planet drupal

Why is on WordPress (not Drupal?)

You may have noticed that this is a WordPress blog. Both the D7UX and the Disambiguity blogs run WordPress. Mark Boulton Design uses Expression Engine. Since we first started working with Drupal there have been questions (and the occasional shout of #fail) that we continue to use these platforms and haven’t switched to Drupal.

Don’t we know Drupal can do all that WordPress can do and more?! Don’t we love Drupal?!

Well, yes and yes. We know Drupal is amazing and we love it (well, more to the point, we love the people all around Drupal), but unfortunately, for the time being, it is too broken for us to be able to do the work we need to do on this project at the pace that we need to do it. We don’t have time to ‘learn’ Drupal, nor the skills to bend it to our will (and make it look acceptably pretty), we can’t even get a blog post on the homepage (as you’ll see in the videos that follow the installation video about which I’ll post as soon as they finally make it up to YouTube).

We appreciate all the offers of porting this blog over to Drupal, but to be honest, I really like using WordPress and nothing I’ve seen of Drupal makes me want to switch over at the moment.

See, I love the *idea* of Drupal, but the sooner we all agree that from a User Experience perspective it is horribly broken and concentrate on FIXING that, the better it will be. Admitting this doesn’t make us Drupal Haters, far from it. It just makes us honest and informed. After all, we use a whole raft of tools to make and administer websites all the time – we actually have a pretty good perspective to be making this call.

If we didn’t *really* care about making Drupal amazing, we wouldn’t start difficult conversations like these ones. And there is a big reason why one of the key success criteria for this project is that once this project is done Mark & I will *want* to switch from WordPress and Expression Engine to Drupal.

And what of ‘eating our own dogfood?’ – well, again, back to that success criteria of Mark & I using Drupal once the new UX is implemented. If we’re not using Drupal then, I’m happy to be called on this. For now, the fact that we are NOT entrenched Drupal users is actually a great advantage to us, rather than a disadvantage. It gives us perspective, distance from the project that allows us to see things differently, to challenge accepted ideas and approaches, to re-hash conversations that have been had a thousand times already and have them a little differently. It helps us not see that things might be impossible (and, at this stage of the project, that’s a good thing).

We’re not entirely ignorant of Drupal, not at all. And becoming less so every day. And we are surrounded by an incredibly informed and amazingly helpful community who give us *way* more help coming to terms with Drupal than the average ‘newcomer’ would have.

We know that Drupal is not WordPress, and we have no intention of making it so, but using WordPress helps us get our work done faster and easier for the time being, and it helps us maintain perspective and distance – and for now those things are really important to us.

But if, this time next year, this blog isn’t running on Drupal and if it doesn’t look amazing – then please come and shout #fail as loudly as you can. Because then you’ll be completely right, we will have failed.

Let’s not do that. Let’s make Drupal amazing.

And thanks so much to everyone who has come on board and started to help shape D7UX by responding to our initial Experience Strategy, Audience Matrix and Personality Quiz. The feedback has been incredible and insightful. We’ll have more for you to look at soon!


Re-posted from

22 thoughts on “Why is on WordPress (not Drupal?)

  1. I think this is awesome! For us drupalers it’s just so easy to use drupal… I think it’s awesome none drupalers work on the UX.

  2. How did the admirable goal of making Drupal easier to use become a game of can-we-make-a-better-blogging-platform than WordPress?

    Are you just trying to feed the trolls to get them to take notice of the UX project?

  3. @prbass: I probably should have added some context around the post on this blog… being that some people in the Drupal crowd were not happy that we had chosen to use WordPress as a tool rather than ‘eating our own dogfood’ (as they explained it) and using Drupal. This post was a response to those voices.

    I think Drupal/Wordpress comparisons are kind of pointless in most instances as they are two very different beasts… except when it comes to UX comparisons, where WordPress is clearly setting the bar.

    And no, we most definitely don’t want/need any more trolls in our project!

  4. I don’t think that the the goal has changed to ‘make a better blogging…. than wordpress’ but we can learn a lot from wordpress. If you watch people encountering wordpress and drupal you’ll see what I mean. WP has managed to provide an easy and more intuitive UI than drupal at the moment. so looking over to wordpress will give some good ideas really.

  5. @prbass Where did she ever say that? It’s just this happens to be a blog. She even said they use expression engine.

    @Leisa I think your perspective is awesome and not getting too used to drupal will help in making significant and meaningful change to the UX.

  6. Hi Lisa,

    First, thanks for all the help you do.

    That this blog runs on WordPress is irrelevant. What is relevant, though, is that you tried to install Drupal at least one time.

    By installing and using Drupal you will learn much more about it (good and bad parts) than any other exercises.

    If you never touch a single Drupal installation, you will distance you too much from what Drupal ought to be and the perspective, at the end will be wrong.

    I fear that you will always lag behind if you don’t jump in completely, or at least try a simple install.

    From what I’ve seen so far, there are a lot of instances where Drupal capabilities have been put aside. This is why, in part, I am following a lot less the work that you do on the UX and D.O. redesign.

    Please don’t lag behind and at least start testing Drupal. And as I said, you don’t need to replace this blog, just use Drupal somewhere else.

    I know you care and I am grateful for that. But let’s not lag behind what Drupal has to offer.

  7. I don’t see the point in complaining about your blogging engine of choice or wanting to push you to use Drupal.
    Starting discussions about why you should be using Drupal instead of other systems is distracting and a waste of time.
    It should certainly be a goal to make you want to switch to D7 when it’s ready. To reach this goal, it’s the best not to impede your productivity.
    Assuming that you will want to use D7, I could perfectly understand, if you sticked with WordPress, Expression Engine or whatever.

  8. Drupal is not just a CMS, it is a Content Management Framework. Something one can use as foundation, and build (develop) a website on it.

    I use it as a CMF and lots of other ppl do. Making Drupal more intuitive does not mean better. Intuitiveness, at some point, makes things unbearable hard to do.

    I think, what you miss in Drupal, is a better blogging platform. You can achieve that with a custom module and a theme.

    But I’ll be very sad if Drupal core becomes a better blogging platform, because it means less of a CMF.

  9. Just wondering, have you guys ever actually used Drupal before this video? It seems you’re struggling with the very basics.

  10. I have to say that I’m on the WordPress/Drupal fence. If you’re setting up a school website and need something working fast and you want it to look unique, WordPress works well.

    But when your needs grow and you want to do more, WordPress doesn’t provide a very flexible framework, aside from some great extensions.

    I now have 3 Drupal test sites for play and I have to agree that some of the simplist tasks (adding an inline image to a post/story/event) required a lot of research. (I now see the value of “Input Types” but it took awhile.) It shouldn’t.

    Drupal shouldn’t try to be a better WordPress or even aspire to become a better blogging platform. It has far greater potential. I don’t mind the steep learning curve but I would sure welcome any UI improvements.

    I’ve been really impressed with the Drupal community though and they keep me going. (Lullabot, WebChick, …)

  11. Keep in mind that you installed the development version of Drupal 7. This version is in *heavy* development mode, For example, the navigation structure (Management, User stuff in Secondary Menu) was recently changed and needs to be improved. Same for some of the description texts and so on.
    Apart from that, I actually think you did a pretty well job installing and trying out Drupal for the first time.

    Also, Drupal is a generic CMS/CMF, not “just” a blogging platform. Creating a easy to use interface without loosing or deeply hiding all the options Drupal can and does offer is definitly not easy. For example, making it very easy to create a test post and show it on the start page would probably make it harder to do more complex stuff (which most users do more often than test posts, after all.. :) ).

    But I fully agree that there is space for *many* UX improvements, nobody is denying that, I think. Actually, there are already 3 issues in the Drupal issue queue that try to improve things you pointed out in your first (just the installing part) video:

    I think that’s one of the greatest things about Drupal, there are so many people around willing to participate and improve Drupal whereever they can :)

  12. Probably this is not the right place, but I don’t know where else to put it. Wouldn’t it be nice, if while installing there would be some dummy posts, and menu items and so on.
    The user should actually be able to choose during the installation process if he wants some sample nodes, users, roles, blocks and so on set up -> maybe even a very simple site with the most important elements of a 0815 website.
    I actually quite liked that on the Joomla site I installed once and it did help me a whole lot, but if you don’t need it, you wouldn’t select this option and i wouldn’t influence the flexibility.

  13. I guess the only thing this video shows is two jackass poser UX designers who apparently know next to nothing about web technology with it’s strange “clean urls” and who want to login to the damn mysql database so they can blog about their cats are still able, through all bias and sarcasm, to install Drupal. This is exactly why the UX part of our industry is so fucked at the moment. Thank you for the prime example. The fact these two successfully installed Drupal is a testament to the quality of the project.

    One other thought for your rambling excuses on not using Drupal. How about using Drupal 6 for this site so you can actually learn about the platform you are supposedly going to improve before moving on to Drupal 7? Please don’t confuse ignorance and arrogance with “perspective and distance”. God help Drupal 7 with these goons on the scene.

  14. Granted: Drupal usability sucks in many places; it was targeting technical audiences for years, and you are here to help bring Drupal to other audiences (as well as to make it better for the technical ones). WordPress could be a good place to learn “what works” for SOME type of users, but expecting Drupal to produce a blog engine easily is undermining its real nature and begs the question about the quality of your design research.

    Keeping you ignorant of the current state-of-affairs in Drupal does not give you perspective, just keeps you ignorant!. You can use an iterative Usability Testing technique to keep an unbiased user’s “perspective and distant” during the design validation process, but as a designer you should know what are you getting into.

    For a community where many people have been volunteering lots of effort and time for years, I would expect a more empathetic and committed (regarding dog-fooding) engagement from those who are being paid for it.

  15. I have learned couple of things about UX designers that make me wonder if I am one of them:

    – we don’t need to understand the mechanics of a framework or the high-level technical constrains/opportunities. Only dumb professionals like Architects and Industrial Designers need that kind of foolish input to provide a good solution.

    – the user is ALWAYS dumb; there is not such a thing like an expert user or an admin/technical role (which by the way is the role you just created!)

    – since WordPress is a CMS for blogging, it is fine for me to make the assumption Drupal has the exact same purpose and expect to see a My Blog right after the installation process (who wants to use Drupal for more complex projects anyways?, what?,, Warner Bros?, AOL Corporate?)

    The UX field is way too immature compared to other professions. Pity to see these narrow design approaches get into the Drupal community.

  16. just on the off chance the anonymous ranter above left a valid email address to receive updated comments, i want to point out that this is only one incredibly small part of a much larger body of work, most of which now exists on

    if you have anything constructive to bring to the project please go and inform yourself of what we’re actually doing, and get involved.

    i’m really happy to engage in this conversation with you further if you want to quit the personal attacks and identify yourself.

  17. Talking Drupal on a wordpress blog ? WTF
    What a disgrace to the Drupal community. This web site is a waste of my time.

  18. I thought that was a very reasoned and diplomatic assessment of drupal right now. I’ve been using it profesionally for over a year and have been absolutely appalled by just how poor it is.

    Frankly i can’t see it lasting much longer, i mean it makes no sense. A basic ‘poll’ module is in core but just about anything else important that you’ll always need isn’t.

    It’s aimed a people who can’t program but to do anything you’ll need to customise it and it’s so needlessly overcomplicated and tediously slow it’s a completely pointless process.

    Last but not last there’s features. The most god awful piece of shit ever conceived. Really, i love open source but drupa is an aborration. Use a real framework – django, rails, zend, yii or just use wordpress and save yourself the wasted time.

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