The Drupal vs. WordPress Debate is much like the old debate between apples and oranges. While both are fruit, or in this case Content Management Systems (CMSs), the two have their own unique merits. If you’re Vitamin C deficient, the orange is the obvious option; if you spend too much time at the doctor, you may opt for an apple a day.
The same can be said for choosing which CMS to build your website in. Your organization’s “body” has different needs that are satisfied in different ways. As such, when deciding between Drupal and WordPress, it’s important that your organizational context is taken into account. Without this contextualization, the Drupal vs. WordPress debate is moot.
Before delving into the differences, it’s important to first look at similarities:
- WordPress and Drupal are free and open source software licensed under a General Public License (GPL) with large communities constantly working and collaborating to improve and enhance their capabilities
- The two platforms are powerful tools that can be used to create flexible and individualized websites and content
- They facilitate Search Engine Optimization (SEO), meaning your content won’t disappear among the vast amount of other websites
- Both have the ability to support multi-users, allowing for content to be generated by more than one person
Essentially, both have the capability of meeting your needs, albeit in nuanced ways. Let’s take a look at the key differences between the two.
Ease of Use
A key point of difference is in ease of use. While WordPress has advanced far beyond its genesis, the system still caters to those of us who are not as technically inclined. The user interface is easy to use, and its community boasts thousands of free plugins, making extensive customizations available to developers and less technically savvy site administrators alike.
On the other hand, Drupal has a steeper learning curve, thus losing one of the primary reasons for choosing WordPress. Of course, what it loses in simplicity it gains in customizability. If WordPress caters more towards the “layman,” Drupal caters more towards those that are highly technical, thus allowing for a greater degree of innovation, particularly for enterprise-level solutions.
The second place the two differ is in the relative power of the tools. We’ve already talked about how Drupal tends to have more options as far as giving developers free reign. With this free reign comes a system that is equipped to handle larger and more complex sites with larger amounts of data. While WordPress does have less power relative to Drupal as far as handling larger resources, it is important to note that WordPress is no longer “just a blogging site”. It has progressed far beyond its humble beginnings and comes with a great deal of power in and of itself.
While we inherently associate more power with better, this is an important time to bring back the metaphor of apples and oranges. If you’re Vitamin C deficient, you’ll choose the fruit that has more Vitamin C “power”. However, if your Vitamin C levels are fine and your body is just in need of the nourishment all fruits can offer, the orange may not be necessary and could adversely affect your body if you consume too much.
The same is true with power. In choosing between Drupal and WordPress, it may be tempting to automatically go with the more powerful option, however power is often accompanied by drawbacks. We’ve already looked at how Drupal is less user-friendly if you’re not technically inclined, additionally, there is the idea that something that requires a larger amount of power requires a larger amount of resources and thus has the potential to be more expensive.
Yet another difference between the two is security. Though neither CMS can guarantee 100% security, both attempt to limit large hacks and points of vulnerability. Drupal is generally regarded as the more secure site as it boasts a security team that provides in-depth reporting for its users. In addition to this, because of mostly internal development (i.e. not relying on third-party plugins) there are fewer points of access for a security threat. However, when modules are used, great care is taken to ensure that the project is up to Drupal standards, going through a rigorous review process before being accepted. While WordPress may have more points of vulnerability because of its use of plugins, they take security seriously and update the system often and keep plugins up to date.
As a final difference, it is important to consider the popularity of the two platforms. In terms of security, it may seem like a negative that WordPress is more popular, however, in terms of availability of technical help, WordPress boasts a larger community of users constantly developing new content as well as offering support. Plus, security risks for WordPress are greatly lessened when knowledgeable admin users perform regular updates on the CMS and all used plugins.
In the same way apples and oranges can both provide nourishment to your body, Drupal and WordPress can both meet your organization’s end goals. Overall, WordPress has less of a learning curve, is easier and simpler to use, but does have to be monitored and updated regularly to avoid security risks. Drupal, on the other hand, is reputed for its heightened security and has the power to do almost anything, but requires the knowledge as well as the resources to do it.
To decide between the two, you may ask yourself and your team questions. What is this website being used for? Selling items? Generating content? Informing clients? Do you have the resources in-house to maintain a more complicated system? Do you have a more localized goal that would work perfectly with a less powerful system?
Ultimately the question shouldn’t be “What are the differences between Drupal and WordPress,” but rather “Where does my company want to go,” and “How do I want my technology solutions to help me achieve that goal.”