It seems like everyone is in love with Drupal. However, this love is often blind (as love tends to be) and disregards the many downsides of the popular content management system. Drupal certainly offers an open source CMS framework that can be customized easily, but there are a few things you should know before taking the leap of using it for your e-commerce website.
- For experts only. Drupal is a sophisticated, but also complicated, system. It was developed by expert programmers for their own needs—not anyone else’s. This means that it is not always easy to use, which can be a problem considering that an e-commerce webmaster will be using it every single work day. Before you make the Drupal leap, ensure that you know how to use all of the functions that you will need.
- Beware of bugs. As with any software, Drupal has its bugs. This comes from the open source nature of the program. People modify Drupal for their own purposes, but that does not mean it will always be perfect. Because it is open source and has no dedicated staff, some of the changes are less wise than others.
- Compatibility issues. If Drupal doesn’t offer a certain feature, you may be tempted to buy it elsewhere. However, the program in question may not be compatible. Other commercial CMS solutions can offer a list of compatible software, which makes it easier to select the right program.
- Constant change. Because it is open source, Drupal is in a constant state of modification. Some of these changes are in the form of add-on modules, but others are made to the framework itself. There are nearly infinite ways that the software can be modified, so you never really know what you are going to get. Each new version brings new functions and new solutions, but a potentially new set of problems as well.
- Little or no support. What do you do if you run into a problem with Drupal? There’s really no good answer to that question. There is no dedicated support staff for the program. Sometimes you can get help from more experienced users in Drupal forums, but you are dependent on their willingness and ability to provide support to a potential competitor (you) on a pure volunteer basis. For a novice or even moderately skilled webmaster, this can spell disaster.
We aren’t here to pick on Drupal; it offers a revolutionary concept and very useful features, and thus has a huge fan base. Luckily, if you love the concept of Drupal but don’t have the skill set needed to use it, there are other options. There are many content management systems on the market that offer similar packages, but without the baggage that comes with open-source software. You can find one with the same features without the bugs, compatibility problems, and lack of support. You may end up paying more, but it is an investment in your e-commerce business as well as your own ongoing sanity.