WordPress or Drupal? Which CMS Is Right for You?

The choice of whether to use WordPress or Drupal to build your website depends on your experience and your needs. There is plenty of room in the website development ecosystem for two content management systems, and even room left over for Joomla and others.  For example, a microbrewery startup based in Austin with an eight-page website would be fine using WordPress, but a Cleveland-based heavy equipment manufacturer with a 350-page website is going to need the security and functionality of a Drupal-powered website.

WordPress is by far the most popular CMS in terms of the number of websites developed using it. As of February 2013, 17.6% of total websites were based on WordPress, according to W3Techs. Joomla came in second, with 2.7% of websites, and Drupal a fast-growing third, with 2.3% of websites.

WordPress Development

WordPress development is popular because it is easy. It was originally designed as an easy-to-use platform for bloggers, and it remains true to its roots despite 177 updates since its introduction in 2003. The WordPress  interface defines content as posts or pages, which makes it easy for new users to understand. Content and widgets are then just dropped in at defined locations within a given theme.

WordPress  has many more themes to choose from than Drupal, which means more choices for less tech-savvy folks who are not going to custom-design their own themes.  Themes make the WordPress development process quick and easy, and the active WordPress development community produces hundreds of new themes every year. Seattle and Austin are known as hubs for WordPress development.

Drupal Development

Drupal is all about flexibility. With Drupal your website can have as much custom content as you want. The owner of that microbrewery in Austin could design a website from scratch to his specs, with as many bells and whistles as he wanted, as long as he was prepared to put in the coding time.  Content in Drupal is contained within blocks, and the  type  of content — blog, article, item in a catalog — defines which block the content will be displayed in. Drupal does, however, have a steeper learning curve than WordPress. By the same token, you probably don’t want to use Drupal if you’ve only got 48 hours to build a site from scratch.

Drupal development became much easier with Drupal 7, as now additional functions can be added using “entities” as well as “modules” (equivalent to plug-ins), and everything can be assembled like Lego pieces, each one fitting securely with the next and maintaining seamless functionality and security.  Overall, the administration interface in Drupal is powerful compared to WordPress.

Unlike the large, heterogeneous WordPress development community, the Drupal development community is primarily composed of IT industry professionals. Furthermore, nearly everyone agrees that Drupal development allows you to create a more secure website. The White House website, for example, is powered by Drupal, as is AUSTINGO,  the official website of the city of Austin, Texas.

Drupal 8 has been rolled out over the summer and it offers the Drupal development community some significant improvements. First, it is designed to support HTML5, and it also offers a new admin bar and a number of useful new core modules, as well as a responsive node edit form.  Drupal 8 is still being fine-tuned, but the general consensus among the developer community is highly positive.