Building your own website is easier than ever – thanks to content management systems (CMS). With these platforms, you won’t have to write a single line of code for activities like developing content, installing a theme, and adding functionalities.
Statistics show that WordPress is the most popular CMS in the online world today. It powers 27.8% of all sites on the web; with about 50,000 new sites being created daily. However, just because it is the most popular CMS, doesn’t mean it’s the only option.
When it comes to web design and development, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Whether you’re an aspiring blogger, entrepreneur, or corporation, your website will serve as your digital extension. To build your authority, you need to instill your personal brand in everything – from blog posts to your site’s layout.
By picking a CMS, you’re essentially setting the direction of your web development endeavor. While most CMS can accomplish the same goal, which is to create a professional-looking site within hours, there are several key differences that will impact the way you run and maintain your website.
In this article, we will take a look at the differences between the three most popular CMS platforms – WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
Customizable, easy to use, tons of learning resources, excellent community & support
Easy to learn, great help portal, can be used for social networks, updates integrate seamlessly, more built-in options
More technically advanced, websites generally perform better, enterprise-level security
Needs code for major visual customizations, updates may cause issues with plugins
Modules are hard to maintain, middle-ground CMS (not as easy as WordPress, not as advanced as Drupal)
Users need basic knowledge of HTML, PHP, and other web development languages
WordPress vs Joomla
WordPress is considered to be the most suitable platform for beginners. Joomla, however, isn’t too far behind. It also has a smooth learning curve, a user-friendly interface, and modules that can make adding functionalities a breeze.
Whether you’re a new blogger or an experienced web designer, bothsystems are great options for you.
WordPress vs Drupal
Without a doubt, WordPress is a lot easier to learn than Drupal. However, it is not nearly as powerful or as secure as Drupal. You don’t have to be an expert in coding to work with Drupal, but you still need a bit of experience to build something functional.
If you are new to blogging, then WordPressis the better choice for you. But if you’re experienced with HTML, then Drupal will give you better scalability.
To help you come up with a decision, we will take a closer look at each of them.
Let’s start with the most popular in the pack. First of all, WordPress is often considered as the best CMS for beginners and simple bloggers. It’s perfect for those who wish to have a site up and running in no time. With a plethora of available themes, plugins, and external tools, you can build just about any site you can think of in less than a day.
Pro #1: Easy to Use and Customize
One of the perks of being the most popular CMS is that most hosting platforms already include easy installation features for WordPress. These “one-click installation” tools save a lot of time and prevent common errors that new site owners make.
Apart from installation, the WordPress dashboard also makes it very easy to get around the CMS. Everything from blog posts to site settings is directly accessible through here. Within minutes, you can start writing your very own blog posts. And if you’re not happy with the appearance of your dashboard, you can pick your own theme by going to Users > Your Profile and editing your “Personal Options”.
Take note that WordPress installs a default theme for new websites. You can easily change this by going to Appearance > Themes. Although there are thousands of free themes available for WordPress, it’s still easy to end up with a generic site.
Fortunately, each theme allows you to quickly customize certain visual elements such as background images, menus, and headers. Other than themes, you can also customize other aspects of your site such as menus, pages, and the comments system.
When it comes to adding functionality, you can rely on WordPress plugins to quickly integrate certain features for you. Be it for an opt-in form, image slider, or contact forms – all you need to do is install the right plugin, and you’re good to go.
To look for plugins that can suit your needs, go to Plugins > Add New.
Pro #2: Lots of Learning Resources & Excellent Community
Again, thanks to its popularity, the internet is filled with WordPress tutorials, guides, and other learning resources. A good place to start is the WordPress Codex, which is the official knowledge repository of the CMS. You can also refer to the support forums to get answers to your specific questions.
Of course, you can’t expect users to become experts just by reading online guides. That’s why you need to look for multiple learning resources to refine your skills – be it a YouTube tutorial series, eBook, or a WordPress-related blog. Individual plugins and themes also come with their set of tutorials that can help you make the most out of them.
What you might not like about WordPress:
Learning how to use each plugin can be tedious. Although installing new plugins is easy, users may be confused on how to modify their settings. Most of the time, plugin settings can be found under the Settings menu. Plugins may also integrate straight into the dashboard, which makes it a lot easier to find and modify them.
In-depth customization requires coding knowledge. WordPress has a very high ceiling when it comes to what you can do. By going to Appearance > Editor, you can modify every single element in your site through PHP, HTML, and CSS. However, experimenting with small changes at a time can be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. That’s why you have to be patient with learning these languages.
Certain plugin and theme installations may endanger your site. Other than the WordPress library, you can also obtain themes and plugins from external sources. Just be careful as these third-party sources may contain security vulnerabilities that compromise the integrity of your website.
WordPress can be resource-hungry. Overloading on plugins can slow your site down – compromising user experience and the ability of your site to generate traffic. To compensate, you may need a more powerful hosting solution, which increases the overall cost of maintaining your site.
Joomla is similar to WordPress in many ways. It is also easy to use, easy to install, and can easily be expanded with the help of modules – the equivalent of WordPress plugins. As a result, it is the second-best options for beginners.
Pro #1: Easy to Use and Learn
Although appearance is a matter of preference, the user interface of Joomla is more modern-looking and cleaner. One of its advantages over WordPress is that the menus are already expanded to boot, so it’s easy to get around the CMS and perform functions like creating new articles, configuring templates, and so on.
However, beginners might be more intimidated to explore Joomla because of the number of available options. In addition to the left menu, there is also a menu on the top bar right above the “Control Panel” logo. To avoid confusion, remember that some of the items from the left and top bar menus are similar, including “Content,” “Users,” and “Extensions.”
Just like WordPress, Joomla has some styles and templates that can quickly give your site a distinctive look. But out of all three content management systems, Joomla offers the easiest solution when it comes to creating a social network. With platforms like EasySocial and JomSocial, you are just minutes away from your very own social networking website.
Joomla also offers great support through the Community Portal. Here, you can discover useful information such as guides, tips, and tricks. You can also look at the security checklist for a step-by-step guide on how to protect your Joomla website.
Pro #2: Seamless Updates
With WordPress, updates may cause compatibility issues with plugins and prevent your site from functioning correctly. This is almost never the case with Joomla, which is why it is slightly less tedious to maintain in the long run.
To update Joomla, simply look at the “Maintenance” menu and wait for the system to check for new updates. CMS, as well as extension updates, are checked whenever you go to the Control Panel, so be sure to check often.
Pro #3: More Built-In Settings
As compared to WordPress, Joomla is a lot more comprehensive regarding configuration. By going to Configuration > Global, you can change different settings such as your website’s name, default captcha, content rights, and permissions. You can also specify SEO settings that can improve the rank-worthiness of your website in search engines.
Despite having a lot more options, Joomla’s configuration page is a lot more navigable because it already aggregates the settings for all components.
What you might not like about Joomla
Just like WordPress plugins, modules take more time to learn and maintain. Furthermore, the number of available modules for Joomla is a lot less than the number of plugins for WordPress.
The user interface is not very beginner-friendly. Given enough time, one could argue that Joomla has the better interface regarding organization. But for beginners, it can be downright confusing.
Experienced web developers attest that Drupal is the most powerful CMS. However, it is also the most difficult to use. Due to its flexibility, Drupal is the second most-used CMS in the world, but it is not a favorite amongst beginners.
Pro #1: Most Advanced CMS
A key difference between Drupal and other content management systems is the installation procedure. With Drupal, you are already asked to configure your site during installation. Just follow the on-screen instructions, and you’ll be fine.
Despite being more advanced, Drupal offers a simple, minimalistic interface.
You should be able to access basic functions such as adding content and installing themes with ease. These are all accessible from Drupal’s main menu, which can be found at the top of your site by default.
However, Drupal follows a more technical approach regarding building your website’s layout and structure.For example, website sections such as menus, headers, and content follow the “block” system. Each block is created and run through pure HTML code. There is a set of pre-made blocks for common elements like shortcuts, footers, and messages, but you’ll most likely spend a lot of time coding your own blocks in the future.
Fortunately, there are still available guides out there that can help you learn and understand how to use Drupal. They also offer extensive documentation and excellent support through their website. You can also depend on distributions that can provide you with pre-configured structures and components – allowing you to build a specific type of website without extensive coding quickly.
Pro #2: Enterprise-Grade Security
For a CMS that powers government websites, there’s no reason to doubt Drupal’s security capabilities. As soon as security vulnerabilities are detected, they immediately publish them on their site to keep users aware.
You can also go to Manage > Configuration > System > Cron to allow the CMS to check for updates automatically.
Since Drupal-powered sites rely less on plugins, they typically perform better – as long as they are configured correctly. The main reason for this is because they are less resource-intensive.
What you might not like about Drupal
Drupal has a steep learning curve. To successfully build a “complete” website, you need to get your hands dirty and learn the basics of coding. Knowing your way around the CMS is also challenging for beginners.
Major updates require intensive work. The upgrade to Drupal 8 from Drupal 7, for example, is a complete re-design. Although content can be easily carried over to the newer CMS, you may need to re-write some of your codes.
Picking a CMS is a crucial step for would-be site owners. Make sure to dig deep to determine the right platform that will adequately match your needs.
Article by Christopher Jan Benitez
Christopher Jan Benitez is a professional freelance writer who provides small businesses with content that engages their audience and increases conversion. If you are looking for high-quality articles about anything related to digital marketing, then he's your guy!
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