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The Battle of the Content Management Systems: a Look at Drupal and WordPress The main event!

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Jack Dawson
September 17, 2015


Jack Dawson

Jack Dawson is a web developer and UI/UX specialist at BigDropInc.com. He works at a design, branding and marketing firm, having founded the same firm 9 years ago. He likes to share knowledge and points of view with other developers and consumers on platforms.

Jack Dawson has written 3 articles for WebKnowHow.
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If this were a professional wrestling match, the battle between Drupal and WordPress would definitely be the main event for the heavyweight champion of the world. I mean, you can’t get any better than these two giants in the CMS market.

Interestingly, both had their release within two years of each other (Drupal in 2001 and WordPress in 2003) and made a meteoric rise to become two of the most popular CMS platforms globally. Granted, WordPress beats Drupal in terms of popularity but when it comes to the bare bones of each platform - the technology, efficiency, cost security, and all that – each side has loyal (read: vicious) supporters with the facts to back up their arguments.

So this article is intended to put the debate to bed, in a manner of speaking, and decide once and for all, which of the two platforms is the true heavyweight champion of the content management system world. We’ll look at every possible feature that the platforms share and see how they weigh in to make the final decision.

Round One: Ease of Use

Since everyone and their grandmothers (no offence gran’ma!) wants to be a blogger these days or run some sort of website, ease of use is a critical determinant in which CMS platform one chooses to use.

WordPress is touted as the easiest to use. Little wonder then that it has had more than 140 million downloads since its inception. Even with the most basic understanding of HTML and CSS, you will be able to use and manage all of its plugins (and there are literally hundreds of thousands of these), and add many cool features to your CMS. Drupal, however, has quite a complicated back-end, which locks out most people from using it since you have to be something of a techie.

In addition, WordPress has a great community that are willing to help you navigate through the process; advising you based on their experience, which makes your journey easier to making you page or website better aesthetically and functionally. Drupal has a smaller community, given the exclusivity created by the first point, so you may not get the wealth of knowledge like you would with WordPress.

Upgrades with WordPress are pretty frequent and easy to incorporate into your existing site without requiring any redesigning. Drupal, on the other hand, send upgrades without the code, which means you will need to get a developer to handle the upgrade. You might even need a redesigned site.

Mobile apps are the future and WordPress has embraced that fully. They have an excellent mobile app that allows users to edit and upload content from their mobile devices. Drupal has a responsive interface so you can still edit on the go, but no mobile app yet.

So round one verdict: WordPress is in the lead on the score sheets!

Round Two: Security

As a website owner, the security of your site and hence your CMS platform is critical. So let’s see how each of these heavyweights fair in matters security.

The larger the crowd, the more crazy people you could have amongst you. This is true of WordPress; its popularity makes it more vulnerable to hackers who can wipe out entire website within minutes. This means that users have to install third-party plugins to secure their sites. What’s more, with each new update, you will have to uninstall these plugins and get new compatible ones to keep your site secure.

Drupal has little to no such problems. It is by far the more secure of the two platforms with even the White House using it to build the official website. Drupal provides security reports regarding user sites and software installations, which makes it popular with banks and businesses that have a lot of sensitive personal information.

Round two verdict: Drupal takes it!

Round Three: Search Engine Optimization

The point of having a website is so that people can visit it and buy whatever it is you are selling. For this to happen, your website needs to be visible among the search results of various search engines, hence the need for SEO.

While SEO doesn’t play favourites with platforms, there are certain design elements that make these two platforms different in this regard. Both Drupal and WordPress have inbuilt SEO. The difference is that Drupal’s design allows it to work with search engines while with WordPress you need a bunch of plugins.

Drupal has default caching features that allow faster loading times, which makes it more appealing to search engines. It can also take on larger amounts of data, which is a plus with search engines as well.

The only area where WordPress ‘beats’ Drupal is in mobile with Drupal’s theme running better off a sub domain while WordPress’s theme are mobile responsive.

Round three verdict: Drupal takes the lead again!

Round Four: Cost

Sometimes the choice of platforms boils down to what you can and cannot afford.

With WordPress you would have to pay for the extra security plugins, but Drupal will still cost you more in the long run. While both are free to download, Drupal has no free plugins (unlike WordPress) so if you want to use their superior plugins, you will have to pay.

Further, a basic installation of Drupal does not come with any themes so you will have to get a developer to make your website look alive. Drupal developers are rare and pricey compared to WordPress developers and you will need them for longer to walk you through Drupal’s steep learning curve.

However, as your website grows, you will need to get (and pay for) more server resources with WordPress than with Drupal which can handle a lot more content.

Round four verdict: Depends on what you are looking for…

Conclusion

We’ve looked at four of the most important characteristics of a platform but you will have to be the judge of which platform you would prefer based on your unique set of needs. Businesses that are looking to expand may prefer Drupal while bloggers may prefer WordPress so really -to each his own.

An objective comparison of these two platforms based on these and other features in light of your specific needs should have you declaring your own heavyweight champion of the CMS world.

All the best to you!


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