Trends

The Current State & Popularity of Drupal

Drupal knows exactly what it is and makes no excuses for: it strives to be a grenade launcher, not a Swiss army knife.

Currently powering a little over 2.5% of the total websites on the internet, Drupal is quite a bit behind WordPress (48%) in terms of sheer popularity, but that takes no credit from the former.

In fact, Drupal has held a reputation for being a robust tool meant for web content management, and such a reputation is hard-earned and most definitely well deserved. Every web designer or developer worth his salt knows exactly what Drupal is capable of.

So, what exactly is the current state of Drupal? In this post, I will attempt to answer these questions.

Drupal: Not Just a CMS, But A Power-House

Drupal is not your everyday Content Management System meant for handling microblogs. In fact, Drupal knows exactly what it is and makes no excuses for: it strives to be a grenade launcher, not a Swiss army knife.

As an open source CMS, Drupal is meant for enterprise usage. After all, it does power the likes of WhiteHouse.gov, The Economist and The University of Arizona!

WhiteHouse.gov, powered by Drupal.
WhiteHouse.gov, powered by Drupal.

As such, Drupal’s smaller market share in terms of websites running it as compared to that of WordPress is totally understandable. Drupal is not everyman’s Content Management System, and a good majority of users will shy away from it simply because it has too much to offer.

Yet, this cannot always be an excuse to overlook Drupal’s flaws. Drupal does lack in many areas, the biggest factor being its own bloated behaviour. Drupal is not as agile or as swift as it used to be. Over the years, Drupal has grown well, but it has also gained a lot of weight.

Of course, even WordPress has committed the same sin — this possibly means that as CMSs tend to become more and more mainstream, they incorporate features and code which were otherwise not present in the original version, and thereby add on additional bloat.

As a result, while I would not claim that Drupal is “more” bloated, but WordPress surely is “less” bloated.

How is Drupal Faring?

Back in 2011, WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal were fighting for the coveted number one spot in the world of Content Management Systems. Eventually, WordPress outsmarted the rest, and it has not looked back ever since. Joomla! started the long fall from grace, but is trying hard to recover lost ground.

And what about Drupal? The past few years have been decisive for Drupal. It is no longer the apex CMS that it used to be. In fact, with just 2.5% of the total market share, it does not seem like Drupal is going to challenge WordPress anytime soon either.

However, this is where Drupal has shown some promise: the Drupal community is also aware that 2.5% of total websites on the internet, though still a very big number, is just not as good as what WordPress has achieved. As such, Drupal has undergone a re-invention of sorts.

thEven though Drupal powers only 2.5% of all sites on the web, Drupal Themes on Envato Market consistently sell very well. The most popular theme, Porto, has had over 2,700 sales alone.

Present-day Drupal is different from the Drupal of yesterday. Drupal is no longer eyeing the general market of the average user: Drupal has given up on plans of powering blogs and portfolio sites. If a design agency or a web designer decides to give up on Drupal and switch to WordPress, Drupal will not be too worried.

Instead, Drupal is focusing on an altogether different niche: Acquia, Drupal’s parent firm, is looking towards the enterprise segment as its user base. In the past few years, Drupal has gained favour among enterprise users, be it for its feature-packed offerings or for its security fixes. As a result, Drupal’s direction is headed towards the enterprise route.

Also, this is how Dries Buytaert described his views about this shift in paradigm:

“Drupal gives organizations the ability to deliver a unified digital experience that includes mobile delivery, social and commerce. Great inefficiencies exist in most organizations that use a variety of different, disconnected systems to achieve those three essentials.

They are tired of having to tie things together; content is important, social is important, commerce is important but connecting all these systems seamlessly and integrating them with preferred applications and legacy systems leads to massive inefficiencies.

Companies want to do things well, and more often than not, Drupal allows them to do it better, more nimbly and in a far more integrated framework.” – Dries Buytaert

In fact, so diverse is Drupal’s user base that the average Drupal theme on ThemeForest is multipurpose in nature, not necessarily meant for a single specific use only.

drupal_8_logoDrupal 8 is currently in development, but a beta version has been released for testing and feedback. You can download it here. For an overview of some of the new features, take a look at this infographic.

So, What Does the Future Hold for Drupal?

Speaking from the perspective of the average design or web development agency or freelancer, Drupal is more of a mixed blessing. You can rely on its prowess to build really robust websites, but it cannot be the ultimate solution for every problem.

Times will arise when you might need to choose a different CMS, and such times will be in plenty, so Drupal can be just another Content Management System for agencies and freelancers, not the only Content Management Systems.

For businesses and enterprises, however, Drupal can and does suffice as a useful product capable of meeting their requirements. In fact, for even smaller startups and firms, Drupal is a useful CMS meant for all practical purposes.

Lastly, as the internet evolves towards web applications rather than web pages, every CMS will need to evolve and adapt to the changing times, be it Drupal or WordPress or Joomla! The PHP lineage of CMSs is not fully ready for this shift, so changes will need to be made down the line.