When it comes to building a website in 2021, there are plenty of competing providers who will promise you the world and try to drag you into their ecosystem of integrations, add-ons, themes, and so on.
The truth is that they all have their pros and cons.
They all have slightly different implementations so, at the end of the day, you have to decide which one is right for your needs.
In this article we are going to dive deep into two of the biggest ones, namely Drupal and WordPress. They are both incumbents in the space and have been on the forefront of CMS platforms for years now. But which one is better?
Let’s take a look at the battle that is Drupal vs WordPress.
Before we look at the side-by-side comparison, let’s set the foundation for our investigation.
Both platforms are what we call ‘content management systems’ (CMS) which is just a fancy term for an easy-to-use backend that enables sophisticated content creation and publishing without having to understand a line of code.
The WYSIWYG editor provides a convenient publishing platform that you can run yourself, plugging in a range of additional functionality to arrive at a full-service content machine.
They’ve become the de facto backbone of the internet by creating a vast ecosystem of tools that give anyone the ability to build a virtual home for themselves online.
As a quick disclaimer, the site you’re currently reading is powered by WordPress so that says something already. But I’ll do everything I can to give you the true, honest comparison that I would have wanted to read when I was in your position.
Drupal is another massive CMS provider that powers just under 5% of the internet and it is a very worthy competitor in the space.
Drupal excels in a range of more niche use cases where it’s increased flexibility can blow WordPress out of the water. It’s a fantastically useful platform if you know how to squeeze every bit of value out of it.
This all comes down to your use case, there is no right or wrong here. So, before you move on – spend some time thinking about what you’re trying to accomplish and make sure that’s clear in your mind. That’s what’s going to determine which platform is right for you.
Have you done that? No? Ok, I’ll wait…
Now? Ok cool. Let’s move on.
Drupal vs WordPress in terms of features
Let’s break down some of the key comparison points that differentiate Drupal vs WordPress:
Ease of use
Drupal requires a lot more specialized expertise because it isn’t as intuitive and focuses more on users who are comfortable with some basic CSS and HTML work to bring the platform to life.
It’s a notoriously difficult platform for a newcomer.
WordPress definitely wins on this one because the platform is built from the ground up for people who don’t have coding experience, and the whole thing functions through an intuitive GUI.
Drupal has much better security because its system is more closed in nature, giving the developers better leverage to ensure world-class security for your site.
WordPress, for all its efforts, is still subject to the security risks that come with allowing such a wide ecosystem of plugins – and these vulnerabilities make it a slightly less secure platform than Drupal.
Drupal lists about 2,500 themes on its official directory, but only about 250 of them are compatible with the latest version.
Drupal is better suited to people who want to fully customize their theme in unique ways, rather than relying on something off the shelf.
WordPress has over 5,000 free themes and many more paid themes that come out of the ecosystem.
The variety is staggering and there are numerous large businesses who specialize in selling WordPress themes. There’s a design out there for everyone.
Plugins & modules
Drupal also has a burgeoning market for what they call modules, but it’s simply not at the scale of WordPress.
You can still get everything you need to run a high-functioning website, but you’re slightly more limited in terms of what can be used off the shelf.
The WordPress ecosystem has become somewhat analogous to the App Store and it contains tens of thousands of plugins of every type that can extend your site’s capability and deliver tools that leverage WordPress’ immense scale.
Drupal offers far superior customizability in terms of its abilities to integrate custom CSS and HTML code into your deployments.
If you work with a good developer, you can be very precise with what you want and build something that is uniquely suited to what you’re trying to build.
WordPress relies more on you plugging components into an existing theme, so it has less customizability than Drupal in that respect.
But with the vast range of themes, plugins, and add-ons available in the ecosystem, most people won’t find that a constraint. Assuming you’re not doing something very abstract, you’ll likely to be just fine.
While Drupal is open-sourced, you will most likely incur some costs in getting a developer to help make the site into what you want it to be, on top of hosting and domain registration.
This is more expensive than WordPress in the short-term, but there is an argument to be made that you’ll save money longer term because you’ll have something more custom fit for your needs.
It’s cheaper to get up and running with WordPress as opposed to Drupal because so much of it is plug and play.
With a little research, you should be able to set it all up yourself, and so with the exception of hosting, domain registration and perhaps a premium theme, you can get something running very inexpensively.
Drupal is better suited if you have a range of different content types that you’re looking to pull together into one clean, holistic look – or if you’re trying to be more ambitious with the curated digital experience you’re trying to create on your site.
While WordPress does offer a range of different content type support, they really shine when it comes to text.
They were the backbone of the blogging revolution for a reason and if you’re writing online for any reason, you won’t go wrong with a WordPress implementation.
The Drupal community is dominated by developers. That makes sense for the platform that was developed by developers for developers.
So, if you like to get your hands dirty and get into the weeds, you’ll find plenty of like-minded people here. It’s a community that celebrates fine-tuned web masterpieces and if that’s the kind of person that you are – you’ll fit right in.
We’ve alluded to it above, but the WordPress community is vast and incredibly supportive.
With just a little resourcefulness you can find normal people like you talking about how to get the most out of the platform, solving problems, and delivering on great website experiences. It feels a little bit like a family (or a cult).
Those are just a few of the comparisons when we consider Drupal vs WordPress, and we could go on and on if we wanted to.
But hopefully that gives a taste of the differing philosophies, practical implementations, and scalability of the two platforms.
Both are insanely powerful and can boast millions of happy customers. There’s a reason why they’ve stuck around for so long.
So, with all of that behind us now, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
The Conclusion: Drupal vs WordPress
Ah it’s really tempting to declare a winner here and be done with it. But there is no ‘best’ option here, it all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.
If this is your first website and you’re looking for a simple way to get started – then WordPress is likely going to be a good choice for you.
But if you’re after something more custom, that can be tuned right down to a pixel-by-pixel level, Drupal gives you that functionality in abundance.
At the end of the day, both CMS platforms are incredibly powerful, have great ecosystems behind them, and will continue to play an important role in the modern internet.
Even with so much competition that has come into this industry, they are still incredibly common go-to selections for getting websites off the ground.
You can’t really go wrong with either of them.
Pick the one that works for you and get started!
Don’t paralyse yourself because of the decision.
I hope that this was helpful! What do you think?
Is there anything I’ve missed in the Drupal vs WordPress comparison?
Also, if there’s anything else I can help with – feel free to drop me a line. But otherwise, I’ll see you out there on the interwebs!