Drupal is the Wave of the Future

If you have not yet heard of Drupal, it is the open source CMS that powers this site (and many sites far more robust and popular than this one). I think I am pretty good at predicting web trends, and 2 or 3 years from now Drupal will be about as popular and well known as Wordpress and Wikipedia are today.

Drupal is more powerful than what the average blogger needs to run their site, but it has so many features and options that it can allow you to bolt many things onto your blog that you would not be able to do very easily with something like Wordpress or MovableType.

Published: December 21, 2007 by Aaron Wall in publishing & media


December 21, 2007 - 11:42am

I agree with you to a point. I currently use two backend systems web projects I do. Wordpress of smaller jobs and/or basic blogs (I like the fact Wordpress also let's me have some static pages and their is a lot of plugin support) and of course Drupal. I use Drupal for some of our more serious and larger projects and see both Wordpress and Drupal and great CMS solutions depending on the size of the job. However I'm constantly keeping my eye out of something better. While Drupal is powerful is can be needlessly complex and has to be tweaked by the developer so that most end users will actually add their own content when they need to. I have been asked quite a few times why they can use something like Dreamweaver/Contribute, Apple's iWeb or gasp, Frontpage (which I think is becoming defunct). I agree with them that iWeb can make some snazzy looking sites but it's consumer based has can for all practical purposes (yes, I know you can export for other servers) run best in a .Mac account.

It's amazing how many sites I am asked to set up with a CMS only to do the content management myself (which defeats the point) but thankfully I do get paid. Customers just don't want to "mess with it."

December 21, 2007 - 12:30pm

I'm a Drupal fan for quite some time and as I mentioned earlier, I just produced an hour of videos about SEO in Drupal5. You have to give your email to get the links to the videos, but I assure you it will be worth it.

Video #1 even includes some tips that you could incorporate in the robots.txt file here on SEOBook.com :p

And I totally agree - when you want to *build* something Drupal > Wordpress > Static sites. And Drupal is moving "down market" into the "easy to use out of the box" area as well with the installation profiles.

December 21, 2007 - 12:55pm

Strange, I used Drupal for a while, but didn't really like it. It was a pain changing hosts and tweaking it, so I moved to custom build CMS for that site.
Anyway, I may give it a second try after reading this post. I doubt they improved the code, but maybe the features are improved and bugs removed.

Paul Marek
December 21, 2007 - 1:17pm

I have to somewhat disagree with you Aaron. We use Drupal for a bunch of client sites, as well as some sites of our own that require seriously advanced functionality. I think the only way Drupal will become even REMOTELY close to WordPress popularity, is to provide some sort of pushbutton install, like WP. Requiring advanced coding knowledge and/or a Drupal programmer will keep D right where it is for now...

Drupal requires specialized programmers, and if you want anything with even a little bit 'not out of the box' functionality, you will need a Drupal EXPERT. Not just someone who is familiar with D, but an expert, otherwise you're f'd. And as we've learned, even then you are susceptible to 'his way' of doing things, and all the bugs that Drupal has. Every single one of our sites that uses Drupal right now, has something wrong with it.

Once it worked, now it doesn't... - that's my motto for Drupal.

Any serious Drupal coders out there disagree? - drop me a line, I could use your help.

December 21, 2007 - 2:13pm


I think you are wrong here. The reason why wordpress is popular is that its extremely simple. There is no way Drupal, which may be a good CMS but too complex, to beat Wordpress in popularity.

It also maybe hard to measure popularity as spammers like to use the wordpress a lot so the numbers are inflated. With Drupal, i haven't heard that it would be popular with splogs.

Check out this recent blog post on SlightlyShadySEO - http://www.slightlyshadyseo.com/?p=124

December 21, 2007 - 2:40pm

I also think you are wrong here. Drupal is a fantastic system for web programmers and developers that can hire programmers. The program is capable of a lot to the experienced hands but lacks accesibility for small groups in which the persons managing content also develop and design the website. They now a little of many subjects and porbably the most about the ocntent on their site and the least about web coding.

Wordpress delivers a turnkey product that suits the purposes of most people. Second in line is Joomla which is also a CMS but more admin friendly.

If you run against the limitation of these systems, or if you require lots of customization and are able to code it yourself, Drupal comes into sight.

December 21, 2007 - 2:50pm

I like Wordpress because it is so simple... but I never have used Drupal and it looks very powerful although I know some people who say that it is a pain when you need to make a modification on the programming... but, you know, people sometimes exaggerate.

December 21, 2007 - 2:58pm

...a couple of years ago i did some tests on drupal and i've found it powerful but not incredibly chaotic.
The documentation is never on par with the development, every user develop her code snippets, support is basely mostly on "best practices" and blind stabs.

Showing just a little of taxonomy proved to be amazingly difficult.
I've never left wordpress since that time (not even for joomla).

I think that the tools are valid on different fields: drupal is higly customizable but it's also really basic when you install it.
Wordpress is less customizable, but it's almost ready when you install it. Just add some plugins and themes and you've a good result without much hassle.

And you can focus on contents!

December 21, 2007 - 3:05pm

Drupal has a chance if it can become as easy to use as Joomla or Wordpress.

Having built over 100 Joomla sites and around 20 Drupal sites for clients, the overwhelming feedback as been that Drupal's learning curve is too steep.

To really take off it needs a cleaner admin interface, easier installation, less intimidating terminology and generally to move from being a developers tool to a users tool.

December 21, 2007 - 4:05pm

I'm a Expression Engine fan. Much better than Drupal. And i poured tons of time in findind a flexible, yet powerful, CMS. EE is the bomb. www.expressionengine.com. I'm building both small and large robust sites on it.

December 21, 2007 - 4:16pm

I have to jump on the WordPress bandwagon here. I have started using it as a small scale CMS for certain clients and have found little to no limitations to what I can do to their sites. I have looked at Drupal and while it has peaked my interest, I doubt it can rival the simplicity of WP in install and the ease of use overall.

December 21, 2007 - 4:34pm

The prediction of Aaron is 2-3 years away. Above we are discussing the present and the past.

Who has heard of the self fulfilling prophecy? Drupal dev's may have heard this before and who knows whether they are willing to make the interface and usability much better.

December 21, 2007 - 5:16pm

Drupal is OK but I never enjoyed working with it. Recently I found MODx and I am hooked. What I was looking for is easy scripting for custom work and a simple templating engine for fast implementation and a powerful framework, MODx has it all. For strict blog sites WordPress still rules.

Expression Engine would be my second choice, but I prefer open source projects.

Drupal has a huge user base and there are literally thousands of ready made resources. This is important since building your own resources is a pain with Drupal.

December 21, 2007 - 5:47pm

Aaron, you shouldn't give away our most secret weapon ;)

I'm a big fan of Drupal, even though a few years ago I didn't even want to hear about it. I'm not sure about Drupal being the most popular Blogging platform since that's not what it is. Drupal is way beyond that. It is more advanced web development framework. If you want a simple blogging site - go with WP. If you would like a fully functional business site, or site with memberships and multiple layers of access control, or extensive functionalities or even an e-commerce site, or social network, - Drupal can do it all. Yes it requires skill and knowledge, but what's not? I have a very advanced Intranet site running on Drupal. It does things that WP will never do, because WP is a blogging platform and there is no way I could even consider it. Otherwise I would have to build it from scratch.

For those that would like to see what Drupal can do, I suggest to check out this web site www.drupalsites.net

December 21, 2007 - 6:12pm

Drupal is a top-notch CMS. I've done about a dozen different drupal implementations on sites larges and small. Most recently, I'm in the middle of an implementation of a network of Websites all running off of one Drupal code-base. Very easy to customize as well. We recently launched Beauty School which is running a core drupal install with customized modules for school data, it's really slick. The other great thing is now that the Database is built, we can take this module and plug it into any other site.

The real challenge will be corporate and "enterprise" adoption of Drupal.

December 21, 2007 - 6:26pm

I use Drupal for almost all of my websites... I love it. It's so flexible, it can pretty much do anything you need it to.

December 21, 2007 - 7:21pm

Hey Aaron,

I'm in 100% agreement with you. A lot of big name companies are using Drupal so it's only natural that it's popularity will dramatically increase over the next few years.

2 years ago we built a few custom drupal sites, fell in love with Drupal then and dedicated our entire company to Drupal development. For any developers that tried Drupal in the past and didn't like it you should definitely re-evaluate it.

One weakness of Drupal in my opinion has been it's e-commerce module. However, we've used Ubercart for the last few e-commerce sites and have been very impressed with it.

I agree with Paul's comment above that another major weakness of Drupal is that it can be buggy and it does require a Drupal expert to do any significant customization, however I know that our company and many other companies and developers in the community are working hard to improve usability so this will definitely not be an issue after a couple more years.

December 21, 2007 - 7:23pm

I installed Drupal once to give it a try. My initial reaction was that it had a steep learning curve and very weird terminology.

As far as popularity go, I can't see it beating Wordpress. Wordpress is just so easy to extend and use.

I think for very large sites and a large budget where you can afford someone who is very good with Drupal, Drupal would be a good choice. But for the majority of websites it might be overkill.

It comes down to the right tool for the right job I think.

I checked Google's index just for fun:

1,090,000 for "powered by drupal"
10,600,000 for "powered by wordpress"

91,700,000 for "wordpress"
17,400,000 for "drupal"

December 21, 2007 - 9:15pm

Drupal was not designed to accommodate a specific vertical niche, like WordPress is. Drupal can be a WordPress, LinkedIn, MySpace, YouTube--or all of them at once!

I can verify the majority of people who download Drupal are developers; not entrepreneurs, copywriters, designers, or end-users. You do have to keep that in mind when you compare with other software. Car analogy: WordPress is to a fancy Porsche sports car, as Drupal is to a performance Lamborghini engine. You'd only order the engine if you knew how to combine it with the chassis, but anyone who knows how to do that also knows how to run circles around the Porsche.

Yahoo is a major Drupal user. They just released another new site using it:


There is a known shortage of Drupal contractors. My personal feeling is that is because the professional standards are top notch. Having worked professionally with WordPress, MovableType, Mambo, Joomla, and many other platforms, I can safely attest I have never found a more talented and experienced group of programmers anywhere. I swear there are geniuses contributing to the project, seriously. Like MIT, IBM, or NASA quality people. I am continually amazed.

If you need help finding a Drupal contractor, try #drupal-consultants on irc.freenode.com.

- or -


Considering Drupal? See also: http://drupal.org/handbook/is-drupal-right-for-you

Programming Drupal? See: http://drupal.org/contributors-guide

kid disco
December 21, 2007 - 9:32pm

Dude! I was just talking to my buddy about Drupal last nite! We're both huge fans of WordPress and have hacked around it enough to make it do pretty much whatever we needed... I started playing around with Drupal a few months back and last night I basically told my buddy that Drupal is the next step for us.

I love it and agree with what you say. All you really need is a few visible peeps in SEO to evangelize it, and we'll all be using it for something, soon enough... :P

December 21, 2007 - 11:33pm

Wow, finally a post of yours I don't agree with that forced me to register after reading the site for about a year. As someone who has used Drupal for over 5 years, I have to say that there is little chance of it ever being as popular as Wordpress is due to the lack of user attention span. :)

Drupal does suffer from quite a few flaws though that I am sure will be corrected over time - especially in the SEO arena. For instance, why force SEO-interested Drupal users to turn on Clean URLs, install modules like pathauto, global redirect, make modifications to your .htaccess file, etc. just to get a desired URL structure without duplicate content?

All this being said, Drupal is definitely the best CMS system around, but I do not see widespread adoption happening any time soon and especially not in the next 2-3 years. Other installs such as Wordpress have too high of a powerful to ease of use ratio to ever fall behind a more complex system like Drupal.

December 22, 2007 - 12:42am

Wow, finally a post of yours I don't agree with that forced me to register after reading the site for about a year.

There is a first time for everything. Thanks for signing up and commenting! :)

December 21, 2007 - 11:59pm


As I ready myself for the launch of 2008 into a regular domain name [I have a shyness problem and hence the subdomain off my main site] I have taken great pains to look at Joomla.

Have you looked at Joomla?

I am curious if you're saying CMS is increasingly becoming the way to go or Drupal, specifically. I found that I like Joomla a lot although going from Wordpress to Joomla for the average person looks to be intimidating. [By ex-profession I'm a web developer so the learning curve isn't so steep for me.]

I have tried to get in sync with Drupal also but...I don't know...there was something I can't remember that turned me from looking at *it* to Joomla.

From what I have read about Joomla, though is the SEOness of it. Apparently one needs extensions in order to have SE friendly URLS. If Drupal creates SEO friendly URLS to start with, that may be one reason to choose *it* over Joomla, in terms of CMS over blogging platforms go.

Thanks for giving me the heads up on your opinion. I will absolutely, then, take this as a sign to newly create with a CMS in January - of course, now to choose between Drupal and Joomla will be the chore.


December 22, 2007 - 12:41am

Hi Samsara

By default Drupal does not offer SEO friendly URLs, but you can get them quite easily, as noted by hagrin above.

December 22, 2007 - 12:36am

Well given your success record, I am just going to take your word for it and give it a try. I have some new projects, and was considering using word press. Instead I will try Drupal and see for myself what I think.

December 22, 2007 - 1:02am

Interesting. I have been using Joomla for years and really like it. You have to get to know how it handles SEO issues, but overall, the community is great and the 3rd party devs are great.

If you are a smaller shop, there is are great resources for templates and devs for custom component development. More than Drupal.

Check out the 2007 CMS awards and Drupal and Joomla are neck and neck. I think that with the release of Joomla 1.5, with its new framework, the CMS tables may turn.

However, Wordpress is by far the best blogging CMS out there, but it's more of a bloggin system than a true CMS.

December 23, 2007 - 5:17am

I can't help but to notice that you, an advocate of Drupal, are powering your very site on the popular Open Source CMS Drupal. I even liked how you deleted your CHANGELOG.txt ;-) Not too many do. I even suspected that you were on drupal just by the form styles, that can be changed to any who are curious, and when I saw the edit profile page, garland theme, and saw drupal.js and jquery.js there was no more denying it. Pretty cool, anyways...

Folks, Drupal is an amazing platform. I started my recent career on the popular blogging platform Wordpress, though I never released a site on it. Then I said, "We should look at Joomla." So we looked at Joomla and even built and launched a site on the more traditionally administered CMS. Then I said, "Drupal is the way to go!" So we switched our attention, full force, to Drupal.

Since then, we haven't looked back. I feel solid that for us to accomplish the things that we do and want to do Drupal was the way to go. Drupal provides the power and customization of a self-rolled CMS solution without the need to reinvent the wheel each time a new project is started.

There are many talented individuals and organizations working non-stop on Drupal. As an added bonus, Drupal is very conscious of security, that doesn't mean that there are not any bugs but at least its on the radar and security patches issued.

There is an excellent book written by the good ole' folks at www.lullabot.com titled, Pro Drupal Development. If you tried Drupal in the past and thought it had a steep learning curve I urge you, checkout this book and start building. There is a method and means to all the seemingly "chaotic" terminology and internal processes of Drupal. By actually developing you will truly appreciate the benefits that the platform has to offer. I'm not saying that there isn't a steep learning curve, there is, it would probably take the average person about 6 months to become truly proficient in Drupal. The six month estimate is for learning to actually develop for Drupal.

And if you think your clients won't appreciate the not so intuitive, but getting better, admin interface, your right! But as a true Drupal developer and UI advocate you can hide that fact from the user and other admins by building your own UI, actually just certain elements in most cases, that seamlessly integrates into the rest of the site. You make it like posting a blog to your favorite service related website. I ask my clients if they know how to change their profile at their favorite website. If they can, then they can administer an entire Drupal site with out batting an eye.

Drupal 6 is nearing the end of its development cycle. I strongly encourage everyone who reads this post to check it out. Drupal 6 is expected to be released here in the next month or two, maybe sooner, and Release Candidate 1 is already available for testing. If you were one of the ones from above that criticised the bugs in Drupal, here is your opportunity to do something about it. Find bugs, post them to drupal.org. Have questions? Come join us on irc freenet in #Drupal, #Drupal-support and checkout the relatively new, the last year or so, #drupal-dojo. The folks at the dojo, www.drupaldojo.com, are amazing!!! Just about every week they host live screencast equipped with voice communications and irc so that we, the dojo, can answer your questions and issues in a public forum where we can all learn. The dojo already has many screencasts posted to their website and many other individuals are producing video content to help you learn.

If you are Drupal Curious and you think you need to be convinced of the true beauty of Drupal, then please step forward and contact me at "matt /at/ paretech /dot/ com". I would be happy to give you a personal tour and even help out in the support department.

Sorry for the super long post but I think its important for people to at least have the opportunity to see what they may have overlooked.

Pare Technologies
Drupal Consulting, Themeing, and Module Development
Figure Something Out? Document Your Success!

December 24, 2007 - 11:13pm

Interesting prediction, Aaron. A good chance of course that you'll be right, but I'm betting aginst you. I've been a member of the Drupal community for some time now and have pretty much given up. I'm a guy who wants to build simple sites, not be a coder and argue about various flavors of taxonomy. If Drupal were to com eout of its shell of exclusivity it might take flight, but I haven't seen the attitude toward newcomers improve at all in 3 plus years of following the project.

If anyhting knocks WordPress off its perch in the current world it might well be Joomla ... they have lost much of that "are you smart enough to use us" attitude and are making the product actually install and do somethng useful from the distribution state ... long overdue.

Funny to me all the comments, including developers and other technical folks regarding Drupal's "steep" learning curve. Actually, the problem with Drupal is a very shallow larening curve ... a learning curve being a graph of knowledge over time ... steep is good ... WordPress is where it is today because it's learning curve is extremely short and steep ... WP code and architecture I will leave to others to jusdge its relative "goodness" but the strength is in the very short time needed to make something happen, versus learning the "religion".

December 25, 2007 - 4:14pm

Can someone who knows post here a pros and cons summary on these 4 CMS? Drupal Joomla expressionEngine and WordPress?

  • TurnKey solution
  • pushbutton install
  • you dont need to code to install or mod
  • free download and the url? or price?
  • features
  • major issues
  • major flaws for SEO
  • iBrian
    December 26, 2007 - 7:32pm

    Heh, I've avoided jumping through hoops to register before, but this time I had to chime in. :)

    So far I've been frustrated by setting up Wordpress as a front-end and running vbulletin as the site forum. It runs great to a certain degree, but there's a terrible disconnect between the community and the core content.

    I recently came across Lime.com by accident, and was totally impressed by the integration, and saw it was Drupal, so it's been on my radar this month as something I need to explore further.

    Seeing Aaron's comments seemed to justify that I need to give it serious attention. :)

    I do have reservations about Drupal, though, such as efficiency with processing database queries - I figure it's primary developed as a publishing platform so it may not be well optimised for forums, but I guess I'll just have to import a site over to a complete Drupal install and see what happens.

    Either way, interesting call, Aaron - and didn't realise SEO Book was powered by it. Had actually thought it was Wordpress! I guess you've certainly demonstrated some of the key flexibility with it here.

    Anyway, hope you have a good Christmas and have a happy New Year. :)

    December 27, 2007 - 5:24am

    Hi Brian
    Thanks for registering. I think so far the development on Drupal's forum is far inferior to Vbulletin, and if I were to have a forum on a Drupal site I would still use VB.

    Eric Shannon
    December 27, 2007 - 9:59pm

    Aaron, we've been using Drupal for about five years maintaining anywhere from 2 to 5 drupal developers and recently launched http://www.diversityjobs.com with it. We're still pleased but hope it will continue to build momentum.

    I'm delighted you're using it and talking about it!

    December 30, 2007 - 9:32pm

    Have to agree with you on that Aaron. Drupal is a fantastic CMS. Its incredibly flexible, has a huge number of contributed modules and from a developers perspective has the cleanest code I've come across from an open source CMS. I haven't checked the others for a while, but Joomla was a mess a couple of years ago. It was almost impossible to separate the presentation from the logic.

    I've just launched a new blog (The Attention Project), and am using Drupal to power it. I've had a couple of other attempts at blogging and in the past I've used wordpress but since adopting Drupal I couldn't be happier.

    As for the 2-3 year prediction I'd say this is spot on as Drupals founder Dries Buytaret has just founded Acquia and raised $7 million to further the Drupal cause.

    January 1, 2008 - 1:30pm

    I like to think that CMS is actually a way of past. The way of future are frameworks - that is the most configurable scripts that can do nothing (on their own), but everything and anything with their friends (yes, some additional module/plugin could be required).

    Absolut Engine Framework/CMS is just that.

    Drupal, Joomla and others are thoroughly complicated to be extended in any way.

    January 3, 2008 - 11:11pm

    Thanks for the reply, Aaron, and looks as though I'm going to have to agree - been doing some research and it looks as though scalability is the big problem:

    I have a couple of larger sites I'd love to import over to a CMS like Drupal, but it looks like I could have to employ a couple of developers just for the privilege.

    The suggestion so far is that at present, Drupal still isn't mature enough in its architecture to offer something accessible for general webmasters - but if it ever proves scalable without employing database engineers just to cope with large query numbers, I'll be ready to import.

    Have a smallish site in the works and will import that to Drupal, and at least get some experience with it first.

    BTW - Aaron, please add a "Next page" to your blog, otherwise if I miss a week, I'll never find your previous week's posts. :)

    January 3, 2008 - 11:38pm

    Hi Brian
    I will try to get some of the archive linking stuff done soon.

    April 1, 2008 - 3:49am

    I haven't used Drupal and WP either. Drupal is new to me and I don't wanna touch this platform yet. I'm currently using blogger, it's easy to use although it doesn't have more features compare to Drupal and WP. If ever I need to expand my blogging that's the time I'll use Drupal or WP perhaps.


    April 20, 2008 - 2:08pm

    I now using wordpress. I never used Drupal. But after i saw your post. It makes my mind change. I will try to use Drupal soon.

    Eddy Teh

    April 22, 2008 - 8:49pm

    Very Interesting. I've been using Wordpress too for blogging and I haven't tried Drupal yet, Maybe I'll give it a try also to discover its advance features. I want to see how it differs from Wordpress in terms of functionality.

    April 27, 2008 - 12:40pm

    I wrote the very first comment on this blog post and came back to it this morning. At the use of Drupal in my company has changed. I first said our use was split between Drupal and Wordpress and to a degree it still is however Wordpress is now a legacy technology for us. The sites we designed around Wordpress in the past are still using it and of course we are upgrading them to the current release, 2.5.1 as of this date but all of our new sites are being designed around Drupal. While it is harder then Wordpress to set up we can design and implement it in such as way that it is a lot easier to use for the end user when it comes to updating content. The modules also give us a lot more flexibility in regards to adding professional features in case the client wants to upgrade. So as a company we are focusing on becoming drupal design and development specialists as one of our niches.

    May 14, 2008 - 6:08am

    Thanks Aaron for the headsup. Got domain happy after reading this the other day ;)


    ^(301 redirect)
    ^(301 redirect)
    ^(301 redirect)

    The redirects shouldn't ding me in the SEs from what I gathered. Feedback on choosing the right main domain out of the group?? Got my Drupal bifocals on. Got to go..

    - antSEO

    May 14, 2008 - 11:50am

    I would not put SEO in your domain name.

    I would prefer to go with DrupalHosting or some other branded term and say you host Drupal.

    May 14, 2008 - 6:50pm

    Aaron, DrupalSiteHosting.com may seem too long (DrupalHosting.com is taken) but aren't each of those keywords 'drupal' 'site' 'hosting' words that come up a lot (I'm mainly talking about 'site' and 'hosting' of course)? I may be off on stuffing keywords in domains so please clarify. Thx.

    July 31, 2008 - 2:18pm

    I've been using Drupal for years and I love it. From registering the domain name I can have a robust, user driver website with comments, forums, anti-spam and a lot more within an hour.

    I agree Drupal will get bigger and bigger. The project is well managed and the code is clean.

    December 16, 2008 - 3:50am

    I love wordpress so I'll have to investigate drupal especially as it appears to be superior. As long as it is not complicated yes it will surpass wordpress.

    September 25, 2009 - 5:29pm

    WordPress and Joomla are much bigger and much more widely used than Drupal. Joomla templates are searched fare more often than even WordPress, which has a far wider appeal than Drupal.

    Clearly Joomla is much more widely used than Drupal across the world.

    Drupal still is not THE MOST simple system to use. WordPress has that title hands down.


    September 25, 2009 - 5:55pm

    Well that turned out to be a clear miss, didn't it. ;)

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