You might have noticed that most of my published works center on the open source content management system called Drupal. I created my first Drupal 4.5 site in 2006. I have worked on numerous Drupal sites. I have provided training for Drupal 6, 7, and 8, and have written three Drupal books.
So, why the heck is my site in WordPress.com? Before I explain, please know that it took 6 years of contemplating to reach this decision. Obviously, it didn’t come easy, because I am and will always be a Drupal advocate. However, I am also the kind of person who chooses their tools based on need. And, WordPress.com is a tool that meets my current needs.
The reason for choosing a different tool is based on three reasons: my current content posting process, hosting cost, and time.
Content Posting Process
In 2015, I asked myself, “Why do you have websites?” “How do you envision using them going forward?” Two of many questions a good needs analysis asks. And, since my book Drupal: The Guide to Planning and Building Websites has a chapter on needs analysis, I thought I should practice what I preach.
I won’t bore you with the details of my needs analysis. The first outcome was, I have websites because consultants need a web presence. The second outcome of all that thinking was, my current sites don’t meet my current needs. And, in order to do that, I would need a new site and would need to get rid of another. People change, therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that their web presence would need to change.
So, my sites will be the following.
- idcminnovations.com is also cindymccourt.com – This is my technology and instructional design consulting site.
- terrwynbooks.com – This one page placeholder site needed to become a real site where I can post blogs on writing, a subject that might not always fit on idcminnocations.com. It’s also a site where I can promote my professional writing.
- luxatra.com – At this time, it represents my four-book fantasy epic. I haven’t given up that someone would be interested in my first venture into writing fiction, so the site needs to live.
- planningdrupalsites.com – The site where I started writing Drupal: The Guide to Planning and Building Websites, where it was noticed by Wiley, my publisher. It’s a site that needed to be trimmed down and will eventually be shut down.
- powertrainingcoach.com – My husbands coaching and consulting site, that I ran from my hosting platform, needed to be something he would be willing to use. He never wanted a site, but like me, he’s a consultant and we need a web presence. I’m not sure any solution will make that happen, but I am trying.
Need should drive your solution. However, needs can be satisfied within constraints. My two biggest constraints are money and time.
I understand what it takes to run multiple sites on one hosting platform. I understand the actual processing needs of a Drupal site and it’s always more than the minimum. Lastly, I understand that the types of hosting platforms that I need don’t cost $4.99/mo. My latest renewal notice jarred me into action: $1,339 for two years. And, that’s a bargain.
However, it’s not a cost that I can continue to justify for the sites that meet my needs. My first thought was to look at WordPress.com. Why? Cost. Of course. However, you get what you pay for and cheap isn’t always good. Let me tell you a story.
I shared a lunch table with Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress, at a conference in D.C. some years back. I didn’t know who he was until later, but the event was about Drupal so how should I know? Anyway, he listened intently to the conversation between strangers, asking questions, nodding. I wondered about him, a little. He didn’t have the normal potential future Drupal user vibe. When he revealed who he was, he shared that he and Dries Buytaert, the creator of Drupal, talked with either other about their two platforms – exchanging input and insights. The tidbits he shared gave me a new perspective on WordPress and where it was going.
Adding to this professional exchange between platform leaders, my colleague and Drupal trainer, the famous Rod Martin, had good things to say about WordPress. My mind was made up. I would give it try.
So, hundreds of dollars per year saved and I am feeling better. However, that’s not the only weight off my shoulders.
Managing site code has never been my favorite thing to do. I was often behind in updating Drupal core and the contributed modules I had on my site. It got to the point where a Drupal developer friend of mine started doing it for me. Sad? Yes. However, I have never claimed to be a coder. I plan, test, and train Drupal.
Given the skills required to maintain today’s Drupal, I was slow to make the move to Drupal 8. The time it would take for me to advance my limited server management and coding skills to the point where I could manage a Drupal 8+ site was more than I wanted to invest. It was time for someone else to manage code while I managed my content.
The application should not drive the process. A need should not be invented to justify an application. A desire should not be a need. Why buy a Mercedes when a Chevy will meet your actual needs?
My husband was a software engineer (glue-ware guy) before he changed careers and became a power training coach for professional cyclists. He used to come home, frustrated, that management had been given a demonstration of a cool new software application and that it was his job to make it fit into their existing processes and systems. Think of it as a job that forces a round peg into a square hole when the need for that particular application was difficult to see.
When I chose Drupal, it met my needs. I saw it as a data content management, not a page management system. WordPress.com, at it’s simplest, is a page management system. Between 2000 and 2006, I was focus on data management. I designed and managed the development of a custom, online workshops and events management system for George Mason University. I could see Drupal had potential. And, I was right. Wow. It’s grown and become an incredible solution for online applications.
For me, my needs have changed. The move to a new platform has forced me to rethink many aspects of website management. It hasn’t been easy, leaving behind the power of Drupal. But, it was time.