Compare Top CMS: WordPress vs. Joomla vs. Drupal
Choosing a CMS is an important part of building a website. Paying for a custom website is also an option, but it will cost you quite a bit. This is why you should pick a CMS that is easy for you to use, and that will allow you to enjoy the process of creating your site.
A CMS, short for Content Management System is the backbone of your future website. Everything starts from, and depends on your CMS; your website’s looks, its functionality, even speed are all affected by the CMS you choose. But also, your own experience when building your website is heavily dependent on the CMS you decide to pick. If you go ahead of yourself and select a CMS that goes far beyond your technical skills, you will find building, and later upgrading and maintaining your website torturous. On the other hand, if you pick something too basic, it might feel smooth and great at the start, but it can later find it lacking in both features and the performance of your site.
This is why you need to take different things into consideration – first, your technical skill level. But be frank, don’t lie to yourself, there is no shame in not knowing everything. Second, you need to consider the potential size of your future website- if you expect a lot of traffic, you should probably pick a CMS that can handle all those visitors. The purpose of your site will tell you a lot – online stores tend to get crowded, especially around holidays, etc. Also, pick a CMS that will be able to scale well with your website, as it starts growing.
There are plenty of options when it comes to choosing a CMS, but three of them tower all the others – WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. These three are the most popular, and for a good reason- they are powerful and proven to work on thousands of websites. Additionally, their popularity serves as a guarantee- even if you don’t know how to do something, you can find help online easily, on numerous forums. Also, since they are so popular, and widely spread, finding professional support (even in your neighborhood) will not be difficult. Let’s start the comparison.
We start off with WordPress, the most widely used CMS out there. There is one primary reason for the never stopping popularity of WP- that is its simplicity. We will cut straight to the chase- if you are a beginner, and don’t know anything about coding and building websites, pick WordPress. This CMS is self-explanatory- many online coding schools claim how they can teach you to use WP over a single weekend, and this is not far from the truth. WP is so simple and beautiful; you will enjoy building your website in it.
Many platforms already have easy (1-click) installations for WordPress, so finding the right hosting for your website will not be an issue. These instant installations not only save time, but also make sure no unnecessary errors and complications occur (thus saving even more time!). But the ease of use does not stop with the installation. The WordPress dashboard tells you all you need to know right away. It is very elegant, and self-explanatory, and you will not need to read tons of complicated guides in order to use WordPress. If you can click a mouse, drag and drop, match shapes and colors, you are good to go, that simple. There are some presets, but if you are not happy with how they look, you can create your own themes. We recommend you doing so – millions of websites use WP, so sticking to an unchanged theme is probably not that original, even if you pick it from the theme “store.”
WP also has “plugins.” By using them, you expand the functionality of your website. This is a familiar concept to all CMS (the names are different, plugins, add-ons, but they all do the same thing). There is an endless amount of plugins- multimedia (videos, audio, images), contact forms, social media, payment forms, or other eCommerce options.
And also, since it is the most popular CMS out there (plus free to use), you are right to expect to find plenty of help online. WP community is lively, and the net is flooded with tutorials, how-to videos and similar guides that are sure to help you if you hit a wall. But, considering the simplicity WP is famous for, we seriously doubt that you will encounter any significant problems.
However, WP is not flawless. Its chief virtue- simplicity, is also its biggest flaw. More advanced users will want more freedom than what WP allows. Also, the fact that WP has thousands of plugins does not mean all of them are recommended, and safe to use – on the contrary. Be careful what you install; you might jeopardize the safety of your website, or even worse, your visitors. And although WP supports unlimited plugins, try not to use too many. Sites packed with too many plugins will not work well.
But, as we have noted on the start – if you are a beginner, and you want a tool that will allow you to build a beautiful looking and functional, medium sized website, WP is the right option for you, no questions about that.
If you think that WordPress is too basic, or lacking some features for your taste, consider trying Joomla. This is also a very popular CMS that is relatively easy to learn (not as easy as WP, obviously), but it that offers some more advanced features, making it more suitable for bigger and specialist websites. But, be warned, Joomla is simple, but it requires at least some degree of technical knowledge, so it is not an ideal option for complete tech novices.
Similarly to WP, many hosting providers offer 1-click installation for Joomla, saving you time. Joomla also has plenty of themes, more than one thousand, which means you will definitely find the one for yourself. You also upgrade it by using numerous plugins, many of them completely free. These plugins add depth and functionality, making Joomla an excellent (and probably the best of all three) option for social networking and e-commerce websites.
Similarly to WP, Joomla is quite popular (it only has half the users, but that is still more than 60 million!), which means finding help online is relatively easy. Many forums are available for advice, and you can also hire Joomla developers that will not ask too much.
In short, the most prominent strength Joomla possesses is its flexibility- you can use it to make any kind of website, all will work flawlessly, and look terrific. To directly compare it to the other two CMS we are talking about in this article, Joomla has much of the straightforwardness and simplicity WP possesses. But, when it comes to sheer power, it is much closer to Drupal, which makes Joomla a terrific, middle ground solution. However, this can also be a flaw- beginners will feel a bit overwhelmed by the interface of Joomla, and advanced users might find some features lacking. But, if you are an intermediate technical user, we think that you will find Joomla quite satisfying, especially if you plan to build social networking, or an e-commerce website using it.
The third CMS we will review is Drupal. Compared to the other two, Drupal is a beast. This is by far the most powerful CMS, meant for the power user, who knows what he wants and what he’s doing. To use Drupal, you need to have a solid background and to understand how coding works. Drupal fanatics would disagree, and defend their favorite CMS, telling you how it is not that difficult to learn, but trust us- if you are a beginner, and especially if you don’t know anything about coding, nor do you even care to learn, stay away from Drupal.
But, on the other hand, if you are a tech-geek and confident in your knowledge, using Drupal can be quite an enjoyable experience. This CMS offers an unmatched level of customization and options and will be quite rewarding for a diligent and patient user. Drupal will allow you to create a unique website, which has your own signature. But it is not only highly customizable; but Drupal also possesses raw power- it is a perfect option for even the largest websites with hundreds of pages. It has enough muscle to carry all that content easily.
Compared to WP and Joomla, Drupal is the least popular CMS, but it still has a decent amount of users. You can’t expect to find as many tutorials and guides online, but again, there is plenty to get you started. And like we said, if you decide to choose Drupal, you need to make sure you know what you are doing. One more warning- finding Drupal developers is not as easy with WP and Joomla, and they do cost a bit more.
Once you start installing Drupal, you will immediately notice the difference. Right from the start, Drupal asks you to begin configuring your website. This continues along the way- in Drupal, you can basically manually tweak every single setting, making the website truly yours. There are plenty of add-ons too, and Drupal also has “distributions” which are bundles with prebuilt configurations for certain website types. This is an excellent place to start, but don’t stop there, or you will have a dry, generic looking website. Adding add-ons is much more complicated since you are supposed to find them off-site, and then enter the URL of the ZIP file containing your add-on.
Drupal has one more ace up its sleeve- security. This is a super-safe CMS, the team behind it is continuously working to improve the safety, and this is why Drupal is the choice for many government websites all over the world.
The most prominent strength of Drupal is, of course, its biggest flaw (we are starting a trend here). This CMS allows the total customization, but in order to fully utilize it, you need to have a high degree of skill and technical knowledge. This makes Drupal out of reach for most users. But, if you are lucky and capable of using it, it will offer so much, and for advanced users, we definitely recommend this CMS.
There you have it, folks; top three CMS presented to you. There are no clear winners – WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, are all unique. They all offer so much, but have some flaws. The one thing that will probably decide your choice is your technical expertise and the purpose of your website – if you are a novice, pick WP, if you are a pro, choose Drupal, and if you are somewhere in between and looking for a social networking or e-commerce website, pick Joomla. Good luck!