WordPress or Drupal: Compare to learn what’s best for your site!

I recently received a message from a local Austin computer technician, Sergio Garcia. His question is a common one among business owners looking for a quick and easy solution to setup and mange their new sites, which is better, WordPress or Drupal. Hey I just have a quick question, I fix computers in the South … Read article

I recently received a message from a local Austin computer technician, Sergio Garcia. His question is a common one among business owners looking for a quick and easy solution to setup and mange their new sites, which is better, WordPress or Drupal.

Hey I just have a quick question, I fix computers in the South Austin area for a living and it has been time for me to have a website. Nothing too complicated but a good-looking simple and effective page where guests can find my business phone number, map where they can find me, maybe with a slider in the first page with pictures of my work and the office, blog and all that.
I don’t know much but I hear Drupal and WordPress are good options but I do not know which one is better.

Do a quick Google search for WordPress or Drupal and you’ll find article after article proclaiming one over another. It’s a never-ending debate that’s been taking place for decades. Years ago, there may have been a right and wrong answer to that question, but with time comes technology and technology is what builds advanced CMS. Since the release of WordPress 3.0 on June 17, 2010 and Drupal 7 on January 5, 2011, the line between which is better has become fuzzy. It’s no longer a question which is best, but which is best for each person site’s needs. I might take some flak for this statement, but I challenge my readers to prove me wrong; There’s nothing a WordPress site can do that a Drupal site can’t and nothing a Drupal site can do that a WordPress site can’t.

Which should you use? WordPress or Drupal

It depends on the person site’s needs, but my general rule of thumb when helping answer this question for clients is: Is your site’s primary focus to provide information or to provide tools? Information being a type of interactive business card for your company and tools being any kind of custom or advanced user interaction needed to work the site. For most small businesses, the answer is an informational site with some custom development. Many won’t need the ability to provide user-to-user interaction or advanced e-commerce solutions. In these cases, WordPress is usually your best bet.

Budget is also a big factor when choosing between the two. Currently, WordPress, overall in both design and development is a cheaper option than Drupal. Why is that? Well, it’s pretty simple and I believe in time, Drupal development costs will lower and become more competitive with WordPress.

Learning Curve for Popular CMS
From CaroLINES blog post, Drupal’s learning curve.

When WordPress started, it was built on a blog-type platform. This type of platform makes it very easy to build and manage sites without any need for technical knowledge. Drupal was launched on a application-type platform. Initially and even still a little now, the learning curve in understanding how to use it is very high. Obviously, this caused WordPress to gain in popularity faster than Drupal which means more people in the market that have ability in the WordPress arena. More people means more competition and lower development costs. In time, as Drupal advances and becomes easier to use, there will be more people on the market using it and in turn lower custom development costs.

Check of the WordPress and Drupal Comparison Chart below to help you decide which is best for your site.

WordPress & Drupal Comparison Chart

How many use it?Used by close to 60% of the top 10,000 sites.Used by about 20% of the top 10,000 sites.
How intuitive is it?Very intuitive. Initial install is 5 minutes. Appeals to people with little or no previous knowledge.Less intuitive and has a steeper learning curve.
How about the community and support?Open source technology, free. Large community support. The Codex installation site is well done and very helpful.Open source technology, free. Large community support. The Drupal documentation is tedious and difficult to comprehend.
How’s about site designs?Thousands and thousands of themes, both free and premium. Themes available for hundreds of industries.A good base of themes available, but WP simply overwhelms Drupal. Estimated themes ~50% of WP.
How well does it do in search engines?Very strong with the WP SEO plug-in. Search engines love WP content properly optimized.Less strong than WP, but still good. Popular SEO plug-in is Pathauto
Good for custom high-end development?Serves the capabilities of 90-95% web based applications. Has some high end enterprise limitations.Can be customized to almost anything. Considered the Enterprise platform; the solution for complex sites.
What’s the cost of custom development?Tons of developers out there who offer custom WordPress development. Cost of customization lower.More complex development needed with fewer developers and higher development costs.
Do you have security concerns?With any open source technology, anyone can learn how to defeat the system. Security plug-ins needed.Also same open source problem, although Drupal has been considered as having an edge in robustness.
Can I sell things online?Many plug-ins from the simplicity of PayPal and up.Best known for Drupal Commerce shopping system.
Who uses it?The NY Times
NASA Ames Research Center
The White House
Stratfor Global Intelligence
Sun Microsystems
The Economist
National Business Review

Let’s get to the point, which is best for you?

WordPress offers the ease of installation, the intuitiveness, and the ability to provide almost any business with a powerful Internet solution. Development is widely supported, and technical assistance is readily found. If you are in the 90-95% of businesses that need a strong web presence, and want to keep things simple, WordPress could be your best choice.

On the other hand, if your business is demanding of an Enterprise solution, you might wish to look carefully at Drupal.

Still need help with which is better for you, WordPress or Drupal?

Check out these other great articles on which is better, WordPress or Drupal. Some for Drupal and some for WordPress, either way, there’s no wrong answer.

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