After numerous months of internal testing with different open source content management systems, we’ve finally decided to take the leap and try Drupal for a few medium sized client websites. We were continually postponing the leap until just the right project came along, although we finally decided we liked the new features and administration improvements in Drupal 7 that we’ve now got three Drupal websites in the final stages of build.
Up-until now we’ve always opted to build fully custom sites in PHP using Zend Framework, extending the functionality using open source software like WordPress for blogs. The hesitation to jump on board with a CMS for a full site build was that we always felt limitations would cost us dearly in the end, but in reality limitations are usually caused by a lack of the developer’s knowledge.
Whether we used Drupal, Joomla or WordPress essentially the same end result can be achieved for the frontend users so we choose mainly based on the ease of build and content maintenance.
These are the fundamental areas we assessed when looking at the different CMS’s:
- Core functionality (obviously)
- Available modules
- Performance, caching options and such
- Admin/client administration, during build and on-going
- Theme creation
- Module programming
- And finally flexibility & scalability
How the Builds Went…
A major reason to use an open source CMS is to speed up the development of a site, along with giving the client a site that should never go out of date. However we expected the build of our first few to take considerably longer to create, this wasn’t actually the case and we soon got used to the style of development and managed to complete the sites as fast, if not faster, than in our custom style. This bodes very well as we should only get faster with each successive site along with improving our techniques used each time.
We’ve used a range of modules on top of the core ones (around 15 – 20) such as PathAuto, WebForm, Feeds and NodeQueue but the one we couldn’t live without has to be Views. The power Views gives in displaying content types in different ways is awesome. We also really liked the administration overlays, which can basically allow a client with limited permissions to navigate the frontend and control their content without having the experience of ever entering an admin area.
We’ll keep you posted on whether we stick with Drupal or give the others a go, in the end we’ll likely switch between them based on the individual requirements of the project and the client.
Drupal Sites in Progress
– Sorry if the article image is a bit lame, I am a developer not a designer after all.
– It did feel slightly wrong promoting Drupal on a WordPress blog, but I got over it and you’ll need to do the same.