Arin Adamson
By Arin Adamson | Web Dev | August 10, 2015

Which CMS is Best, Part 1: WordPress and Drupal

Whether you are a web developer or a future website owner, you may be looking to develop your website utilizing a content management system or CMS platform. CMS platforms are web based applications which give the website administrator access to tools that assist in managing the content of their website. Sometimes this can be done without even having to administer the HTML, CSS, JavaScript and other various languages us web developers use.

In today’s competitive internet environment it’s important that you pick the right CMS platform that helps implement quick mechanisms to maintain your website. If you have done some research before you came to this article, you may have found that there are quite a few CMS platforms to choose from. I have gone over some of the most popular CMS platforms and the advantages of a CMS in my previous article “The Advantages of a Web CMS.” In this, the first half of a two-part blog, I will talk in depth about the pros and cons of 2 of the most popular CMS platforms that aren’t based around eCommerce, Drupal and WordPress.

Drupal

Drupal

Pros

Drupal is one of the most advanced CMS platforms on the open source CMS market. Drupal fills a gap that other CMS platforms have failed to fill. Drupal’s ability to easily create content types, taxonomies and user permissions makes it a great option for large scale enterprise websites. While you could also configure other open source CMS platforms to fulfill this need, Drupal has this functionality right out of the box. Another great aspect of Drupal is it’s security. Drupal is possibly the most secure of of all content management systems, which is why most federal government website’s utilize Drupal.

Out-of-the-Box

Besides having more advanced functionality than other content management systems, Drupal is pretty barebones. It does not come with a theme or additional modules. Instead it gives you an advanced platform to develop or install various functionalities required for those enterprise level websites and web applications. It comes with many functionalities for things such as SEO, caching, advanced user management and includes many important settings that other CMS platforms would require a plug-in or additional configuration to accommodate.

Cons

Drupal does have it’s negatives. Drupal can be more difficult to manage and maintain than other CMS platforms. With advanced functionalities comes a drastic learning curve so you can even understand how to correctly configure the CMS. This makes it difficult for non-website savvy administrators to work with. It’s administrative interface isn’t easy on the eyes either. Updating Drupal can be quite the task as well. Replacements for modules, which typically do not support the new version of Drupal, must be made and often times it is considered best practice to remain with your current version of Drupal. Additionally, finding modules which are consistently updated and supported by your version of Drupal can be difficult. This often forces a developer’s hands into creating a custom module. If you are willing to deal with the maintenance and development costs for a Drupal CMS platform it can be a great option. This is one of the reasons this I personally suggest that Drupal be used primarily for large scale enterprise websites and web applications.

WordPress

wordpress

Pros

WordPress is the most popular CMS platform today. A quick Google search finds that 74,652,825 websites currently use the WordPress open source CMS platform. This is WordPress’ most beneficial factor, because it creates a vast open source community. If you have any type of roadblock or issue when developing and maintaining your website you can typically research the issue and find a resolution from someone else who has had that same issue. Not only that, but the amount of plug-ins or additional functionalities you can install into WordPress dwarfs that of any other CMS platform. WordPress.org states that there are currently 39,313 plug-ins ready to be downloaded, and because of the vibrant open-source community man of them are free to use!

Out-of-the-Box

Out of the box, WordPress is fairly basic and comes with the bare necessities to get your website up and running. From the basic install you can start installing plug-ins for eCommerce, content editing, user account management and many other functionalities. You may also want to use something rather than the base theme TwentyThirteen. If that is the case you can either begin developing your custom theme or install a pre-made theme developed by the open-source community. WordPress definitely makes it as easy as possible to get your website set-up how you want it.

Cons

WordPress being the most popular CMS platform is it’s main perk, but it is also its major negative. Because WordPress is so popular, malintent internet users target WordPress website’s more often. Even though WordPress constantly comes out with updates to prevent security threats, these updates often do not fix security vulnerabilities for plugins. Another negative of a WordPress website is theme compatibility with plugins. Some pre-made themes do not support particular plug-ins and the potential exists for a plug-in to cripple an entire website. Don’t let this steer you away from WordPress though as many other open source CMS platforms have the same issues. WordPress just has a larger community and is more popular, so the security and plugin issues are more prevalent. One of my biggest gripes with WordPress is its user-management abilities. WordPress does not contain a lot of options or customization for user permissions without assistance from plug-ins.

The Wrap-up

While each CMS platform is not designated for any particular purpose, they each have their own strong suits. WordPress is best used for small to medium websites, where the website is mainly information based. It can also be great for large blog or news websites or small eCommerce stores, if you do not need to include much customization outside of the available eCommerce plugins. Drupal is best used for large scale-able enterprise websites, eCommerce stores and web applications, where the funds are available for a web developer to maintain the website.

Check back later this week when I dig into Joomla and other CMS options for your website in Which CMS is Best: Part 2!

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