Usability FAIL: Drupal vs. WordPress Themes

I’m working with the CU Community Fab Lab this summer (oooh, I should post on that!) and we’re working on redoing their website to make it a more rich portrayal of the Fab Lab experience and spirit. In other words their current website is overly complex and lacking in pictures. So I’ve been tinkering with Drupal installs lately… and my conclusion is that the wonderboy CMS somehow manages to offer an overwhelming number of options and yet simultaneously lack the most needed information interfaces.

Say you want to setup Drupal, and like most people, want to check out what it could potentially look like before you do. You Google Drupal Themes and find their theme page:

Note the amazing amount of themes available, with a huge amount of documentation available about each… and NO PICTURES. WHAT? I know many people think that having a wealth of text content and metadata is efficient, but I would argue that in this case the most efficient (functional, effective, enjoyable, usable) way to search for website appearance options is with visual displays of data in the form of pictures.

So I thought, “Well, while that makes it very hard to browse through maybe I can see what they look like individually.” TURNS OUT NO:

Most of the themes have thumbnails that don’t actually show they they look like live. Those that do have pictures typically have very small ones.

I am completely baffled at how such a widely-known and well-supported open source project like Drupal could lack such a basic functionality. I ought not complain too much though, I could personally go through and take screen shots of all of the thousand or so themes on a XAMPP install and send them to their web team. Or, they could do the smart thing, which would be to require all theme authors to post a picture of their theme in action. Distributed work FTW. I don’t brandish enough geek-clout to convince them to do this, sadly.

Luckily, WordPress comes to our rescue:

And on the zoom:

Note the ratings, integrated user support, metadata and the at-this-point beautiful preview button.

Next time I’ll have to compare the two for speed, a contest where Drupal wins hands-down.