Content management system (CMS) offers a simple solution for creating unique, high-quality websites without diving deep into web development.
Choosing the best CMS for your website is extremely important, as it affects everything from how your site looks and functions - to how you interact with it and how secure it is.
Three CMS platforms, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, together make up almost 70% of websites that run on a CMS.
So, to help you choose which is the best for your website, I’ll do a head-to-head comparison of WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal. Let's have a look:
What is WordPress?
WordPress is by far the most popular CMS in the world today. It powers one-third of websites on the Internet. WordPress is open-source and written in PHP, offers a relatively simple interface, and has excellent plugin integration. However, as CMSs go, WordPress is considered best for less complex website designs.
What is Joomla?Joomla, like WordPress, is open-source software and is designed to be relatively straightforward to use without coding. This is the newest of the three major CMS platforms, which is one reason why it offers fewer potential plugins than either WordPress or Drupal.
What is Drupal?Drupal is a moderately advanced CMS. You will need to have a working knowledge of HTML, CSS, and PHP to get the most out of a Drupal website. While this coding drives many potential users away, Drupal offers exceptional capabilities when it comes to organizing complex content and making it SEO-friendly.
WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal: Head-to-Head Comparison
And now, it's time to put them all to the test. Here's how the three platforms compare for various features.
WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are all free CMS platforms. However, there are some downstream costs you’ll want to factor in.
For WordPress and Joomla, complex websites will likely require a premium theme from a third-party developer. Premium themes vary in price but are typically less than a few hundred dollars for either CMS. One major difference separating Drupal from WordPress and Joomla is that you’ll probably have to hire a web developer to help you build your site.
This is because of the coding involved and the platform’s steep learning curve. So, remember to factor in not only initial development costs but also future maintenance costs into your price estimate for Drupal.
Ease of Use
When it comes to ease of use, WordPress easily wins out over Joomla and Drupal.
WordPress can be manually installed on your website in less than five minutes. In addition, most major hosting providers offer a simple WordPress installer to make the process even faster. Once WordPress is set up, it’s easy to begin creating a website thanks to the easy-to-navigate theme directory.
In addition, the blog editor is highly intuitive for anyone who has used Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Joomla is also easy to set up using an installer script or a one-click installer from your hosting provider. Once the platform is up and running, though, it's less clear what to do next than it is with WordPress.
Joomla’s control panel does offer a series of menus that organize the page building functions nicely. Plus, page building plugins such as Quix and SP Page Builder allow you to begin developing your site without coding.
Note that adding templates to your site can take some effort, as there is no integrated theme directory like in WordPress. Otherwise, choosing between Joomla vs WordPress does not make a huge difference in ease of use. Getting started with Drupal is somewhat intimidating as there are a huge variety of options from the installation onward.
The dashboard has been simplified to make Drupal more user-friendly. However, you’ll find that creating pages or changing the look and feel of your website almost always requires coding in HTML, CSS, and PHP.
In addition, very few features are available in Drupal itself, and instead must be added by installing modules and modifying their code to fit your website.
If you want to dive deeper into your website, Drupal offers the greatest number of options. There are more than 40,000 modules available to add to your Drupal website.
Plus, you have access to alter the code of almost all of the files underlying your website when using Drupal. An important distinction of Drupal vs WordPress and Joomla is that Drupal modules and themes adhere to strict coding guidelines.
This means that modules almost always work together out of the box, even if the installation is far more complex than for the other CMS platforms. Joomla comparing to Drupal is much more limited when it comes to customization. But, the CMS still provides a healthy degree of access to your website’s back-end.
Most of the content blocks on your site’s pages have their own menus in the Joomla control panel. That makes it easy to isolate and modify specific pages or pieces of content.
Where Joomla falls short relative to Drupal and WordPress is that it has a relatively small library of plugins to extend its functionality. The official Joomla plugin directory only has about 8,000 plugins. Worse, many of these are paid rather than free.
WordPress, on the other hand, is known for its wealth of themes and plugins. The WordPress plugin directory has over 55,000 plugins. Watch out though, as there are many out-of-date plugins that are not compatible with the latest version of the software or with other plugins on your site.
If you want to dive deeper into coding in WordPress, the platform offers a built-in code editor for working on your theme files. It’s also possible to create child themes, which inherit updates from an original theme but allow you to make changes to the theme’s code. Compared to Joomla or Drupal, though, the degree to which you can use code to target specific content blocks in WordPress is much more limited.
Community and Support
WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal all have excellent support thanks to their robust online communities.
There are numerous help forums related to WordPress simply because of its popularity. Joomla is even small enough that there is an official help forum where you can post questions. Although Drupal doesn’t have a huge user base, the community is largely made up of web developers who take pride in solving difficult problems.
So if you can take the heat from a seasoned developer and are willing to learn, Drupal may be a great pick.
Overall, WordPress is Still King for Most Websites
For the majority of website designers, WordPress offers the ease of use needed to feel confident in building a website and more than enough flexibility to make your site stand out from the crowd.
The ability to create and maintain your website yourself will save you money in the long run. Better yet, the enormous WordPress community is there to provide support and continue offering new plugins and themes.
Joomla vs WordPress
Joomla vs WordPress can be a hard call for website designers who want to take their websites to the next level.
This is especially true if you are comfortable with a little bit of coding. While the Joomla community is small and the number of plugins limited, this will likely change as the platform continues to attract users.
Drupal vs WordPress
While Drupal is an extremely powerful CMS, it is limited to website developers who are highly comfortable with coding.
If you have zero coding knowledge, it's recommended to go with WordPress. Although, if you are able to get over the platform’s steep learning curve, Drupal offers the greatest degree of customizability.
Plus it has a strong support community and more than 40,000 modules to add functionality. Did this comparison help you decide between WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal? Let me know in the comments below!