Drupal vs WordPress: The Real Difference

Regardless of whether your business or personal brand relies on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, your own website is an essential element of your digital presence. Your website acts as a central hub for users interested in your product…the best place to learn more, shop, and explore.

In the same way a skilled carpenter does their best work with the right tools, the same goes for a business and its website. You may have a solid foundation for your business’ image and the language to represent its core values, but without the proper website platform, there would no way of executing them online.

This is your choice of content management system is so important. The right content management system makes it easier for you to build your website and brand. The wrong content management system will hold you back with it’s limitations or complexities.

In this guide, we will be comparing two of the most popular content management systems: Drupal vs WordPress. In the following article we explore all the similarities between and Drupal and WordPress, as well as clarifying the important differences in such as features, price, complexity, and user-friendliness. Our goal is to help you make the right choice for your business or brand website.

Similarities

The main similarity between Drupal and WordPress is that they are both open source content management systems released under a Gnu Public Licence (GPL). This essentially means you can download and use both platforms without paying any license fees to use the platform itself.

Of course you will need a web hosting company and unless you are a web designer/developer you will need to hire someone to actually implement the platform for you. So it isn’t really true to say that they are free platforms.

Differences

You may be in the situation where out of all the content management systems available on the Internet you are left to choose between Drupal and WordPress. What are their main differences? What are smaller differences that may affect my business’ online venture but not other business owners? We go into greater detail in the sections below.

Features

For features, WordPress packs more power compared to Drupal, especially for customization and when it comes down to getting users started. Users can choose from an assortment of site extensions such as plugins and themes to customize their website’s look and usability easily. Drupal users, on the other hand, don’t get as many options though users do get the benefit of having access to more complex website development.

On top of this, though we’re a far cry away from the days when WordPress was only a blogging website, new users can still make a streamlined blog with WordPress today. WordPress provides supports for a wide variety of web platforms, from blogs to eCommerce sites; Drupal, on the other hand, requires specific site extensions for a blogging feature and has more of a focus on being a content management system as well as web application management system.

Price

Though both content management systems are free to use, certain costs must be factored in when it comes to building a website in general. Finding a hosting source and securing a domain name for your website are some of the few things those who would like to build an online venture need to consider. On top of this, websites need development. For those who are more tech-savvy and are unafraid of learning curves, this may not necessarily mean an increase in your expenses, but this may be an extra cost for those who prefer outsourcing the website development to a third-party.

In general, WordPress is cheaper compared to Dupral as many WordPress users have the advantage of using WordPress’s system. Though only using the free tools offered by WordPress won’t allow you to maximize your website to its full potential, it is possible to create a running and bare-bones website with WordPress. Drupal, in comparison, is more geared towards building websites out of code, and for those who aren’t familiar with coding, a third-party developer will be necessary especially if you want something more complex and fancy. On top of this, Drupal is a less used content management system, meaning the pool of available developers will be smaller and possibly pricier compared to the numerous number of third-party developers who can assist with building WordPress websites.

Popularity

A basic check of usage statistics shows that WordPress is overwhelmingly more popular compared to Drupal. Despite being launched three years later than Drupal, about 35% of online websites are powered by WordPress whereas Drupal powers only 2.3% of the World Wide Web. To put this into solid numbers, about 75 million websites are run by WordPress and roughly 500,000 websites use Drupal.

We also discovered that websites powered by WordPress tend to belong to private enterprises as well as smaller businesses. Websites run by Drupal typically belong to government agencies, non-profit organizations, or educational institutions.

User-Friendliness

For this guide’s purposes, we grade user-friendliness on a content management system’s learning curve. When comparing Drupal vs WordPress, WordPress has a more gentle learning curve whereas Drupal has a higher one. The main reason Drupal has a higher learning curve is due to its necessity for coding. WordPress, on the other hand, has built-in tools to help new users create their own website. However, if users want more complex features and functions, they will have to invest in plugins or a skilled coder.

Regardless of whether your business is a large enterprise or if you’re a local business owner, learning curves are also important to consider when taking on new staff to build your website. Just like when driving a new car, even if the driver is very skilled, it takes time to adjust to new equipment. In a similar fashion, even hiring a coder with advanced skills but who has never used Drupal before could end up taking more time, especially with Drupal’s steeper learning curve.

If it is in your budget, it’s also possible to hire a developer who is well-experienced with the content management system you’ve chosen for your website. However, depending on what you would like to add to your website’s feature, this may come at an extra cost.

Complexity

Complexity-wise, Drupal takes the cake with its steeper learning curve. On top of this, newer users have reported Drupal’s interface as more complex and filled with code-related jargon. While this doesn’t mean WordPress isn’t entirely complex, as users can build their own website out of code on WordPress as well, it is easier for users to essentially tailor how complex they would like their WordPress experience to be. For Drupal users, there is less flexibility on this end—the common consensus for Drupal is either be willing to roll up your sleeves and learn or hire someone to build the website for you.

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Customization

Both WordPress and Drupal have a degree of streamlined customization when it comes to changing your website’s appearance as well as adding extra useful software. With WordPress, you can change your website’s look with themes and add handy features otherwise unavailable with plugins. Drupal has similar site extensions—themes adjust your website’s appearance and modules essentially serve the same function as plugins.

However, counting off the number of site extensions both content management systems have, WordPress has a larger advantage with more than 53,000 types of free plug-ins and over 5,000 free themes for users to choose from. In comparison, Drupal only has around 39,000 modules and 2,500 themes available for its users. If you’re interested in using the latest addition of Drupal, Drupal 8, the number of available modules and themes drops even further: users only have access to 4,000 modules and 250 themes.

Security

Security is a must when considering the development of your website. Especially if your site deals with sensitive information such as the personal data of customers, a security breach causes more than just a headache and a long day—customers may lose their trust with your services.

Security-wise, Drupal has better security measures compared to WordPress. In a 2018 report published by website security company Sucuri, the majority of compromised websites are WordPress websites. Furthermore, in terms of websites powered by a content management system, 90% of hacked websites were WordPress sites. In comparison, only 3.6% of Dupral websites were hacked in the same time period.

Though it can be argued that WordPress is one of the most common content management systems out there, what makes WordPress so vulnerable to hackers and cyber-attacks is also its greatest strength: its diversity in customization. When investigating a hacked WordPress website, website security company Sucuri also discovered that WordPress sites are hacked due to an outdated plugin, theme, or piece of software. WordPress’s appeal is in its flexibility for customization as users have access to thousands and thousands of different themes and plugins to make a unique website. However, this is also a double-edged sword in the long run, and those thinking about using WordPress should be sure to update their plugins, themes, and WordPress content management system.

In terms of Drupal maintaining your website’s security, Drupal has a system that generates frequent security reports for its users and is considered more transparent when it comes to security issues compared to WordPress. For example, when a Drupal-powered website experiences a security breach, all Drupal users are not only informed of the breach but also potential causes as well as countermeasures. This gives Drupal users more power to take the steps necessary to optimize their website while the Drupal security team works on a long term solution in preventing a similar security breach.

Software Upgrades

When maintaining the security measures for your website, another aspect to look out for is how often the content management system upgrades and how feasible is the upgrade. WordPress tends to release a system upgrade once every 3-4 months, and upgrading WordPress’s system is seamless. You don’t have to adjust the coding of your website as the upgrade happens in the background.

Drupal, on the other hand, has an update once a month, and typically these are bug fixes. In the past, major system upgrades for Drupal weren’t seamless. Many users had to re-write the code of their website when updating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, however, with the upcoming Drupal 9 in 2020, it seems like Drupal users will have an easier transition this time around.

Performance

One important aspect to search engine optimization (SEO), or getting your website up higher in search engine results, is the loading speed of your website. Compared to WordPress, Drupal performs exceedingly well in this aspect. Due to having less dependence on-site extensions and external resources, Drupal can be considered a lightweight content management system and many users tout its robust in-box performance. However, this doesn’t mean that WordPress websites don’t run fast.

WordPress has the capability of powering websites with quick loading speeds, however, it takes some optimization from the development end. Typically, most new users don’t tackle this aspect until they have their website’s foundations laid out. However, WordPress users have an array of tools at their disposal, such as reputable plugins and themes which can help with the website’s performance. WordPress users also have options such as WordPress managed hosting to get their site’s loading speeds up.

Multilingual Support

Both content management systems are relatively tied in terms of multilingual support. With Drupal and WordPress, users can change the language they run the site in. Users can also add translations to their website, which is useful for those who run online ventures with a more international reach. Drupal boasts support for 94 languages while WordPress states they support more than 65 languages.

Admin Experience

Especially for those who have a team of website developers and content creators for their business, being able to distribute roles and limit administrative access is important. Drupal has the higher ground with this aspect compared to WordPress, as WordPress only allows for five types of different administrative roles. For Drupal, there is more flexibility involved—for every new administrative role, you can set the individual permissions of each role differently, allowing for a wide degree of flexibility.

Mobile Device Support

Another way to boost your website’s SEO is to provide a mobile device version of your website. Given the fact that over 50% of Internet users browse the web with their phone, having a mobile device version of your website is important to tap into this audience. You also get an SEO boost with a mobile version of your website, which is an overall win-win situation.

WordPress and Drupal both have starter packages for those who wish to launch a mobile version of their website; however, WordPress provides more resources for mobile users. For example, users can take advantage of WordPress’s mobile app to adjust content while on the go. Especially for users who travel a lot or need to update their blog in real-time, this is a great boon. While Drupal 8 currently has no mobile app for on-the-go editing, users do credit Drupal 8’s admin team as responsive and helpful when it comes to creating a mobile version of a Drupal-powered website.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is an aspect every developer must consider when building a website. After all, you could have a clean, well-developed website, but if you aren’t reaping in the results you need for your business’ goals, is it worth it at the end of the day?

Between Drupal and WordPress, both content management systems have a variety of resources to assist with your website’s SEO. The only slight difference between the two is that Drupal has more built-in SEO support. For WordPress users, the downloading of plugins is necessary to enable features such as caching.

Charlie has been building WordPress themes, reviewing web hosts and utilizing social media since their respective inceptions.

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