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WordPress vs Drupal: Which CMS is Right For You?

Why WordPress and Drupal?

WordPress and Drupal are two of the most popular content management systems (CMS) aka website builders available today!

Which one is better you ask? Well, it really depends.

A quick answer for those of you who don't want to read this entire article is: if you have basic website needs with less than a couple hundred pages to showcase your product/services and host blog articles then WordPress is a great choice for those beginner websites.

Whereas, Drupal is the CMS of choice for anyone looking to roll-out a scalable, secure web platform that has multiple content types and contributors.  Basically, all mature, large corporations and governments that are established should be using Drupal for a wide range of reasons. So let’s dig in!

 

WordPress CMS Overview

WordPress was built from the ground up with the marketer in mind, supporting visual layouts. So There are many things that you can edit in WordPress using templates that get you a nice website up and running quickly, but it will have a similar look and feel to all the other pre-built websites out there. So if you want to get something up fast and easy, and you aren’t worried about the limitations of what comes out of the box then it’s a great choice.

Drupal CMS Overview

Instead of a complete pre-built solution, Drupal is more of a framework that was designed for webmasters to enable them to have the flexibility to say yes to all those common custom requests you get when your website needs to scale to serve all those increasing user functionality requests. Drupal separates content from design, so content is not stuck in one place. Since you can build blocks, themes and layouts on top of the database drive content, the possibilities are endless, however, it does take longer to launch.

 

Drupal vs WordPress

Let’s dig into a couple of key areas when comparing Drupal vs WordPress that most of us use when reviewing a CMS. These are also common CMS requirements we see in a request for proposals (RFP’s)

  • Ease of use
  • Security
  • SEO
  • Maintainability
  • Costs

Which is Easier to Use? Drupal or WordPress

If you are a small business owner looking to set up and maintain your website yourself with no HTML or CSS knowledge, then you should definitely use WordPress. It’s easy to install, there are tons of pre-built themes that you can buy that will help you get up. You can also install plugins yourself, just be careful you don't install too many that slow down the performance of your site!

Drupal has a steeper learning curve and usually requires a Drupal design and developer agency to help set up the site for you. You also will require the help of developers to install any 3rd party plugins (they are called modules in the Drupal world). Once your website is built and set up, Drupal is as easy or easier to add content and manage, similar to WordPress, but with the benefit of all the additional functionality and flexibility.

Winner: WordPress is better suited for businesses without the knowledge, skills and development resources. Drupal does require a dev team to get you up and running.  But as you would expect once everything is set up the difference in adding content is very much the same!

Which is More Secure? Drupal or WordPress?

WordPress plugins (3rd party add-ons) which every website needs to be able to extend the core platform to take advantage of features such as SEO, interactive sliders, social sharing, etc… have more vulnerabilities and are being updated more frequently because they are hacked more frequently. Because WordPress is used by more companies, fewer resources make them an easier and more attractive target.

Drupal comes with an enterprise-level of security out of the box. Some of the largest brands rely on Drupal, knowing that because it has one of the largest open-source community that is actively adding, updating and reviewing its open-source code its more secure than most if not all platforms because of the huge amount of resources that are poured into the ecosystem for free.  Open-source platforms continue to prove they are more secure given the inherent advantages of open source communities versus privatized, corporately owned platforms.

Winner: If enterprise-level security is important to your business, then you want to use Drupal.

Which Has Better SEO Functionality? Drupal or WordPress?

Both CMS’s have plugins/modules available in their ecosystems that help you with SEO functionality.  You can easily manage core SEO needs like sitemaps, schemas, alt tags, meta descriptions and more.

For WordPress, one of the most downloaded SEO plugins is Yoast which is awesome for beginners and experts.

For Drupal, there are a ton of module add-ons that can be used depending on your use case. In the Drupal world, there is usually a module for everything.

Winner: Both platforms have the ability to optimize your website for technical on-page SEO. However, optimizing on-page SEO like keywords and meta tags won’t be enough for your website to increase the rankings. Site performance is another critical factor. This is where Drupal SEO starts to pull away from the pack. It allows you to more easily manage, control and optimize for your site performance including caching your website and building performance for mobile performance.

Which is Easier to Maintain? Drupal or WordPress?

Maintenance is often overlooked when it comes to website management and planning. Many of us plan a new website or a migration but forget that ongoing maintenance is critical with updating add-ons, tweaking performance, adding new functionality and so much more. 

Once you get over the learning curve for both website building platforms, including learning their own terminology the maintenance becomes more routine. The best practice is to have a monthly checklist of items plus a quarterly audit this is to help ensure things like broken links, form workflows, and everything else that is critical to your business is running smoothly.

Winner: It’s a tie. Both platforms will require effort to maintain to keep them operating efficiently.  The more you invest in the maintenance the more you will get out of your investment in the long run.

Which Costs More? Drupal or WordPress?

Both WordPress and Drupal are free to download and use. All updates are free as well!

For a simpler, smaller website with little customization requirements, once again WordPress is the choice and is cheaper.  It also has a lot of third party websites that sell themes/templates at a very low cost giving you something that is easy to use to build your website.

When you need customization to help build your website so it can scale in delivering the content and digital experiences you require, then that will require development time.  Therefore, like any digital project where customization is required to fit your processes, needs and requirements will cost more than an off the shelf, widget only platform.

Winner: WordPress is less expensive for simple, non-customized, and smaller websites. Drupal sites usually need a bigger development budget for customizations, content migration (because you already have a large website needing to be improved) and usually have lots of content contributors requiring custom administration access.

In Summary

Choosing the right CMS is not always easy as both have different advantages.  But from our experience, it really depends on the scale of your website. Both CMS’s were built for two different reasons and audiences. The overlaps in use cases are actually less than most of us realize. 

WordPress is really about visualization and responsive designs that have only one type of core content type.

Drupal was designed as a database to handle multiple content types, scalability with its modular system with a unique block type that can be manipulated in a scalable way.  

So here is a simple summary of how to choose the right CMS:

When to Select Drupal:

  • Enterprise-level security is required
  • Your website has 500+ pages
  • You want app-like mobile-friendly features
  • You need admin control over user permissions and how content can be added
  • You like to pull data and content from different sources
  • Your site is complex, has a lot of stakeholders and needs many different content types to be delivered

When to Select WordPress:

  • Your website will be primarily blog posts and articles like content
  • You have limited resources and no development experience
  • Your website needs to be up and running really quickly
  • You’re ok with your website looking like many of the websites currently on the market
  • You don't really need many customizations as your content and lead generation workflows are very simple
  • Your budget is limited
  • You don’t need any special plug-ins or integrations that are less common for your industry

In the end, both CMS platforms are a great choice for you to build a website. At the end of the day, your success truly relies on the fact that these are tools and not solutions. How you wield these tools, how well you leverage them and how well your team develops their processes in sync with their capabilities will ultimately determine your success.

These were some simple guidelines you can leverage when reviewing Drupal vs WordPress alternatives and your situation is unique, as every company is truly unique.

So please reach out to OPIN Digital with your situation, as we would love to learn if you are the right fit for us.

Thanks for reading!

Ryan Pelicos

Marketing Coordinator

Ryan is a passionate storyteller who thrives on challenging the status quo. He is an avid researcher with a keen analytical mind able to strategize on technology, sales and marketing decisions by analyzing data and behaviours across various industries and technologies.

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