Drupal vs. WordPress

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Drupal vs. WordPress

You need to build a new website. Is WordPress or Drupal the right content management platform for you? Check out this head-to-head comparison.

Drupal vs. WordPress

WordPress and Drupal are among the most popular content management system (CMS) platforms used for website development. But depending on your needs, one is probably better for your next project.

Drupal gives you the power to create an advanced, highly customized site, but after a learning period. Drupal is probably a better choice if you're a moderately experienced professional web developer who is comfortable working with the command line. For growing businesses, especially ones with good technology resources, Drupal's advanced search engine optimization (SEO) functionality can be invaluable. Drupal also supports several ecommerce platforms, including Ubercart, Drupal Commerce, Amazon Store and eCommerce Invoice.

Wordpress lets users deliver a new website or blog fast, with minimal programming. If you're new to web development or blogging and are not worried about scalability, then WordPress is probably the best choice. For a small business that wants to give their old, flat website a nice upgrade, then WordPress will do the job.

Both can help you accelerate web design and avoid the time-consuming process of coding your website by hand. Both also have large and loyal followings, with users ranging from individuals publishing personal blogs to enterprise organizations managing complicated, multisite web environments with large volumes of content. But which one is right for your next project?

Keep reading for a more detailed head-to-head comparison of Drupal vs. WordPress if you're still not sure which content management system platform is best for your needs.

WordPress architecture diagram

The WordPress architecture

When you’re ready for some hands-on user experience implementing a PHP-based web application such as WordPress or Drupal on a LAMP-based virtual server, try this simple tutorial from IBM.

Usage

WordPress has been used to create nearly 60 percent of all CMS-based websites and accounts for just over 30 percent of all sites on the web. By contrast, Drupal has been used for just under 4 percent of all CMS-based websites and it accounts for 2 percent of all websites.

If you’re deciding between these two platforms, should usage statistics matter? Ultimately, you need to pick the platform that meets your specific requirements, including what will help you best navigate security issues. But the popularity of WordPress suggests that it is a user-friendly and popular CMS that can address the needs of the broadest base of organizations and individuals. Its popularity has also led to the development of a robust ecosystem of resources, including both technologies and people who can help you with your projects. On the other hand, its popularity has made WordPress and its users a more frequent target for hackers.

Ecosystem

Both WordPress and Drupal sites have large, multi-lingual communities of users and contributors. The contributors, including independent developers and development firms, are continuously producing new modules, plug-ins and themes to help you customize your website. WordPress currently offers nearly 58,000 plug-ins and 3,300 themes, with both free and paid options available. Drupal's latest version, Drupal 8, offers more than 46,000 Drupal modules (their term for plug-ins), nearly 3,000 themes and over 1,300 Drupal distributions, which include bundled tools for specific use cases, such as building an e-commerce site.

Both platforms help support integration with a variety of third-party applications and services, including robust APIs. For example, Drupal supports integration with Facebook, HubSpot, Salesforce, Mailchimp, Google Analytics and more. WordPress also has numerous plug-ins for integrating with these and other applications.

The developers behind WordPress and Drupal update the core code of their respective platforms frequently, adding new features and helping to optimize usability. Whichever platform you choose, you can expect a new release every month or two.

Overall, when considering Drupal vs. WordPress, you will certainly have options for developing and augmenting your site. Exploring the plug-ins, APIs and modules before committing to a platform can help you determine how easy or difficult it might be to create the site you envision.

Ease of use

Here is one area where the two platforms diverge. WordPress is simple to use, requiring no programming skills (though experienced web developers can certainly make tweaks to code). The wide range of free WordPress plug-ins and themes makes it very easy for a nondeveloper to set up a website for blogging rapidly. Consequently, WordPress has become the first choice for tens of millions of individuals and businesses, especially small businesses.

By contrast, Drupal involves more of a learning curve. Implementing many functions will require you to install and modify Drupal modules. Of course, building a Drupal-based site can also become a challenging undertaking because it enables developers to do more complicated things than they would with WordPress. Though you can assemble simple sites with Drupal, it is most often used by enterprise developers who want to customize advanced websites.

If your team cannot afford the time to build a Drupal site, or they lack sufficient HTML, CSS and PHP skills, you can always hire an outside expert for assistance. Small businesses should keep in mind that Drupal experts might be more difficult to find and more expensive to hire than WordPress developers.

Customization

WordPress themes and Drupal modules give you an array of options for customizing your sites. In addition to selecting these prefabricated extensions and templates, you can modify them, assemble new combinations and create your own to meet your organization’s specific functionality needs.

While both platforms offer a degree of flexibility, Drupal is widely considered a better platform for supporting extensive customization. Beyond the ability to alter the available modules, Drupal offers built-in capabilities for creating custom content types, altering content taxonomy and more.

Security

Security issues are a significant consideration in the Drupal vs. Wordpress debate. With more than 75 million WordPress sites on the web today, it’s not surprising that websites built on the platform and the third-party plug-ins have become frequent targets of hackers. WordPress is continuously working to improve the security of the core platform and sharing security best practices with plug-in and theme developers. Web hosting providers might also offer additional capabilities to help protect your sites from security vulnerabilities.

Drupal sites are less of a target, but Drupal programmers are nevertheless dedicated to building tight security into the platform. Like WordPress, Drupal frequently offers patches, updates and alerts as new security issues emerge.

Deployment

There is a range of deployment options when considering Drupal and WordPress. For example, you could simply install the platform through your web hosting provider or another cloud provider. Depending on your agreement with the provider, you might be able to avoid ongoing management, which would include periodic upgrades.

You have additional options if you decide to install WordPress or Drupal in your own enterprise-level environment. For example, you could install either platform on a LAMP-based virtual server. The LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) is often used for supporting websites.

Alternatively, you could install either platform using containers  and a container orchestration (08:59) system such as Kubernetes. A containerization approach would help simplify scaling, increase portability and improve availability compared with virtual server environments.

Costs

Both WordPress and Drupal are free, open source platforms. Of course, no matter which you use, you will need to host the installation somewhere and that means factoring in the cost of web hosting or operating an on-premises environment. Some web hosting providers offer paid add-on services or functionality to streamline deployment and ongoing management.

As you compare Drupal vs. Wordpress, also consider the costs of learning and training. Budget more time to learn Drupal. If you decide to hire outside experts, recognize that you might wind up paying more for Drupal developers, who may be harder to find.

Both platforms offer free themes, plug-ins, modules and templates for customizing your site. But you might also decide to choose among paid options or spend time (and money) modifying those elements on your own.

Drupal, Wordpress and IBM Cloud

On IBM Cloud you can quickly and easily deploy Drupal or Wordpress on a Kubernetes cluster or VMware vCenter server.

Take the next step:

Get started with Drupal on IBM Cloud.

Get started with Wordpress on IBM Cloud.

Sign up for an IBMid and create your IBM Cloud account.