, I decided to find out on my own. This is the result of several days of on online research and lengthy discussions with the whip-smart Stauffer team on why they choose Drupal.
The Drupal Dance
If you compare your website to a circus, Drupal is no one trick pony. Rather than simply being great at one act in the show, Drupal can carry the entire event. With over 14,000 modules Drupal can help you create: Blogs, forums, e-commerce, CRM, intranets, social networks, news aggregators, wikis, photo galleries, restaurant review sites, and so on. If you can imagine it, Drupal can make it a reality. Sites like Grammy.com and Twitter’s dev site were built with Drupal.
"With a separation between business logic and the presentation layer, Drupal systems can be configured to your unique brand identity while also performing beautifully and powerfully," CEO Chris Stauffer explained. Each aspect of your site can be themed and configured to YOUR vision. If displaying a unique identity to the world is important to you, than Drupal is the right solution. Companies, organizations, and individuals select Drupal because they realize the importance of being unique. They realize that it’s the nuances of THEIR system that makes their brand or business stand apart from the competition.
In a duel of Drupal vs. Wordpress who would win?
It's important to remember that WordPress is primarily a blogging platform. On the other hand, Drupal is a complex content management system (CMS). Wordpress is great for the casual blogger who wants a simple blog site (Like me! But I'm very strongly considering making the switch, especially considering the recent Wordpress security issues). If you need an extremely powerful website with totally unlimited functionality -capabilities for photo gallery, forums, and event calendars for example - with multiuser support, including roles, permissions and workflows, Drupal is the right choice for you. Drupal is known in the web community as a powerful and flexible solution. For unique projects and enterprise level clients, the duel is Drupal’s.
Is there a bigger target than the White House? Whitehouse.gov was built with and is powered by Drupal. Drupal’s dedicated Security team is responsible for identifying reported issues, patching these issues, and notifying the community when there’s something to watch out for. Drupal's core code has been proven to prevent common security problems such as those defined by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). Additionally, the thriving development community has entire forums dedicated to delivering the best security strategies for your system. If the United States Government trusts Drupal, it’s safe to say that you can too.
The Drupal Community
Drupal is an open-source software solution which means that its modules are available to all without the burden of expensive licensing fees. The thing that makes Drupal cutting edge and completely competitive with proprietary solutions is passion vs. money. People create things at Drupal.org, for free, because it’s what they love. According to the Stauffer team, Drupal developers get giddy about building things. They contribute to the community because they WANT to, not because they HAVE to. This matters to you because the community is teeming with engineers and developers who are updating the core of Drupal and integrating with new technologies even before the world cares. When we say that Drupal is on the cutting edge of what’s next in tech, we mean it. There was a Drupal Pinterest module long before Pinterest was cool which meant that when it became relevant Drupal was ready to rock it. There were Facebook connect and responsive design modules, before companies like HBO were kicking off social networking contests and making their sites look great via mobile. Drupal was ready to kick booty before you even knew you needed it too.
Drupal Custom Content Types and Views
The theory here is that you can create NEW, totally non-existent, content types. What does this mean? This means that almost any data structure you dream of is possible with Drupal. Pretend you’re an internationally renowned museum, like the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art. You want to track the data and location of the world’s greatest artwork in any medium. We can and did do that with Drupal! Pretend you’re an organization like Edible Schoolyard that brings healthy cooking to the school setting. You need to make recipes available to schools across the nation in a way that looks and behaves exactly like how you want it to. We can and did do that with Drupal! Pretend you’re a social-network start-up like Hunuku that wants to create private user profiles. Guess what? We can and did do that with Drupal!
What is scalability anyway? According to the all knowing Wikipedia, this concept refers to "the ability of a system, network, or process, to handle a growing amount of work in a capable manner or its ability to be enlarged to accommodate that growth." Drupal sites are especially scalable. They are built to respond effectively, and even beautifully, to high amounts of traffic. Zappos, with revenue over $1 billion, is a Drupal site that receives millions of visitors every day approximately.
Multiple users with Custom Permissions
Drupal has a strong user role and access control functionality. With Drupal, we can create various user roles and access levels based on your site requirements. For example, for Project Lead the Way, an organization dedicated to helping improve STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, we created distinct user types. Users included students, parents, teachers, and school administrators. Each user had unique access capabilities which we configured according to Project Lead the Way’s requirements.
There’s definitely a contortionist in the Drupal circus. From creating simple gallery sites to enterprise solutions for fortune 500 companies, Drupal is flexible. This means that if you start with a simple site, but decide to add features, complexity, or other sites later on, Drupal can keep up. It twists and bends and braces itself to perform for you. And it makes it look so easy!
Drupal has a powerful category system (taxonomy) that allows you to organize and tag content. Each group of categories can be limited to certain content types. You have the same capability as something like Wordpress to tag freely, but you can also customize tagging options by those content types.
With Drupal Commerce you can build an exceptional marketplace. Its range of plugins create a fully functional online store, subscription based system, donation framework for your nonprofit, and any other form of monetization that you think of!
Drupal has a robust file system that handles images. You can upload an image once, and it can be setup to display the image with several different dimensions. You can automatically re-size images, apply watermarks, or apply diverse image styles.
Greatest CMS on Earth?
As you can see, there's a reason Drupal's community is growing rapidly. Developers love it. Enterprise and small business clients love it. As for me? This peak backstage at Drupal is just the beginning. I know there's more to learn and share, and so I'm off to explore Drupal Spark. This hot new act under the Drupal big top provides in-line editing of content so that any piece of copy on your screen can be transformed right then and there! As an avid blogger, writer, and content curator that's about as exciting as it gets. Maybe Drupal IS the greatest content management system on earth.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Why do you think Drupal is the best CMS?