Posted by: Sam Carson | 15 September, 2007

Back on WordPress: what went wrong with the Drupal site.

It took most of August to build, as I was learning it at the same time. The dedicated Carsonspost.com site was built from scratch probably 6 times before it was launched, each suffering some sort of technical issue. We started with WordPress software, then moved to Drupal as I understood more about the software. The site became really powerful and was hosting some pretty technical features for something built by someone who has no experience in code. When we did launch, I was pretty proud of what was there.

But it was far from perfect.

The Drupal site suffered from several problems. The biggest one being how hard everything seemed to be. I had installed the TinyMCE module for rich text formatting, something pretty… kind of…. essential to a blog.

It worked for most things, but not all, and with complications. When you cut and paste text into a post with formatting on, for example, it left the line breaks in the formatting, so halfway down a sentence on my page there would be a line break where the old page had had one. Lots of little inefficiencies.

It is an important, vital, point that Drupal is not a blog platform. It is a content management system. So, if I use it for blogging then I should expect issues to arise, as it isn’t a dedicated perfect fit platform like WordPress is. I understand this. But if I use the blogging module, shouldn’t Drupal become more blog friendly?

My trouble with Drupal can be summed up with that one problem, posting content was never fluid. I spent days tinkering with how TinyMCE editor interfaced with the software, hours in the forums. Big fat waste of time on such an elementary issue.

Why isn’t rich text built into the core software? The debate about this (taking place in Drupal forums, where it seems all prospective users ask the question) seems really, really odd. Is it so you can add your own rich text module after the fact? Who builds content without rich text? The amount of users who are interested in messing around with rich text modules must be a minority to those who want rich text to work, flawlessly, all the time.

The knock on effects of this one problem are easy to see. Tony wants to post but has issues with links. I don’t know how his interface is failing, it doesn’t make sense, so I start to not trust the software. Especially when the number of comments the site enjoys takes a nosedive into silence. Trust becomes an issue. Frustration creeps in.

But the tipping point comes when the readership fell. Last week we fell to less than 10% of our readership on this WordPress site. There were a number of reasons for this. This site has been around long enough to have “broken through” in the various Page Ranks and Authorities of the internet. When we publish something here, it will get read outside of our readership and community through searches and so on.

That was not happening with the Drupal site. And even readership that had come with us from to the new site was falling. The experience of reading our content on this site must be better, as our readership was continually building. There it was in free fall.

So, my experience with site building and management was interesting and at time quite fun. Anyone who wants to know more about my experience, please email me at carsonspost at yahoo.co.uk.  But we are back here where it’s nice and easy.
In the end, we blog to speak to people and to have them reply (hopefully).  If that is not happening, or is made harder, then the process isn’t working. Drupal is an amazing bit of software with brilliant expansion abilities and power beyond belief. But until it allows the seamless creation of formatted text and posts, it will suffer. As for me, I’m going to get back to why I have a blog in the first place. To write. Hope you enjoy.

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Responses

  1. Sorry for the troubles, guys, but glad to have you back.

  2. As a Drupal proponent, I was interested to see which drawbacks resulted in your return to WP. The second point, the drop in readers is the more interesting issue. I’m assuming the content was the same? But the search engines were indexing your site differently?

    As for the first point, I think the reason RTE are not in core are because (1) to give users the option to use any RTE, e.g. FCKEditor, Textile, Texy, and TinyMCE) amd (2) because some of the modules allow you to create content with shorthand markup (filters e.g. wiki).

    Drupal is slowly becoming useful as a multi-user blogging platform, lets see what improvements version 6 has brought …

  3. Thank you neemie, you explained it much better than I.

    Whatever reason, the integration between TinyMCE and Drupal was not seamless, and I was under the impression the TinyMCE module was the most complete. So, the RTE and the core are arranged (in my experience) in a less than perfect fashion. But it has potential and in the future it will undoubtedly get better.

    I would have waited for that future (and worked with the Drupal community toward it) were it not for the breathtaking drop in readership. Even with PathAuto, Sitemap, and other SEO oriented modules, we were not broadcasting beyond our immediate audience… an audience that was also falling.

    Anyway, it was an interesting experience, and I did very much like the Drupal software.

  4. […] If only it was an easier process to redirect people to a new blog. I can empathize with Carson’s Post when they stated that there is more to making a blog work than just the writing. Carson’s Post writes, For now, let us just say that it takes a lot of effort to build a site, and it also takes a lot of effort to market a site. The two are not the same and each take time, effort and patience. We have done most of the work before with this site, and found that the new site was too much to do it all over again. We’d rather be writing. But the tipping point comes when the readership fell. Last week we fell to less than 10% of our read… […]


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