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Solving the Content Management System Standoff: Drupal, Joomla or WordPress?

CMS Comparison Graphic

This is a guest contribution from Kyle Metcalf, of Rackspace Digital.

Choosing the right vehicle all depends on the trip you have in store. Just as you wouldn’t take a Formula One racing car off-roading through the Rockies, a rugged 4×4 Jeep wouldn’t stand a chance on the track against an aerodynamic one-seater.

Similarly, the same approach should be taken when it comes to choosing the best open-source content management system (CMS). Whether you’ll be running a company blog or a site that’s jam-packed with graphics and video, making the right choice depends on your content. Of the three open-source choices, each one has its own advantages, and making the right choice will be a crucial step in creating a dependable website that delivers an engaging user experience. 

Checking out the contenders

If you’re in the process of building a new site for your business or revamping your current one, you’ll need to begin with some questions. Are you presenting a purely informational help site or an ecommerce marketplace? Will your content be staying the same for long periods of time, or will it need to be updated multiple times a day? Keeping these questions in mind will help you match up your online goals with the characteristics of these three open-source CMS choices. No one wants to spend more than they should, so knowing the essentials of these three platforms can help you make the best choice.

Drupal: Sophistication and usability in one package

Robust is one way of describing Drupal. Both the White House’s website and the British government’s site, data.gov.uk, utilize Drupal, which provides a sophisticated means for delivering video, text and images in a user-friendly design. The following are the top reasons for using Drupal: 

Advanced content: Large-scale multimedia websites have some serious drawing power, yet they need a platform that will be sturdy enough to handle these capabilities. If you’ve got a site in the works that will showcase different kinds of content, this will be a good way to go.

Multiple sources of input: If your site is an ongoing collaboration among many different employees, you’ll need a platform that will enable a variety of input from different users. If you’ll be posting new content around the clock from many contributors, Drupal will give you an effective means for doing so.

Stability and flexibility: A large amount of traffic isn’t a bad problem to have, as long as you have the capability to handle it. Drupal is built to provide a stable performance with a great deal of content versatility. It also can be scaled up or down to accommodate your needs depending on the flow of activity to your site, such as traffic spikes during certain times of year.

Drupal is best for those with a strong background in Web development, and for a complex multimedia site that will need to be SEO-friendly.

Joomla: Your online storefront starts here

Of the three, Joomla’s the latest arrival to the CMS scene and occupies the middle ground between Drupal and WordPress, offering the best characteristics of each. Let’s take a look at Joomla’s top benefits:

Simplified installation: Even if you’re not pressed for time, you’ll be able to get this up and running quickly and easily. Although Joomla isn’t for beginners, its setup is user-friendly and straightforward.

Versatility: Whether you’re planning to build a basic site or jump into the digital marketplace, Joomla will allow you to cover many different options. You can also create forms and surveys for collecting info from site visitors. Whatever you have in mind, you’ll find the right extension for it among the thousands that are available for customizing your site.

Easy management and updates: For those with solid tech experience, Joomla will allow you to make updates to content or design quickly through helpful control tools. You’ll be able to have all the administration tools in one place for generating and tweaking content efficiently.

Joomla is best for ecommerce sites or organizations who want a solid but basic site that features multimedia. It won’t require the expertise that Drupal demands but still demands some development skills and will be a dependable solution for those looking for something less complicated than what Drupal offers.

WordPress: 20 Million and Growing

From its beginning as a humble blog platform, the latest edition of WordPress now boasts over 20 million users and is the basis for everything from The New York Times blog to the Lollapalooza website. For those interested in creating a simple blog or getting their new startup online, WordPress will be a straightforward choice. The following are the best reasons for choosing WordPress:

Ease of use: You don’t have to be a coding whiz to use WordPress. Its accessibility is part of the reason why it’s such a popular format and can be easily customized to create the right look and feel for your business.

Plugins abound: If you already have an idea of the user interactivity you’ll want, you’ll likely find a WordPress plugin that will take care of it, many of which are available for free. Internal linking and embedding external video can all be handled perfectly to increase the usability of your site, whether it’s SEO or broadening your social media activity.

Help is always available: As an open-source tool, and a popular one, WordPress has an enormous community of users, so finding help when you need it is easy. Whatever version you use (each one’s named after a jazz musician), you’ll be able to find answers to questions from experienced users online.

WordPress will be a good choice for simple websites for small to medium-sized businesses and text-heavy blog sites. 

And the Winner Is . . . 

Once you’ve gathered the facts and weighed the possibilities, match up your goals with the available systems and then prepare for a winner to emerge. Consider the content you plan to generate and what your audience will best respond to, as well as your own coding skills. More information on which open-source platform is right for you can be found through an open-source CMS infographic provided by hosting service Rackspace on each of these three open-source CMS tools. 

Great content can be the deciding factor in winning over a consumer, and making the right choice when it comes to content management will help make a good first impression. Making sure you have a strong foundation for your site will be the first step in creating an effective website that will be the nerve center of your online marketing goals.

Kyle Metcalf is the General Manager of Rackspace Digital, focused on delivering best of class services and support around WCM and commerce applications.
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Comments

  1. Dean Saliba says:

    I have tried using Joomla in the past many times and have always found it to be so incredibly difficult and complicated to get to grips with. I have never tried Drupal, but from looking at sites people have created with it I have not been overtly inpressed.

    For me i is WordPress all the way. I don’t believe anything will displace them anytime soon. :)

  2. Ramsay says:

    Nice summary, Kyle.

    I really can’t see how anyone could go past WordPress anymore. I know a lot of people say that there are issues with it as it gets more popular but I personally can’t find anything that comes close for a serious web-business. It’s just so flexible. We can do anything with it.

    It can be a bit of a learning curve getting used to it but, again, well worth it.

    I aways do my best to make sure my readers jump on board! Ha.

    Ramsay

  3. Hi Kyle,

    I’ve heard great things about Joomla and Drupal but I’m a WordPress nut all the way. For my individual needs and overall presentation, it vibes the most with my blog. I need little sophistication; just a clean, clear theme along with a few plug ins to help me blog from paradise.

    I feel most newbie and even veteran bloggers would go with WordPress unless they have some pressing needs, or need to publish content on a bigger scale. It’s easy to set up a WP site and even easier to go live with your first post.

    In addition, so many bloggers in my niche use WP so I’m privvy to many awesome tips and tricks that are being shared on a daily basis. Although I come across the odd Drupal or Joomla tip here and there, I just don’t see them like I do WP tips, which is another reason I prefer WordPress.

    In any case you make a sound point; weigh out your needs versus the strengths of each system to find an apt match.

    Thanks Kyle for sharing.

    Tweeting in a bit.

    Ryan

  4. Roxann says:

    I love wordpress. Its suits me. I need something easy and hassle free to use.

  5. Excellent post. Thanks for sharing valuable content. No doubt all these tips are very much helpful for bloggers.
    Thanks for sharing nice post

  6. Jayne says:

    I’m a die hard WordPress fan. Its so easy to use, got every kind of plug in I could ever possibly need. I also love the ease of use and find it much more simpler to build sites in than Joomla.

  7. Bhargav Ch says:

    Hey Kyle ,
    I personally heard of Joomla and Drupal from my peers. I use wordpress platform . As far as I experienced it is the best platform for blogging with a wide variety of plugins and user friendly support. Very informative post.Thanks.

  8. MezzoNicole says:

    Wow, it’s cool to see the different uses and so many people gung-ho about WordPress, however I can’t join that band!

    I have used Joomla for years and tried a smaller, different website in WordPress, but because I knew how to work with Joomla (and am now happily installed in J3.3), I couldn’t get used to WordPress–it wasn’t flexible enough for me and I couldn’t get it to do what I wanted. Plus, Joomla has an incredible amount of extensions available, both free and paid. Joomla is also being so well developed, that some of the extensions will become obsolete soon.

    The incredible amount of possibilities with Joomla and the fact that I use EasyBlog make me a hugely happy Joomla user.

  9. Amit Ahuja says:

    That’s a beautiful comparison between the CMS. I’ve used Joomla before but dropped as it becomes more cumbersome for blogging. Security was an issue there at that time and since then I’ve started using wordpress I never looked back. About Drupal, I’d just heard but never tried it.

  10. Samuel Eaves says:

    In my experience WordPress is pretty much the most user friendly and simple platform, but I had very bad problems with speed. I know it depends on the widgets and other stuff, but mine was pretty slow even with the basic themes and widgets.

  11. Kyle Metcalf says:

    Thanks for the replies! We get a unique view of the various WCM platforms as we have customers utilizing all types and flavors for all sorts of projects. It’s always useful for us to get feedback so we can continue to augment our products and support. We also love the passion from users about their favorite platform!
    WordPress is clearly growing the fastest and has more deployments than any other. I’m looking forward to seeing the advancements for WP and how WP users will continue to push the platform.

    -Kyle

  12. Tom Durkin says:

    I’ve used Joomla for sites and blogs and can safely say it is terrible. I’ve never used it for my own clients and never will. WordPress isn’t perfect but its the best option out there at the moment in my opinion. Its WordPress for me for the foreseeable.

    Just wish Tumblr would release a CMS…Love how simple it is to use, but want it on my own hosting plan :)

  13. Rob McGuire says:

    I feel this topic has been addressed ad nauseam over the years. There really is no “best” platform, it’s all about what best suits your needs and style.

  14. Sam Mudra says:

    I think these three CMSs were built for different reasons. Drupal is for heavy web based application projects where as Joomla is mainly used for online retail stores or eCommerce sites and WordPress is a blog engine. So depending on the need of the project, people or companies should select the platform wisely though now WordPress is getting used for almost everything (though haven’t seen a full fledged WordPress eCommerce site).

  15. Sushain says:

    WordPress platform is what i like,love and want to work on as it is simple and easy to work on.Earlier i had tried Joomla but i always found it difficult and complicated to work with it.
    So, for me nothing is gonna to replace wordpress.

  16. Bholu says:

    What needs to be remembered regarding site platform builders is that for most people building an online business it means needing an easy-to-follow, detailed, proven, ethical website business system (not a get rich quick scheme) to get (1) a significant amount of traffic and get (2) targeted traffic (example of such a system, that’s even taught at universities: IncredibleFreedom.com). Otherwise you’ll end up having (and building) only a webSITE but not a webBUSINESS.

  17. For me, WordPress all day. Sure, I realize the others have benefits, but from themes to support to third party adoption, WP wins all day.

  18. bob ellis says:

    WordPress is my 1st training ground in the CMS world. But I’m not saying its the best of all platforms out there. I have yet to experience Drupal and Joomla. Great summary by the way.

  19. CS Guru says:

    There goes an amazing comparison of 3 most versatile CMS platforms and I find the fight interesting. A lot of people here are aligning with a singular CMS but most have missed the point what Sam has underlined. The author has made good points regarding usability of these applications but what about the purpose for which these CMSs were brought into existence? I know how painstaking it is to deploy a Drupal or Joomla for just a blogsite. On the other hand we will find tonnes of people claiming the WP is not a CMS its just a blog engine.

    It is prudent to select a CMS depending upon the achievables.

    Secondly I agree with almost everybody here who is trying to advocate a particular CMS. It is a matter of practice of knowing what to find and where to find, one becomes comfortable and confident to handle that CMS. We have examples who are most comfortable with WP and then we have Nicole who is ultra comfortable with Joomla.

    There are no thumb rules as such to select a CMS, it boils down to these 2 factors: need of the client and comfort of the developer.

    Cheers

  20. For me, without a doubt WordPress is way to go for me. Be it a blog or an ecommerce website. WordPress is giving me every thing.

    I liked Joomla for a while but it was a but confusing for me. I am using WordPress on my blog, my small ecommerce website and even the forum is using WP that they provide.

    Not to forget, the support and user friendly ness is what matters and WP wins hands down :)

  21. Akram says:

    WordPress has been more user friendly and that is what actually matters. Anyone with little technical knowledge can work very well with it. However, all three systems have their own purposes. Joomla and Drupal have their own pros and cons and are working great for those who are using it.

  22. Glenish Wu says:

    WordPress is my favorite. It is very easy to use. There is always a plugin for the functionality that I want.

    • Richard May says:

      I second you Sir. I personally believe that WordPress is the most superior one as long as user interface goes. You really don’t have to possess any coding knowledge whatsoever to use it!

  23. DNN says:

    DNN would argue WordPress is the best content management solution to install on any Web server simply because it’s easy to install and so flexible to the point of installing any free WordPress plug-in or paid WordPress plug-ins any time.

  24. I find it interesting that whenever people talk about WordPress they mention that one of it’s biggest benefits is it’s ease of use. Personally I don’t think this is the case and actually I think for the average user, without a lot of customisation it’s a complex bag of nails. Whilst it offers all the functionality you might need and plugins to cover just about everything else, setting it up appropriately for usage by the average user takes far more effort and really does require someone with coding and design experience.

    The second point to make is that unless you have to choose one of these 3 open source solutions, it’s definitely worth taking a look at various other paid and free options that may well suit your requirements far better. Far too often people select products based on popularity rather than whether it’s really the right tool for the job.

  25. I don’t reply much, but couldn’t resist responding to this one “really can’t see how anyone could go past WordPress”….

    I’ve completely turned my back on all three of these options after 100+ WordPress site installs and now have evolved to use a 3rd party for less than $200/mo to house my cms website (no more hosting issues), blog (no more wp upgrades), cart (no more pci compliance holes or custom fixes to get what I need), scheduler (for coaching clients to reserve times available), affiliate program, email broadcast system (no more cc or mc), project management (for managing my client work), and even membership. The important part is that it’s all one completely integrated system and I added about 6 new hours of freedom to my work day and need to pay NO programmers to support any of it. I believe this is the new way of managing a business using fully integrated web tools…for when you need more than a content blog. For me, stand alone WordPress websites are over.

  26. Kashif khan says:

    I Love wordpress because it is easy to use,flexible and no load time.It is also most wanted due to many many useful plugins, these plugins can boost our site in one click.This is why most bloggers choose WordPress to start theri blogging career.

  27. Gavin C says:

    I agree with Jonathon, WP is difficult to use there are plugins to cover everything, but it is not first time user friendly

  28. Frank says:

    I also work on wordpress because this is very easy to use for web development.
    Thanks for this sharing.

  29. Frank says:

    Great post, Thanks for the sharing this information.

  30. Frank says:

    I like your article, this is very informative.
    Thanks for the sharing these post .

  31. Mark Deakin says:

    Brilliant article, Shared via twitter!! This is perfect for clients who need unbiased information, tailored to suit their needs, thanks Kyle

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