WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are the 3 big names anyone will hear if they wish to create a website with a content management system. They are the three most popular content management systems (CMS) online and all of them are heavily used and packed with different features, capabilities and scale-ability. Although all the three CMS are open source and built on PHP + MySQL, but each one has a different learning curve and is suitable for different requirements.
So, how can a web developer know which of the three is best for a given site? Here’s a brief WordPress Vs Joomla Vs Drupal guide to help you find out the CMS that suits your requirements best:
Drupal is the oldest and the most powerful CMS amongst the three, having been released back in 2001. Like WordPress and Joomla, Drupal too is open-source and based on PHP-MySQL, however, it differs in the fact that this CMS is for techies as it comes bundled with a lot of power.
All this raw power is quite difficult to master, resulting in lesser adoption rates. Drupal is used by at least 2.1% of the internet and because of its power and developer-friendliness, it is a popular choice for unique, content-intensive, feature rich websites like Whitehouse.gov, London.gov.uk, WWE.com etc.
Advantages of Drupal
Drupal is favoured by many due to its wonderful flexibility and strong content organization. Not only is it perfectly suited to host simple web sites with static pages, it is also great at handling a back-end that can support hundreds of thousands of pages and millions of users every month.
Unlike Joomla, Drupal was built from the ground up to be SEO friendly. Its installation, although very dry bone and difficult for layman users, provides a lot of depth for developers.
Drupal is extremely stable, no matter how many users it is serving. It is also a better option for those who want an enterprise friendly CMS due to its wide support for Access Control List (granting specific permissions to specific users).
Drupal modules such as Panels, offers revamping of the interface of a web page via simple drag and drop (CSS is generated automatically) – a unique feature that WordPress and Joomla developers can only dream about.
Disadvantages of Drupal
One of the main concerns with using Drupal is its difficulty for the layman. Unless you are the type that has strong coding capabilities and like to read tons of technical items, you’ll find Drupal extremely difficult to use.
To make matters worse, not only are Drupal’s core modules dry and boring, its lack of themes will force you to hire a web developer if you want any decent layout for your website.
Overall, Drupal is extremely powerful and can do things that CMS were never even envisioned to do, but on the other hand it has a daunting learning curve which only allows tech savvy developers to utilize its true power. For newbies, using Drupal as a CMS can be a nightmare.
Who Should Use Drupal?
Drupal should be used by those seeking to have a full-fledged, enterprise grade CMS or for those who need to organize huge volumes of data, military grade security and super stability.
It is best used by large websites with huge data belonging to various categories, Drupal is an overkill for small websites and for those who seek newbie-friendliness.
Drupal — at the time of this write up — has 7 core versions (8th one is under active development and packs some amazing features that will make it a bit less complex yet more powerful), 14,212 different modules (Drupal name for plugins), 1,218 themes, 46,811 followers on Twitter, 58,775 fans on Facebook, and powers 39 of Alexa’s top 10,000 websites.
Joomla is an open-source content management system from Mambo. It is a popular CMS solution and boasts over 35 million downloads till date and powers at least 2.8% of the internet. It is arguably the strongest of the 3 contenders when it comes to meeting the definition of CMS and powers noteworthy sites like Linux.com, Cloud.com, iHop.com, etc.
Advantages of Joomla
Joomla may be a bit tricky to learn at first, but website creators will be pleased to know that Joomla is very user friendly over all. The UI is polished, flexible, and quite powerful. Joomla also has a strong developer community that provides tons of open source, free to use plugins called “extensions”.
These extensions are divided into 5 categories; components, plugins, templates, modules and languages. Each of these have different functions, powers and capabilities, such as Components that act as ‘mini-apps’ and change the Joomla installation altogether and Modules that add minor capabilities like dynamic content, RSS feeds, and search function to a user’s web page.
Last, but certainly not least, Joomla was designed to be an enterprise-grade CMS from the ground up, which results in Joomla having impressive content management capabilities.
Disadvantages of Joomla
One of the main problems Joomla has is that it needs some learning before use. The learning curve is not that steep when compared to Drupal, but it is still steep enough to scare off novice developers. Another major issue is that it lacks proper SEO capabilities and has limited ACL support (comparatively).
Unlike its competitors, SEO on Joomla will require a lot of effort on the developer’s part if they want the same level of Search Engine Optimization that other CMS already offer easily.
Who Should Use Joomla?
Joomla should be used by developers who want to build a site with more structural stability and content as well as fairly intuitive interfaces. If you want a basic website with standard capabilities (blogs, static/dynamic front-end, forums, etc.) then use Joomla. Joomla is also a good option for small to mid-tier e-commerce stores.
Joomla — at the time of this write up — has 3 core versions, 7,412 different extensions, 47,382 followers on Twitter, 126,784 fans on Facebook, CMS market share of 9.2% and is mostly used for e-commerce sites and moderately complex websites.
WordPress is the most widely used CMS in the world. With more than 60 million websites, WordPress powers approximately a whopping 18.9% of the entire internet, leaving both its competitors in the dust.
WordPress is flexible and powerful enough to power fortune 500 company blogs and can also simultaneously handle sporadically updated personal journals. Some famous websites that use WordPress include Online.wsj.com, CNN.com, Forbes.com, Mashable.com and Reuters.com.
Advantages of WordPress
One of the strongest features that WordPress has is its ability to accommodate multiple authors. Secondly, the sheer number of plugins available for WordPress will be able to impress any open source community. There is very little that WordPress can’t do with its vast range of available plugins (of which mostly are free).
WordPress is also extremely user friendly. Just about anybody can select a theme, add a few plugins and start working right away. WordPress themeing is really easy and even with the most basic understanding of HTML and CSS, you can customize any WordPress theme to fit all your needs. This makes WordPress extremely popular among newbies. WordPress also has strong SEO capabilities; with plugins such as “All in One SEO”, “WordPress SEO by Yoast”, publishers can start publishing content straight away without worrying about on-page SEO.
Finally, WordPress is flexible. Really really flexible. You can practically do anything with it. Thanks to super easy theme hacks and a bunch of right plugins, you can make your site an e-commerce store, a video sharing site, a portfolio website or a company blog within minutes.
On top of that WordPress community is super strong and is tightly integrated with the blogosphere. You wanna know about the best WordPress plugins and themes of 2013 or last month? Just Google it and you will be bombarded with quality up-to-date posts. This isn’t possible for either Drupal or Joomla due to their relatively smaller adoption rate.
Disadvantages of WordPress
WordPress isn’t exactly perfect and lacks security. Being the most popular of the 3, WordPress is more often than not the number one target of hackers. It is not very secure on its own and requires third-party plugins to boost its installation security.
Further, no matter how many free themes WordPress may have, most of them offer similar designs with limited design options. Also, WordPress isn’t as strong as its competitors, since it was originally built to be just a blogging tool.
Who Should Use WordPress?
WordPress isn’t nearly as powerful or capable as Drupal or Joomla, but is easy enough for any newcomer. WordPress should be used by people who would prefer a simple, easy to use blogging or cms solution that looks good and can accommodate multiple users easily.
WordPress — at the time of this write up — has 3 core versions, 28,169 different plugins, 2,140 themes, 302,589 followers on Twitter, 268,038 fans on Facebook, CMS market share of 59.6% and is mostly used for making quality blogs and small company websites with limited pages.
As we can see, each CMS has its own specific strengths and weaknesses. Some may prefer, technical configurations over raw power, or user friendliness over features. It all boils down to the requirements, however there is no arguing about which one is better in which category.
If you are unsure about the requirements or unaware of what requirements can come across your way in the future, have various types of content, want powerful, scalable and secure content management options, and can afford to lose user-friendliness, then go for Drupal.
If you want strongest content management capabilities, and can afford to lose some user-friendliness, Joomla is your pick.
However, if you just want to get your word out to the public or create a 7-8 pages company website, then by all means use WordPress. There is no denying that WordPress is the best choice for when you want to do is some serious publishing.