Drupal and WordPress are two very powerful and free but different content management systems which make creating, storing, and in some cases, presenting content a lot easier. The ease to which you can upload new content and manage large amounts of content makes a CMS a better option for most websites, and Drupal and WordPress are two of the most popular out there. Today let’s pit Drupal vs WordPress to determine which is best for your needs.
Drupal Vs WordPress
I’ve been talking about essential Drupal modules to include on your Drupal site if you decide to go that route as of late, and I’ve understandably gotten a number of questions regarding Drupal, particularly in how it stacks up against WordPress. I’ve long used WordPress to build many of my own sites, including ConvertingCopy.com itself, but in the last few years I’ve gotten more and more into managing and configuring Drupal sites for clients, typically at their request.
The good news is that, if one of these options isn’t right for you, odds are that the other one is. It really depends on what kind of site you’re trying to develop more than anything, so let’s talk about the major differences between Drupal and WordPress so you can make up your own mind about which is a better match for your website.
Ease of Use – Winner: WordPress
WordPress – I’ve always loved WordPress because of its relatively small learning curve. It’s user interface is much more user friendly and makes it simple for you to hit the ground running that much faster. In WordPress for me, it’s simply a matter of finding the right theme to meet your needs and maybe making a tweak here or there. The control panel is easy to navigate and find what you need, and modules/plugins give you a lot of extra functionality you may find yourself needing. Even updating WordPress is one click simple.
Drupal – If you’re familiar with WordPress’ interface, you may suddenly feel like you’ve been stranded in the middle of the ocean using Drupal for the first several times. Out of the box, Drupal has a much larger learning curve than WordPress when it comes to configuring your site. Beyond “plugins” which is pretty intuitive, WordPress uses plain language most of the time. Drupal, on the other hand, has its own vernacular, from “blocks” to “nodes” to “modules” to “taxonomy”, it can be difficult to keep track of what everything does at first.
Just the basic administrative menu system can be pretty overwhelming and much more complex and intricate but this is out of necessity as there is a lot more which you can do using the choices from these menus to configure your site than you can with WordPress. It’s simple enough to navigate up to the “Content” tab at the top of the menu, click on it, then click “Add Content”, then choose whether you want to add an article (post in WordPress) or a basic page (just page in WordPress). Updating to a new version of Drupal can be much more involved, as well. If you’re committed to learning Drupal then it’s very rewarding, but not everyone needs to be using Drupal.
Security – Winner: Drupal
Drupal – Most government sites including the White House’s website itself are built using Drupal for good reason: it has far less vulnerabilities than WordPress.
WordPress – WordPress has had a lot of issues with outdated plugins and theme files which leave backdoor entrances for easy hacking even if WordPress itself is completely up to date. And just like Honda is the make of care which is most often broken into, maybe it’s because WordPress is so ubiquitous that it’s more convenient for hackers to work to find exploitations in it because there are so many more targets.
Modules/Plugins – Winner: Tie
WordPress – WordPress has thousands of plugins, both free and premium, to achieve most functionality you might need out of your site. Plugins can be expensive, however, as I’ve found you find yourself paying to achieve a lot of the functionality in WordPress that you can get for free in Drupal just from Drupal core.
Drupal – Drupal uses thousands of free user created modules to add virtually any functionality once again that you’ll need out of your site. The downside to Drupal in regards to its modules is again its learning curve. The module page itself is sprawling and can be confusing and difficult to keep track of which modules need to be activated and are dependent on other modules to work. Even with modules to better sort your module display, Drupal core comes with roughly 50 modules to begin with, and once you begin adding others, it can get pretty messy quickly.
SEO and Load Time – Winner: Tie
The truth is that both CMS options allow for clean and uncluttered themes, so unless you’re using a theme which is a coded mess, you shouldn’t have any ticks against you from a load time or SEO point of view. Both Drupal and WordPress have SEO modules and SEO plugins, respectively, which make accounting for meta tags easier, and because SEO largely comes down to your content itself and your responsibility of sharing it, the CMS itself doesn’t play much into it.
Support Community – Winner: Tie
WordPress – WordPress has the benefit of being the most popular CMS on the planet, so you have more people experiencing and solving the same issues which you’re having than you would with Drupal, making it easy to jump on WordPress’ help forums or thousands of other relevant help sites to find the answers you’re looking for.
Drupal – Drupal feels like more of a developer’s community who are always concerned (obsessed may be a better term) with ensuring that every issue of Drupal is ironed out and resolved. Therefore it’s easy to get quick and substantial answers on the Drupal forums, as well.
Roles and Permissions – Winner: Drupal
Both platforms allow you to create roles and permissions, but where WordPress just gives you five basic roles to put your users into which each have their own permissions set by default, Drupal allows you to create and modify as many roles as you need. You can rename the different roles in Drupal to better reflect what that user’s actual purpose is in relation to the site. You have far more control over not only what different roles can not only do, but even see on your site. When you add more and more content to your site, being able to better define what each role is becomes a major time saver.
Functionality/Content Types – Winner: Drupal
Drupal – You can get a great deal more functionality out of Drupal than WordPress. Whether you’re creating an online store or recipe site, both of which have the need for many many different classifications and sorting options, or you need to collect and manage a great deal of information from someone for a donor site, for example, or even if you’re just building a basic blog, Drupal can handle it. You can collect, sort, and present information in as many ways as you can think of, and this gives Drupal a substantial lift up.
WordPress – WordPress can be augmented through special themes, plugins, and coding to achieve a lot of the same results you can get from Drupal, but at that point it may be a bigger learning curve and financial commitment to do it through WordPress whereas you can do all of this with Drupal out of the box.
Theme Availability – Winner: WordPress
WordPress being the more popular CMS has a lot more options in terms of themes both free and premium which can make a big difference just starting out when you are looking to match a theme with the image you have in your head.
Overall Winner – It Depends…
As I said in opening, the better choice for you depends on the kind of site you want to build. If you have a personal blog or even just a basic information based service site for your brick and mortar business, you could be fine with just using WordPress.
If you have a site which houses large amounts of content which take many different forms and you want more control over how that content is presented, Drupal is likely the better choice for your site.