Why are Drupal websites always so clunky and ugly?

Inherently, Drupal produces the same end result as any other CMS does when rendering a web page. Markup languages such as HTML5 are universal — Drupal doesn’t do anything differently (or uglier), in that respect. So why are so many Drupal sites ugly?

We know. Everybody knows. Drupal websites are ugly. A lot of the time.

But why is this the case, exactly?

There are a few reasons, and if you read into it, it actually makes sense.

Drupal is one of the oldest content management systems developed, it’s been around a long time. In fact, websites built with the CMS date back to before the year 2000 — essentially pre-historic. Drupal has been used seemingly more than any other CMS for the delivery of large, high traffic websites, including those owned by the government, educational institutions, and otherwise large corporations.

Out the box, Drupal’s flagship theme (Bartik, if you’re unfamiliar), is not particularly pretty.

The majority of developers with a large presence in the online Drupal community appear to specialize in backend development, rather than frontend, when compared to Drupal’s top competitors.

It’s easy to see why, then, so many Drupal sites seem to inherit the same disease: a lack of aesthetic style.

For competing content management systems, the availability of both free and premium themes is much more prevalent, as there’s a much wider community of front-end developers specializing in those CMSs.

It doesn’t have to be this way, however.

Inherently, Drupal produces the same end result as any other CMS does when rendering a web page. Markup languages such as HTML5 are universal — Drupal doesn’t do anything differently (or uglier), in that respect. In fact, all the frontend languages Drupal supports out-the-box are universal: HTML, CSS, JavaScript (or jQuery). This means that they work in just the same way with Drupal as they would with any other website, whether built with a CMS or not.

It’s entirely possible that the websites running Drupal which do appear large and ‘clunky’ are simply suffering from a lack of innovative front-end design, or just don’t receive updates to make use of more modern front-end technology.

This could be for several reasons, but not least because many of these websites operate in sectors where resources and funding is thinly spread, which makes sense. Inherently, institutional websites are probably more prone to looking heavier, clunkier, and uglier anyway, which is also worth noting.

There is a reason that these types of websites seem to follow a similar trend, which is largely to do with the fact that they are developed to be suited and accessible to a wide range of audiences. And we think it’s fair to say that the needs of a website’s audience is the most pivotal aspect to web design.

That said, our catalog of Drupal themes are a clear example that websites built with Drupal need not look clunky or ugly. Ultimately, a talent in front-end development can result in a beautiful Drupal website with creative flair.

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