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In our recent post, Drupal Rumors: What to Believe and What Not to Believe, we shared some of the most popular rumors about Drupal. One rumor related to Drupal being complex and hard to understand. We’ve found that when people say Drupal is hard to use, they are usually comparing Drupal to another popular CMS: WordPress.
It makes sense why they are often lumped together. They are both free to use, have a wide library of plugins and modules to add additional functionality, have a loyal following of users and developers, and are both open source technologies. They were released just a few years apart, but WordPress has been much more popular over the years.
WordPress and Drupal are both great tools and ideal for different types of websites. But Drupal and WordPress also differ in many major ways. Your individual website needs will play a role in which CMS makes the most sense for you. Here are five differences between Drupal and WordPress.
Drupal vs. WordPress
We won’t deny that Drupal is complex, especially compared to WordPress, but it’s because of that complexity that it has a lot of advanced functionality as well. It all depends on what your needs are.
Drupal’s functionality goes much deeper than WordPress. Drupal has more features, but if you don’t know how to use them they are confusing and a hinderance. Drupal contains taxonomies, content types, blocks, views, and more. This creates a learning curve when it comes to using Drupal but ultimately provides more power to the Drupal platform and its users.
If you need multiple page templates or content types, Drupal is better equipped to handle your needs. Drupal’s user permissions are also more advanced than WordPress. With Drupal, you can have site admins, content editors, individualized access to private content, and more. This way, Drupal is able to support multiple site stakeholders.
Drupal was designed by developers for developers, which makes its functionality both a strength and a weakness. If you are not comfortable developing in Drupal, you’ll end up ignoring the features of Drupal that make it so powerful. However, a lot of the new initiatives for Drupal 8 are working to change that.
WordPress has a wide variety of free and paid themes and plugins that can get you started building your website. There are starter themes available for Drupal as well, but the majority of Drupal is designed for custom development.
Many people chose to work with WordPress because of their available plugins, for everything from SEO to social media and more. Drupal’s version of plugins are called modules. Modules are free and contain many of the same pieces of functionality that are available using WordPress plugins, especially in Drupal 8. However, in WordPress, plugins are generally easier to manage without needing a developer. In Drupal, you’ll need a developer to handle installing or updating any modules.
WordPress was originally designed as a blogging platform, so it doesn’t have the same ability as Drupal does to handle really large volumes of content. Drupal can support thousands of pages and thousands of users. Updates in Drupal 8 have also improved its page performance, including its caching feature which helps page load faster. In general, Drupal is more robust for handling complex projects.
Ease of Use
Drupal isn’t hard to use, but it can be hard to learn how to use it. It requires more technical experience than WordPress, but it is capable of producing more advanced sites. If you have limited knowledge of website development, WordPress is easier to understand. Many times a developer will build and customize a WordPress site and then hand over to the client for site management. You can set up a blog in minutes on WordPress with only basic knowledge. There is a WYSIYWG editor and drag-and-drop functionality to help you start blogging or make easy website updates.
Both Drupal and WordPress have active user communities that are available to provide documentation and answer questions. The release of Drupal 8 also continues to make the platform easier to use for non-developers, including site builders and content authors.
Security is one of the biggest differentiators between Drupal and WordPress. While Drupal, and the entire open source community, has seen its share of security fears the platform has enterprise level security and provides in-depth security reports. It’s due to that level of security that you’ll find governments, including whitehouse.gov, using Drupal.
It is important to note that with the release of Drupal 8 last fall, Drupal 6 has transitioned to unsupported status. If a new, unforeseen security issue makes Drupal 6 vulnerable, you unfortunately won’t receive any direct support. The volunteers in the Drupal community have shifted their full attention to Drupal 8 development and Drupal 7 support, so there is a lack of resources necessary to release security fixes. The best way to avoid any security vulnerabilities is to upgrade your site from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8 as soon as possible.
WordPress has traditionally been vulnerable to hackers and other attacks. Many of the plugins that make WordPress so powerful can also open up the system to potential problems. There are hosting platforms that make WordPress less vulnerable. One of the most popular is WP Engine.
On Drupal’s side, hosting with a partner such as Acquia or Pantheon will also help mitigate your risk of server vulnerabilities.
While both Drupal and WordPress are free to download and install, there are costs associated with building a website on both platforms. If you need to hire outside development help, individual Drupal developers will tend to be more expensive than WordPress developers simply because there are less of them and they’re harder to come by. Drupal has made an effort to incorporate frameworks like Symfony that are more common in the PHP community. PHP developers can know pick up Drupal a lot more easily than they could in the past. This opens up the market for Drupal developers, making it more of a level playing field and hopefully reducing the costs associated with Drupal developers.
Overall, Drupal is powerful and flexible. In the right hands, you can create unique and effective solutions to meet your needs. If you’re looking for a website to support a blog or a small business, WordPress’s simple and easy-to-use interface will serve you better. Drupal is ideal for complex, highly customized sites that require scalability and large amounts of content to be organized.