The list of technologies used to build a business website is long, complex and ever changing. This article will look at the top two Content Management Systems (CMS): WordPress and Drupal.

According to BuiltWith.com the definition of a CMS is:

“A content management system provides structured content management features such as the ability to store news documents, images, video and any other online content type imaginable. They are used for websites that normally have multiple editors and sections and are used as the foundation on many large websites which include newspapers and governments.”

These features of a CMS allow website admins and editors to add and update content on the site without the need for extensive knowledge about the underlying code such as HTML, CSS, PHP and others. Admins and editors can simply log into the website to add and update content as simply as editing using Microsoft Word.

According to BuiltWith.com the top two Content Management Systems used to build the top 100K websites are:

There are many other tools to build websites, but none that have the market share, extensions and user-base backing them that these both enjoy.

CMS Technology Stack

Both of these CMS solutions are based on the same technology stack:

  • A web server such as Apache to serve web pages to Internet browsers
  • A database to store configuration and content, typically MySQL
  • The PHP programming language to dynamically build web pages using HTML and CSS

If these two CMS both use the same technology stack, does it matter which one is used to build a website?
The short answer is YES IT MATTERS!

 So what are the factors in choosing the perfect CMS for your website? Here are some things to consider:

  • What is the set of features required for the website?
  • What is the budget to build the website?
  • What are the technical skills of the team that will build the website?
  • Is the editorial team already familiar with WordPress or Drupal?

With a good idea of the website requirements in hand, let’s delve into the strengths and weakness of WordPress and Drupal.

WordPress

With 44% of the top 100K websites, WordPress is the gorilla in the CMS world. It is a great solution for small businesses, blogs and e-commerce sites that require basic features and functions. If your website fits this mold, WordPress is a great solution.

“WordPress started in 2003 with a single bit of code to enhance the typography of everyday writing and with fewer users than you can count on your fingers and toes. Since then it has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.”
https://wordpress.org/about

But is WordPress right for your website? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

  • Installation and Set-Up
    • WordPress.com provides an online service to host WordPress websites with minimal technical expertise that is easy for novices
    • WordPress.org hosts the download file to install and host a WordPress website on the hosting system of your choice with some technical expertise
  • System Administration
    • The administration back-end of WordPress has an excellent graphical user interface that is intuitive and easy to use
    • As more and more plugins are added to a WordPress site, the back-end administration interface can become fragmented and harder to use
  • Editorial Experience
    • WordPress has six pre-defined roles: Super Admin, Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor and Subscriber
    • Updating page and post content on a WordPress site is as easy as using Microsoft Word
  • Add-In Ecosystem
    • WordPress has thousands of free and paid extensions called plugins and widgets
    • Most of the plug-ins are “stand-alone” and do not communicate or share information with other plugins
    • WordPress has a defined method for creating custom plugins
  • Design Look And Feel
    • WordPress has thousands of free and paid themes that can be used for the website look and feel
    • WordPress has a defined method for creating custom themes
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    • WordPress has extensive (SEO) plugins for search engine optimization
  • Developer Environment
    • WordPress has a robust developer eco-system
    • WordPress is not particularly good at integration with back-end corporate unified single-sign on solutions

WHAT IS WORDPRESS GOOD AT?

  • WordPress is a great choice for the do-it-yourselfer who wants to build a blog or small business site as it is easy to setup and get running with minimal technical skills
  • WordPress can be used to build small business e-commerce sites that do not require extensive or custom features or product sets

WHAT IS WORDPRESS NOT GOOD AT?

  • WordPress content is generally created as either pages or posts, so if your website requires many custom content types WordPress may come up short
  • If your website requires more than a few plugins to provide all of the necessary features for the website, the back-end WordPress admin system may become confusing to use as each plugin has it’s own admin screens that are not unified into a single dashboard

WordPress is a great solution for small business, blogs and e-commerce sites that require basic features and functions. If your website fits this mold, WordPress is a great solution. If your website needs more structured content types, or integration with corporate enterprise systems you may want to look beyond WordPress.

Drupal

With 9% of the top 100K websites, Drupal is the #2 Content Management Systems in the world.

“Drupal is open source software maintained and developed by a community of over 1,000,000 users and developers.”
https://www.drupal.org/about

But is Drupal right for your website? What are its strengths, its weaknesses?

  • Installation and Set-Up (Novice to Intermediate)
    • Drupalgardens.com provides an online service to host Drupal websites with minimal technical expertise (Novice)
    • Drupal.org hosts the download files to install and host a Drupal website on the hosting system of your choice with some technical expertise (Intermediate)
  • System Administration
    • The administration back-end of Drupal out of the box is bare bones and designed for technical experts
    • There are many Drupal modules that can be used to customize the back-end administration pages of a Drupal site to improve and customize the experience
  • Editorial Experience
    • Drupal has an extensive system of user roles and permissions allowing the editorial experience to be customized for any number of roles
    • Updating page and post content on a Drupal site can be as easy as using Microsoft Word based on how the Drupal site is configured with roles, permissions and add-on modules.
  • Add-In Ecosystem
    • Drupal has thousands of free and paid extensions called modules
    • Drupal modules utilize a defined method of communication called the “hook system API” to create new modules, allow modules to interact with each other and to programatically extend existing modules
    • Drupal has an extensive collection of modules that allow the website to be constructed with custom functionality through configuration such as the Views module to create custom content displays, the Panels module to create custom page layouts and the Rules module to create custom actions
  • Design Look And Feel
    • Drupal has thousands of free and paid themes that can be used for the website’s look and feel
    • Drupal has a defined method for creating custom themes
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    • Drupal has extensive modules for search engine optimization
  • Developer Environment
    • Drupal has a robust developer eco-system

WHAT IS DRUPAL GOOD AT?

  • Drupal is a great choice for medium to large scale websites that require custom structured content or modules
  • Drupal is excellent at managing large volumes of structured content and building tools for end users to quickly sift though the content for what they need using technology such as SOLR or faceted search
  • Drupal was designed to be extended and modified to the extent of your technical teams skills and abilities

WHAT IS DRUPAL NOT GOOD AT?

  • Drupal has a higher learning curve, so it may not be best for new web developers or inexperienced development teams

Drupal is best implemented by intermediate to advanced technical teams, so it is important to have the right team. The Drupal experience can be custom molded to your editorial and content needs to a much greater degree than WordPress – making it an excellent choice for websites with large amounts of structured data or the need for enterprise integration. Even for small websites with less experienced editors, Drupal can be a great solution as the back-end administration experience can be custom crafted for the editorial staff.

In Conclusion

WordPress and Drupal are the king and queen of the Content Management System solutions on the market today. They both are excellent choices for building your website, each with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. At Sage Tree Solutions we work with our clients to determine the best technical solution for their business needs. Sometimes it’s WordPress and other times Drupal. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, it depends on your needs and the skills of your team. Evaluate carefully and chose through knowledge of what each does well. Good luck on your website journey!