Drupal is a great CMS that can do just about anything you'd want it to do. This CMS can be used to build a website that has blogs, forums, eCommerce, an online community, etc. all on the same website. You name it. Drupal can do it. But, is it the best CMS for your website needs?
Drupal is best suited for an organization that's a bit larger than a mom and pop store, who would typically have complex website development needs. In the previous blog posts on Wordpress and Joomla, I detailed some of the administrative features of Wordpress and Joomla. This post will not get into those details because we'll easily get lost in the weeds. Drupal is complex so I've decided to focus on the general aspects of Drupal.
Out of the box, the Drupal core comes with tight security to protect your website and its contents. From time to time, new security updates are released to patch up newly discovered security vulnerabilities. Like the other CMSs, Drupal offers a one-click update feature. Drupal also provides security for your content that limits what users can see and do on your website. This includes the front end, what visitors see when they visit your site, and the back end or back-office which is not visible to the public. Your administrator will be responsible for giving users permission to access and or modify different content.
For example, your administrator can give your bloggers permission to add a new blog post, but not change the content of the "About us" page. I must emphasize that your administrator can control everything that anyone can do on the front end or back end of your website, even you the website owner. With all this security, does this mean that a Drupal website cannot be hacked? No. Any website can be hacked. Ask the federal government. It's the job of your administrator and developer(s) to follow Drupal best practices to shore up security. If your site is hacked, your administrator should be able to bring your website back to normal from a backup of your website. This is true for all CMSs.
Drupal permissions are similar to Access Control Lists found in Joomla. This high level of security is so powerful that you can change what each user can literally see on the website. Wordpress does not offer this extensive level of security.
One of the unique features of Drupal is known as Drupal distributions. Distributions are prepackaged solutions made for different types of websites. For example, if you plan to build a site for a city or municipality you should take advantage of Drupal's OpenPublic distribution. If you have a church, use the OpenChurch distribution. These distributions were made to help save time and money in setting up a Drupal website. Distributions are prepackaged with all the features, plugins and modules that you'll need. And, your administrator can add more features to these distributions if the need arises. Your administrator will be tasked with finding the right distribution and modules for your website.
Is Drupal Right For You?
I just want to reiterate that Drupal is not made for the beginner, do-it-yourselfer or the "mom and pop" website owner. Drupal has a significant learning curve. You'll need an administrator or webmaster who knows Drupal and can set up your website based on your needs. A qualified administrator should also know HTML and CSS pretty well, MYSQL databases, and understand some PHP. A reliable and knowledgeable administrator is crucial to running your Drupal site, because Drupal isn't very intuitive to use. Looking at the Drupal back end is like looking at a plane's cockpit. There are buttons, knobs, and panels all over the place that do something important. In Drupal some of them are hidden.
The cost of having a Drupal site can be significant for a small business owner because it's a big job. A small business owner just doesn't have the time to learn Drupal and run the business at the same time. For this main reason, I would discourage a one-person or five-person operation from choosing Drupal.
In the previous blog posts I focused on individual CMSs, but In part 4 I plan to wrap up this series doing more of a side-by-side comparison with recommendations for different scenarios. I hope you found this blog post helpful.