WordPress vs. Drupal: What’s Right for You?

Aaron Shapland Aaron Shapland

It’s been a busy time for the CMS world as of late, with the release of both WordPress 4.5 and Drupal 8. Each of these updates adds continued improvements to their respective platforms, but which platform is best for your needs overall? We’ve found that answering the following questions for your business is the best way to decide between two of the best platforms available.

How Fast Can You be up and Running?

While quality is vital to all clients, speed or time to market are sometimes top of mind. If that’s the case, CMS choice could play a major factor.

Drupal, while robust and secure, has a steeper learning curve for users and developers alike. It’s best that users know at least some HTML and PHP. If you don’t have these skills, you’ll need to find a reliable and savvy web developer who does. Otherwise, you could easily be spending months before your website is up and/or properly cared for. Drupal is a great choice for large organizations that boast in-house tech capabilities, though is not often the best fit for smaller, leaner teams.

If you need your website up yesterday, WordPress is the clear winner. Mostly intuitive, you don’t need to know any code whatsoever (although a little helps) to keep your site up to date. Originally built for personal blogs, the WordPress platform has vastly improved and evolved over the years to become the world’s most popular and favoured CMS. In fact, WordPress powers over 25% of the world’s websites.

How Much Customization Do You Need?

It’s a known fact that WordPress has far more themes and plugins than Drupal. However, each platform takes a different approach. With WordPress, it is generally discouraged to modify or customize plugins. This is because every time an update is released, the update will overwrite any customizations – and until that update is released, the modified plugin code could be a security vulnerability. On the other hand, Drupal is known for its high degree of customization potential, with each module providing a flexible code base for developers to mould accordingly. This being said, if you find a theme that requires little-to-no customization, WordPress is still likely your best bet.

What Kind of Website Do You Need?

Do you know how large your website will grow over time? If you see your site growing to hundreds or thousands of pages and supporting millions of visits each day, Drupal is definitely the way to go. The platform offers built-in enterprise-level security and other features that make large volumes of users and pages easy to work with.

While WordPress has some great security plugins available for purchase, plugins are themselves one of the most vulnerable parts of the WordPress platform. For this reason, a WordPress developer must implement and follow certain best practices to ensure a secure environment.

To give you an idea of usage, The White House and The Economist use Drupal, while sites like The New York Times and CNN use WordPress. All are large-scale, although it really comes down to functional requirements and scalability needs.

What’s Your Budget?

The good news about both platforms is they are open-source. This means that the original developers do not charge a penny for your use of the source code, so your only initial costs are design, development and testing, and your only recurring costs are hosting/domain name. Furthermore, the open source approach has produced vast amounts of knowledge and resources for both platforms, which trickles down to a lower development cost (as compared to premium platforms).

As you may know, not every WordPress website is the same. Some are simple blogs, whereas others are complex e-Commerce websites or interactive portals. This is also true with Drupal, although they tend to be on the more complex side of the equation. This means that some websites could take a few weeks to build, whereas others can easily take three or six months. Given the wide range of scopes and functionalities, the cost of designing and developing a WordPress or Drupal website could be anywhere from $5k to $50k (or more). To pinpoint the cost of your site, first compile your functional requirements (i.e. your “wish list” of features) before discussing the project with a design or development team.

How about SEO?

Which platform does Google prefer? It’s a tough question. Drupal has many SEO features built right in to its core, which gives it a head start. On the other hand, WordPress has some amazing plugins to achieve maximum SEO juice. These plugins have the same result, except for one detail that makes all the difference: speed. Plugins always slow down a website’s speed. And, because Google favours faster websites, one could argue that Drupal is the SEO winner. As always, however, it all comes down to the specific website and how it’s built.

In short, if you want an easy way to update content, or if you’re a small-to-medium sized organization, WordPress could be your best option. Alternatively, if you have more time, money and tech skills, Drupal could be the top winner.

If you have questions about WordPress, Drupal or any other CMS, don’t hesitate to ask our team! We’re always here to find the best solutions available.