WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal

CMS

If you’re starting a website for your business, a personal hobby, your social organization or a portfolio, a content management system (CMS) is a great way to get started. The most popular CMS systems are WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal. Each CMS is used by extremely popular websites such as Forbes, CNN, Sony, Harvard and even the White House. So if each CMS can handle sites like the ones mentioned, what makes one better than another and how do you pick the right one for your needs. The biggest distinction between the different systems are how much do you want to customize and how willing are you to invest into learning and/or paying to have those customizations done. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different systems and how they compare to one another:

WordPressJoomlaDrupal
Released 2003Released 2005Released 2001
Global Usage
140 Million Downloads63 Million Downloads15 Million Downloads
Cost
FreeFreeFree
Themes
4K+1K+2K+
Install Time
5 Minutes10 Minutes10 Minutes
Best For
Blogs
Corporate Websites
Small-Medium Sized Websites
E-commerce
Social Networking Sites
Anything

WordPress

WordPress is the most popular and well-known CMS platform that lets you create a website, blog or app. In most cases, WordPress is going to be the best choice. Like the others, it’s battle-tested and can scale to handle large traffic spikes. In addition, it has a wealth of support and experts ready to help (for a price). And if you don’t have deep pockets to pay consultants, there are thousands of free themes and plugins that can get you off the ground quickly. There will be some trial and error with figuring out which theme and plugins are right for you but WordPress makes it easy to enable and test quickly. And speaking of easy, most of WordPress is configuration and WYSIWYG driven so you don’t need to be a technical expert to make changes. It’s more like building your perfect burrito at Chipotle, pick from a menu and over time decide if you prefer the black beans over pinto beans and if the guacamole is worth the extra charge (always a yes for me). So, in summary:

Install difficulty: low

Configuration difficulty: low

Online support/guides: high

Joomla!

Joomla! is another popular CMS platform that lets you create a custom website for things like a company website, e-commerce, community portal or personal website. While WordPress is typically used as a blogging platform, Joomla! is typically used to create more custom website applications. And similar to other platforms, there are themes and plugins available to customize your site. Joomla! is typically thought of as more extensible than other CMS platforms. If you’re a developer or interested in learning how to customize Joomla beyond the typical configuration and WYSIWG editors, you can build on top of the Joomla! Framework functionality such as inventory control systems, data reporting tools, application bridges, custom product catalogs, integrated e-commerce systems, complex business directories, reservation systems and communication tools. Joomla! is a good choice if you have complex needs and have tried WordPress and found it too limiting. Online documentation and support is available but not as abundant when compared to WordPress. And in terms of hiring help, there are going to be far fewer resources familiar and specialize in Joomla!. This is worth keeping in mind if you need help scaling your website in the future.

Install difficulty: low

Configuration difficulty: medium

Online support/guides: medium

Drupal

And our third CMS is Drupal which provides robust features for building websites with complex security/permissions for large organizations. Like the other CMS systems, there are options for themes and plugins. Developers can customize and build add-ons/plugins but Drupal does have a fair amount of functionality available through configuration. One area that Drupal really shines is the built-in concept of user groups and permissions. This allows you to put people into different groups and give them specific access to different things like what they can modify and what content they can create/update. However, with all the extra functionality the admin interface is more complex and not as intuitive. And compared to WordPress, there are far fewer online guides and tutorials to help you customize your instance.

Install difficulty: low

Configuration difficulty: medium

Online support/guides: low