In the last 15 years we’ve helped hundreds of businesses build their mobile and web products. During the initial discussions of every web development related project, we’ve come across this question from our clients “Which is the best open source Content Management System (CMS) to go with?”.
Without a doubt WordPress is the most popular open source CMS in the market. But Drupal and Joomla are not far behind. Even though these 3 content management systems have many things in common, each of these CMS’s have their own advantages and disadvantages depending on each use case.
So, your choice of a CMS should depend on the type of website you’re building and your technical expertise to build/manage the website. In this article, we’ve done a comparison on Drupal, WordPress and Joomla to help you understand the differences and choose the best content management system for your website development.
Ease of Use
When it comes to ease of use, no other open source content management system is as easy as WordPress. You hardly need any technical expertise to build or manage a WordPress site. WP comes with their famous ‘5 minutes install’ which makes it easy for anyone to get started with building their web site. This is one of the main reasons why WordPress is so popular.
Joomla is the second most popular open source content management system after WordPress. Again, the main reason for its popularity is its ease of use. Joomla is slightly more complex than WordPress as you need to put a little more effort into understanding its structure and functionalities; however it is no rocket science.
In the last few years, Drupal has becoming slightly easier than in the past. But, it still remains the most complex open source CMS among these three. Drupal may not be the best choice if you’re a small business (unless you’ve a real drive to learning programming). However, it is very secure and capable of creating highly complex/advanced websites. Drupal is mostly used by medium to large enterprises who’ve dedicated expert Drupal developers to build and manage their website.
When it comes to security, Drupal has a very good history. What better than having Dries Buytaert himself, the founder of Drupal CMS, on their security team! This just proves that they take security very seriously. Drupal has a very strong framework and community to track, verify and update on possible threats or vulnerabilities within their CMS. This is one of the reasons why many large enterprises prefer to go with Drupal instead of Joomla or WordPress.
Joomla is reasonably secure but not as good as Drupal. Like in any CMS, most of the threats are through 3rd party add-ons or plugins. But the core team and community are very active in tracking and responding to any security vulnerabilities. The number of sites using Joomla are much more than Drupal, and that is why it is targeted more often than Drupal.
Due to it’s immense popularity, WordPress is more often targeted by hackers than any other CMS. However, WordPress is built on a very secure code, and they respond promptly to security vulnerabilities. It is also why WordPress has more frequent updates than Drupal or Joomla. In most cases, the hackers gain access to the system through plugins. So you need to be cautious in choosing plugins and keep your WP updated.
Note: All these 3 open source CMS have almost the same security levels. They all are active in development and have a large group of developer’s community to alert any security issues. But do note that even a Drupal site would be prone to attacks if you don’t take proper precautions.
WordPress has over 35K themes and plugins (Free & Paid) which makes it highly customizable. Whether you want to build a simple blog, a corporate website, social media platform or an ecommerce site, WordPress offers you a plethora of choices. There are tons of WP themes and plugins that are highly flexible and can help you create any type of website.
When it comes to customization, Drupal is pretty flexible, even without the use of plugins. But in order to customize, you need to possess in depth technical knowledge of CMS. Drupal also has a lot of plugins (Called “Modules” in Drupal) but most of them aren’t free. Compared to WordPress or Joomla, Drupal has a limited number of themes. Overall, Drupal is a good choice provided you have the money to hire a developer and designer for your website.
Similar to WordPress, Joomla also offers tons of plugins and themes to customize your website. However, advanced customization in Joomla requires in depth technical knowledge of CMS. If you’re building a very complex or advanced website, then Joomla may not be the best choice.
Search Engine Optimization
WordPress core by default is not a great CMS in terms of SEO. However, kickass SEO plugins such as All in One SEO and Yoast SEO makes WP one of the best content management systems from an SEO perspective. These plugins make your entire search engine optimization process of making tweaks much easier. Precisely why WordPress is preferred by most SEOs. Reducing page load time is slightly challenging but again, you have tons of plugins readily available for that.
Unlike WordPress, Drupal has the SEO capability in built. However, it lags behind in the ease of use. Managing advance SEO in Drupal can be quite challenging for a non-technical user. But if you are comfortable with its complexity, it comes with modules to manage or track your SEO progress. All said and done, Drupal is one of the best when it comes to generating clean code and its in built caching capability helps in improving the performance of the website.
Joomla isn’t a great CMS tool when it comes to SEO. Although it has the basic SEO capabilities, it still requires a lot of effort to optimize the website on Joomla CMS.
We can safely conclude that WordPress is the best choice for building a website – whether it’s a small blog or a high end ecommerce/social website. However, it can be tricky to build a very complex website and you need to put in extra effort to ensure that proper security measures are in place. If you are able to achieve that, managing your WordPress site will be a breeze. Given its user friendliness and easy availability of expert WordPress developers, you cannot go wrong with WordPress as your choice of CMS while building a large website.
On the other hand, if you’re a serious business and want to build a complex website and also have enough budget to hire designers / developers to build and manage your site, Drupal is the best choice for you. However, do remember that finding expert Drupal developers can prove to be very challenging.
As about Joomla – even though it is the 2nd most popular CMS, it does lag behind WordPress and Drupal on different levels.
Winner: WordPress & Drupal
Looking to build a large web product on Drupal or WordPress?
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