Drupal Vs WordPress

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Adam Cook

We’ve found that there are 2 common content platforms that frequently get a mention when coders talk about building websites. They are usually comparing Drupal Vs WordPress.

What is Drupal?

Drupal is a free CMS that lets you create business sites, blogs, online stores, and much more!.

It is best suited to those who aren’t new to web technologies and coding. Building a site from scratch that aims to match Facebook and Twitter isn’t easy, so expect to work for your website if you chose to go for Drupal.

Drupal supports content management, collaborative authoring, podcasts, image galleries, p2p networking, and far more. It allows easy extensions within the sort of modules, but although everything sounds very almost like WordPress, there are still crucial differences that will help you choose between them.

What is WordPress?

At its core, WordPress is a simple and easy-to-use website or blog creator. In fact, WordPress powers over 35.2% of all the websites on the web. You heard that right, more than a quarter of websites online are likely powered by WordPress.

Since it is licensed as open-source under GPLv2, anyone can use or modify the WordPress source code to meet their needs without cost.

A content management system is essentially a tool that makes important aspects of your website easy to manage, without having to understand anything about programming.

In the end, WordPress makes building a site online accessible to anyone – even people that aren’t developers.

With all that I’ve just said in context, it makes sense why they’re often lumped together. They are both free and open-source, they have a wide library of plugins and modules to add additional functionality, and most of all, have a loyal following of users and developers. Even though they were released only a few years apart, WordPress has proven to be much more popular over the years.

They are both are great tools and ideal for different types of websites, but they also differ in many major ways. Your individual website needs will play the deciding factor in which CMS best fit for you and your business.

The key differentiators between Drupal and WordPress to consider when choosing between the two are:

  • Functionality
  • Flexibility
  • Ease of Use
  • Security
  • Cost

Functionality

We won’t deny that Drupal is very advanced and complex, especially compared to WordPress. It all depends on what your needs are.

Drupal’s functionality goes a lot deeper than WordPress. It has a lot more features, but if you don’t know how to use them, they’re going to be confusing and a hindrance to you in the long run. 

Such features Drupal contains include: content types, taxonomies, blocks, views, and much more. This does create a learning curve when it comes to using Drupal, but ultimately it provides more power to the platform and its users.

If you need lots of page templates or content types, It is better equipped to suit your site’s needs. Its user permissions are a lot more advanced than WordPress, you can have site admins, content editors, individual access to private content, and way more! This way, Drupal is able to support multiple site stakeholders at any one time.  

Drupal’s developers designed it to be used by other developers, this makes its functionality both a strength and a weakness. If you overlook using Drupal for large projects because of its complexity, you will end up ignoring the features of Drupal that make it so powerful. This isn’t lost on the Drupal devs though, as a lot of the new initiatives for Drupal 8 are working to change that – aiming for a more friendly interface for beginners and less advanced users.

Flexibility

WordPress has an assortment of free and paid themes and plugins that can get you started building your website. There are starter themes, but the majority of Drupal is designed for custom development.

Many people chose to work with WordPress because of the vast plugin library at its disposal, designed for everything from SEO to social media and more.

The platform alternative to WordPress plugins for Drupal are called modules, they’re free to use and contain many of the same functionality as WordPress plugins, especially in Drupal 8. However, in WordPress, for the most part, plugins are easier to manage without needing the help of a developer, with Drupal, you’ll need an experienced developer to handle installing or updating any modules.

Going back to WordPress, it was originally designed as a blogging platform, so it doesn’t have the same ability as Drupal does to handle really large volumes of content, being capable of supporting thousands of pages and thousands of users. Recent updates in Drupal 8 have also improved its page performance, including its caching feature which helps the page load faster.

Ease of Use

Rest assured, once you’ve learned how to use Drupal it’s no problem to use. It requires more technical experience than WordPress, but it’s more capable of producing advanced sites. WordPress is easier to understand if you have limited knowledge of website development, as with many cases, developers are building and customising WordPress sites and handing it over to the client for site management. You can set up a blog in minutes on WordPress with only basic knowledge, the transparent editing UI and drag-and-drop functionality allow you to start blogging or make easy website updates.

Both WordPress and Drupal have active user communities that are able to answer any queries or help out issues that you may encounter along the way, being able to provide documentation in certain cases. With Drupal 8’s release, the platform is continually being made easier to use for non-developers, including the likes of site builders and content authors, etc.

Security

Security is one of the biggest deciding factors between Drupal and WordPress. While Drupal and the entire open source community has seen its fair share of security fears, the platform has enterprise-level security and provides in-depth security reports on demand. That level of security is the main reason why you’ll find governments, including whitehouse.gov, using Drupal.

It is also important to note however that with the release of Drupal 8 last fall, Drupal 6 has transitioned to unsupported status. And as a result of that, if a new, unforeseen security issue makes Drupal 6 vulnerable to attack, you won’t receive any direct support as the volunteers in the Drupal community have now shifted their full attention to Drupal 8 development and Drupal 7 support, so little to no resources will be available as security fixes since the platform has been discontinued by the community. To avoid any security vulnerabilities, upgrade your site from Drupal 6 to the latest Drupal 8 as soon as possible.

On the other hand, WordPress, being the more widely used option, has been vulnerable to hackers and other attacks for some time (Not to say it’s not secure because it is if you know how). A lot of the plugins that make WordPress so powerful also have a habit of opening up the system to various security problems – So make sure you only install trusted third-party plugins that have adequate support teams updating vulnerabilities. For this reason, there are platforms that host WordPress to make it less vulnerable, WP Engine is one of the most popular WordPress hosting platforms to use.

On Drupal’s side, web hosting with partners such as Pantheon and Acquia will also help to mitigate the server vulnerabilities, lessening the risk greatly.

Cost

Despite both being free to download and install, there are costs with building and maintaining websites on both platforms. If you require outside development help, individual Drupal developers will generally tend to be more expensive than WordPress developers, this is mainly because there are fewer of them and so are a lot harder to come by. Drupal has made an effort to resolve this, incorporating frameworks such as Symfony. 

Nowadays PHP developers can now pick up Drupal a lot more easily than they could in past years, this opens up the market for Drupal developers, making it more of a level playing field than before, potentially reducing the costs that come with hiring Drupal developers.

Overall, Drupal in the right hands can create unique and effective solutions to meet any brief. But if you’re looking for a website to support your blog or gain a foothold online for your small business, WordPress’s simple and easy-to-use interface will serve you much better, as Drupal is ideal for sites that require scalability and large amounts of content to be organised but at the cost of ease of use.

Ultimately It Comes Down To This:

What do you want to achieve? The right CMS for your business will be the one that functions the way you need it to, works best for your budget, matches the technical abilities of your users’ and offers solutions that are as simple or advanced as you need them to be, etc.

Looking for a Low-Cost Initial Investment? = WordPress

WordPress is very affordable and allows for a great level of customizability. If you’re not sure what the future will bring for your business and the website, WordPress is a great place to start.

Looking for the Fastest Set Up? = WordPress

Regardless of your expertise with website development, WordPress will typically allow for the fastest turnaround time, just as long as you’re not building anything too complex, as that leans more into the next category!

Looking for a Robust and Complex Solution? = Drupal

If you know from the start that your web needs are complex and your website requires robust functionality, it’s worth exploring Drupal. It may take longer to develop, but it will be worth the time and cost. The advantage Drupal brings is that you only select modules that you need per page. With WordPress, on each page every plugin is active, this means you need to then install more stuff to make it more scalable, and the more stuff you add to your website, the more resource-intensive it becomes, becoming less accessible to most users who don’t have devices that will cope with the site’s assets, in many cases damaging your conversion rate. 

Be aware that some themes will scale alongside images with CSS and can cause even more performance issues.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is not biased to websites made with particular platforms and there is no advantage towards either CMS if it was developed using best standards either can offer. But watch out, Drupal sites can go terribly bad if the developer didn’t know what they were doing or were improperly maintained, with WordPress however, it has less margin of error in similar circumstances where Drupal could fail, but the circumstances where WordPress would be used that would be done on Drupal are few and far between, due to most web developers choosing Drupal for dense and complex website development.

When configuring your website’s on-page optimisation, consider these factors:

  • Loading times: Drupal’s default caching features are very robust out of the box, but WordPress relies upon caching plugins to even be in the same ballpark of speed. WordPress’s caching plugins, such as WP Fastest Cache, are very customisable and include features such as a CDN and optimisation for images. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of a fast loading website, both for usability and SEO. 
     
  • Themes: For beginners and people wanting an easy solution, WordPress has an amazing theme market for DIY users. We do not recommend buying Drupal themes, as there are plenty of great Drupal starter themes, such as the Adaptive Responsive theme, but keep in mind that Drupal development is not so easily transferable that you can spin a theme off of it. It’s above all custom development, from start to finish!
  • Schema.org implementation: Another essential asset for website development, for Drupal and WordPress, Schemas can be added to views, or hard-coded to any template files.
     
  • CDNs: Content Delivery Networks can be integrated with either platforms to distribute assets to the closest local point. With base subscriptions of many hosting platforms in this day and age offering (or even including) a CDN, going without a CDN in 2020 is ridiculous considering how streamlined it is in most hosting platforms today.
  • Multi-lingual functionality: Multinational or multi-lingual sites can be easily deployed with out of the box Drupal features, but WordPress needs plugins to achieve the same level of detail.

Most developers will recommend the CMS that they are most familiar with without considering your site’s needs and objectives. With this in mind, knowing which CMS is right for your project will save a ton of time and money, right now and in the future.

WordPress: The main code of WordPress is upgradable but the database also needs an upgrade that is done seamlessly in the background, with the release schedule being about every 3-4 months, but some platforms, such as WP Engine, will update its core within 48 hours within a release. You will have to update plugins as soon as possible to maintain the security of your site as it has proven to be a backdoor for malicious attacks in the past.

Drupal: Drupal’s database is upgradable with each release but the code is not. Upgrading from versions, such as Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 are more intensive and usually will require a redesign in order to maintain stability. The content that is stored in your database will be able to be migrated to the latest version, but be aware that most of the code will need to be re-written when transitioning.

2 leading cms systems, drupal and wordpress