WordPress and Drupal are two common open-source Content Management Systems. By open source I mean they are free to download and use, and they are powered by PHP and MySQL on the back-end. These systems are constantly evolving and being improved upon by a community of developers.
WordPress was started way back in the dark ages(2003) by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little and has come a long way since it’s early humble beginnings. The latest version of WordPress as of this blog is 4.7 and this what you are reading now is being run on the latest WordPress (or WP).
Drupal’s history is actually similar to that of WordPress and was started by Dries Buytaert in the early 2000’s. As of this blog, the current Drupal version is 8.2.5.
As a professional web developer and theme guru (HTML/CSS/JS), I have extensive experience in developing and building websites in both WordPress and Drupal. While there are some similarities between WordPress and Drupal, there are quite a few differences as well. In this post I will touch on some of the similarities as well as differences and my thoughts on which platform I prefer.
WordPress is by far the most popular choice of Content Management System (CMS). In fact, WordPress is used on over 25% of websites on the internet today! This number is rather staggering, but I believe the reason is simple. WordPress is very easy to install, configure and get a site up and running quickly. My estimation is even a novice can download and install a WordPress site in an hour or two and start blogging immediately.
The problem with how easy it is to install and run WordPress also makes WordPress kind of cookie cutter since a lot of sites look more or less the same.
This isn’t to say that all WordPress sites are small and used just for blogging. There are plenty of high-profile brands who used WordPress for their website.
Since there are a plethora of WordPress sites out there and many are put together quickly, these sites become easy targets for hacking. There are ways to safe-guard your WordPress site from being hacked. First start with a well known, trusted and secure hosting company (I use Media Temple).A good hosting company will support the latest versions of PHP and MySQL, and should at least perform regular scans for malware and daily backups. It’s also a good idea to do your own backups on a monthly if not weekly basis. WordPress offers several good plugins for this.(Here is a complete list of steps you can take to keep your WordPress site secure.)
While WordPress and Drupal do have some similarities there are quite a few differences as well. I think of WordPress as a butter knife and Drupal as a Swiss Army knife. Drupal is much more extendable but has a deeper learning curve. In fact, many Drupal developers will tell you that Drupal is a framework and not a CMS.
It takes a while to learn the ins-and-outs of Drupal. Common terms and processes are structure, regions, blocks, panels, views, taxonomy, sub-themes, content types and Drush.
Drupal is quirky, somewhat strange and has a much smaller footprint than WordPress, but also a cult-like following. With Drupal, either you like it or you don’t. (I like it because I have to like all CMS systems…).
You might wonder why so many .gov sites prefer to use Drupal and the primary reasons are the fact that Drupal out of the box meets accessibility guidelines, and the development community that contributes to Drupal takes measures to make Drupal sites very secure.
I’m not picking a winner as I don’t see Drupal and WordPress as necessarily being competitors. Comparing the two is like comparing Apples to Oranges. Sometimes you need a butter knife (WordPress) and sometimes you need a Swiss Army knife (Drupal). It all depends on what your company or organization’s website needs are. Overall for a small website or blog WordPress is the way to go. That is why I chose WordPress for my blog. Easy to maintain and update and easy to administer. If you need a larger, more complex website with multiple access levels for user types, and plenty of room to extend your site then you should consider Drupal.
This wraps up my high-level overview of WordPress and Drupal. In a future blog post I plan to take a deeper dive and elaborate on what makes Drupal and WordPress great and not so great.