Content Management Systems: Wordpress vs Joomla vs Drupal

A content management system is often the most important part of a website. Your CMS determines how you create, store, and organize your content, from text to images and everything in-between.

There are a lot of options out there when it comes to CMS technologies, and it can be hard to decide which one suits your needs best.

We’ve put together an overview of the three most popular content management systems so you can select one and move forward knowing you have the best possible setup for your website!

Wordpress

Even if you have no experience with website creation or content management systems, you’ve probably heard of Wordpress before. Before we get into the details, keep in mind that there are two “versions” of Wordpress.

Wordpress.com is a website through which you can host your own blog or website for free. It’s scope is more limited in nature, but you can pay to acquire additional functionality.

Wordpress.org is the CMS we’ll be discussing today. Wordpress.org is the free CMS “backend” software that you can install on any server, using your own hosting. You have full control when using the Wordpress.org software, but you’re also responsible for installation, setup, all aspects of customization, and ongoing maintenance.

Overview

Wordpress is the most popular CMS. As of 2016, Wordpress powers roughly 50% of all websites that utilize content management systems. This means that Wordpress powers around 4.6% of the entire Internet (including Wordpress.com hosted websites). In case you’re wondering, that’s an absolutely enormous market share!

Why is Wordpress so popular? Let’s take a look…

Wordpress pros

Ease of use. Wordpress is the clear-cut winner when it comes to usability. A manual Wordpress installation will set you back around 5 minutes, and most hosting options come with software that will automatically install and configure Wordpress for you in seconds.

Once you’re up and running, it couldn’t be easier to…well, to manage your content. Wordpress utilizes an advanced GUI that gives you complete autonomy over your website, and you’ll never have to touch even a line of code if you don’t want to.

But don’t worry – if you do feel like coding, you can do that too! Wordpress has easy-access functionality devoted to simplifying PHP-, CSS- and HTML-level changes from within the admin dashboard.

Actual content can be pasted in directly from any other text editor. Again, you won’t have to mess with the HTML if you don’t want to. Wordpress provides a comprehensive “Visual” editing mode that lets you format and structure all of your text and multimedia just like normal text editors do.

Customization. With Wordpress, you’re faced with an almost-dizzying array of themes, plugins, widgets, and just about anything else you could ever want to implement on your website.

There are free options galore, as well as more premium selections available for reasonable prices. If you’re just looking for a clean, basic website, you’ll be able to get one up and running in no time at all.

Community support. Wordpress has a huge, thriving community. It’s a near guarantee that any problem you may encounter has already been posted about and solved many times over. Wordpress has dedicated support forums where contributors will help you out with just about any issue you may have.

If you’re using a premium theme or any paid plugins/widgets, chances are the developers will be active and more than willing to help you troubleshoot as well. You’ll never be alone in the dark when using Wordpress.

Wordpress cons

Scaling. Very large websites running Wordpress may encounter server resource issues at times, although this does depend largely on your hosting provider. With its incredibly extensive array of tools and user-friendly options, Wordpress is not a particularly lean piece of software.

Backend customization. While Wordpress does offer easy access to edit the CSS, PHP, and HTML of your website, advanced users may find themselves constrained by the overarching framework of Wordpress, or of whatever them they’re working within. If you’re looking for a truly custom website, Wordpress may not be the best choice for you.

It’s worth noting that even with these cons, many incredibly successful, well-known, large website still utilize Wordpress as their CMS.

Joomla

As the second most popular CMS, Joomla powers around 8% of all websites that use CMS technologies. It’s often considered to be the bridge between Wordpress and Drupal, combining the usability of Wordpress with the power of Drupal.

Joomal pros

Specialized website support. Joomla makes it fairly easy to set up websites with comprehensive social media functionality, and lends itself to commerce-focused websites as well. While it’s more than possible to do this on Wordpress or Drupal, Joomla does offer more native support for these functionalities than the other two do.

Ease of use. Joomla is more technical than Wordpress, and less technical than Drupal. The installation is straightforward and won’t take more than 10-15 minutes for most webmasters. After installation, the main admin portal may seem overwhelming at first, but has all of the functionality you could ask for ready and waiting. Most users will be able to get a Joomla website up and running with little-to-no third party technical support.

Customization and flexibility. The structure of Joomla is not as rigid as that of Wordpress. You’ll have more power to thoroughly customize your website, and won’t be as limited when digging into the backend. Joomla offers a host of themes, plugins, and scripts to help you shape your website.

Help and support. Joomla does maintain an extremely useful community portal. You’ll be able to get all the help and support you need, although it may not be as quick or comprehensive as Wordpress’s extensive community.

Joomla cons

It’s worth noting that many of Joomla’s pros can also be viewed as cons, depending on your level of expertise when it comes to web development.

Ease of use. Joomla is not quite as intuitive as Wordpress, although you’ll find yourself navigating the admin panel like a pro after only a few sessions. You may have to spend some time checking out the documentation to get a good idea of how everything works, and there are definitely capabilities that will be underutilized by inexperienced webmasters.

Customization and flexibility. Again, the finer nuances of Joomla may be lost on technically disinclined users. Utilizing its full potential may require enlisting third party assistance.

Help and support. While its community portal is fantastic, Joomla’s help resources can be sparse in areas simply because it’s not as widely used as Wordpress is.

Drupal

The third most popular CMS, Drupal powers roughly 2% of all websites utilizing CMS technologies. Drupal is the most technical CMS of the three being discussed, but is a one-size-fits-all solution that can be used to set up absolutely any type of website.

Drupal pros

Performance. Because it’s not as concerned with usability and intuitive navigation, Drupal is less resource intensive than Wordpress or Joomla and offers faster page load times out of the box. Scaling websites up with Drupal is easy, and you won’t “outgrow” it like you might Wordpress.

Customization. If you have the know-how, Drupal is the most customizable CMS of these three. It offers a wealth of themes and plugins for your website. If you’re a real code-oriented person, Drupal is for you. You can dig around in literally any part of the backend you want to, and have complete control over the platform.

Drupal cons

Technically complex. Like we’ve said, Drupal is the most complex CMS to use. If you don’t have at least some fundamental knowledge in the HTML, PHP, and CSS departments, it might be best to steer clear of Drupal for the time being. You will very likely encounter situations in which troubleshooting code and interpreting error messages are necessary.

Customization. While the flexibility of Drupal is a boon if you know what you’re doing, messing around in the backend greatly increases the chances you’ll break something important. If you’re not able to fix it, you’ll have to spend additional resources finding someone who can help you out.

Help and support. Drupal does maintain a support page, but solutions will often not be as accessible as those for Wordpress and Joomla issues. Because Drupal can get so technically complex, there are fewer people who actually know what they’re talking about. Extensive support will not be free, either.

Which one is right for me?

Wordpress, Joomla, and Drupal are all stellar content management systems. Any one of them could be used to create gorgeous, complex, and functional websites. That being said, they do each fill a niche of web development.

We’d recommend Wordpress if you have little-to-no experience in website management, if you’re a small business or blogger, or if you can’t make up your mind between the three.

We’d recommend Joomla if you’re looking for a little more control than Wordpress offers, if you want to integrate social media or ecommerce into your website, and if you’re still looking for integrated, intuitive admin capabilities.

We’d recommend Drupal if you’re adept at web development, if your website will require extensive and complex content organization or user features, and if you’re expecting to rapidly scale your website up.

Try out our free website cost calculator

Content management systems are only one piece of your website. If you’re looking to outsource your website development and are interested to see how CMS capabilities get rolled into the overall cost, we’re here to help!

We put together a free website cost estimate calculator that’s meant to help you gain a better understanding of what goes into the website creation process as a whole, and to provide you with an overall cost estimate based on your specific needs. Get your free estimate now!