Has Drupal peaked... revisited.
Last week, it appeared that Drupal was destined forever to be a developer’s paradise, and that it was bound to remain virtually inaccessible to outsiders. For that reason I asked, "has Drupal peaked?"
The answer is no, thankfully. At the conference’s keynote address, Dries Buytaert laid out a roadmap for Drupal which would expand its reach from a framework to product and then to subscription-based solutions. A bit later in the conference, Dries unveiled Drupal Gardens, an inexpensive hosted Drupal for beginners. It has an interesting AJAX-based user interface, making it a snap to build colors and customize a small site. It’s clearly aimed at establishing a beachhead for Drupal to contain Wordpress’ growth in the small CMS market.
There’s still no offering aimed at design and publishing professionals who want to work with Drupal without coding. The issue of making theming simpler has not yet been resolved, and many are looking to the design community within Drupal to provide its own solution.
It will be an uphill struggle for a community that's fragmented and under supported. I expect that these issues will not go away before the next Drupalcon in San Francisco, and may possibly linger for years to come.
Meanwhile, the professional design community is still being wooed by Wordpress, Expression Engine and other more design-friendly offerings. Moreover, the creative and publishing community will influence others’ decisions to adopt Drupal Gardens.
Out of fairness to developers, it may seem right to leave it to the few designers in the Drupal community. However, it doesn’t really make strategic sense: as influencers, they’re an important bridge group to large corporations and small individual users alike.
Drupal hasn't peaked, but it also can’t afford to ignore key influential segments in a competitive market.