Finding the best website building tool – it’s not Drupal

Part 1: Finding the best website building tool – my list of needs

Trying to use Drupal to build a small business website

The Drupal logo is cute, but using Drupal to build websites isn't.
The Drupal logo is cute, but using Drupal to build websites isn’t.

My initial investigation of website building tools (content management systems) led me to Drupal.  Drupal is wonderfully powerful, and has the Content Construction Kit.  This was one of the most used Drupal plug-ins until Drual 7, when most of the functionality was pulled directly into the core Drupal.  This functionality allows you to immediately (and pretty easily) define types of content, and then create content.  So you can define a “Video Tutorial” content type, and then start entering all the content for each tutorial.

However, skinning that content so that it looks good involves dropping into PHP and writing individual PHP template files following a specific file-naming convention and using the Drupal API to actually display the fields.  After learning how to do this and trying it for a few content types it felt like I was back to programming my website from scratch.  Even just making the home-page of the website look like a normal small-business home-page (and not a blog) required tweaking PHP files.

Additionally, I found that the Drupal plug-ins often weren’t as polished as would have been nice – a plug-in might provide great functionality, but it was more-often-than-not just a building block for your Drupal programming toolbox.

I was reading-up on advanced CSS techniques and the latest HTML tags while my business and software stagnated.  So I decided to move on, which was a surprisingly difficult decision because I’d invested about six months of evenings and weekends trying to get Drupal to work.  But in the end, it just wasn’t productive.  I know there are people and website consultancy firms that can work magic with it, but my goal wasn’t to become a Drupal expert – my (I thought simple) goal was to quickly build a small-business website.  Drupal had to go.

Next: Trying .NET CMS tools.


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