There are several really great Content Management System (CMS) platforms out there today. With all the ones available, it is good to know that Drupal and WordPress are two of the most widely used.
Knowing which one is right for you and which one you should choose might be based on several factors. Of course, you need to make a decision that best supports what your website or business website needs.
Your final decision may also be based on past experience, reviews, or other word-of-mouth things you may have heard about these two different Content Management Systems.
What is a CMS?
In order to understand exactly what we are talking about in this article, you first need to know what a Content Management System (CMS) is. Simply put, a CMS is a software application that allows users to build and manage a website without having to code it from the ground up.
A CMS allows users and developers to create, build, design, manage, modify, and publish content within a very user-friendly interface. They run on a series of templates and plugins that you can build around and modify when needed.
These extensions and plugins work in place of coding, allowing multiple types of functionality and back-end users at the same time.
With that said, we know one thing already. You are clearly looking for an open-source and user-friendly website building option that you can learn to use and scale easily.
Let’s break down both WordPress and Drupal and compare them to see what both platforms offer.
By the Numbers
Drupal has actually been around longer than WordPress. However, despite that fact, as of this publication, WordPress controls right at 41% of the top 10 million most visited sites in the world.
This gives WordPress a massive 64% market share for content management systems. Drupal, on the other hand, has only a 2.4% market share.
With such a large gap between market shares, many people may wonder if there really is anything to compare? Honestly, yes! Despite having much lower usage numbers, Drupal has a lot of great functionality and has a very dedicated following like WordPress.
In my opinion, they both have a place in the world of top CMS platforms.
Why They Are Both Excellent Choices
Before we start doing more detailed comparisons, let’s talk about why both Drupal and WordPress are excellent choices. Here are a couple of things to remember whether you are a beginner or a seasoned website developer.
1. They Are Both Open Source
Both WordPress and Drupal are open-source platform solutions. This means that they are free to use for anyone, and anyone can further develop them. When we talk about open-source solutions, we think of the affordability and customization options that are available.
When you use an open-source platform like Drupal or WordPress, you don’t have to play within the restrictive rules of a proprietary system. You can build and create freely without having to worry about licensing fees that are attached to proprietary systems.
2. Both Platforms Have Strongs Communities
Both Drupal and WordPress have very strong communities and offer a lot of guidance and help online. Since they are both very popular, you don’t need to go far to find tutorials and help when it is needed.
Plugin and extension updates are also free. So, this makes keeping your website up-to-date much easier in the long run.
Let’s dive a little deeper into both platforms.
It may shock you that Drupal is actually a favorite platform to use among government, higher education institutions, NGOs, and global enterprises. As a matter of fact, there have even been several points in time where Drupal was used as the CMS for the White House website.
There are some other things to consider with Drupal as well if you choose to use it instead of WordPress.
Drupal was specifically designed for search engine optimization. While both WordPress and Drupal provide a ton of outside tools to perfect SEO, Drupal was built from the ground up with it in mind.
Drupal also has excellent security, reliability, and flexibility. Furthermore, as stated above, despite being used by a lot fewer people than WordPress, the Drupal community as a whole is very active and responsive.
Another thing you want to consider when using Drupal is the difficulty of use. Truth be told, it isn’t for all users the way WordPress describes itself.
You will probably need to either be an experienced web developer or know someone who is. The system allows you to create beautiful websites, but the ease of use is not high on the list like it is with WordPress.
- Advanced control over URL structure
- Enterprise-level security
- Lots of modules, themes, and extensions
- Perfect for community-based sites that require complex data organization
- Able to handle large amounts of content
- Easy to scale
- Supports customized content and private groups
- High-performance with a clean look
- Robust features for more complex jobs
- Default caching features allow faster page load times
- Very flexible and versatile
- Not very user-friendly
- Requires a lot of technical expertise
- Drupal web developers are more expensive than WordPress developers
- Developer knowledge is needed to complete upgrades
- Premium themes and modules are much more expensive than WordPress
- Very difficult to install
Companies That Use Drupal For Their Websites
- The Weather Channel
- Turner Broadcasting
- The White House
- Australian Government
- Popular Science
- Dallas Cowboys
- Warner Music Group
WordPress is known to be the easiest and most powerful blogging and website CMS around today. What started as a blogging-only platform, developed into the most popular website builder in the world.
Because of this popularity, it has many more users than Drupal does.
WordPress is most ideal for beginners looking to develop their skills building websites. It is also very popular with already established web developers, as the functionality and freedom you get with WordPress is just about unmatched.
If you have some advanced knowledge and tech experience, there isn’t anything you can’t build with WordPress. It is a very user-friendly platform that is easy to manage, easy to install, and comes with a lot of built-in functionality right out of the box.
This is perhaps where WordPress excels the most.
If you are a beginner, chances are you can take some time to learn things and build yourself a little website. However, even with the ease of use that WordPress provides, it also provides a ton of tools and options that make it easy to scale.
As a result, it’s a popular choice for very big companies around the world.
- Extremely flexible
- Websites, apps, portals, and blogs can all be built
- Search engines adapt to WordPress sites much easier
- Easy to learn without HTML or other coding knowledge
- Biggest community and support on the Internet
- 100% customizable
- Upgrades are automatic without website developers or owners having to do anything
- Thousands of free and paid themes, plugins, and tools
- Owners have complete control without needing a web developer
- Site can be managed from any computer or mobile device
- Extremely easy to install
- Tons of flexibility and functionality out of the box
- Very secure
- Multiple users and user roles available
- Excellent for marekting
- Updates can be so frequent that plugins might lag behind
- Changing graphics and building customizations will require some knowledge of CSS and HTML
- Permalinks are, by default, numeric until the user makes manual changes
- Can be a slower experience with a lot of content unless optimized properly
- Vulnerable to plugin viruses that can wipe content if updates are not kept
Companies That Use WordPress For Their Websites
- Star Wars Blog
- SONY Music
- MTV News
- New York Times
- Best Buy
- Mozilla Firefox
- Wall Street Journal
Comparing Drupal and WordPress Specifics
So, we understand that both platforms have quite a bit to offer and that both are used by some major players. Yes, there are many differences, but there are also quite a few similarities between them all.
To break things down even more, let’s take a look at some of the specifics that you need to know about when you are in the process of making a decision between these two content management systems.
As I stated above a little, just because one CMS has a lot more users does not necessarily mean that it should be the automatic choice. Both Drupal and WordPress have very impressive, multi-lingual communities that are very passionate.
Both communities include excellent independent developers and development firms. Modules, plugins, themes, and other tools are constantly being developed by both communities, which allow for almost unlimited customizations.
Currently, WordPress offers roughly 58,000 plugins and 3,300 themes that are both paid and free through just its online repository. This doesn’t include the many available through brand websites.
On the other hand, Drupal offers more than 46,000 modules (their terms for plugins) and right at 3,000 themes. There are also over 1,300 Drupal distributions. These are bundled tools that are specific to a site build, like eCommerce.
Note: These numbers are accurate as of December 31st, 2020
Both platforms support tons of third-party integrations and services, including robust APIs. Updates are made frequently to the core platforms of both and they are both up-to-date on all their features.
In my mind there is no clear winner here, as both Drupal and WordPress excel in this arena.
Ease of Use
One area where these two platforms are vastly different is the ease of use. Quite frankly, if you are looking for a straight-up winner here, then WordPress would come in well in front of Drupal.
It is nothing personal, it is simply that WordPress is arguably the most user-friendly platform out there. Hence why it manages more than one-third of the entire Internet.
While they are both open-source, Drupal will require a lot more technical knowledge. And you will probably either need to be a developer or have a developer on hand to get a website built.
With WordPress, you can start right out of the box. You will be able to immediately start putting something together.
To sum up, Drupal allows you to build amazing, secure, content-heavy sites. But, you will need vast knowledge of things like HTML, CSS, and PHP skills.
WordPress will allow you to drag and drop your way to a smooth site without this knowledge. They are both flexible and scalable, but WordPress is much easier to learn.
Both platforms offer enough tools, plugins, and design options to allow for just about any sort of customizations imaginable. That being said, with the flexibility of both platforms, Drupal is widely considered to offer more extensive customization options.
This point is usually argued by both communities, but the fact really is that if you have enough technical knowledge, then unlimited customizations can be handled on both platforms. I give Drupal the win here.
This is actually another hotly debated topic between both the Drupal and WordPress communities. WordPress is by far the most popular website builder in the world, and with that comes an open door to more hacking opportunities.
WordPress has continued to make strides in the area of security by improving its core platform over time and sharing security best practices with third-party plugin and theme developers.
Web hosting providers also offer additional security options and capabilities that one can use to secure their site.
Drupal sites are less of a target simply because the usage numbers are much lower. However, their developers are very dedicated to building a tight security blanket around the platform.
Both offer frequent patches, updates, and alerts on security.
At the start, both platforms are free to use because they are both open-source. You need to think about hosting costs and other expenses related to themes and plugins. If you are looking for the cheapest route, then WordPress is going to be the call.
Drupal will cost you more money in development because you will need to pay a developer to build a site for you. Since Drupal developers are harder to find, the cost of development is usually much higher.
Both platforms offer a very sizable amount of free and paid themes and plugins, so the rest of the costs to consider will revolve around what themes, tools, modules, and plugins you are going to buy.
Choosing between Drupal and WordPress does not have to be a miserable experience. The main thing you want to consider is your business goals and which platform allows you to achieve those ends.
They both have a lot of similarities and a lot of differences. Take your time and consider what works best for you.
If you need a platform that is more user-friendly out of the box, then WordPress is the one to choose. If you are looking at load times, security, and heavy content, then Drupal may be the right choice.
Either way, both platforms are excellent and you can’t really go wrong with either.