You’re building a new website, and you’ve decided to be thoughtful about your choice of software as opposed to going with the first option you happen to come across.
That’s the smart move.
Back when websites were collections of static pages, there wasn’t much to worry about. Those days, however, are long gone. Today, the stakes are higher than ever before. You need a website which stands out from the crowd and includes powerful features which can be easily managed. If you’re interested in ecommerce, you must have the highest degree of user functionality and security. And, of course, you want all this for the best possible price.
Two powerful open-source content management systems (CMSs) and website builders are Drupal and WordPress. Which is best for you? We’ll look at key differences below so you can make the right decision.
Drupal vs. WordPress: Key Factors
Drupal was released in 2000 and is written in PHP in conjunction with Symfony, a web-application framework. Basic website installation requires no programming skills, and it can run on any platform which supports a PHP-based webserver with a database to store config files and other data. According to recent statistics, Drupal has 4.6% of the CMS market worldwide. Sites using Drupal include Pinterest and Box.com.
WordPress was released in 2003 and is written in PHP and MySQL. It must be hosted on a webserver such as WordPress.com or installed on a computer running WordPress.org software. WordPress is the undisputed CMS leader with 60% of the market. In addition, 30% of websites worldwide utilize WordPress. Sites using WordPress include Sony Music and BBC America.
Drupal has an array of powerful features: the different types of custom content have a high degree of flexibility, functionality is built-in for multilingual sites, and custom user roles with individualized permissions can be created.
Its taxonomies – which you’ll need, for example, when organizing multiple products and product types – are very robust and help to easily manage large amounts of content. Drupal’s version of plugins – software which operates on top of the core code – are called “modules” and require a developer to install and update.
WordPress has more clearly delineated and limited features. There are fewer content categories, multilingual sites need a third-party plugin, and there are only five defined user roles available. WordPress was originally a platform for blogging, and its ability to work with large amounts of content is more limited than Drupal. WordPress does have, however, an extensive library of plugins which are much easier to install, use, and update than Drupal’s modules.
Ease of Use
In its own words, Drupal has an admittedly complex user interface: “Much of the functionality that people consider standard for a CMS is simply missing.” There is no WYSIWYG text editor, meta tools are labor-intensive, there’s no “save draft” function, and the ability to moderate content is highly limited.
In addition, there are very few built-in themes available as most are individually coded. As you can tell, Drupal was not designed for the casual user. Instead, developers created it for other developers.
WordPress, on the other hand, is much easier to use than Drupal, especially for those with no coding skills. There is a WYSIWYG text editor, standard workflow features such as “save draft,” and page/post previews show what published content will look like. It’s easy to moderate content, too, and there is a large catalog of themes designed for sites with varied purposes. In contrast with Drupal, WordPress is designed for a much larger group of potential users than just other developers.
One thing that’s the same in the Drupal vs. WordPress debate is the fact each is free, open-source software. As you can tell from the information above, though, with Drupal, you’ll need to hire a developer to do much of the heavy lifting – building the theme, installing and updating plugins, and defining a variety of roles and settings – in comparison to WordPress.
Due to Drupal having significantly less market share than WordPress, there are fewer developers available, and they tend to charge more than their WordPress counterparts. Then again, the “cost” of using Drupal to create a website which is unique and not based on templates available to millions of users as with WordPress can be worth the investment.
When making a decision about Drupal vs. WordPress, the choice must be made on a case-by-case basis. Even though both platforms are used by large organizations, if you have a smaller business or just one site, the quick setup and ease of use by novices makes WordPress a good choice. Then again, if you have a desire for greater functionality, want the ability to manage large amounts of data, and have the resources to pay for the coding help you’ll need, you could be better off with Drupal.
Interested in how WordPress compares to other CMS software? Check out this detailed comparison with Squarespace.