When we talk about CMS, two of the most popular ones around are WordPress and Drupal. Since these two platforms are often compared to one another, we decided to do our own comparison to help users. So you may ask, why are these two CMS platforms compared to one another as opposed to others?
Neither platform will break the bank since both are free to use and open source. Any money I have spent using WordPress has been minuscule. I branched away from a free theme once to try a paid one. I think it was about $14. Of course, site and domain hosting require at least a few dollars per month or year.
Different types of websites can benefit from WordPress or Drupal capabilities. Let’s look at some of the differences and similarities between these two popular platforms.
There is no way of getting around the fact that Drupal has a more complex structure. However, the complexity of its structure and taxonomy allows it to perform more advanced functions than WordPress. You can create a WordPress account and have a decent site up and running on the same day.
Drupal has features such as views, blocks, content types and nodes. These are elements that all web developers won’t automatically understand, regardless of their skill level. So if you are building a Drupal site for the very first time, be prepared to do some studying - lots of it - and adjust to a learning curve.
On the contrary, a non-developer can start a simple website or blog on WordPress instantly.
An enterprise website is a complex website used by businesses that aim to sell products, get leads, and covert customers to perform specific actions. These site owners usually have multiple stakeholders and back-end users.
Drupal’s extensive functionality means it is more practical for a large corporation to use than a WordPress site. Drupal’s structure permits developers to create multiple content types and different page templates.
A large international or e-commerce site will need multiple people to access and update content on the site. Drupal’s infrastructure enables different site admins, editors, content creators and privatized content.
Drupal has more flexible API development than WordPress as well.
The term “ Ambitious Digital Experiences” was created by Acquia. So what goes into an Ambitious Digital Experience and how do the two platforms add to it? Here are the requirements for such an experience:
Drupal has enterprise level security and site scale capacity. While the whitehouse.gov was once hosted on Drupal, it has since moved over to WordPress.
Hundreds of thousands of websites could easily crash or get compromised if one hacker targeted a vulnerability in just one wordpress plugin.
According to recent reports, 90% of infected websites were built using WordPress - not Drupal. On the other hand, some of those hacked sites could be old WordPress sites that have been discarded but never taken down or updated.
WordPress is known for its plugins - both free and paid. Unfortunately, more and more hackers have found a way to use malware to target these plugins. Page builder add-ons have been particularly vulnerable. Drupal is not known for its plugins.
For both platforms, users can now access specific hosting applications. If you want to create a WordPress website, you can use WP Engine to host it. WP Engine was one of the first hosts to offer WordPress. If you are building a site using Drupal, then you may want to stick with Pantheon or Acquia to host your site. If you use a platform specific application to host your site, it would greatly improve your security.
Neither WordPress nor Drupal websites are capable of ranking higher in search engines based on their platform use. SEO simply does not cater to any platform. A website’s ranking rests in the hands of proper development, strategy and content. - period!
WordPress seems to have less room for error compared to a poorly developed Drupal website.
If you want to ensure the best ranking level for your site, don’t sleep on the load times. WordPress has many customizable caching plugins. One such plugin is called WP Fastest Cache. Have you ever tried to load a website where the pictures took forever to load or appeared broken? Well, that would hardly be an issue with WP Fastest Cache. This plugin features include CDN and image optimization.
Drupal is no slouch with caching. A Drupal CMS has built in caching features that are already powerful without any adjustment by developers.
Today, you simply can’ t build a successful website without ensuring that mobile users will be able to view and engage with it. If you need to override the built-in responsive code for whatever reason, you can do so in both WordPress and Drupal.
Maybe you left your laptop at home and now you want to rush a post out there quickly.
If you are on the go and must update your page immediately, WordPress has a native mobile app that enables content editing. Whether you are at a desktop or laptop, you can update your WordPress blog from anywhere and any device.
Drupal does not have a native app, but it does have a responsive admin that may be useful on the go as well.
Both CMS platforms are capable of having bloated pages. In Drupal, you may hear the term “divitis”. The views feature in Drupal can create a huge view structure that one has to dig deep into. Elementor is a page builder on WordPress that can create a similar issue.
Both WordPress and Drupal allow the addition of Schemas. Schemas can be hard-coded into either platform’s template files. A developer can also add schemas to Drupal’s views features.
If you need a CDN, luckily you can integrate this element into WordPress or Drupal. Depending on your hosting platform, a CDN may already be included.
Do you care about how your URLs look and think you may need to rewrite them at some point? Drupal once again beats WordPress with this feature. WordPress’s category element can be limiting when it comes to URL names. Be mindful of setting up your directory page on WordPress. Your site may have bugs or broken links if you don’t select a parent page first.
On the flip side, Drupal allows you to update your URL names with great flexibility and frequency. You can do whatever you like with Drupal categories and alias patterns.
There will come a time on any website that changes will have to be made. Existing content may be updated, but there will most certainly be some backend changes whether you want them or not. Servers, databases and platforms are always changing with the dawn of technology and your WordPress or Drupal site will have to keep up with it as well.
You can always upgrade your WordPress code on your own - or with a developer. The WordPress database upgrades every 3-4 months. The WP Engine platform will usually update its core section within 48 hours of a database upgrade release. For security reasons, you will have to update any plugins that you have.
If you are a Drupal user, bear in mind that the code is not upgradable - the database is though.
When you plan to go from Drupal 7 up to Drupal 8, be prepared to make time for an entire redesign. Don' t worry, your content won’t be lost in the migration. You will need to rewrite the code, unfortunately.
Luckily, Drupal 9 is more in tune with the future as it does not require you to recode the whole site upon migration. Once every Drupal website is updated to Drupal 9, it will be a huge relief for ongoing web maintenance.
While Drupal does appear to have a leg up on WordPress in many ways, it has not slowed down WordPress’s popularity and marketshare. Many people are becoming sole proprietors, bloggers, etc. Many users just need a simple website that allows them to set it up on their own or at least update content as quickly as possible. This does not mean that larger businesses or brands have no use for WordPress. After all, whitehouse.gov — yes THE WHITEHOUSE — is run on a WordPress platform after leaving Drupal behind.
While Drupal is clearly a brilliant and advanced CMS, unfortunately, its “tough” reputation precedes it. It can often be an uphill battle converting an experienced WordPress stakeholder over to Drupal. WordPress is simply easier to use at first sight. Features such as views and nodes bring great advancements to a site but can be overwhelming for new users. A developer and stakeholder must be aware of how Drupal nodes relate to the overall site.
Unlike WordPress, a piece of content can be shown across the site without duplicating it on different pages - thanks to nodes. In other words, not only does Drupal require more work for a developer, content strategists may need a few extra meetings - or several - with the development team. This could make site creation or redevelopment go on for a longer period of time and have a higher budget as a result.
In regards to marketshare, as mentioned earlier, the WordPress platform is way more user-friendly than Drupal. Whether you are excited about a whole library of themes or a range of plugins, WordPress makes it easy for a user to adapt the site to their individual or small enterprise needs with little development.
Developing a WordPress site from start to finish can be done in a day or less, depending on your content. The WordPress platform is ideal for blogging or a general promotional site where you don’t plan to have extensive e-commerce. However, if you have a big company or several potential backend users such as content creators, administrators, editors, or need private content, then Drupal wins with a knockout punch.
Both platforms allow the user to have different themes. If you have a WordPress blog, you can easily switch out a theme in a few seconds. With some light CMS work, you can also customize your WordPress theme, but it is not necessary. WordPress has tons of free and paid themes that are tailored to the needs of writers, photographers, food bloggers, product sellers and more.
While Drupal also has starter themes, it is not best to develop your website around one. Choose the Drupal platform only if you or someone you can hire are capable of customizing it. Thanks to Drupal’s advanced features, API and app development can reach amazing heights in a way that is not possible with WordPress at the moment.
As you look to the future, you may want to change the superficial appearance or theme of your site. You may want to just update the look or layout on specific sections of your website. It is difficult to do this on WordPress thanks to a parent-child theme connection. However, Drupal allows this type of them switching on different sections of the same website.
Both WordPress and Drupal have their pros and cons. When you commit to building a new site or migrating content from an old one, think long and hard about your content types, customer relations ( if any), how many people need to update content daily, and how you can change the site in the future. If you are a travel blogger that also sells T-shirts related to your adventures, a WordPress site with the right plugins is perfect for you. However, a large international product site that will need different microsites, user stories, A/B testing, stakeholders in 20 international offices will most likely fare better with Drupal development.