Last week we hosted and recorded a conversation between Advomatic’s CEO (Sarah Durham) and one of our technical strategists (Ochen Kaylen). The conversation explored how WordPress and Drupal are alike, how they are different, and how to assess which is the right fit if you’re thinking of making a change.
Sarah Durham: So I’m just starting recording now.
Sarah Durham: And you can see in zoom over on the, on probably the bottom of your screen, you may have a feature that says chat. Feel free to chat in any questions at any point. We’re about to get started. And so I want to just begin by doing a couple of little introductions before we dig into our topic today, which is WordPress or Drupal. So for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Sarah Durham. I’m the CEO and owner of Advomatic. A few of you dialing in today have worked with Advomatic in the past. A few of you are new to Advomatic. For those of you who have not heard of us before, we are a web development company that builds sturdy sites that support change, which means we work only with nonprofits. And our goal is to help nonprofits have the best technical site possible so that your site really delivers in terms of advancing your mission.
Sarah Durham: And I am joined today by Ochen Kaylan. Welcome, Ochen. W Ochen will tell you a little bit more about himself in a minute, but he’s worked with our team for a little over a year now and he is a senior developer in both WordPress and Drupal. He also very handily has a background in public radio, which makes him a great presenter and speaker Ochen. And I did another one of these conversations last year and there’s a recording of this on our website about privacy and your website, which is excellent. He also does a lot of speaking on other topics and is a great font of information. So I’m looking forward to getting into this conversation with him. And really the intention here for today is to open up a topic that I have to say. So many people I speak to are confused by.
Sarah Durham: And the confusion I think is about whether when you’re at a moment where you’re about to rebuild your website, to stay with the CMS you’re already in or change to a new CMS and particularly to go with WordPress or to go with Drupal because they’re both excellent but they’re excellent for different reasons. And maybe about a year ago I actually started really trying to fully grok the difference between WordPress and Drupal and I started writing an article to do that. And the deeper I got into it, actually the more complicated it began to get. So I asked Ochen to join me in this conversation today so that those of you who are wondering what the difference is or thinking of making a change can hopefully make an educated decision. And this is one of a series of conversations we host regularly basically to help boost the technical chops of people in the nonprofit sector.
Sarah Durham: So thank you all for joining us. For those of you who just logged in, we are recording this call and the transcript and recording will be available on our website later. You can also chat to me privately if you have questions and I will ask them of Ochen as we go or you can chat with everyone at the end of this conversation. We’ll also leave some time, the last 10, 15 minutes or so for any questions you, you have today. So with that, let’s begin. Ochen, anything you want to add in terms of by way of introduction about you, your background in this topic?
Ochen Kaylan: That was great. Yeah, so I certainly do a lot of development work. I also do a lot of strategy work, digital strategy work and I think that’s where it’s, it’s a really nice mix where the decision between a Drupal or WordPress or some other platform often is, is left up. It needs to be sort of strategically addressed. And that’s the thing that’s often missing from just articles that compare Drupal and WordPress or just knowing, Hey, here are two options, which one do you want to go with? And it’s really, it’s sort of a business organizational strategic decision. And so that’s what I’m hoping that we get through today is to give everyone here some sort of framework of how to, how to approach this question, how to start thinking about this question so you can actually come to an informed decision on, on what platform is best for your organization.
Sarah Durham: Great. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to start sort of big with some of those big strategic and business decisions. And then maybe if we have time and people have an interest in some of the nuts and bolts comparing features and things like that, we can drill down into some of those things. But let’s start at the very biggest question. You know, both Drupal and WordPress are content management systems or CMS is what is a CMS? Why does a nonprofit need one? You know, what’s, what’s this all about for people who are rookies?
Ochen Kaylan: Yeah. So it’s a great place to start. So S a CMS, a content management system is fundamentally, it’s an application, a computer application that you put content into and that it manages it. And then you display that content out. And that sort of seems like it’s the whole world, except it’s not. It’s only about half of the world. The other half you might think of as business applications. So something like recently worked on a project with a client where they needed a point of sale system, right? So acquainted sales system, sure there’s some content that goes in and some way you get that out. But actually the point of that is actually to run a, it’s, it’s an application, it runs business logic. It like processes data, it reports data. Like the whole point of that application is to manage the data, not necessarily manage content, right?
Ochen Kaylan: And so then there’s this other side of the world where you’re really just putting in content and you’re displaying that content. And you may do both of those in a very complex way and may be complex how you get content in and complex how you get content out. But a CMS is fundamentally for that side of the world. It’s where you put content to display it. So typically that’s like a website, right? You, you want to create pages that explain your organization pages that say who your staff, who your board of directors is. Maybe there are donation pages. Like it’s essentially your putting in content for your users to see it. And if that’s your need, that’s your business need, then you might think about a CMS. But if you have some core business logic that to operate your business, you need this, this application to run maybe a CMS isn’t the right choice for you.
Sarah Durham: And, and as we think about the world of CMS is there are open-source, CMS is their enterprise, there are cottage, there are lots of different ways that businesses have built. CMS is both Drupal and WordPress or open-source. Can you talk a little bit about what that means and how that’s different from some of the proprietary CMS systems that are out there?
Ochen Kaylan: Sure. So open-source means a couple of things. Fundamentally it means that the code that runs the site is available for anyone to look at. Whereas the colo source, think of like Microsoft word. That’s an application that many of us use. But none of us get to see the code that runs that. More importantly, because we don’t have access to that code, it means that we can’t change that code. We can’t customize that code. We can’t suggest to Microsoft, Hey, you should write this function a little differently. It’s not sort of collaboratively created or collaboratively extendable. Whereas open-source systems, because you just download the source code, you can mess with the source code as much as you want. You can contribute back to the repository where you got it from. You can say, Hey, here’s an addition that I made that maybe other users would like. You can also build your own plugins, your own modules, your own functionality to make it work exactly how you need it to work. So that’s the open-source versus a closed source.
Sarah Durham: And this has been a big shift, I think in people’s consciousness, especially non-techie people’s consciousness in the past many years. Because when nonprofits started building websites, at least the ones I was involved with maybe 20 years ago, everything was closed code, everything was proprietary code. And what often happened was you’d, you’d pick a tool to work with and then you were beholden to the people who built it. And so if you were working with somebody who built your website and all of a sudden they went under or you hated them and you wanted to move and work with somebody else, you were a little bit handcuffed to that relationship. Whereas one of the things that is really nice, I think in an open-source world is that you’re not married to one vendor. So Advomatic might build your WordPress site or build your Drupal site, but you can move that site to somebody else who knows Drupal or WordPress at any point. Is that fair to say?
Ochen Kaylan: Yeah, that’s, that’s exactly right. And certainly when it started before open-source, CMS has existed before WordPress or Drupal was invent were invented. Yeah, I was part of the group that you want a content system. Okay. We write a content management system from scratch. And so yeah, we definitely, you know, tied a relationship there today. There is still close to our systems that tie you to a vendor, but it might be something like Salesforce, right? Salesforce has its own CMS and that’s closed source so you can’t open it, but you’re not stuck to like a particular vendor who hooked you up with Salesforce, but you are now tied to Salesforce. And, and again, you can only extend Salesforce as much as you want. Adobe has a close for a CMS. Microsoft has a closest DMS. Oracle, there are lots of reasons why you might go with a closed source. And that, that may be another question if someone’s interested in the benefits of going with a closed source versus open-source. A nonprofit world largely seems to go with open-source just because of how flexible it is. And the barriers to entry are a bit lower.
Sarah Durham: And I think there is also that aligns with the values of a lot of nonprofits that it’s both. Both Drupal and WordPress are supported by vibrant communities that share code that helped improve WordPress and Drupal every day, which doesn’t happen the same way. Yeah. And there are other businesses. And, and I think we should also flag before we dig in more to WordPress and Drupal. I think we should also flag that increasingly we are seeing nonprofits using CMS is like Wix or Squarespace, which are it, you know, from my experience at least much smaller, much more plug and play great if you’re doing something super, super simple but don’t have nearly the support of community and the range of options that you have. So I would say these days almost every nonprofit that I’ve talked to in the past many years when they’re thinking about rebuilding our site, odds are good.
Sarah Durham: Drupal and WordPress are kind of right at the top of the list of, of options they’re considering. So let’s talk about them a bit. You know, there is a metaphor that I often hear used to explain the difference between the two. I wonder how you feel about this. It is that WordPress is kind of like a transformer and Drupal is more like Lego meaning transformers. They evolve, they morph into things, but what they morph into, what you can actually make them into is restricted. You can’t turn them into anything. Whereas Lego is fundamentally about pieces that can be assembled to create just about anything you want. And the way I’ve heard that metaphor used I think in some ways describes why people, at least the people I talked to are often drawn toward WordPress. There’s a simplicity to something that does not have endless possibilities. At the same time, there are restrictions on that. How do you feel? Is that a fair metaphor? How would you describe the difference?
Ochen Kaylan: Before it gets to some, some core differences between WordPress and Drupal? WordPress, when it comes out of the box, there’s like a lot already decided for you. And so you can set up pages, you can start writing blog posts, you can start writing, you know about pages and event pages out of the box very quickly. I, I would hesitate a little bit in that both of them are fairly mature ecosystems. And so there are plugins that are community-contributed plugins for both platforms and so they can both end up doing a whole lot, but they come from a different place. Like maybe a slightly different metaphor is let’s say you have to buy a car and you are going to decide between a Prius and a pickup truck, which one’s better? Well, I mean, they’re both good for different reasons.
Ochen Kaylan: And so if you decide what you need is a city car you want to get around town, you want to be able to park easily. You want to, you know, keep your fuel costs low. Clearly you go for a pickup truck are for, for the Prius. But if your goal is to haul around full sheets of plywood, like a Prius isn’t going to be the ideal situation. Maybe a pickup truck. Now both of them can get you around town. Both of them can park wherever you need to. If you have the Prius and you decide you need to take haul some sheets of plywood, you can actually do it right? You get a hitch added to the Prius, you get a little trailer, you can make it happen. But it’s not ideal. Like it’s, it’s a, you know, it takes a lot more work and it’s not an ideal solution.
Ochen Kaylan: That’s how I think of the difference between WordPress and Drupal, that both of them can pretty much do a whole lot. But they come from different places and Excel at different things. And so if you decide you know, we’ll talk about the specific differences later on, but if you decide your website’s gonna really need some complexity around roles and permissions, Drupal is just inherently better than that. If you find out that if you decide your website is going to have a whole lot of users that are going to have very little training, WordPress is inherently better at that. And so the, with a really great WordPress developer and a really great Drupal developer, they can go head to head in, in a lot of functionality and they can sort of bend both tools to do a whole lot of the same stuff. But depending on what you ask them to do, one’s going to be a lot easier to turn into that thing then the other.
Sarah Durham: So, so I think your last comment kind of circles back in some ways to where you began, which is to say it depends on your business goals as an organization. So so leading with business goals, let’s say you’re a nonprofit who uses its website largely for information for sharing news. You know, maybe it’s not totally static, it’s not just an online brochure, but it doesn’t have to have a lot of complex or a lot of complex integration from other applications or data, data sources. Seems to me WordPress might be the better fit. But is that fair to say? What, how would you, how would you tackle that situation?
Ochen Kaylan: Yeah, I would say that maybe 80% of the time that I have this conversation with the client. So it’s a client, they know they need to redo their website, they’re open to changing platforms or sticking with a platform. Very often they come and say, we need basic functionality. We need to add pages, we need to like do this basic stuff. We will then have a longer conversation about exactly everything that they need. And I don’t know, pretty often they will say, okay, well, most of the time we need this basic stuff except this one thing that’s very specific to our organization. It just has some weird rules around it that we have to do. You know I, I see we have someone from Newark museum, that’s an example of their hours, right? The hours that they post on the website.
Ochen Kaylan: We’re open this day. We’re not open this day. Sometimes that changes. Sometimes they’re open when they’re not normally because of holidays. Sometimes they’re closed. Women normally open because of other events. Like they need some extra business logic around their hours. Well, there’s probably not a contributed plugin for that for WordPress. There may not be for Drupal and it’s probably going to be easier to develop for Drupal, right? So that may be where 90% of their site could be handled by either one. But there’s one thing, maybe it’s not hours, maybe it’s events. Maybe we got some special logic around events or around donations. Maybe you want to pilot some unusual donation mechanism. Like if it’s something slightly unusual, something that isn’t already out there that’s when you start to say, well, maybe we want to talk about a more robust system like Drupal that’s a little more extensible.
Ochen Kaylan: The other time we’d talk about WordPress versus Drupal is the longterm strategy. This may be what you need today. Maybe today you just need five pages and that’s it. But if you have a strategy over the next year of developing your site, of adding functionality, of adding some complex search, adding some signup, like adding a bunch of new functionality you need to start thinking about what platforms going to support all of that functionality. Even if not, you’re not going to build it today. So maybe you just have very simple events today, but if you really had your way two years from now, you would have a very complex event, ticketing, ordering reservation system, like whatever. Maybe WordPress isn’t right, but if you don’t have any of that, if you really just need to get up, get them pages, have lots of admins on it be able to have a super quick turnaround and you don’t need to do like extra weird, super weird stuff. WordPress might be the right solution for you.
Sarah Durham: I mean, it, it, you know, that comment has me thinking about anticipatory challenge for many nonprofits with the website that, you know, if you’ve got a strategic plan that calls forth what your organization should be working on in the next three years or the next five years, in an ideal world, your digital team would kind of map that strategic plan to the website would say, okay, you know, here’s how the website is going to help bring what we’re working on as an organization to life. I was, I was recently meeting with an Advomatic client who’s also an arts organization, not the Newark museum, but a different arts organization that has historically had used their website to describe different program areas in a somewhat siloed way. And they just went through a strategic planning process where one of the things they decided to do was weave together a more cohesive experience of the organization.
Sarah Durham: So rather than just interact with one program, they want people to move in through different doors and get to know the organization in a more unified way. The way the website was built though is very program-specific and very siloed. And so part of what their digital team is thinking about is like, okay, what does a website look like that really fully enact all these different pieces and allows us to pull in different, you know, different areas of expertise. Not just today, but two years from now or five years from now as we’re growing. And, and that, that does, that’s a real capacity challenge for a lot of teams.
Ochen Kaylan: It really is. And it’s, it’s one of the reasons I enjoy working with Advomatic is that Advomatic node development team is going to understand your organization. You’re the organization experts, you know, the, you’re the subject matter on how your organizations need to work and what you anticipate working, but it’s often not part of your expertise to understand the digital landscape and all options and all ways of developing a digital strategy. And that’s something that Automatic’s really great at is, is really having those conversations and marrying those two ideas of the organizational strategy I’m developing into a communication strategy, developing into a digital strategy and really seamlessly sort of joining all those together. So you know, for the next however you know, year or two years, five years that it’s a very intentional build that features are added. I’d always add an enhanced organizational strategy cause I personally really enjoy that mix of the strategy work in the and the development work.
Sarah Durham: Yeah. And there are a couple of members of the Advomatic team on this call today. One of them is Rose Leibman and the other is Rory Tucker. And they both work with, with a lot of our clients worry who oversees our continuous care, which is the way we maintain websites is often a sort of clamoring for the organization’s strategic details. He wants to understand in order to help support the site. He wants to understand where is this organization heading, where is this website heading to make sure that the technical recommendations are moving towards building out things that have a long shelf life and a really robust and I think Rose if she, and maybe Rose you’ll chat in if you want to add to this. But one of the things I’ve often heard Rose encourage organizations to do is you don’t have to decide WordPress or Drupal.
Sarah Durham: You just have to find somebody you trust to help you navigate that process. And some, and as Roshan has been talking about on this call that can be through a discovery process, you know, and have MADEC we call it a planning phase where we really dig into like what are you trying to do and really understand the, the longer-term objective and then you kind of reverse engineer the technical solution based on, on the long term organizational challenge. Oh, should I want to talk with you about some of the misperceptions about WordPress and Drupal? You know, WordPress really kind of came into I think the collective consciousness when it emerged as this blogging superstar. You know, WordPress really I think in its first three or four years tried to own the space. Like if you wanted to have a blog, WordPress just did it better than anybody else.
Sarah Durham: And now they certainly expanded well beyond that. But I still think that they have a little bit of a maybe a misperception that they are effectively a blogging platform. And similarly, Drupal, I still hear a lot of people say, well I don’t want to use Drupal because it’s just too technically complicated. The admin experience is too clunky. You have to know how to code. It’s too much. So, so I hear, you know, people say, I don’t want WordPress cause I need more than a blog or I don’t want Drupal because I don’t want to be beholden to this, you know, technically complex behemoth. Are those things true?
Ochen Kaylan: Yes, to some extent. So so WordPress, you’re right, it, it, it was invented to really support what was a, a lack in the, in the world at the time around a really good open-source blogging platform. And so WordPress, when it comes out of the box, has two ways of thinking about content. Technically we call them content types. One is a blog post and one is a page. And so a blog is primarily a bunch of blog posts, but a handful of pages, like an about page, like a page might be about the author or here are just upcoming events, right? But it’s mostly a, a set of blogs that just sort of go in a blog roll. It’s blogging and blog, blog, post, post, post, post. When WordPress is used as a website, that sort of flips where most of the site are these individual pages.
Ochen Kaylan: And maybe there’s a blog, maybe the blog is called a blog. Maybe it’s called press releases. Maybe it’s called something else, but it’s still that same idea. Now WordPress can extend far beyond that, but that’s still at its core what it is. And so that’s really what it, what it excels at. If you’re making a website, then it’s single pages. And then maybe some sort of chronologically based contents, you know, at regular periods. It’s not limited to that. It can go beyond that. It’s still at its core. That’s what it is. Drupal was, was made to be an application that could create something like WordPress but also could create something totally different. But decisions that come baked in when you install a fresh install of WordPress, all of those are not, they don’t exist in Dribbble. Nothing existed.
Ochen Kaylan: Your fault, when you load up WordPress, you can immediately create a page, create a blog post. You’re good to go half-hour later for juvenile. If you want to create a blog, you’ve got to create the page that can hold a blog. You’ve got to create the blog content type. But the benefit of Drupal is maybe you don’t want a blog. Maybe you want something else, maybe you want events. Well, there’s nothing in built-in WordPress that supports events. There are plugins you can add to it. But with Drupal you just build it just like you build anything else. And so what happens is Drupal does tend to require developers to do any sort of custom work or complexity. It doesn’t, you don’t need to do, you don’t need to have a developer. You can just click and drag and just, you know, with the mouse, create a website through Drupal. But you are going to be limited in sort of how, how customizable you can make it. When you want to customize it, you do need to bring in developers. But if your organization needs that custom customization, it’s going to be a lot easier in Drupal than it is in WordPress.
Sarah Durham: So can I, let me, can I just ask one follow up question about that? I mean, you know, WordPress has a lot of out of the box templates. So if I wanted to go home right now and build a website, I could pick a pretty template and put my own photos in it and do that. And my understanding is that Drupal does have some templates too, but you’re saying they’re different, they’re more like modules you have to use to build elements. Is that, is that correct? Well
Ochen Kaylan: So, so both have themes. And you can, themes just change the way that that it looks changes, the colors, changes, the font sometimes changes the layout. And both WordPress and Drupal have themes. Themes tend to be really important to the WordPress ecosystem because they tend not to have developers and they tend to be smaller projects where customization even of the theme isn’t all that important. And it’s okay if your site looks identical to some other site because you’re using the same theme. Typically when you’re making a Drupal site, it tends to be a slightly larger project and it becomes a more sort of central or important project to the organization. And so you want to customize it and you want it to use your exact color scheme of your organization because your organization has a branding guideline that you need to, to meet you know, specific treatments of, of images and of logos and things like that.
Ochen Kaylan: If you have those and you need to meet those, you can make a custom theme in WordPress. It’s a little harder than making a custom theme in Drupal, right? But just to note that we’ve been talking about websites, Drupal or WordPress in the context of an organization’s site. And that’s actually that’s, that’s not how a lot of sites are being created right now. Like for example, it’s becoming more and more common for marketing departments to have their own microsite because maybe they have a campaign, maybe they sent out an email newsletter and they want a destination page and it may or may not make sense for that to be on the main site. So the marketing team has its own WordPress install where they can just spin up a static page. You know, they don’t need a developer. They put the content. Maybe they change the layout, maybe they changed the color and it’s now a destination stage. Or maybe there’s an event announcement and they just need someplace for that delay, and it doesn’t make sense for it to go on the main site. And so maybe the main site is Drupal cause there’s a lot of stuff there is, there are events, there’s like extra business logic there, but the marketing site, maybe that’s just WordPress or maybe it’s Wix or Squarespace or something like that.
Sarah Durham: Yup. And ed max got a few larger clients who mixed Drupal and WordPress in those, in those kinds of ways. Let’s talk about what it takes to support a Drupal site or a WordPress site. Like you’ve, you’ve built your site and now you want to keep it operational and keep it clean. Are there, are there technical complexities or nuances you should anticipate as, as a nonprofit?
Ochen Kaylan: Sure. So the very first one, and I think the most important one is security. Security updates for both WordPress and Drupal. Come out periodically and it’s extremely important that you keep up with those security updates. Here’s one of the big ways that WordPress wins is that WordPress, you can set it up and I generally recommend setting up to automatically do security updates. So you just check a box when you’re building the site and then anytime a new security update comes out, the site automatically downloads it. It updates whatever’s update it and then just sends you an email, Hey, you downloaded the security patch, it’s been installed. Congratulations. Drupal is not automatic. You need to have someone. And it’s, it’s either a developer that you work with or it can be someone on staff. If they have any sort of technical ability, they can apply any security patches that come out that tends to happen, I don’t know, on average, maybe about once a month, once every couple months where there’s like an important security patch that needs to get updated on either platform.
Ochen Kaylan: So if you do nothing else, you have to keep up the security. Cause if you don’t, you’re, you’re going to be vulnerable to attacks you on that. Then it’s about how do you imagine the future of this site going? Like say it’s a Martin marketing microsite, I don’t know that you’re going to need much, you know, additional functionality over the next year if the point of that is to up static landing pages. Right? And so in that case, you just say, you know, budget a couple of hours in case something breaks. But just so you have some, you know, some backstop there, but in general you don’t plan that functionality or sorry, you don’t plan that sort of need for, for updates and need for a technical person. But if you have a larger site, WordPress or Drupal where you know, okay, we’re building an out six months from now, we’re going to need some new functionality.
Ochen Kaylan: I mean, you got a budget that, and either way you’re going to have to hire a developer, whether it’s a WordPress developer, a Drupal developer, if it’s really like installing new modules, updating the theme, like adding some functionality, you’re very likely will need some developer. It can be an in-person and in-house person. If you have someone who has any sort of technical abilities or is just really comfortable in the CMS world, like maybe they can install a WordPress module, not having to code anything and they can customize it enough to work. For Drupal for a lot of like functionality updates, you tend to need to bring in a developer.
Sarah Durham: You know, there’s a funny kind of I don’t know, disconnect here. I have over the past year talked to a lot of organizations, a lot of nonprofits who have Drupal sites that they, their organization built a while ago who were thinking about going to WordPress and they’re thinking about going to WordPress for all kinds of reasons. One might be that they have a Drupal seven site and that’s coming to the end of its shelf life and they don’t want to build another Drupal site. I was talking recently to an organization that wants to go to Drupal just because they think it’ll be easier to hire staff people who know how to use WordPress over Drupal. But as the website moves more and more into the marketing team and the communications team, what I think we’re seeing in-house in nonprofits is that the people managing the website have less time and less technical expertise for anything that’s tech work.
Sarah Durham: And so even if you’ve got a WordPress site that is not necessarily very technically complex, your team might becoming less technically competent. So there’s also, I think sometimes a benefit or a tension around who’s maintaining that WordPress site. Advomatic has a client who built a WordPress site that’s really great a couple of years ago with an agency and has been maintaining it in house, but just didn’t know the teams, you know, their marketing. It’s actually development, you know, fundraising staff just didn’t know some of the things they needed to do is sort of the hygiene of the site. So that’s another, it’s another sort of thing to think about I think is like how, how are you managing the security updates, but also when things change or evolve, do you really have the in house capacity to deal with it?
Ochen Kaylan: Yeah. Yeah. And that that can sometimes be a hard realization to maybe come to terms with. And that if the marketing department is taking over ownership of the website for the organization, the abilities of the marketing department have to expand to be able to support that. And so even though marketing maybe never had a technical person before, if that’s now in your purview, maybe time for it. Like you may just be forced into that if that’s now within your, your centers,
Sarah Durham: I’ve got to do it in house and you’d probably have to have, you probably have to be a larger organization to warrant having that in house, you know, to, to have somebody with that kind of bandwidth to bring it in house.
Ochen Kaylan: But you know, you’re talking about the care, you know, options that have medic provides. I mean, that’s what a lot of organizations use and that they can’t afford a full-time person, but they can afford 10 hours a month. Right, right. And that like, gives them enough, they’re, their security updates are done. Any like bugs any problems are taken care of. You know, some feature updates happen you know, that ends up being a lot more manageable, especially for smaller organizations. You know, that 10 hours a week. You know.
Sarah Durham: Yeah. Yeah. And for those of you who are new to Advomatic, that is, that is a service that we provide both and WordPress and Drupal is technical support and there are a range of plans that are scaled based on what kind of site you have and what, what you need. I have a couple of other things I want to ask you Ochen and then I want to also want to make, make sure we leave some time for questions that people have because I think there may be people who have some very specific questions they might want to ask you. So the first question I wanna ask sort of goes back to something you were talking about earlier. You talked about how sometimes determining whether WordPress or Drupal is going to be best for you is, is about understanding the functionality you need today, but also anticipating the functionality you might want tomorrow. And that’s that is a challenge as we talked about. How do you feel about an organization? Like let’s say you can’t do that. Let’s say you’re a marketing or communications person and you’re just drowning in work to do and you need to make a decision, but you want to leave the door open because you, you don’t, you don’t know. Is the, is the safer bet to go with something like Drupal that gives you, you know, more flexibility downstream or is that not the case?
Ochen Kaylan: I, I mean, this may not be helpful, but I don’t think that there’s a blanket rule there. I think that even if like a one-hour conversation with whoever is that decision-maker or whoever knows, knows the organization, just an hour conversation of what is it that you need out of this? What’s your hope for this? Even if you can’t imagine what you need tomorrow, tell me about what you need today. Like where are your pain points? If everything’s working well today, what does that look like? How often are you touching the website? What type of content do you need on the website? Do you have other assets? Is it video, audio? Like even just a one hour conversation, we can come to a pretty decision about, okay, today you’re, you’re squarely a WordPress that, that’s like the best solution for you.
Ochen Kaylan: It’s going to give you some extensibility. It doesn’t sound like you’re going to need a whole lot from that. Let’s do that. Whereas like right now, if you’re on the cusp or if you just need a lot of custom functionality, we’re going to do triple and, and we’ll go there. So I really don’t think that there’s a mega statement, which is why so often if you, you know, if you just Google WordPress versus Drupal, they’re never going to say one’s better than the other. They often just talk about the different features that each one has because the decision is ultimately a business, you know, strategic decision. But it doesn’t need to be a huge, you know, six month discovery period of, of making that decision. If you only have an hour and you can only imagine about today, you know, we can still help you come to a decision there.
Sarah Durham: Okay. So what are the, one of the situations that a lot of organizations are in right now is they are looking down the barrel of Drupal seven. They, you know, Drupal seven is sunsetting, I think it’s 2021. And so, you know, after, after that or before that you’re gonna need to move your Drupal seven site to Drupal eight or nine and that’s going to be a big expense. That’s not going to just be like a little, a little update. So a lot of organizations are talking at this point I think anticipating that about whether it makes sense to move to WordPress or to stay in Drupal. That’s one reason why you might change your CMS or one milestone that you might look at. It kind of, you know, kind of reminds me once of a, a management consultant I worked with who said that a lot of businesses make some of their most critical decisions when the lease on their space is up. Cause you got to decide am I moving or not? So certainly, certainly that’s one moment. What are some of the other moments where an organization might want to pause and think about changing their CMS? Are there other moments?
Ochen Kaylan: Yeah, there, there are. And to start with that one, so that is, it’s a real-world thing. We’re coming to end of life with Drupal seven on November 21 and there, if you’re stuck with seven and you just can’t in your budget, like you cannot figure out a way to get off of triple seven. They’re ways of dealing with that. So like, it’s not, it’s not like everything’s going to go dark and you’re suddenly not gonna have a website. It’s not ideal, but like there’s life support at that point. Then, what we often see in that case is, okay, we have this Drupal site. We don’t like it often because it’s just hard to use. We have to change. So let’s go to WordPress because we know that’s easier to use. What that really means is that you may not have a great pupil seven-word site.
Ochen Kaylan: That often 90%, sometimes 100% of thought of a website goes into what the user sees and very little thought is given to what the admin actually experiences day in and day out. If that’s the case, then yeah, you probably have a site that that was geared. Drupal seven was geared towards it. People in your, if you’re a marketing person, of course you know it’s going to be harder to use. But that doesn’t mean that Drupal is inherently just hard to use. It just means that people didn’t think about the admin experience when they were building your site. So Drupal eight can be very easy for an admin to use. So do your question. Other times when the decision gets made, often it’s frustration. It’s this site that is just such a pain to use. We don’t like using it. We finally have a budget to solve this problem.
Ochen Kaylan: Let’s change CMSs. Another one is when you’re running up against limits and functionality. And this we all walk and see the other way where WordPress is just there, the WordPress site isn’t able to support the business logic anymore. It’s just not able to do everything that we needed to do. So we look at other options. Often it’s upgrading to the Drupal, but sometimes it’s going somewhere else. Sometimes it’s integration with like a Salesforce or something like that. Those tend to be the big ones. The frustrations with the sites the end of life of a site or meeting more than what the site can give.
Sarah Durham: And I have to say, I always feel concerned when somebody is in Drupal and thinking about leaving Drupal mostly out of frustration. I feel concerned because oftentimes the people I’m talking to who are in that situation really haven’t had great in house or external support on their site. So, so it seems like often that frustration is not necessarily Drupal, it’s more like what their site has become that the site has, has sort of become a runaway train. There are messes that have been made that they don’t know how to correct. And it’s, you know, it’s, it’s kind of a little like throwing the baby out with the bathwater because you just can’t, can’t figure out what to do. It is often, you know, I’ve heard Rose Liebman advise a lot of Advomatic clients about this. It’s often a much better value to just pause and look under the hood and say, are some of the things causing that frustration fixable? Because you’ve got this powerful tool and if you can make it work in a way that’s less frustrating, that seems like a good way to go. Right?
Ochen Kaylan: Yup. Yup, yup. That’s absolutely right. And to be objective here, that’s one of the problems with open-source is that anyone can add code however they want and maybe they’re great and maybe they’re not great. Maybe you have two developers who are great, but they think differently and solve problems differently. You know, none of that’s going to happen with Microsoft CMS. But Microsoft, CMS, you’re stuck with what Microsoft gives you. Right? So, so that’s the balance that it does mean that unfortunately, if you have to go with, you know, the cheapest development option, you’re, you, you might, you know, have some long term effects from that. The other concern that I have when when folks say, or we don’t like our Drupal site, it’s too hard to use, we want to go to WordPress is they may not realize how much functionality they’re going to have to give up that if they’re on Drupal for a reason as opposed to just that’s what the developer who was making the site wanted to use.
Ochen Kaylan: If they actually need to be on Drupal because they have custom functionality or needs that are just harder to meet and other CMSs that’s, you know, that’s gonna have to be a decision point of is this not important to you anymore or are you willing to give this up for a better admin experience? Or do you want to, you know, go to triple eight and, and just say upfront, we care about the admin experience. Be sure that you make a good admin experience because it can solve, you know, potentially both. You can keep the functionality and get a better experience. [inaudible]
Sarah Durham: Great point. Okay, so we have about 15 minutes left before the top of the hour. I want to encourage people to chat in any questions. There are also three people today who have dialed in on audio and don’t seem to be in zoom and they are Jake, Kristin and Michael. I’m going to unmute the three of you right now. I’m just unmuting you and I’m giving you a heads up in case you’re in a noisy environment. I’m unmuting you so that you can ask questions with your voices. Anybody else who’s logged into zoom on the application, you can also unmute yourself if you prefer to ask a question with your voice. You can also chat into me or to everyone. So if you have any specific questions about WordPress or Drupal, please chat them in. In the meantime, I have a couple of questions that people sent me in advance, ready to go.
Sarah Durham: So I want to just start with a couple of those. You actually just touched a little bit on this, which is the user admin, the user experience. Can you speak a little, you know on this, on this call, of course, a lot of the people dialing in work in nonprofits and they’re the people who are going to be logging in every day dealing with that admin panel. And also dealing with the permissions in their organization. You touched on this a little bit before, you know, so you might be in a large organization where lots of people by department, by job title, you know, have different kinds of permissions. Talk a little bit about how WordPress and Drupal compare from an admin experience and from a permissions experience, please.
Ochen Kaylan: Yeah. Yeah. So first from the admin experience, so it’s helpful to maybe remember where both of these applications developed. So WordPress was made for nontechnical people to have a website. And so from the very beginning, it was built around the concept of this should be easy to use for anyone who isn’t a developer, who isn’t an it person. Drupal on the other hand made by IP it people for it people. And so it, it works really, really well if you’re a developer, like you understand it really well. Drupal has sort of come to terms with this limitation and over the last few years has spent a tremendous amount of time focusing on improving the admin experience. And so in Drupal eight, it’s a lot better, but there are also some very significant initiatives by the Drupal organization to continue to improve the admin experience because as, as you mentioned, Sarah, lots of non it people are now becoming the owners and that the admins for Drupal sites.
Ochen Kaylan: And so Drupal is definitely behind in terms of thinking about it, but the strides that they’ve made in the last couple of years have been quite strong. And so, you know, one example is the admin theme that runs WordPress. It’s called Gutenberg. You happen to know that there’s a Gutenberg theme admin theme for Drupal, so you can actually use the same admin or both. And so there it’s a well deserved reputation of being hard to use. But that is becoming a little out of date, especially if your, if your developer, if the person developing your website your Drupal site knows that you care about the admin experience and having has experience making good admin experiences because again, people who have been in this or this in Drupal for a couple of years or maybe longer, five years, 10 years they, they maybe have grown accustomed to the old interface.
Ochen Kaylan: And so maybe they just need to be reminded, Hey, we’re like primary users of the site. Made sure that experience is good as well on the permission side. So Drupal is, is really, it’s like your transformers versus Legos analogy. For Drupal, you can add any role that you want. Like you can add as many roles. It’s one, you could have a thousand roles under Drupal side if you want. And you can say exactly what permissions each role gets. So it’s very customizable. WordPress out of the box comes with five roles and it takes a little bit of work to expand beyond those. So the fibroids are like the basic roles you would need for a basic site. There’s an editor, there’s a writer, there’s an approver, you know, there’s an admin that’s tough. But if you need something else, like say you have an events section and you just want people to be able to admin just the content in the events events section, well, WordPress isn’t able to support that, at least out of the box a Drupal, it’s built to support stuff like that.
Sarah Durham: I mean, that permission piece I could imagine fundamentally is the, might be the decision point for a lot of people who work in organizations that are mid size or larger. You know, I’ve, I’ve worked with a lot of organizations where they want people at certain levels in, in other, like in programs departments or government relations departments to be able to write and post, but in very specific areas. And, and in my experience, very few organizations want people to have universal permission. They want to really lock down what, what pages can be edited and altered. So I could see that would be a big one. Do you find that?
Ochen Kaylan: Absolutely. Yup. And you’re right that if, if there’s a requirement to only be able to admin pages within a certain section of the site, WordPress is, it’s going to be tough to make that work. You can definitely make it work, but it’s, it’s going against the grain of WordPress. There’s also a related concept there, which is like reviewing and publishing work. So like writing a post, having one person who can only write drafts and then having another person who reviews drafts and approves them. Maybe you’ve got an approval chain where it needs to be approved by marketing, but it also needs to be approved by legal. And then like it has to go through a couple of chains before it’s finally published. Again, you can sort of make that work in WordPress, but it’s really going against the grain of what WordPress is. WordPress has just, I have a blog, write this post and publish it. Whereas Drupal, it’s completely customizable so you can make whatever sort of moderation flows that you need.
Sarah Durham: Great. Okay. So I got somebody chatted me a question privately about managing, managing widgets and blocks. So widgets is like a WordPress thing, blocks or a Drupal thing. I think they kind of mean the same thing. Maybe you can explain what they are which is easier, which is, which is better.
Ochen Kaylan: Sure. so, so widgets typically are a piece of functionality. Like say I want a my newsletter signup widget and I want to put it on this place, on this page. WordPress is great with that. If the widget exists you’re sort of limited that the widget has to exist. And, but if it is, you can put it sort of wherever you want. And that makes sense. Totally, totally easy. For Drupal, there’s this concept of blocks, but that’s like a site building thing. What we typically do is we write this thing called paragraphs. It’s a bad name for it, but we basically say, okay, this thing, if you want this to be on a page, then you plug it in here. Paragraphs, these, these Drupal widget things can be however you build that. They can be anything, whether they exist in the community or not.
Ochen Kaylan: Blocks we tend to get away from because of how, like how programming stuff has done. So when you’re developing a site, then you line up all the blocks. But as in content admin, if you want to add a thing to a page, we make a special paragraph to it. And then you can load it wherever you want. So again, it’s, it’s, it’s that same thing of if what you want exist off the shelf in WordPress and everything you want exists off the shelf, you just plug them in, you’re good to go. As soon as you want something different or you want this thing, but you want it to act slightly differently than the way it comes out of the box. Tend to be better, but
Sarah Durham: Great. Okay. So I’m just gonna pause for a second. Just check if anybody would like to unmute and speak and ask you a question. Give them a chance to jump in. It looks like Michael, you might be talking.
Newark Museum: Yes. Hi, this is the Newark Museum. This has been great. And you know, you can’t hear it enough for those of us who aren’t developers. You had mentioned that that the upgrade to Drupal eight or nine is is a bit expensive. Can you quantify that? Well, what are we talking about? Obviously it’s not this matters, you know, creating a website from scratch.
Sarah Durham: Yeah. And I think, I think what Ochen can do in this call is talk broadly about what it means to go from triple seven. But Michael also, I would encourage you to have a conversation with Rose about that because Rose can be really specific for you and some of the variables that might be unique to your website. But yeah, go ahead. Ochen.
Ochen Kaylan: Yeah. Yeah, I mean it’s a good question. So so Drupal went along for a very long time based on some beliefs. And beliefs about how Drupal should work and assumptions about how Drupal should work. And it became eventually too constrained by those beliefs. It also became out of sync with sort of the rest of development world. And so the Drupal community decided to make a very dramatic change. And that change happened in eight in Drupal eight, which is the current live version, although Drupal of nine is starting to come out soon. Because there was such a fundamental shift between seven and eight, typically the upgrade path between seven and eight is you rebuild your site. And that can be kind of expensive. It’s also a great opportunity because sites, you know, might have a whole lot of legacy code that they’re dealing with functionality that was once important but not important. So like it’s an opportunity as much as anything else, but it is a significant change. That being said, once you make this ship, once you sort of jump the fence to eight up, like the upgrade from eight to nine is trivial. Like it takes an hour’s worth of work. So so once you sort of make this jump and you commit to that jump, then you should be pretty stable with version nine, version 10, however that comes out. And you shouldn’t ever really have to do this big jump the fence again.
Sarah Durham: And Rose I might ask you if you don’t mind to just pop up on screen for a second so folks, folks can meet, meet you, meet you too. Any other questions? Anybody would like to ask with their voices or their fingers.
Sarah Durham: Okay. It seems like we don’t have any other questions. I just wanted to introduce Rose Liebman. Michael knows Rose, those of you who’ve never worked in that fanatic might not know Rose, but Rose is a great person to answer these questions specifically for you. If you’re wondering about your site, you want to begin to have a conversation with that dramatic, either about a new site build or about maintaining an existing site you have and sorting out some of the technical issues on it. Rose would be the person to connect with and I can help you connect with her. Okay. I don’t think we have any other questions. Rose, was there anything you wanted to add to this discussion?
Speaker 6: There were a few things as we were, as we were going through, but I just wanted to just say that regarding that, that sort of idea that the Drupal admin experience is poor, that really is not the case anymore. And I can get into some of the deeper reasoning for that. Why that is. I think that’s been very important to people for a long time. And, and to its credit, the Drupal community has really addressed that. And I think that there’s also more awareness among developers about how, you know, not to just accept the out of the box reality of Drupal and to really create an accessible admin experience. I mean, admins are users ultimately. So we need to make sure that our user centric website builds includes them.
Sarah Durham: Yeah. And, and one of the things I’ve heard Rose talk about recently, it’s a meetings is also once you get out of Drupal seven and you get into Drupal eight or even triple nine, it’s going to be a lot easier to keep upgrading. And Drupal, we hopefully won’t hit another one of these kind of obsolescence things in Drupal, hopefully ever, but certainly not in the near future. So you don’t have to worry if you go from Drupal seven to Drupal eight that in another two years or three years you have to throw it out and build. Again, this seems to be a little bit of a cliff, but but hopefully the last cliff, is that fair to say? Ocean?
Ochen Kaylan: That’s fair. Yeah. And we get a whole lot for making that change. Like there’s a whole lot of functionality, performance enhancements like it’s, it’s ultimately worth it even if it is a little painful to make that jump.
Sarah Durham: We have another question that just came in from Ralph about experience with Drupal nine. I mean, Drupal nine is, you know, pretty, pretty spank new Ochen. Can you speak to that?
Ochen Kaylan: Yeah. So I’ve been using Drupal nine testing it out as it’s been working. Mostly I’ve been testing out the upgrade from Drupal eight eight which is our current version to nine and it’s been seamless. It’s been beautiful. [inaudible] Technically speaking, there’s actually no difference between eight, eight, and nine. Other than version eight kept a bunch of deprecated code. So like if you had old code it would still work. So you’ve had, we’ve had like two years now to make to get rid of all that code. So nine is the same thing as eight, eight with that deprecated code removed. So the upgrade has been very seamless.
Sarah Durham: And Rory, I see you’re chatting in since not everybody can see the chat. Do you mind just popping on camera and you can use your voice to add to this conversation? Rory? Rory Tucker’s a member of the ad’s Matic team too. Hey Rory.
Ochen Kaylan: Hey there everyone. Yeah, I just want to follow up. For me, it’s often, and, and Ochen touched on this, it’s not the CMS itself, it’s just how it’s configured. And we’ve come across our clients who have WordPress sites who are more confused because the way it’s been set up and what seems like it should make sense behaves differently in their backend. And I’ve seen custom Drupal interfaces that are far more user friendly from our marketing team as opposed to the WordPress. And I think there’s sometimes assumptions that WordPress is easy and it is for people that have a little bit of knowledge worse. Some people they just want to see, I only need to know the things. I should edit an update. And that’s where Drupal configuration really shines in my opinion.
Sarah Durham: I have to say I’ve had that exact experience as a, as a WordPress admin where I’ve gone in and I’ve been like, Oh, there’s so many more choices here. Then I as a non-techie should have access to too many, too many things I could check or uncheck that could potentially cause problems. Whereas in Drupal, I’ve seen, I’ve seen some admin interfaces that are just like much more tightly designed and constrained which, which does, I could see in this conversation that we’re talking about that’s going to take more time to set up, but it’s going to give the person using the site, the admin much greater confidence, particularly at different permission levels that they’re not going to actually go in and check the wrong thing or break something. So that’s a, that’s a great point.
Ochen Kaylan: Follow up on that one, sir. Just that it, that isn’t actually necessarily a deciding factor because your WordPress could be cleaned up as well, and it just really goes to show that ultimately whatever system you use, you just want someone to create it and set it up for you that it works best for you and not leaving these switches necessarily that you don’t need to use.
Sarah Durham: Great. That’s a great clarification. All right. I want to thank everybody for logging in today and especially Ochen. Ochen is always just a wealth of information and great at sharing. We’re gonna post this recording and a transcription on our website and I’ll make sure that that’s live on the site within a week or two. So if you want to watch it again or share any snippets of this conversation, you’ll be able to do that by visiting our site. We also just relaunched our new face lifted site. If you haven’t been there recently, Advomatic.com is looking, looking good. And for those of you who are sort of slugging your way through some of these issues, Rose Liebman orRose@Advomatic.com is probably the best place to start in terms of getting to know Advomatic and specifically helping you navigate those questions. So please don’t hesitate to email Rose or me if you’d like to continue the conversation in specific terms for your organization. Thanks everybody. Have a great day.