When it comes to content management systems, there are two names that stand from the rest and clash – Drupal vs WordPress. But which one to choose when deciding to create your website and on which your business will thrive?
Each has its own loyal community, a long list of popular websites that it powers, as well as a wide range of features and functionalities.
It is common knowledge that WordPress is easier to use and more popular while Drupal has a smaller community and a longer learning curve. WordPress and Drupal are big players in the CMS market but WordPress user base is way bigger than Drupal.
WordPress and Drupal both offer great features, tons of customizaions, ease-of-use, and strong security. And they are both free to download and use. So which one to choose for your website?
Drupal vs WordPress
WordPress is best choice for beginners because it is easy to use and it works especially well for small to medium-sized websites, blogs and smaller e-commerce stores.
Theme customization and more complex setups may require the help of skilled WordPress developer. But the possibilities that can be achieved are huge.
Sites that are powered by WordPress include TechCrunch, The New Yorker, BBC America, Variety, Walt Disney Co., etc.
Drupal is a powerful CMS often called “content management framework” that lets users launch, manage and scale more complicated sites and applications.
Ambitious tasks may require understanding of HTML, CSS and PHP. But for basic websites no programming experience is needed. Drupal’s extended functionality comes from modules which include basic things like blogging, forums, contact forms, etc.
Sites that are powered by Drupal include The Economist, Fox, BBC Store, Weather.com, NFL teams, various universities and some US government sites like Whitehouse.gov.
WordPress and Drupal similarities
- Both have powerful developer APIs
- Both extend core functionality with add-ons
- Both are free and open-source
- Both require installation, setup, and hosting
- Both offer mobile responsive themes
WordPress Versus Drupal Differences
1. Drupal is more complex under the hood – It can take longer to get used to and has a learning curve. It is a good option for larger projects and enterprise-grade sites. WordPress is easier to learn and use.
2. Version updates are handled differently – WordPress code is upgradable. Updates happen in tandem with database updates seamlessly in the background. Drupal updates are more comprehensive overhauls and because they don’t include a code update, the process is more labor intensive.
3. Security vulnerabilities – Drupal is known for its tight security while WordPress is more open to attacks because of its popularity and its plugins and themes security holes.
4. Testing – Drupal has testing and reporting built in. In WordPress you need to install plugin that allows you to run split, and A/B testing on your site.
5. Theme availability – Both platforms have great starter themes you can purchase, but Drupal themes tend to require more work to get customization. There are also fewer options for free Drupal starter themes while WordPress has tons of options.
Drupal vs WordPress CMS Comparison
WORDPRESS – WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system. It is used on over 40% of CMS-based websites. It is popular because it is easy to install. Many web hosting companies offer instant, automated WordPress installs in their hosting environment.
That means you can get a brand new website up-and-running in couple minutes. WordPress is very customizable. It has significantly more free and paid plug-ins, themes and other customization tools available than any other CMS.
Because that you can create great looking website by not spending much. Like Drupal, WordPress is free to use and has large community.
If you experience issues or have questions about your new WordPress site, you can easily find answer or ask others- It is safe bet that somebody already had same problem and knows solution. For a beginner, this is probably the most suitable platform to build a site.
DRUPAL – Drupal is among the most powerful open sourced options available. It is the technically advanced content management system. Good for technical people who like to get their hands dirty.
Drupal pages typically load more quickly and have faster response times than those made with WordPress. Part of the reason is that it’s less resource-intensive, requiring a less expensive server or hosting setup. But like with all CMS, adding too many third-party plugins can impact performance.
Drupal is easy to customize with many widely available plug-ins, themes and other configurable options to choose from. You can download and use the Drupal software for free.
Anyone considering Drupal should have at least a basic knowledge of HTML, PHP and other common web programming languages. Or have someone who has.
You don’t need to be an expert necessarily. But being able to troubleshoot error messages and identify code problems will be a huge benefit.
Ease of Use
A deciding factor on which to choose could be how easy it is to use. Drupal back end is a lot more complicated than WordPress. WordPress is more user friendly and you can start blogging in minutes using the WYSIWYG editor.
When it comes to upgrades WordPress does this without you needing to worry about a thing (though sometimes an update can mess things up).
Drupal’s upgrades don’t include the code. So again, you’ll need the developer knowledge to handle this. Some upgrades require a whole redesign.
Drupal isn’t hard to use, but it can be hard to learn how to use it. It requires more technical experience than WordPress, but it is capable of producing more advanced sites.
If yo have limited knowledge of website development and you need to get working and make your site live straight away, there’s no point in choosing Drupal.
Drupal can support anything from a one-page static site to site that has thousands of pages and thousands of readers reading those pages simultaneously.
As WordPress was originally designed as a blogging platform, its ability to handle really large volumes of content has been affected and can create a slower experience.
The easiest way to customize your website is through themes and plugins. WordPress has more than 37,000 plugins and a variety of free and premium themes.
You can use WordPress to run a simple blog, earn through affiliate programs, create booking site, sell your photos, start online shop, price comparison site, showcase your portfolio, create auction site, etc.
Drupal’s version of plugins is called modules. Modules are free and contain many of the same pieces of functionality that are available using WordPress plugins.
In WordPress, plugins are generally easier to manage without needing a developer. In Drupal, you’ll need a developer to handle installing or updating some modules. Like with WordPress, using Drupal there is no limit what kind of site can you create.
Having responsive website is a must. There is a core difference how Drupal and WordPress handles content for mobile. With Drupal, you can have additional content fields, per page, that will just display on mobile devices.
In addition to the content that will display on mobile, most Drupal mobile themes are better run off a sub-domain (m.yourdomain.com). WordPress mobile themes can be run off the same subdomain, which is normally www, and will not create any SEO issues.
Both CMS’s have solutions to responsive images, but they take different tracks. With WordPress, image sizes per break points are declared in the functions.php file.
With Drupal, you can set image sizes inside the admin by using the Image Style module. This does take a bit of setup time but your work can be done inside of the admin instead of PHP files.
They’re both free to download, but the premium plugins and themes for Drupal cost a lot more than WordPress. Also, there are much more free plugins and themes for WordPress because of its larger user base.
Bear in mind that if your website grows, you’ll need significant server resources if using WordPress. If you need to hire outside development help, individual Drupal developers will tend to be more expensive than WordPress developers because there are less of them and they’re harder to come by.
WordPress plugins can have vulnerabilities and be easily hacked if the website owner doesn’t update to the latest version or the author doesn’t patch and maintenance plugin/theme.
Hackers target WordPress because it is so popular. However, you can always install security plugins that increase the safety of your site. Drupal has enterprise-level security and provides in-depth security reports. That is why governments prefer it.
If your website is to be used as a publishing platform and you need the ability to let multiple authors log in, create a profile, and post articles, then WordPress is better for this purpose.
As an Admin, you can also edit the capabilities of each of the users and create new roles, making WordPress incredibly flexible in this area. You’re also able to add roles within Drupal, but there are fewer standard roles set up already.
Drupal comes with a basic revision solution, so multiple authors can work on an article at the same time and see the tracked edits. WordPress needs plugins to be able to do this.
I won’t deny that Drupal is complex, especially compared to WordPress. But it’s because of that complexity that it has a lot of advanced functionality as well.
It all depends on your needs. Drupal’s functionality goes much deeper than WordPress. Drupal has more features, but if you don’t know how to use them they are confusing and obsolete.
This creates a learning curve when it comes to using Drupal but ultimately provides more power to the Drupal platform and its users.
If you need multiple page templates or content types, Drupal is better equipped to handle your needs. Drupal’s user permissions are also more advanced than WordPress.
Drupal was designed by developers for developers, which makes its functionality both a strength and a weakness. If you are not comfortable developing in Drupal, you’ll end up ignoring the features of Drupal that make it so powerful.
Is it Possible to Migrate From one to Another?
If you feel like you made the wrong choice and want to switch down the road, it is relatively easy to migrate from one to another. Just make sure you have both the time and expertise readily available to make sure there are no problems during the site transfer.
For transferring Drupal to WordPress you can consider using a free plugin like FG Drupal to WordPress. For migration from WordPress to Drupal you can start with reading Drupal documentation on that topic.
Which Platform is Right for Your Project?
In summary, the comparison between these platforms really comes down to two things. Your skill level, and the complexity of your project. WordPress has a pretty massive following, it’s easy to learn and not hard to find your way around.
For anything from simple marketing sites to bigger multisite installs, WordPress is technically easier to use and also very well engineered.
Drupal is going to ask a bit more from you to make the most of its amazing features. It can rise to the occasion of the most complex of sites, and keeps security locked down.
Consider below statements:
1. Kind of site are you building – Consider the performance of your site if you’re planning on having thousands of pages and a high volume of traffic. Drupal can support complex sites. WordPress can too, but server needs will quickly grow.
2. Your budget – Depending on your site, development with Drupal can take longer than WordPress, which can get more expensive.
3. Number of users, contributors, or admins you intend to have – How many different users (and user permissions) will you need to have? WordPress makes it very easy to add a number of users with its standard roles and permissions.
4. Your template needs – How many types of content are you going to have, and how many require different templates? The more complex your site, the more you might want robust features that are available with Drupal.
5. Your security requirements – Are you enterprise level, needing comprehensive security measures? If yes, Drupal is better choice.
WordPress vs Drupal Summary
DRUPAL – Drupal is designed to be able to handle a large amount of data and customisation. Its performance is impressive.
However, it takes a little work and optimisation for Drupal to live up to its full potential. In an expert’s hands, a Drupal site can be resource-heavy but high-performing. For someone with little technical experience, the reality could be very different.
WORDPRESS – WordPress can quicky crumble by too many plugins and too much content. But with little optimization and using only plugins you need, and lightweight, well-coded theme, it will endure even the hardest tasks.
DRUPAL – Offers a wide range of modules, themes, and customising options. You can even edit everything on Drupal down to the very core. With the right abilities, you can customise Drupal for anything you need.
WORDPRESS – With WordPress’s thousand of themes and plugins, you can easily create what you want. Themes often allow you to quickly change the site’s color, fonts, layout, etc. However, it doesn’t quite offer the same flexibility as Drupal.
DRUPAL – Hiring a developer can often cost a little more than a WordPress developer because of supply and demand. Drupal is a serious CMS for serious businesses, so the extra cost will be insignificant for most.
WORDPRESS – WordPress is built to be budget-friendly. With many free plugins and free themes, it’s a great CMS for those on low budget. For even more customization you can always hire developer which due to the popularity can be fairly affordable.
DRUPAL – Both WordPress and Drupal are effective for SEO (but it all depends on you in the end).
WORDPRESS – With many search engine optimization plugins such as Yoast’s SEO (check Yoast vs Premium SEO), you can have a optimised easily. WordPress definitely helps make SEO a little simpler.
DRUPAL – Rarely hacked or compromised, Drupal has reputation for being a highly secure CMS.Vulnerabilities are posted on the Drupal.org website and patched quickly. There’s a reason why high-profile sites use Drupal.
WORDPRESS – Unfortunately for WordPress with its plethora of plugins, the platform is vulnerable to hackers and third parties. It’s also the most popular CMS, so it’s a much higher target. However, there are many great security plugins like iThemes Security (see iThemes Security review), and MalCare (check MalCare review).
6. EASE OF USE
DRUPAL – Some may find Drupal back-end complicated. Editing anything beyond content comes with a learning curve. Its interface is, however, responsive and easy to use.
WORDPRESS – WordPress is integrated with multiple website hosting services and is very ease to use. A simple, user interface is all you need to focus on. If you wish to get more in-depth with customising your site, you can do so, too.
Drupal OR WordPress – Who is Winner?
I’ll leave it up to you to make your final decision. You need to consider what you’re using your site for and where you think you’ll be in the future. For example, if your site is a creative agency, you’ll want to project your unique designs, so Drupal might be your choice.
If SEO is part of your marketing strategy, Drupal might work better because of its ability to handle lots of content and provide a quick page load.
If you want to create a multi-author publishing platform, you’ll be better off with WordPress. Just make sure you’ve estimated how big your site will become, as Drupal can handle larger sites better.
It is possible to switch later, but it’s obviously simpler not to. The main factor when deciding is the ease of use.
If you don’t have the experience to develop your own website, or don’t have the time or money to pay someone else, WordPress is the option for you.
Drupal was designed with developers in mind and so the design possibilities are endless. Developers are actively encouraged to come up with their own solutions. But this developer-friendly aspect is intimidating for beginners.
Drupal offers a lot of features out of the box, such as page caching, and a lot more. It is a flexible system. But WordPress is still highly usable and in a better overall situation than Drupal. It is more popular and therefore better supported.
By using the right combination of plugins and themes, WordPress can serve your web design and development projects greatly. WordPress is a little cheaper and simpler for beginners or the code-illiterate.
Drupal is likely the top choice for absolute control, customisation, and flexibility for larger sites and the code-savvy. In the end, the CMS you pick will depend on your needs for your website. They’re also both free to download!
I am biased here as I would always pick WordPress rather than Drupal. Whats your opinion? Let me know in comments below.
DISCLOSURE: Posts may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links, I might get a small commission, without any extra cost to you. Read more about it here.