Drupal Pros and Cons

And Why A Headless CMS Is Your Best Bet?

Joel Varty
Joel Varty
Jul 14, 2021
Drupal Pros and Cons

There is a constant battle to stay up-to-date in the world of web technology, and a CMS is the foundation stone that helps you win that battle. In an effort to save money and increase efficiency, many have turned to open-source CMS like Drupal to build websites both efficiently and cost-effectively. However, platforms like Drupal or WordPress are not the silver bullet that's going to give you unlimited profit with no investment. 

Drupal is a popular content management system for building websites. It's open source and free which is, in itself, a great benefit. Yet,there are also disadvantages to using Drupal. It can be challenging to use and it is not as user-friendly as other open source platforms like WordPress or Joomla. Plus, there's the issue of security… or lack thereof. 

Choosing the right CMS for you is a decision that can't be taken lightly, and an open source platform like Drupal CMS comes with its own set of pros and cons. This article discusses Drupal’s pros and cons as well as why Agility CMS is a solid alternative to Drupal.

What Is Drupal?

Pros of Drupal

Huge User Community

Drupal is an open-source CMS that boasts a significant community. This includes developers and enthusiasts who can help you with minor implementation problems or dispel doubts about building a Drupal website. The Drupal community revolves around a free exchange of ideas. It offers documentation and discussion boards for developers willing to swim the often murky waters of your Drupal implementation.

Prioritizes Accessibility

Accessibility is a crucial component of today's digital experiences. One of the greatest things about Drupal is its commitment to accessibility. Proper accessibility makes it possible for every user, regardless of their device and capabilities,to have a solid experience. Drupal ensures that all of its features conform to the World Wide Web Consortium guidelines and accessibility features. 

Robust Platform

Drupal websites are robust. They provide users a platform to build a solid design —albeit clunky in our opinion— website. A Drupal developer can create and modify its website and deliver content to the users in a platform that everybody knows. 

Cons of Drupal

Security Concerns

Perhaps the most significant drawback of using Drupal CMS is the security concerns that are inherent to choosing an open source platform. In terms of security, though, Drupal leaves a bit to be desired. Any developer that is even remotely familiar with the platform's code could quickly identify security vulnerabilities and carry out cyberattacks. If your site deals with sensitive or personal information, this is something you absolutely do not want. 

Not Good for Non-Technical Users

Another one of the major drawbacks of Drupal websites is how unfriendly it is for non-developers. If you require a feature on Drupal that doesn't already exist as a Drupal module, you'll need to hire a developer to build it. This presents issues for non-technical users who might not be able to use Drupal to its maximum potential. 

Plus, on Drupal it's expensive to develop yourself, meaning that you may not always be able to take advantage of new features that competitors are adopting in this situation.

Hard To Customize

Open source CMS systems like Drupal and WordPress also pose a challenge for some in terms of customization. Drupal doesn't have many modules available for customization, While there are certainly free options, most of the more popular and widely-used ones require an additional fee. Upgrades themselves are often an issue as if they break one of the plugins you're already using, additional development work will be required.

There is also the issue that you cannot upgrade a site built with Drupal 6 to Drupal 8. If your site was built with the aforementioned version, you're essentially starting from scratch. 

Lack of Support

Many people don't realize that when you're working with an open source solution, one of the most immediate problems you run into is the lack of support. Since no one owns open source software, there isn't any company behind it to help you out with your support needs. If you need development or support work, you and your staff will have to handle it —or you have the option to pay costly support from a trusted Drupal partner. However, you can't simply pick up the phone and call someone when you get stuck. If your site goes down, it's up to you and your employees to fix the problem: period, end of the story.

Not So Scalable

Finally, many often find flexibility and scalability as two of the major pain points when working with a solution like Drupal CMS. For instance, if you need to build an API to get your CMS to interact with another solution, you're going to need to do it yourself —all of which leads to additional costs and resources used.

With Drupal, the only way you can possibly leverage the platform to its full potential is through a Drupal partner. Since Drupal development is extremely specialized and the technical knowledge required to set up the platform is so specific, developing your website can  often become  very costly very quickly.

Why a Headless CMS is a better alternative to Drupal?

Contrary to a traditional CMS, a headless content management system is entirely decoupled from the presentation layer or frontend — or the head. At the same time, the backend is your content repository and content management system — or the body.  

headless cms

When you separate your content repository "body" from its presentation layer "head," it becomes a headless CMS. What truly makes a headless CMS better than a traditional CMS platform is its content-first approach. Headless CMS feature full APIs to access and display content in any way desired. 

With this approach, a headless CMS like Agility CMS enables you to curate your content through the RESTful API and deliver it wherever you need it — not just to a templated website or application. A pure headless CMS doesn't generate any frontend code. It is sometimes referred to as "Content-as-a-Service" (CaaS) as a result. This process creates  the best available digital experience for the end-users of a particular device. Frontend developers can continue developing new functionality for any channel, independent of the backend. 

A headless CMS focuses on delivering and managing content. It stores content in a database and delivers content to any frontend via APIs. However, a hybrid headless CMS like Agility CMS provides users with an interface that allows users to manage content, create pages and manage sitemaps.

While it's true that Drupal is trying to shift toward the headless architecture, it was created as a monolithic CMS. To use headless Drupal, you'll need to invest even more time and work to configure it. In addition, the platform won't ever have all the true power of a truly headless CMS.

Let's take a look at some of the reasons why going headless with Agility CMS is a better option than Drupal.

Benefits of Headless CMS vs Drupal:

1 | Content-first Architecture

It's no secret that content creation is often a touchy subject due to the number of people involved in the process. From developers to marketing specialists to CXOs, everyone has a say in the content. While it's essential to pay attention to everyone, this often causes delays. 

Using content as your primary driver helps companies think from a design perspective, enabling them to craft content that  makes a difference for your stakeholders. 

Content-first means considering content early on in your projects. This strategy prioritizes content creation and delivery to reduce project rollout delays in the content-creation process. 

2 | API-centric 

Agility developed the first API-driven headless CMS in the market circa 2003. Ever since then, Agility's API-first CMS has been the foundation others have tried to build on. As an API-first CMS, Agility CMS helps you to move data in and out of your CMS using API calls. API-centricity, the backbone of Agility's modular architecture, allows you to deploy content on the fly by any member of your team. 

3 | Language Agnostic

In Agility CMS, you are able to build your websites using your favorite programming language. Our platform is built on .NET, allowing a web developer to build using JavaScript and make the most of the Jamstack architecture. You can also use traditional development methods or be as adventurous as you want unlike with Drupal CMS or other traditional CMS platforms.

4 | Enhanced Security

Traditional headless platforms like Drupal aren't as secure as they should be. Monolith CMSs, in fact, are prone to cyberattacks that almost any person can carry out without the need for an extensive toolset or knowledge. SQL injections and brute force attacks are only two of the potential security issues Drupal can face. As a headless CMS, Agility CMS protects your data from SQL injections and all kinds of cyberattacks while also ensuring compliance today and in the future.

5 | Future-proof

Legacy CMS platforms aren't built to deliver the flexibility that modern developers and marketers need to stay at the top of their game. Traditional CMSs aren't ready to deliver omnichannel digital experiences. They also tend to limit both marketers and developers on how and where to deliver content. With the growth of headless commerce as a headless alternative for eCommerce businesses, it has become evident that traditional CMSs like Drupal are ill-equipped to face the future of website development. 

Why Agility CMS is The Best Headless Alternative To Drupal

One of the most important things to understand about all of this is that there is ultimately no "one-size-fits-all" approach to which CMS is better for you. There is no one "right" tool for every job instead- there is only the right tool for the right job at the right moment. Just as the content you're creating needs to remain malleable, your CMS needs to remain nimble to give you the Agility you're looking for. 

For some, open source platforms like Drupal or even WordPress may very well be the right tool for the right job. For others, they will be woefully inadequate in many key areas. A Headless CMS can ensure that you get more out of content marketing with less financial input. An inflexible, traditional CMS costs time and money to develop and maintain while constraining users to a single delivery channel. 

On the other hand, a cloud-based, API-based headless CMS lowers your cost of storage and backend operations while providing you all the tools you need to scale and build your website. If you want to learn more about the differences between an open source like Drupal and a proprietary platform like Agility CMS, read more here: Open Source CMS vs. Proprietary CMS: Can You Have the Best of Both?

Read more:

Benefits of Headless CMS vs a Traditional CMS

Contentful vs Agility CMS: Which Headless CMS is Right for You?

Why Agility CMS has Page Management as a Headless CMS

Whitepaper "Choosing a CMS: Open Source CMS vs. Proprietary CMS"

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Whitepaper "Choosing a CMS: Open Source CMS vs. Proprietary CMS"
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