Reasons to Use WordPress vs. Drupal

by Jun 16, 2020Content Strategy

When you’re searching for a content management system (CMS) to power your website or utilize as a website builder, WordPress has likely come up time and time again. But another platform might have caught your eye too: Drupal.

Both WordPress and Drupal are popular CMSes and frequent contenders for those who need a framework to build their website on. Which is better? What features do they offer? Are there any reasons to use WordPress over Drupal or vice versa?

Each platform has its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks. They share many features, but diverge wildly in other areas. Knowing how each CMS works will help you pick the most appropriate one for your project.

WordPress and Drupal Similarities

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If you’re looking for a platform to host your blog, website, or small business storefront on, WordPress and Drupal offer great solutions. While they each have very different features, there are several similarities between them as well.

Both CMSes cost nothing and are open source. Anyone can view their source code, download the projects, and use them on a web server. No paying hefty monthly fees for access to their services, either – the only purchase needed is a web host to run the CMS on.

They both sport a large, thriving community. While WordPress is more popular by far, Drupal’s following is still huge. Whichever platform you use, you’ll find resources all across the internet, and will be able to get help in the community forums at any time.

Drupal and WordPress employ modern design and development standards – no outdated, SEO-damaging, barely functional code here.

These CMSes update multiple times per year; you can see the Drupal release cycle and WordPress roadmap for yourself. Both have been operating since the early 2000s and are still going strong, so you don’t have to worry about being left hanging on a dead platform anytime soon.

Lastly, both WordPress and Drupal are built to be adaptable. You’re not meant to just stick with the core features they give you — you should extend it, personalize it, and overall make it your own. That’s the beauty of a strong CMS.

Ample developer tools are given in both cases so you can add advanced functionality yourself, such as the WordPress REST API or Drupal’s command-line tools, and plenty of documentation to go with them.

Or if you’d prefer, you can choose from the thousands of WordPress plugins, Drupal modules, and themes. Extending either CMS is easy thanks to their active communities.

WordPress and Drupal Differences

While WordPress and Drupal share many core design philosophies, they’re still very different platforms. Drupal is made for developers, while WordPress is designed for beginners.

Both serve a variety of purposes and can be extended to fit almost any need, but each surely has their own demographic.

You can even see this reflected in their homepages. Drupal makes its target audience immediately clear: developers, marketers, and agencies. It even has landing pages for a variety of industries.

WordPress’ homepage, on the other hand, is much simpler. It focuses on the blogging features and the rich community it supports. The platform reminds you that it can be used to run anything from small blogs to high-traffic business websites.

This clear distinction should give you an idea who each CMS is intended for, but let’s break down the major features and see how they compare. The following are key benefits found when comparing WordPress vs. Drupal.

1. Popularity

Popularity is a desirable trait in any CMS. It’s no good to stake your website, let alone your entire business, on a dying platform. If you get stuck, you’ll be thankful for an active community when it bails you out with prompt support in the forums.

Should you ever need a tutorial or plugin for something missing on your website, finding it will be as easy as a quick Google search.

As far as popularity goes, WordPress is the clear winner. It currently serves as the backend for over 35% of all websites, with Drupal’s usage only at 1.6%. While that’s certainly nothing to sneeze at, it doesn’t compare to WordPress’ immense popularity.

As far as popularity goes, WordPress is the clear winner. It currently serves as the backend for over 35% of all websites, with Drupal's usage only at 1.6%. Click To Tweet

With WordPress, help is all but guaranteed. It’s a lot easier to do everything by yourself or with a small team, because if you get lost or confused, support is only a forum post away. And there are hundreds of websites dedicated to unraveling common WordPress issues step by step.

Sites like that do exist for Drupal, but they’re much less common. Plus, due to Drupal’s technical nature, finding answers can take longer and be more difficult. If you decide on that CMS, you should be prepared to dive into the documentation and figure out most things by yourself.

2. Ease of Use

Generally, the easier a tool is to use, the better. But sometimes ease of use must be sacrificed to make room for advanced features, or isn’t necessary due to a more knowledgeable target audience.

Both of these are the case for Drupal. While it’s not insanely difficult to use, it’s certainly not intended for beginners. You should have at least a basic grasp of HTML, PHP, and web servers. These are things you can learn for free online, but if you dive into Drupal with no development experience, you’ll likely be lost.

Drupal’s UI is also not very user-friendly. It does the job, but it isn’t pretty. Even its own website has a somewhat outdated design. This has zero impact on the advanced features it offers, so if that’s what you’re after, you’ll get used to it quickly. But cluttered UI with no direction can make the learning process extra confusing for beginners.

WordPress, on the other hand, is very easy to use. Even if you have no experience with CMSes or online platforms of any sort, you won’t struggle too much with the UI. The website is also much simpler and navigates better.

The learning curve is much lower for WordPress than for Drupal, and it’s easier to make something pretty with less knowledge. No coding is required; it’s all menus and drag-and-drop to build your website.

Deployment time is also faster with WordPress. Assuming you have content ready to go, you can make an entire website in an afternoon. It really is that simple. Use WordPress’ Gutenberg editor to add blog posts to your site.

On the plus side, both CMSes have extensive documentation. Drupal’s documentation has hours of reading material with its official and community guides. The User Guide is a great place to start. For WordPress, check out the Codex that covers everything you need to know.

3. Flexibility and Features

Both WordPress and Drupal are flexible tools suitable for a variety of projects, but each has its own set of unique features.

In general, WordPress is more of a blank slate, with simple but powerful features like content management, theme customization, and a user role system. Using WordPress all but requires you to get into third-party themes and plugins — this is where much of its versatility comes in.

WordPress has over 56,000 plugins and 7,000 themes, all available for free on the official website, so finding them isn’t hard.

That’s not even the end of it — there are also premium themes and plugins available on other sites. Installing addons is super easy and it’s the fastest way to add features to your installation.

With so many plugins, the possibilities are limitless, and you don’t even need to know how to code.

Drupal, on the other hand, is focused less on third-party addons and more on giving you the dev tools you need out of the box. Modules and themes do exist, but you’re not expected to rely on them.

Instead, you’re given access to powerful tools like content authoring, multilingual support, taxonomies, caching, and the Drupal API. WordPress has some similar things, but they’re often not as useful or only available through third-party plugins.

Modules for Drupal also tend to be development- rather than feature-focused, unlike WordPress plugins. So if you’re a developer, you’ll get a lot of use out of them.

The key takeaway here is If you’re looking for an easy way to add key features without needing to code them yourself, you should probably try WordPress instead.

4. Security

Whether you’re staking your business on this website or just running a hobby blog, security should be one of your biggest considerations. Losing your website is the worst thing that can happen in an online market as it can do serious damage to your livelihood.

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Security is an area where Drupal rises above. WordPress’ popularity is a double-edged sword; it may be a big help when you find yourself lost, but it also makes WordPress a huge target for hackers. WordPress makes up 90% of all CMS infections, with Drupal only at 3.7%.

WordPress’ plugin-reliant nature also tends to open up doors for hackers to slip through. Every plugin you add to your site is essentially another potential vulnerability. Bad actors are always looking for ways to break in through holes in the code.

The more plugins you have, the easier it is to find a backdoor into your site. Insecure plugins are a major cause of infection.

In short: Drupal is better at security than WordPress and lists it as one of its major features. It even has its own Security Team, and informs everyone of potential issues on their Security Advisories page.

However, both CMSes are trusted by governments and businesses around the world to protect their websites — Drupal is used by 150+ countries and, while WordPress hosts the US White House website and many others — so they’re each very secure platforms.

All of that being said, it’s still important to know that Drupal does come out on top in this regard. So if using WordPress, ensure you have your maintenance team that offers website security monitoring

When to Use Drupal

Unlike WordPress, Drupal is a mid-range CMS for developers of moderate skill. You don’t need to be a master of PHP to use it, but some basic knowledge is required. You should be prepared to do a lot of coding and extending yourself.

The issue with WordPress is precisely that it’s built for beginners. While there’s plenty of room for devs to do their work, it just can’t compare to Drupal’s focus on advanced features — if that’s what you’re looking for.

If you’ve got a project with a big scope, and you either have a decent budget to hire developers or the time and skill to code it yourself, consider going with Drupal. Big projects, small projects, everything fits here as long as you’re willing to put in the work.

Benefits of Drupal:

  1. Built for developers
  2. Flexible and extensible
  3. Business- and agency-friendly
  4. More powerful than WordPress
  5. Large, active community
  6. Security is a major focus

When to Use WordPress

There are several reasons to use WordPress over Drupal. It’s the most popular CMS, and often considered the “default choice”, for a reason.

WordPress is just so easy to get into, especially for individuals and small companies who don’t have a lot of resources to spare. It’s perfectly possible to build a decent-looking website entirely by yourself. You never have to touch a line of code if you don’t want to.

Further, while it might not be as powerful as Drupal, or come with as many development features out of the box, it still scales well. If you ever want to extend WordPress, it’s very easy to do.

Benefits of WordPress:

  1. Low startup cost
  2. Extremely easy to learn and use
  3. No coding required
  4. Fast deployment
  5. Massive community, thousands of free resources
  6. Suitable for individuals and large companies

WordPress vs. Drupal: Which is Best?

There are most certainly times when Drupal is the better choice for startups. The CMS is a big contender in certain situations and it has its fair share of features that WordPress can’t keep up with.

However, there are many areas where Drupal falls short by design. WordPress was built from the start to be well-rounded and beginner-friendly. While Drupal makes no effort to cater to non-developers, WordPress is a platform suitable for everyone, whatever their skill level.

With everything said and done, if you’re wondering “WordPress or Drupal?”, the answer is likely WordPress. It’s bigger, it’s easier to use, and it holds up relatively well in its features.

Drupal should only be used by experienced developers who need a secure, technologically sound platform. It does its job well here, so if that’s exactly what you’re looking for, go ahead and give it a try.

But whether you’re a beginner who knows absolutely nothing, or a seasoned dev ready to put the code in to make your site even greater, WordPress has something for you. It may not always be the solution, but its versatility has equipped it to handle most projects.

What are your thoughts on WordPress or Drupal? If you liked reading this article, be sure to check out “How to Turn Your Website Into a Lead Generation Machine”. If you have points you want to bring up or have any feedback on this article, reach out to us on Twitter at @dcdevshop!

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