A version of this blog post was first published on the Unleashed Technologies blog.
Drupal vs. WordPress, Which is Better (2021)
Drupal vs. WordPress, both are excellent content management systems (CMS), but which one is better? We get asked this question all the time, so we decided to assist you in your quest to answer that question. In this post, we will break down all the pros and cons of each platform so you can make the best decision for your business or organization.
Let’s start with a brief introduction to both platforms.
Initially launched in 2000, Drupal is a free, open-source content management system (CMS) that was launched as a message board by its creator, Dries Buytaert. Drupal now powers 2.3 percent of all websites on the internet and controls 4.6 percent of the CMS market. The Drupal system was constructed with flexibility and customization in mind.
Because of Drupal’s emphasis on being agile and allowing for greater customization, the streamlined platform was labeled for more experienced users and coders than for beginners. A major emphasis was placed on becoming more user-friendly with the release of Drupal 8 in November 2015. The release included many features that help increase functionality for beginners, experienced users, marketers, and developers alike.
Drupal 9 was released on June 3, 2020, with a focus on updated dependencies and removal of deprecated code. Drupal 9 did not include new features, but Drupal 9.1 onward will continue to add features every six months.
Websites Running on Drupal
Over one million websites are running on Drupal from many different backgrounds and industries. Many major banks, financial institutions, government agencies, non-profits, manufacturers, and universities trust Drupal to keep their websites agile and secure. Below are a few examples of websites that are running on the Drupal platform.
- The University of Colorado
- The Principal Financial Group
- The White House
WordPress is a free, open-source CMS, and the most popular CMS in the world. After its launch as a blogging platform in 2003, it quickly became a popular choice among individuals and organizations when creating a website. WordPress now powers about 33 percent of all websites on the internet and is known as a very user-friendly platform.
WordPress offers a variety of third-party plugins to help you manage your website, create content, and increase functionality. An intuitive dashboard provides easy navigation on the back-end of your website, allowing users to move about with little trouble.
WordPress 5.5.1, named “Eckstine”, was released on August 11, 2020. This version is generally a maintenance release designed as a patch to give developers time to update themes and plugins that were broken or negatively affected when WordPress 5.5 was released.
Websites Running on WordPress
Many well-known businesses and brands are running on WordPress, demonstrating they are more than just a small blog platform. Below are examples of websites leveraging WordPress’s user-friendly content management design and endless customization options.
- The Walt Disney Company
- Sony Music
- BBC America
- The New York Times Company
Functionality & Flexibility
There is no doubt that Drupal is more complicated when compared to WordPress, but that complexity is what provides its advanced functionality.
Drupal uses modules to assist in expanding functionality and has over 46,000 modules to choose from and more than 2,900 themes. Out of the box, Drupal has the ability to organize large amounts of data and content more efficiently than WordPress, assisting with overall website speed.
With a focus on making Drupal’s functionality easier, thousands of new modules have been added over the past few years. That being said, customizing Drupal themes generally requires the assistance of a developer to create custom coding to fit an individual’s needs.
WordPress also provides increased functionality and flexibility, but they rely heavily on themes and plugins to do so. With over 31,000 themes and more than 57,000 plugins, there are endless possibilities available to WordPress users to increase customization.
The strength of WordPress comes in its ease of increasing functionality by merely installing a plugin. This is also the platform’s biggest weakness, as those plugins may cause a security risk to your website. We will cover this more in-depth in the platform security section later.
Search Engine Optimization
There is no distinct advantage given towards one content management system (CMS) over the other in regards to SEO, although there are slight differences between how optimizations are completed in the two platforms.
Drupal has SEO capabilities built-in. Out of the box, Drupal allows for customizable meta tags, title based URL nodes, and has caching as a native feature. Drupal also supports resource description framework (RDF), the foundation for the semantic web.
The Drupal platform offers many modules to help increase its SEO capabilities. A few examples would be the XML Sitemap Module, Redirect Module, Alternate Hreflang Module, Schema Module, and the Yoast SEO Module.
WordPress offers a variety of plugins that will assist with the different aspects of SEO. One of the most popular is the Yoast SEO Plugin. With the Yoast plugin, you can easily control titles, meta descriptions, sitemaps, open-graph data, and other aspects of on-page SEO.
Speed is also a very important ranking factor in SEO, and to assist with increasing page load speed you could use a plugin like W3 Total Cache, this plugin is one of the best-known WordPress caching plugins. But with the addition of each new plugin, there is a possibility that there may be a conflict with another plugin causing a malfunction.
Both WordPress and Drupal are equally as secure at their core, but security is one of the most significant differences between the two platforms and where Drupal has a distinct advantage. In a recent study completed by GoDaddy and Sucuri, they found that about 90 percent of all the hacked content management systems they investigated were WordPress sites. With Drupal websites accounting for about 3.7 percent.
One of Drupal’s best attributes is its security. Drupal provides enterprise-level security and in-depth security reports. Making it a popular CMS for governments, financial institutions, and organizations around the world. The Drupal security team is continuously testing and providing Core and Module updates to find and rectify vulnerabilities.
WordPress itself is very secure, but the platform’s vulnerabilities lie within the many third-party plugins. According to a recent survey conducted by Wordfence, plugins accounted for about 56% of all entry points used by hackers. When proper security measures are taken, WordPress can be very secure, but because of its heavy reliance on third-party plugins, it is at more risk.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is another area that provides a distinct difference between the two platforms. WordPress is generally recognized as a more manageable platform to use and learn. Although in more recent versions of Drupal, there has been a focus on becoming more user-friendly.
Drupal Ease Of Use
Drupal can be challenging for beginners or even novice developers to get up and running. Drupal isn’t hard to use, but it can be hard to learn. The user interface is also easy to navigate once you understand the multiple dropdowns and how they are organized, but this takes some time to get used to. Content editing and page building have become easier with the introduction of Layout Builder in Drupal 8 as part of the aforementioned focus on becoming more user friendly.
The Drupal platform as a whole even with its expanded themes and Modules to help increase functionality still relies on custom coding to make your website look and operate the way you would like.
WordPress Ease Of Use
WordPress can be installed in minutes and even a beginner can start to understand how to move around quickly. Their intuitive interface provides a user-friendly dashboard, WYSIWYG editor, quick blog creation options, drag-and-drop functionality through third-party page builder plugins, and thousands of themes to help non-programmers. You can expand functionality quickly with little to no coding needed using the vast library of over 50,000 available plugins.
There are also a ton of resources available online for WordPress such as forms, videos, blogs, and websites. All dedicated to teaching others how to use the platform.
Neither Drupal nor WordPress are designed for eCommerce out of the box, but both have modules or plugins to help meet the needs of businesses and organizations that have online stores.
Drupal – Drupal Commerce
Drupal Commerce is powering more than 60,000 websites with endless versatility and scalability options. It’s perfect for both small businesses and enterprise clients. Drupal Commerce is moderately easy to use and allows for content and products to live seamlessly together. The platform supports multiple languages, currencies and is equipped with integrations that allow payment providers access from all over the world. Visually Drupal Commerce is modern, clean, and provides a great user experience.
The platform integrates with social networks and provides unlimited design freedoms. As an added benefit of being on the Drupal platform, your organization and your customers’ data is well protected.
WordPress – WooCommerce
The WooCommerce platform can be added to WordPress via a free plugin. WooCommerce is the most popular of the two eCommerce options, running more than 30% of all online stores. Considered to be tailored more towards small to medium-size businesses, WooCommerce is extremely easy to use and boasts a modern clean interface.
Pre-installed payment gateways allow for quick and easy setup. Rating, review, coupon, and shipping options provide access to everything an eCommerce site needs. Popular extensions developed by WooCommerece and third party vendors provide expanded functionality for growing stores.
Website personalization allows you to create customized user experiences for visitors to your website. This can be a very powerful tool when properly used in conjunction with fully developed user personas to generate more leads, sales, and memberships.
Web Personalization for Drupal
For Drupal, the Acquia Personalization platform provides the ability to segment your audiences using up-to-the-minute data collected as users navigate your website. Once segmented, these visitors can be delivered pre-determined content and A/B testing based on the historical and campaign based interactions. Allowing you to provide customized experiences at the right time to increase engagement. Using machine learning, Acquia drives conversions, builds customer loyalty, and provides data insights.
Web Personalization for WordPress
WordPress has a few options that can be used to boost engagement and help to deliver personalized experiences. One of the most popular is Google Optimize. Being part of the Google suite of products it easily integrates with Google Analytics and Google Ads providing A/B testing and many basic personalization options with the free version. Although Google Optimize offers a lot, the full extent of its power is not harnessed unless you pay for the Google 360 enterprise solution.
Both WordPress and Drupal are open-source platforms and have large online communities dedicated to them. If you run into problems, are looking for advice, or just want to learn more about your chosen CMS, most answers are just a Google search away.
The Drupal community
Most cities have Drupal meetups where users can go to meet, talk Drupal, and learn. They often include presentations by senior users. DrupalCon is an annual event where Drupal members from all over the world gather for education and networking. As well as forums, blogs, and websites dedicated to learning the Drupal platform.
The WordPress community
WordPress also offers workshops, meetups, and groups where fellow users can learn, talk about, and become part of the WordPress community. WordPress also generally has more information available online via websites, youtube accounts, and blogs dedicated to learning more about the WordPress platform than Drupal.
Website accessibility allows people with disabilities to perceive, understand, navigate, and contribute to websites. Accessibility is critical for many businesses, universities, and government websites.
Drupal has been committed to ensuring that all features of Drupal core meet the guidelines set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), WCAG 2.0, and ATAG 2.0. where possible. This initiative started with the Drupal 7 accessibility standards and has since been retroactively added back to Drupal 6.
WordPress aims to make the WordPress Admin and bundled themes fully WCAG 2.0 AA compliant where possible. The accessibility team has created an accessibility handbook and works with developers creating new themes and plugins to provide best practices and guidance during the development phase.
The cost of a website is ultimately based on the specific needs and wants of a business or organization. Simply put, the more custom features and complexity your website requires the more it will cost to build and maintain. This is true with both Drupal and WordPress. The best way to find out what kind of cost you are looking at is to speak with a professional agency. Describe the capabilities you are looking for and what kind of future functionality would be needed as your website grows and expands.
Drupal vs. WordPress Which is the Right One for You?
I know you were looking for a clear victor, but the question of which is better Drupal or WordPress can only be answered by framing the question itself differently. The real question is, which is the better option for the specific needs of your website. Only by asking this question will you be able to understand which CMS is actually right for you.
Here at Unleashed Technologies, we create award-winning, personalized web experiences with both Drupal and WordPress. So, if you find yourself still in need of some help to solve this puzzle, please let us know. We’ll set up a time to learn about your website’s needs and provide a professional recommendation based on our experience and expertise.