WordPress vs. Drupal: An Explicit Comparison

“You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation. You must have a solid foundation if you’re going to have a strong superstructure.” Very rightly said by the American religious leader Gordon Bitner Hinckley and the same holds good for your websites too.

You can’t build a robust & sustainable website on a weak content management system (CMS). It’s highly crucial for you to choose the right CMS for your website so that you are able to easily manage and maintain your website down the line.

However, choosing the right fit for your website could be a perplexing task, given the so many options for CMS around. Apart from the most popular CMS, WordPress that powers almost 35% of websites, other contenders include Wix, Squarespace, Joomla!, Shopify and Drupal.

In this article, let’s compare two popular platforms WordPress vs. Drupal which enjoy a vast community support and loyal customer base. Let’s dig deeper to find out how Drupal stacks against the most popular CMS WordPress. First of all, let’s introduce each one of them.

WordPress vs. Drupal

Brief Introduction

The three things highly common to both WordPress and Drupal are that both these CMS are free, open source and written in PHP. Now, let’s take a look one by one at each of them:

WordPress was created by two developers Matthew Charles Mullenweg and Mike Little and released on May 27, 2003. WordPress offers an intuitive interface so that you can easily create, edit and manage your website through this CMS.

One of the key reasons for its popularity is that this CMS is highly customizable, courtesy numerous plugins created by its global community. And the best part is that you can tweak their source code to suit your business specific needs. Here are some seldom known facts worth knowing about WordPress.

The WordPress website showcase page boasts of powering many big brands including:

  • Rolling Stone – American monthly magazine
  • Hodge Bank – Well-established bank in UK
  • Capgemini – A French MNC
  • The Walt Disney Company
  • The Obama Foundation
  • The White House

Need any introduction for the last three names? The list is exhaustive, as it’s quite expected for the most popular CMS.

Now, let’s move on to Drupal!

Drupal is the brainchild of Dries Buytaert which became an open source project in 2001 and is distributed under the GNU General Public License (with no licensing fees, ever).

This content management software also helps you add, publish and delete content from your site like WordPress. This CMS is consistently evolving and it has managed to reach 2.8% market share (as per W3Techs), thanks to its rich features & huge community support!

Before you start considering this comparison unfair, let’s tell you that Drupal has managed to create amazing digital experiences for some of the largest & renowned organizations of the world such as:

  • US Department of Transport
  • The University of Colorado
  • World Economic Forum
  • Government of Australia
  • The Economist
  • Nasa.gov

Before we moving straight to the comparison, let’s put a quick glance on the image below depicting the market share of top 10 content management systems (as per W3Techs.com):

WordPress vs. Drupal

Now that you have got an overview of these two CMSs and also where they stand on the graph of popularity, let’s compare them based on the following six criteria:

  1. Ease of use
  2. Development cost
  3. Performance
  4. Ease of customization
  5. Search engine optimization
  6. Website security

Let’s begin!

#1 Ease of use

One of the primary benefits of using a CMS is to easily build your website without pondering about the technical details and also manage it conveniently thereafter.

Now, let’s put a quick glance on WordPress vs. Drupal to find out which one outshines the other when it comes to user friendliness.

First of all, go for a reliable hosting service and then look for the installation option in the backend of your hosting environment to set up your CMS, WordPress or Drupal.

Now, once WordPress is installed you are ready to go off the ground, thanks to its easy & intuitive user interface and the availability of myriads of plugins & themes which renders it easily customizable.

Drupal, on the other hand, demands a bit of technical skills such as knowledge of HTML and PHP programming. If you lack them, then consider partnering with a CMS development company that could help you make the most Drupal’s capabilities.

WordPress takes ease of use a step further by offering plugins such as the Gutenberg editor which allows content publishing & setting page layouts just using drag-and-drop.

#2 Development Cost

One thing that you should take into account while considering development cost is that it’s difficult to predict the cost of building a website, no matter whichever CMS you’re using. It depends on the features & functionalities of your website that you need to achieve your business specific goals.

When it comes to WordPress vs. Drupal, both of these CMSs offer entirely free initial investment. However, you would need to incur some basic costs in the form of domain registration, hosting, and security to get your site up and running.

For WordPress, you might need to pay extra if you choose premium themes & plugins and easily get started with it.

Drupal, on the contrary, could be an expensive choice if you lack technical expertise. To customize your site on Drupal as per your business-specific needs, you might require hiring a Drupal development expert; thus hiking your initial investment cost.

While you might incur some initial cost upfront with Drupal, however, in the long run you can rest assured that it’ll easily scale as your business grows.

#3 Website page loading speed

The loading speed of your website is critical to user experience of your website visitors as well as page rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

If your page takes ages to load then your visitors won’t mind switching to your competitors, no matter how appealing your website looks.

Both these CMSs offer great page loading speeds & performances, however, not without their own share of shortcomings.

WordPress seems to be outpaced by Drupal when it comes to page loading speed. Yet, this CMS allows you to create a very fast site by following WordPress best practices and with managed WordPress hosting.

In a managed WordPress hosting, the hosting provider takes care of all your technical aspects such as server speeds, security, website updates and scalability.

Whereas, Drupal is better equipped to handle sites with hundreds of pages and supports faster server communication which in turn enhances the response speeds.

#4 Ease of customization

For a website to suit your business-specific needs, it is highly important that it is customizable. Both WordPress and Drupal allow customization with a vast array of plugins (modules in Drupal) and themes.

WordPress offers more than 55k plugins and over 7k themes while Drupal offers over 35k modules and more than 2.8k themes till the date of writing this article.

Although, both the CMS can be tailored to suit your needs, the key difference which makes WordPress stand out is that it allows a layman to add required functionalities on their own.

Whereas, customization in Drupal is not as user-friendly as in WordPress. Drupal demands technical experience and coding knowledge and therefore you have to rely on skilled web developers.

#5 Search Engine Optimization

So your site is live! The real work starts now – managing updates, fixing errors as they appear and the most crucial one is optimizing your website for search engines. Otherwise, how would your audience find you?

The search engines, however, do not favour a particular CMS; it depends on you how you optimize your sites with search engine optimization (SEO) best practices and present your content accordingly on your site.

Now, let’s try to get an idea how each of these CMS fairs when it comes to search engine optimization.

WordPress being user-friendly enables site owners to get most of the tasks done by a simple click of a mouse. Drupal, on the other hand, demands a bit of technical knowhow for smooth site management.

For search engine optimization, both Drupal & WordPress offer dedicated modules or plugins, such as PathAuto and RankMath respectively.

#6 Website Security

Both WordPress and Drupal are secure CMSs from a technical point of view, and it is evident from the fact that many renowned businesses, Government organizations and popular brands rely on them for advancing their digital objectives.

However, from time to time websites powered by these CMSs have become victims of malicious intent and this was, in most of the cases, due to user negligence or ignorance.

Oftentimes, it’s not the CMS but vulnerabilities in third-party plugins & themes integrated with your website, which the hackers take advantage of in order to bring down your entire site.

Drupal relies little on third-party modules & themes and hence making the platform less susceptible to malicious intent. No wonder, it is acclaimed as one of the most secure CMSs on the planet.

WordPress, on the contrary, has a lot of third-party themes & plugins available which often become targets of cybercrime.

Of course, in a few cases, the breaches might occur due to vulnerability in the CMS, therefore, the communities of both the CMS make an effort to fix the vulnerability before they could be exploited.

Moreover, to avoid security threats at the server level, it is recommended to go for managed WordPress hosting.

WordPress vs. Drupal: Did you get your winner?

Before you reach to a conclusion of deciding a winner for your project, you must ask yourself what CMS requirements you’ll need to ideally support your online project.

In other words, to find the best fit for your project and to benefit from the advantages of one of these two CMSs, you need to have a clear understanding of your content and project’s goals.

Therefore, the inference is that the winner would vary as per your project requirements and you could reach a decision by taking into consideration the aforementioned six criteria.

Which platform have you chosen for your project and why? We are curious and would love to hear & learn from your experiences. Please be the first to share your views in the comment section below.

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