Drupal Gardens

Drupal Gardens

Frankly I’m surprised it took so long, but finally there’s a ‘automatic Drupal’ site, which operates in a similar way to which WordPress.com does for WordPress, called Drupal Gardens.

See if you can stay awake long enough through this truly uninspiring video they have on their front page if you want a quick tour :)

Yeh, thought not, so, here’s a quick rundown…

First up it’s not, in any way, a competitor to WordPress.com or other blogging services, and that’s not because of the ‘Drupal is more fully featured’ myth but because their plans have been conceived by, presumably, a box full of screaming monkeys:

Highlights are mine… and that’s correct, you can have a massive 4,000 page views p/day for free… or 8,000 for $39.95 p/month. Heh. Oh, and you can also create up to 10,000 pages for that $39.95 p/month fee.

Two things:

1. The vast majority of punters don’t give a crap about page view and number of page limits
2. Because – THEY ASSUME THERE AREN’T ANY – so when they see them, I think they may well run a mile

But lets assume they haven’t, let’s assume that they get through to the next stage.

Check the handy drop down box at the top, you wouldn’t know it but that’s the most important choice you’re gonna make, whether you bother to click it to see what it’s hiding.

And yeh, ok, there are ‘?’s but what does ‘Stay connected’ mean… what am I supposed to do… what’s the difference between that and ‘Stay notified’ and why am I choosing this stuff anyway???

So let’s say you did click on that dropdown and selected blog, then you end up with this design:

Which can be edited by this (actually rather nice) design editor.

But, unfortunately, that’s where the niceness stops – I mean check out this Structure > Blocks element [yeh, I was confused already, but this really did me – click for full size].

And the Modules menu is just as bad.

But… I’m sure it’ll appeal to the Drupal geeks who are already familiar with this kind of stuff.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to do much more than confuse or put off anyone else, in it’s current state, IMO.

Here’s what I think they need to improve:

  1. It makes perfect sense to build off the Drupal brand as WP.com have done, but check out http://wordpress.com/ – it’s not about ‘start a WordPress site’ it says ‘Start a blog’ – whereas, in h2, Gardens says ‘Launch a product, promote an event, engage a community’… meh… too general, confusing, and doesn’t help. I’d suggest ‘Start your own Drupal CMS’ or just CMS, or ‘powerful Drupal site’
  2. On the subject of the front page, 15 minutes.. who the f*ck does your copy… howabout ‘minutes’, that should cover it :)
  3. Rubbish, awful, video – go poach Michael Pick from wordpress.tv or something
  4. Noone will ever bother to read or even look at that footer
  5. Plans and pricing, just awful, awful… just copy what wordpress.com does, it works for them to the tune of gazillions of $s, they’ve tested it, it’s cool, imitation = flattery etc.
  6. The first step after creating an account needs to be much, much more intuitive and explanatory, lose the dropdown
  7. Administration is better than standard Drupal, for sure, but you need to pull back on the lingo, simplify and explain

Come on Acquia, you can do better than that!

Other coverage – ReadWriteWeb offers an un-opinionated announcement