First off, if you google “Drawbacks of Drupal” or “Drupal Review” etc in an effort to get an objective perspective, be warned that most of the results are junk, written by some SEO that has likely never even used Drupal. I just went thru the top 10 or so results and I’m sorry to see so much bad information out there. Seriously, total nonsense, rubbish and misinformation.
I have 7,000+ hours of development on the Drupal platform. I’ve built everything from basic marketing sites to full fledged social networks sites, ecommerce sites as well as highly custom business applications. So with that, here is my objective top list of drawbacks.
Drupal is a great CMS. Out of all of the top open source content management systems, it is arguably the most flexible. It is also extremely mature, well maintained and has a highly active ecosystem. I could go on and on about how great Drupal is, however in this post, I want to cover some of the downsides of Drupal that I’ve discovered over the years after having several large scale Drupal project under my belt.
#1 Insane learning curve
Drupal is NOT easy to learn. Even if you are a developer or someone highly technical, plan on spending many hours googling how to even get your site setup and configured the way you want it.
Don’t get me wrong, the time invested is worth it for many situations, especially if you are a dev shop that is constantly cranking out new websites and web applications. However, if you are looking to launch a single website, I wouldn’t recommend it unless your site is complex enough to justify learning how to harness the power of Drupal.
#2 Limited Themes
Just check out the themes on Theme Forest to get an idea of how limited your options are compared to WordPress. There are quite a few great looking themes, don’t get me wrong, you just won’t find nearly the variety of WordPress.
Another MAJOR issue with Drupal themes is that they are not easily swappable. In fact, if you have an existing website and want a new theme, converting it can easily be dozens of hours of work because almost all commercial themes require custom content types, so there is content migration work in addition to possible reworking most if not all of your existing pages.
#3 Admin UX Built For Developers
This is one of the reasons that there is such a high learning as mentioned in #1 above. The admin screens are, in effect, built for developers, by developers. You won’t find intuitive wizards along with great documentation to get you going.
The more popular modules will likely have video tutorials on Youtube, which is great, it just quickly gets time consuming. It can takes hours to figure out something very basic that should take just a few minutes.
#4 PHP, Ugh
PHP is the language of yesterday. I came to Drupal as a Microsoft Asp.Net developer and never fully warmed up to PHP. It just felt old and clunky to me. However, I sucked it up since the CMS’s available on .Net are well, don’t get me started (Yup I looking at you DotNetNuke!).
With NodeJs and UI Frameworks like Angular being the clear future, its hard to invest time/energy on an outdated platform regardless how great it is. Yup, I understand this one is highly subjective, but after having spent most my time over the last few years with more modern technologies, its VERY hard to come back to Drupal and PHP.