Modern content management systems have made web development largely developer-friendly. You can build powerful feature-oriented websites without getting into the nitty-gritties of coding and programming. Over the past few years, Drupal, Joomla and WordPress have risen to be the most popular content management systems. They offer varying degrees of flexibility, capabilities, features and ease of use.
To begin with, it must be said that all the three platforms are incredible. They are not only efficient, but also quick and easy. However, the ease and user-friendliness of these platforms pose a small problem – most developers are confused about choosing the most appropriate one for their requirements.
However, making the right choice is critical for getting the best results. It is important to focus on the strengths of each platform while making the right choice. So, before starting to design, it is important to analyze each of them and compare them thoroughly.
WordPress, Drupal and Joomla are all built on the same stack and meant for the same purpose – to build strong CMS websites. They are all open source platforms. So, they are free to download and install, and highly functional for different purposes. They are built on MySQL and PHP.
The other common factor is large group of passionate developer communities. If you need support, the community is always eager to help. All the three platforms also offer paid support from third party sources.
Considering the popularity and efficiency of WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, it would not be inappropriate to assume that they are sustainable in the long run. The community support is growing all the time. So, what makes them different?
WordPress is like visiting a restaurant to eat. You have a well set menu. All you need to do is order and get the food delivered to your table. WordPress offers plugins for almost everything. Everything is pre-set. However, you cannot enter the restaurant’s kitchen to cook up what you want and how you want.
Drupal is like eating at home. You have the ingredients, but you need to cook up your own food. The good thing is that you have complete control over the taste. However, you have to make an effort and cook, if you want to eat. Drupal offers you features and support, but you need technical skills to cook your dish.
Joomla is a mix of both. It is like staying at home, cooking a few simple things you like and when you want to eat exotic dishes, you order from a restaurant. It offers a decent amount of user-friendly features, but makes you work on a few as well.
Another factor that differentiates these CMS platforms is that each of them has been developed to cater to certain niche requirements. Although they offer high functionality for any kind of website, they have their specific strengths. You need to make your choice keeping two things in mind – the individual strengths of each platform and the requirements of your website.
Over the years since its launch in 2003, WordPress has become the most widely used CMS platform. More than 75 million websites are powered by WordPress. What originally began as a blogging platform now offers a bouquet of tools for website development.
Without doubt, WordPress is the easiest of the three CMS platforms. If you are a beginner and have minimum technical knowledge about development, this is the best platform for you. It is good for blogs and small to medium websites. However, WordPress is being used for bigger websites as well. Some of the most popular websites that run on WordPress are Forbes, CNN and Sony.
The biggest strength of WordPress is the ease of use. WordPress is not only easy to install, but easy to set up as well.
WordPress offers far more plugins and themes than Joomla and Drupal. This means that it is offers much more customization than the other two. With WordPress, you get a huge number of readymade themes to make your website look aesthetically beautiful and appealing.
Moreover, WordPress is also the most dynamic open source platform with maximum number of coders contributing to it. So, more new plugins and themes are added to WordPress than to any other platform. A huge community also means solid support. You can use WordPress support forums for quick and efficient troubleshooting.
If SEO is on the top of your priority list, WordPress should be your obvious choice. Neither Joomla nor Drupal are as SEO friendly as WordPress is. With numerous SEO plugins to choose from (such as All in One SEO), you can make your website SEO-friendly very easily. You also get a number of plugins for monitoring the SEO performance of your website.
The framework of WordPress is not very flexible. So, if you want to make back-end changes to the site, you might not find it too convenient or easy. WordPress is not compatible with older plugins.
Also, WordPress is yet to evolve to the stage where it can support large websites without requiring significant resources from servers. If you expect hundreds of thousands of visitors to your WordPress site or if you expect your WordPress blog to have hundreds of articles, you need to think of upgrading your server to a more robust one.
Another major limitation with WordPress sites is security. These sites are prone to hacking and you need to install very strong security settings to prevent it. The good thing is that the technical team at WordPress constantly releases updates for fixing security problems. You need to keep up with the updates to keep your site safe and powerful.
WordPress plugins and themes have a trademark “WordPress look”. So, if you are looking for a website that has a very creative and distinct look, WordPress might not be the best choice.
Joomla requires a moderate level of technical coding knowledge, but is easy nevertheless. This system is at its most powerful for e-commerce sites and social networking sites. Among the three major CMS platforms, Joomla is the newest, having released in 2005. The Harvard University website runs on Joomla.
Joomla was developed to overcome the limitations of WordPress and Drupal. So, it is much more powerful than WordPress but not as technical as Drupal. You get a number of features, themes and plugins for customization.
Joomla is by far the best platform to design social networks. It is also highly functional for e-commerce sites because it has offers native support and features necessary for ecommerce websites. Joomla makes these sites easier to manage and faster to operate.
Joomla’s help portal is very strong. Although the community is not as solid as WordPress, you can get reliable and fast support.
The main limitation of Joomla is that it is not very SEO friendly. Unlike WordPress, it is not as easy as installing an SEO plugin. You need to dig deeper into the root files to increase its SEO compatibility.
Drupal is the oldest of the three and was launched in 2001. It is the most technical and difficult of the three, but it is also the most powerful. However, in terms of scalability and flexibility, Drupal is one of the best.
Drupal’s main strength is its flexibility. You can use it to create anything from a blog to a big powerful website. It is highly advanced technically. Also, when compared to WordPress, Drupal requires lesser server resources. This leads to the second benefit, which is cost effectiveness. In the long run, you don’t have to incur a lot of additional cost to upgrade it to more powerful hosting options.
In terms of functionality, Drupal outshines the other two CMS platforms. For one, the pages designed on Drupal load quickly. Their response times are faster as well, when compared to WordPress or Joomla.
Drupal is highly flexible and customizable. Developers with sound technical knowledge can make changes in the source files. This feature gives Drupal an edge over the other two platforms. You can add new plugins to customize it further. However, when compared to WordPress and Joomla, Drupal has fewer theme choices and quality plugins (which Drupal calls modules).
The main drawback of Drupal is that it requires a good amount of technical expertise. If you are used to working on WordPress, working on Drupal can seem like a difficult mountain to scale. As your site grows larger, you might want external tech support. However, you can equip yourself with the basic knowledge of PHP, HTML and other web programming languages if you want to manage the site yourself. Also, since it is an open source platform with community support, you can find support for troubleshooting although the support is not as robust as with WordPress or even Joomla.
Secondly, you don’t get a good number of free modules. If you are looking for good modules, you have to pay for them.
Thirdly, there is a draught of creative themes in Drupal. If you use the available themes, you have to compromise on the creativity and aesthetics of your website. If you don’t want to make this compromise, you need a good designer who can create something unique on Drupal.
Drupal and Joomla are both enterprise level platforms. So, it is important to consider a very important factor –Access Control List (ACL). This is a list of permits that are given to certain users for certain pages. Between Drupal and Joomla, Drupal offers better ACL support.
Ask yourself a few basic questions before making the choice:
Most web developers make the basic mistake of choosing a CMS platform that they understand well and which is easy for them to work on. However, if the platform chosen is not the best for the requirements of the website, its functionality and usability take a beating. So, before making the choice, it is important to understand the requirements of the website and choose a platform accordingly.
The good thing about all the three platforms is that they cater to all the basic requirements of a general CMS website. Going by these standards, it does not matter which CMS platform you use since all offer the same basic level of functionality.
However, it is a different ball game when it comes to the unique or uncommon in each site. When you choose a site, it is important to focus on these uncommon features and find the platform that can execute them most efficiently. Also, it is important to understand the future requirements of the site so that the website owner does not have to incur a lot of additional expenses for upgrading.
Well, you don’t have to worry too much since you can migrate from one platform to another without a loss in data. Migration is easy and hassle-free. However, you need to have the expertise to make the shift.
WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are all evolving platforms. Each platform has grown tremendously ever since their launch. What’s more, the platforms are continuing to evolve at an admirable pace.
So, when you need to make a choice, check out the latest plugins and themes each platform offers, and see if they fit your bill. When you analyze these platforms in a systematic manner, you’ll see that the choice comes to you automatically. Well, choosing is not that confusing after all, is it?