These days there is no shortage of CMSs to choose from when you go about building a new website for your business. I’ve focussed on WordPress and Drupal as these are two of the most popular platforms at the moment, and in terms of functionality, they are both a fairly close match.
If you’re looking at choosing a CMS at the moment as either a web designer or marketing team, have a quick look at our comparison below to give you some ideas on which direction to head in.
What are some of the most common benefits of WordPress and Drupal?
If you browse the web for discussions about WordPress vs. Drupal, you can find lots of devotees on each page. Here are some of the most cited reasons for choosing one platform over the other:
Ease of use – WordPress is significantly more user-friendly, especially for non-developers. This can be especially helpful if your website is being operated by several people such as a marketing agency, content writer, and other team members who aren’t specialists in development.
Expandability – WordPress’s third-party theme and plugin community makes it similarly easy to expand WordPress without the need for customized development. Some people even claim that with the right extensions, WordPress can do everything Drupal can.
Easy to get help – WordPress’s massive global community means it’s easy to find support for any problems you encounter.
Lower development costs – WordPress offers more out of the box solutions, and WordPress developers are usually more affordable than Drupal developers.
Customized content types and views — while WordPress offers custom post types, most Drupal’s custom content types look a bit more flexible.
Access controls/user permissions – whereas the WordPress single site comes with 5 basic user roles, Drupal has a built-in access control system where you can create new roles with individual permissions.
Core support for multilingual sites – in Drupal 8, multilingual is baked functionally in the kernel, while WordPress sites must turn to third-party plugins.
Taxonomy for handling lots of data – Drupal’s taxonomy system is more flexible than WordPress, which can make it ideal for handling lots of content.
How easy is it to get up and running with WordPress and Drupal?
When it comes to how easy it is to build a site with each platform, WordPress is the clear winner.
WordPress ease of use and learning curve
WordPress makes it markedly easier to go from “zero” to “fully functioning site that looks good.”
With WordPress, it’s possible to find a niche-specific theme and have a place of work, all at an afternoon’s work (of course, more complex projects are unlikely to be completed in the afternoon).
What’s more, the WordPress interface is easy to understand quickly, for even most casual users. And tools like WYSIWYG Theme Customizer and the upcoming Gutenberg editor only makes it even easier for casual users to create meaningful and unique content.
Drupal ease of use and learning curve
With Drupal, you’ll see pretty much the opposite. While Drupal themes exist, most Drupal sites have a custom coded theme or at least a highly customized theme. This means that you usually need a developer just to get something that looks good.
Beyond that, Drupal’s interface is incomprehensible to most casual users (and many developers!), at least at first glance. This is not an opinion – Drupal has a user-friendliness page in itself, which says, referring to the Drupal author experience:
In general, people expect a much richer user experience around content creation than Drupal offers, much of the functionality that people consider by default for a CMS is simply lacking.
Although functional at a very basic level, it’s not exactly the most user-friendly experience of content creation, especially compared to WordPress TinyMCE Editor (and the upcoming Gutenberg Editor).
How can you expand your site with Drupal and WordPress?
You can expand both WordPress and Drupal with additions that affect both:
Functionality: WordPress calls these plugins, while Drupal calls these modules.
Aesthetics: Both WordPress and Drupal call these themes
How many plugins and themes does WordPress have?
While the raw number of extensions does not inherently mean that WordPress is better, it is a good indicator of the size and importance of the third-party WordPress ecosystem.
53,000+ free plugins plus thousands of more premium plugins.
5,000+ free themes plus thousands of more premium themes.
How many plugins and themes does Drupal have?
At the official library, Drupal shows:
That said, if you only include modules that are compatible with Drupal 8.x, these numbers fall to:
Are WordPress and Drupal just safe?
In a perfect world, both WordPress and Drupal are secure systems. But in the real world (with real people’s refresh habits and propensity for third-party solutions), Drupal often ends up being more secure.
It is worth noting that this advantage really stems from human error than it is deficient in the WordPress kernel.
While the WordPress kernel itself is secure, WordPress’ massive third-party ecosystem introduces a host of wildcards that are not as prevalent on Drupal sites.
According to a study from Wordfence plugin vulnerabilities accounted for large 55.9% of all known entry points for malicious actors. And overall, WordPress was the content management system used by 74% of the hacked sites Sucuri analyzed.
While WordPress’ number should obviously be higher due to its popularity, WordPress’ market share only 59.8%, so the fact that WordPress accounts for 74% of hacked sites in Sucuri’s analysis, is still higher than you would expect.
Done correctly, WordPress is safe. But the fact that WordPress relies so heavily on third-party extensions makes it more vulnerable than Drupal.
One of Drupal’s selling points is its lockdown security, which is why it is a popular content management system for government institutions and other large, security-conscious players. Unlike WordPress, Drupal accounted for only 2% of the hacked sites that Sucuri looked at, which is well below its market share of 4.7%:
In addition to its business-level Drupal also publishes detailed security reports and is generally more transparent about its security than WordPress.
WordPress vs Drupal: Which is better?
This is probably the question you came here to learn… but it is also an erroneous question because it is impossible to say whether WordPress or Drupal is “better”. Instead, a more useful question is to ask “which is better for this specific site that I build?”.
That is– you should focus on choosing the right tool for your specific project and not look for a proclamation that one is always better than the other.
It quite often boils down to whether or not you will be employing a developer to handle your project on an ongoing basis. If the answer is no, you’ll probably want to go down the WordPress route for the following reasons:
- Functionality is user-friendly and easy for non-developers.
- You can quickly create an attractive and functional web site.
- It’s easy to find both free and professional help.
This does not mean that WordPress is the best tool in all situations – just that it is the best tool in most situations. Unless you already know the specific reasons why you need what Drupal offers, connecting with WordPress will probably make your web journey much easier.