Drupal vs WordPress a CMS Comparison

Batman V SupermanIf you’re thinking of launching a website, then you will need some form of Content Management System (CMS) to power it. Gone are the days when you would write your own CMS, or for that matter get a developer to create one (although this is sometimes done for very specific applications).

Great Content Management Systems Are Already Available

Even if you or your web developer/web designer are familiar with back-end web development, it does not make sense to invest time and resources into writing your own system for updating and displaying content when there are some incredibly powerful, easy to use and secure options out there already. Save your time and invest it in writing good content (and working on a great content strategy) or creating a hard-working design that’s going to drive your prospects to click the link and achieving the call to action.

Two of the most popular content management solutions today are Drupal and WordPress. Both have been around for a very long time, and are mature, well supported by their communities, stable, and feature rich.

So which of the two platforms best meets the business needs of a typical website owner?

Drupal vs WordPress: An Outline

If you’re unsure about whether Drupal or WordPress is the best CMS for your next web presence, then one of the things that you should look at is the install base. WordPress is by far the most popular out of all the CMS offerings, having about 58% of the current market share according to W3Techs.

Drupal is less popular, with just 4.7% market share. But, don’t make the mistake of assuming that this is because it is not good. In fact, Drupal is very powerful, and ironically, to some, it is that power which is its downfall. It can take a significant amount of time to get Drupal moving and to the point that WordPress will start from out of the box.

WordPress is far easier to use, its interface also being more intuitive. This ease of use has implications cost wise too, as Drupal Developers are quite a scarce resource and are more in demand. Then there are complications that that extra functionality of Drupal brings to the coding process. These are just some of the reasons that creating a website in Drupal is more expensive than one built using WordPress.

Key Features

If you look at Drupal vs WordPress in terms of features, they are almost neck and neck. Both platforms are free and open source. Both now offer a one-click installer and both are supported by their communities with official themes and plugins/modules, as well as some premium themes to choose from too.

In addition, both are used by major websites. The US Department of Energy and the University of Minnesota both have Drupal as their CMS of choice. Meanwhile, WordPress is used by Katy Perry and the Chicago Sun Times. So it’s fair to say that both have had their votes of confidence from respectable sources!

Both WordPress and Drupal will run on modest hosting platforms if you are making a smaller site that does not get a lot of traffic. Both, however, can become quite resource hungry as your site gets more traffic. There are tricks that you can use to reduce their resource consumption, but those tricks will require some expertise and knowledge of how web servers work if you want to make the most out of them. With caching set up correctly and a good CDN, however, you can serve a lot of visitors with either platform.

Why Choose Drupal?

Drupal is a rather specialised CMS. While it is more user-friendly now than it was a few years ago, it is still quite daunting to get started with, but if you want to run a very large site, it is a great choice. The main selling points for Drupal are that it is sophisticated, powerful and ultimately flexible and it allows you to customise freely if you have enough coding knowledge.

Drupal has built-in support for running multilingual sites, and it also has support for managing users with detailed role-based access controls. Like WordPress, you can have users with different rights, such as Administrator, Moderator and Administrator, but the restrictions that you can place on each user are more flexible. With Drupal, you can control users a lot more, and specify what parts of the site they can see, comment on, edit, or control. Drupal also has a much more sophisticated taxonomy system, so if you are creating very large and complex sites it is a good choice. The emphasis here is on very large.

Why Choose WordPress?

The main reasons to choose WordPress are its ease of use and flexibility. You can obtain a great, unique looking website very easily even if you don’t have strong coding skills. The one-click installer makes it easy to get started and there are thousands of themes and extensions that you can install. Getting most things up and running with WordPress is quite trivial. You can click a few buttons and have a member site, an online store, a blog with built-in forums or an e-learning platform. Plus if you do run into any problems, then you will find that there is a huge community out there ready to help you.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that running a site using the same platform that everyone else does is a bad idea because your site will look generic. That isn’t the case. There are enough themes out there that are highly customisable through their admin panels that you can make a unique site even if you don’t have a lot of coding skills. If you do have coding skills, then the sky is the limit. If you want to learn, then WordPress is popular and user-friendly enough to learn without the deeper skills needed for Drupal

In Conclusion

So, as you can see there is not a simple answer to the question of Drupal vs WordPress. You should base your decision on what you want to do with your site, your level of technical expertise and the resources available to you. There are some scenarios where Drupal is the obvious choice, but for simple blogs, online stores and even news websites, WordPress is often the better option.

To summarise, WordPress is flexible and has good community support, while Drupal is a master tool for bigger (and for those that are going to get a LOT of traffic) and more complex data-driven websites.

Think of Drupal as being a starting point for developers who want to create bespoke, powerful platforms. Think of WordPress as being a more user-friendly starting point for someone who wants to get a site up and running. Both will deliver a fully professional, business facing website.

WordPress it is a great platform and you can make high performance and high-quality sites with it, in fact, WordPress is rapidly becoming the iOS of the web.

Your Next Step?

You may still not be sure what content management system is the best one for your next project, and that is just where Rouge Media can help you. We have extensive experience in creating both Drupal and WordPress sites (preferring both to Joomla) and can advise you on which will, in the medium to long term be the best solution for your website, be it an eCommerce site, a multilingual site or a fantastic asset in your marketing and business arsenal.

Contact us to find out more; we are ready to help.

Stuart Taylor

Stuart Taylor is the Technical Director here at Rouge Media.

View Stuart's bio >

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