Why I ditched Drupal and came home to WordPress

Drupal LogoSorry Drupal, but it’s time we broke up. I’d like to say it’s not you, it’s me, but that would be lying. I’ve left you for the warm, comfortable, welcoming embrace of WordPress.

This blog has been running on Drupal since January 2007. I started it out on Drupal 5, and systematically upgraded through versions 6 and 7. As a content management system, I was intrigued by the possibility of having different content types on one site and theming them as I saw fit with a combination of Views and CSS.

At the time, I genuinely felt that Drupal was an up-and-coming content management system. Its modularity seemed to have infinite possibilities and appealed to the site builder in me. However, over time the flaws in the system started to become apparent. Here are a few things that left me cold:

  • Third party modules: With each major new version of Drupal, it would take an age for many of the popular third party modules to be updated. The lag in this department made it difficult to keep the core CMS up-to-date, which was massively frustrating. And don’t get me started on some of the modules whose developers simply abandoned, leaving many users high and dry.
  • No default WYSIWYG editor: Coming from WordPress, this always struck me as a strange decision. Drupal didn’t come bundled with a default WYSIWYG editor, the logic being that it would remain interoperable with as many as possible to give users a wider range of choices. Fair enough, but WordPress manages to use a standard editor that supports keyboard shortcuts and customisation and means that a WordPress interface is familiar and comfortable no matter what site you’re working on.
  • No built-in media management: This may have changed with Drupal 8, I can’t say for sure. But Drupal – when I first installed it – had no support for image uploads or any media management whatsoever. In WordPress, you can hit the media library and reuse images you’ve already uploaded. You can easily edit meta data and insert content according to your needs. And they make it incredibly easy to embed YouTube videos – just paste in the URL and it’ll handle the conversion process.
  • Writing became a chore: If you look at the content I’ve posted on this blog, you’ll see that I’ve posted very little in the last couple of years. One of the main reasons for this is that publishing with Drupal is an awful experience. For a start, you spend more time tinkering with the build than actually creating content. The issues like media management, difficulty of inserting media into posts and formatting your content are just too time consuming. Whereas, with WordPress, I can fire up the editor and be drafting away, dropping in images and videos, having my content autosaved and using the pre-existing taxonomies, etc. It’s just seamless and the CMS doesn’t get in the way of writing in the same way that Drupal does.

Oh, and I can even see a word count as I type.

Look, this isn’t meant to bash Drupal. It’s a fine system, and there are some remarkable, dedicated people behind it. But it’s just too clunky for me. And I have different objectives now and much less time to spend fiddling with a CMS. But I’m still boggled by some of the decisions that have gone into that system – they’ve tried too hard to keep it open and like the LEGO kit of content management systems. Fine if you like tinkering, but not conducive to writing good content.

Onward with WordPress

WordPress logoIn order to migrate to WordPress, I grabbed my Drupal 7 database and dumped it onto my MacBook’s local MAMP server. After a couple of attempts, I was able to migrate the data across to WordPress. There was a little bit of data ‘massaging’ required to get everything just right, but the process actually went rather well. I’d hate to have to migrate a larger site though!

Once I’d tidied up the data using WordPress locally, I exported the data as WXR and imported it into a multisite WordPress install I keep for my older/abandoned websites. I’ve re-uploaded all my image data, and also redirected the links to my most popular posts. Everything’s working beautifully, and the site immediately benefitted from the caching the multisite install of W3 Total Cache offers.

I feel like I can finally start writing on this blog again. I’ve had ideas for articles I’ve wanted to share here for a long time, so you may be seeing more things appear here in the next few weeks. For the moment, I’m running with the stock Twenty Thirteen theme, which is nicely mobile optimised, but maybe I’ll do some theme development of my own soon.

It’s also highly possible that I’ll migrate a few other sites across to WordPress from Drupal.

About gerardmcgarry

Gerard is a web designer, blogger and web publisher. He's one of the founders of the enormously popular UK reality TV blog, Unreality TV and is currently developing its sister site Unreality TV USA.

6 comments

  1. I am not completely sure why you moved away, but I still believe Drupal is the best. Probably because people prefer WP for blogs, doesn’t mean its good for all kinda websites.

  2. Actually It depends on your requirement. Someone wants functionality
    which are not available in Drupal then they can go with WordPress. But
    as far as I know WordPress is the best CMS for me. Because you will have
    so many ready made plugins, Very user friendly and easy Admin Panel. So
    it is really very good for every site owner to manage website.

  3. You could just install CKeditor + IMCE and Drupal would be as comfortable as wordpress for writing. Or why don’t you just grab a distribution bundled with a WYSIWYG editor. I don’t know what happens when you need the Rules module in wordpress. Maybe you like to buy plugins.

  4. Gerard,
    Now, after spending some time in WordPress…is it that green and blooming in WordPress space or there is some challenges that you miss from Drupal? It would be nice if you could share your experience after switching to WordPress

    1. Margots, thanks for your comment. In all honesty, I love the elegant publishing experience that WordPress gives me. It’s a well thought out product that integrates essential functions like media management and WYSIWYG editors. I wish that my experience of Drupal had been as positive, but I feel that usability was never the focus with Drupal and I lost many hours trying – and failing – to get the user experience just right for my users.

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