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WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal: The Ultimate Guide

For this article we will provide insightful knowledge on Content Management Systems. A CMS is an open-source management that will help you create website with ease. For this article we will lay down all the strengths and weaknesses of the top three CMS – WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

Table Of Contents

Technology has captured the world by the leash, so it’s intelligible why you would find yourself looking to create a website. This article is here to help you navigate and make sense of three of the best CMS available at the moment. For those who are new to this field a CMS is an abbreviation for Content Management System that helps manage, create and customize a website without having technical knowledge.

The use of CMS varies from DIY-ers looking to be kept busy on afternoons all the way to large scale businesses and corporations, after all the virtual presence has become a necessity these days. Here to introduce you are the top three CMS open sources that will have you running in no time.

WordPress powers 36.3% of the web and is the most popular CMS on the market but Joomla and Drupal do not lag behind. You can consider WordPress the Jack of all trades as to the fact that its capabilities fly over the roof, but Joomla and Drupal have both their strong points that draw its adherents to their spot.

Considering their strengths and weaknesses will conclusively help you evaluate what you need exactly, we are here to help you with that. There are a number of players in the game that you should consider like User Interface/ Ease of Use, Design and customization capabilities, Security, Seo & Performance before making the final decision, and we will lay all of them here.

Note: For the sake of this article we will be referring to wordpres.org the self-hosted platform not, wordpress.com

General view on WordPress, Joomla and Drupal

First things first, let’s get acquainted with all three CMS providers and let’s get our heads around the basic concepts of each, allowing us to make a clearer view of what they represent.

WordPress is the leading free source Content Management System, attracting a staggering 62% share of the web CMS market around its orbit. The reason why WordPress is so widely used lies in the fact that it is one of the most user-friendly content systems, making even the most non-tech savvy person feel like home. It first started as a blogging platform only to be developed later on into a full-on content management software

Building a website with WordPress is a task that requires no coding knowledge of any sort, WP does all the hard work in the background, all there is left to do for you is be in the spotlight by creating and sharing  the best content. Out of that enormous percentage we just shared, among them there are a lot of famous websites that rely on this open source, among which even Queen Bey runs the world via WordPress. 

Joomla- Second on the list of most famous CMS is Joomla, formerly known as open source project Mambo. Joomla is a powerful tool for creating dynamic and robust sites that serve many purposes by utilizing a large number of free extensions and templates allowing you to customize your site to fit your specific needs. Ever since its initial release in 2005, Joomla used all their powers on usability and extensibility gaining themselves a lot of prestigious awards to put on the shelves.

Have I mentioned that you can create compelling online applications, due to its infrastructure, relying on a model–view–controller web application framework that can be used independently of the CMS. You can create many beautiful over the top websites with Joomla, corresponding to different levels from corporate websites or portals, intranets, and extranets to personal or family homepages.

Drupal – Third on the raking, in terms of market shares, is Drupal. Drupal is the pioneering open-source of CMS, founded in 2001 that now has a large, supportive community used by thousands of people and organizations. The platform accommodates unlimited types of content such as texts or media content using customizable arrangements.

The powerful set of tools displayed makes it possible to dynamically obtain and show all content in the best way possible. Not to forget the intuitive and in-place editing tools. Drupal can effortlessly carry any high traffic website and can be fitting to virtual design and give you the power to make significant changes to the CMS as well as edit the root files with the help of plugins. 

Similarities between WordPress, Joomla and Drupal

Now that we have a basic contemplation on what each CMS is, before we head into our in-depth comparison between the three content softwares providers, let’s first gather all the information to see the commons amidst them.

  • All three CMS are entirely free and open-source software licensed under GPL– Installation of each from their official website is just a few clicks away. 
  • All three platforms have managed to develop a thriving community of developers, designers, volunteers that help improve the platform to its fullest potential, share their insights and knowledge for all those who struggle, organize different kinds of events and the list goes on. 
  • All the three providers are written in PHP
  • They all use MySQL to create and manage data. 
  •  All three use themes/templates for their functions of design and plugins/modules/extensions when needed to add further functionality or extending the features. 
  • None of the platforms are stand-alone pieces of software, they are all functionalized only when installed on a web server.

As noted they all share some basic features but vary a lot in functionality, having different routes on how to create a website and attracting dissimilar targeted groups. Read between the lines and make a comparison between the three CMS to see which one you’ll crown as the best fit for you. Here to help you do that is this article. Keep on reading.

First Round: Ease of Use

CMS-Ease-of-use-image

Not all of us are built to learn coding techniques and technical skills, but that shouldn’t stop us from creating the website of our dreams. Luckily for us, developers around the world thought of that and presented us with an easy-way-out like these open sources of content management, out of the three options evident in this article we will evaluate which one of them would be suitable for you based on your cooking skills and knowledge and how advanced you want your site to look.

WordPress

WordPress is arguably the easiest platform out of the three to use. The user-friendly interface was among the factors WordPress was ranked so high and attained its huge popularity. It almost looks like Matt Mullenweg had me – a rookie – in mind when he created it and put everything unambiguously for simple and seamless navigation.

Due to its reputation, WordPress collects a vast number of hosting providers who have this platform on the main focus. WordPress comes with its famous five minutes set up and most hosting providers endeavor the one-click installation, making it easy to access and get running on your website in minutes.

Once you set up your WordPress site, it is time to get started on building it and creating content to fill it. The WP Dashboard has a clean simple style, having all the elements laid down on the left panel and accessible at all times. If you opt for a simple, basic looking site WordPress will provide you with one, but if you wish to make further adjustments The Customize tab under the WP Dashboard will provide you with a bountiful number of tools.

Joomla

Joomla’s installation process might take a bit longer but still managed within minutes, so we wouldn’t take that as a drawback, and similarly to WordPress, many hosting providers offer one-click install. If you have got enough patience and are keen on obtaining new skills then you would want to use Joomla since the interface it uses is not easy and accessible as it was the case with WordPress, but regardless it offers a utilitarian set of tools.

After being done with the installation,  you will find yourself in a control panel that may not be straightforward and conspicuous as its opponent. The Joomla Control Panel consists of Content, Structure, User, Configuration, Extensions, and Maintenance, above this hierarchy these options are presented at the top of the page with an addition of Components option that includes banners, contacts, Gallery, messaging and more. In a nutshell, Joomla’s interface can be a little bit confusing and vague for a first time user and may take some time to get their heads around its utility.

Even configuring it can be a challenge for beginners. Let’s take for example the Article option and add content to it, simply click on it, but managing it can be problematic since you must add modules, arrange its position. Just take your time with Joomla, if you are not particularly experienced.

Drupal

Similarly to the previous CMS we described, Drupal’s installation process is similar. Setting up Drupal shouldn’t take you longer than 10 minutes and as per the previous two, many hosting providers offer one-click installation, just simply install the package, upload it and run the steps necessary by providing the site name, motto and email.

When presented with Drupal’s dashboard, we can’t say it’s the most polished one, but it’s functional. At a first peak, you get the impression that there aren’t many options, but that is only because they are “hidden” behind those general categories and it requires a little bit of digging up. Once you get the hang of it and start exploring with Drupal’s dashboard you will find that this platform includes a staggering number of tools and settings, all highly practical.

It is clear that Drupal is not user-friendly and its infrastructure is manufactured to appeal to developers and those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty with codes and computer languages. Like this case when creating new content you don’t have text formatting options, that is because Drupal assumes we already know how to do that manually. Well some of us don’t. 

Round Two: Design and Functionality

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When planning to create a website, we imagine its design will be spectacular and attention-grabbing. It is very disappointing to be stuck with the default design of Joomla or Drupal as they look a little bit archaic and old-fashioned, WordPress uses a more modern design but still, you could ask for more. It is of crucial importance to be able to design and customize your website as well as be presented with many possibilities for you to choose from. Always referring to those who are passionate about design

All the three platforms use themes/templates as the basis of the web design and when there is a need for tweaking they use plugins/modules/extensions to add features and extend their functionality. You can consider themes as the main controller for your website and plugins/modules play the role of apps for your content managing system.

WordPress

WordPress’s design is entirely dependent on themes, and all the adjustments are made via themes, that is why within the dashboard you have a few predefined themes that every WP site comes bundled with. But the limitations end there since there are thousands of themes available for WordPress with an abundant number of them being free, also a great wealth of premium themes that are built to give you the best and most seamless experience.

Regarding customization, WordPress has an in-built user-friendly interface and easy access to New Themes. All you have to do is Add New and make arrangements necessary to integrate the theme in place.

Although the theme you choose will have a splendid design, depending on what theme you use, some of them have full capability over the design and you can easily build your website to match your taste. A great example of a fully compatible and customizable WordPress theme is Bifrost with which you can adjust and tweak the look of your site, change the color, background, content and many other elements included. Or you can check out this list of best minimal WordPress Themes.

The real power of WordPress is kept behind the plugins. Plugins are what gives strength and functionality to WordPress, knowing that power will most certainly find an enormous amount of plugins available in the WordPress repository. The list is long and diverse, starting from eCommerce, SEO, security all the way to small elements like adding from os sliders. The majority of plugins are versatile and flexible and will provide a solution to every problem.

Joomla

While in WordPress plugins are what add functionality to a website and themes are the head of design, in Joomla, these are called templates and extensions. Adding these templates and extensions will give you the freedom to create various sites like eCommerce stores or content-based websites. Although the horizon of opportunities seems faded due to the limited templates and extensions it offers.

If that wasn’t enough when establishing a template Joomla gives a rather bumpy road for their users, by default this platform doesn’t provide a section that would allow its customers to search and install templates from the dashboard. Instead, you have to locate third party template makers for Joomla since there are some free templates available and several premium themes on Theme Forest, then install them by adding their URL.

On the other hand, that’s not the case with Joomla extensions as there is a large number of feature-rich extensions that add a range of capabilities to your site, handling over 7500+(FREE+Paid) extensions in their Official Directory, divided into 34 different categories.

The good thing, in this case, you can have direct access to these extensions from the Joomla Dashboard. At the end of the day, you will find extensions that will play crucial roles on your websites like galleries, SEO, analytics, contact forms, and more.

Drupal

Drupal is the one CS that is entirely developer-friendly, as a consequence even modules that are the analog of plugins are focused toward this targeted group. In Drupal you will discover resolutions to expand the APIs, set up additional tokens for devs and perform all the advanced, high tech user management and may other tools that dive further down the path of customization of the inner mechanism of the website, and other concepts that random people wouldn’t have a clue about. And I respect that.

Drupal’s modules are highly flexible providing you with unmatched functionality tools and gadgets. Drupal has a powerful core software that is security proof and enhanced in performance. They serve very well with high extensile power, the quantity is lower compared to WordPress. Even the installation route is much more complicated, requiring to move from the dashboard on a hunt for modules which can be annoying sometimes.

Considering all these factors, Drupal is not some playground that newbies can play around in, if you don’t intend to stick up to the work and show some effort to obtain more advanced knowledge. 

Round Three: Security of each CMS

CMS-Security-WordPress-Joomla-Drupal

As technology evolves, another challenge rises for businesses and websites, in general, to keep their data safe and secure, it is a fundamental step that needs to be sorted out without compromises. It can have a huge and undisputed impact on revenue, reputation and loyalty websites of any sort. You should be serious when it comes to keeping our website protected and intact. This is why we thought this criterion should be added to our comparison list among the three platforms.

WordPress

WordPress is very vigilant when it comes to new updates alerts, and has integrated a built-in auto-update system that allows WordPress websites to automatically update when there is new security revamp or a theme/plugin update.

The WordPress core code is actively maintained by highly professional developers who work there, always keeping an eye for security breaches. The security’s main threats are that they have a poorly coded structure, third party software and lack of maintenance and backup from website owners.

We just stated that plugins are a major player in the WordPress world, but sometimes third party software can be damaging due to their poorly executed code, leaving our system vulnerable and an easy prey to cyber threats. For a better and safer WordPress Website check out this article that displays best practices on security.

Backing up your website is a must for every website owner whatever the size of it and we laid down all our reasons as to why you should back up your data and files together with a tutorial on how you can easily perform such a task in any case and how to automate the process, so you will always be on track with backups.

Joomla

Akin to WordPress, Joomla’s diligent team of developers vigorously respond to security liability and vulnerability and are quick to repair damages responses to bugs and gaps in protection. But on the other side maintaining the website protected and keeping up with updates are a job for the user.

There are extensions available that are used to backup your website will work wonders. Also, Joomla has a kicker team that contributes to its core code and monitors security issues at a fast pace. 

Drupal

Security is a task that Drupal excels at, they take it seriously providing its users with first-class services in terms of surveillance and protection. Drupal’s approach to security is unmatched and by default, its code is the strongest out of three, since the developers there pay close attention to it, publish security vulnerabilities on their own site once located and fixed, update it regularly and not anyone can contribute to modules, thus making a bulletproof security system.

This system is the main selling point for Drupal since businesses, institutions and governmental agencies who revolve on confidential data have trusted Drupal chiefly due to its strong focus on website security. 

Round Four: SEO and Performance

CMS-SEO-WordPress-Joomla-Drupal

Search Engine Optimization and Performance are two of the most essential factors that either lift or drowns your website for good. Learning how to cope and play around with these elements will result in better search rankings and ultimately bring more traffic, engagement, and conversion to your website.

Comprehending its relevance we took into consideration the distinct features each WordPress, Joomla and Drupal showcase in terms of better SEO and high performance. 

WordPress

Knowing all the tricks from the book can really step up your game and help you get that SEO juice flowing. From structuring your website’s code, checking for grammatical errors and semantic phrases to spicing up the content with keywords, are all part of how to keep a search engine friendly and visible in the never-ending SEO vortex.

WordPress is perfectly paired with an SEO friendly framework that includes categories, tags. And if that wasn’t enough, you have a wide range of plugins possibilities to choose from, with our favorite being Yoast SEO.  This plugin is among the most popular SEO plugins, performs wonders inspecting and analyzing your content for any faux pas, assisting with sitemaps and helping you create better content. 

When opting for a high-performance website there are some factors that should be accounted for except the content software all leading to your choice of a web host and use of various caching tools.

For added performance in WordPress hosting makes up for a compelling aspect, that is why choosing the right one is a hard task. You could try Bluehost, a hosting provider that highlights speed and security as their mantra. You should feel secure when placed on the right hands. 

Joomla

One great thing about Joomla is that there is an extension for everything – including SEO. It is true that you will need to adjust your website for the basics but extensions help you find weak spots and vulnerabilities that you didn’t know existed. One extension worth mentioning is SEO Simple as being one of the best for this occasion.

Just like for WordPress, Joomla too uses extensions to add a better performance on a website, although some good practice to always keep your Joomla website running on speed would be to keep Joomla and extensions you install always updated, it is important because with every new update there are improvements in code thus resulting in better performance.

 Second would be to enable caching in your Joomla website, that will result in a much lighter and fast loading site, or  you can allow the internal Joomla system to compress, if the size of your webpage is reduced through compression, it will load much faster. 

Drupal

It is for a fact that Drupal lags behind in popularity because it is more developer-oriented and requires technical knowledge, but this platform has a very promising for high performance right out of the box. Drupal is attributed to serving top-quality performance web applications and offers an excellent content management framework.

 Because it is more developer-oriented, your best choice for creating a highly performant site is ensuring proper configuration of modules, locate bottlenecks in your code and make the proper improvements. Maintaining an actively proper software is the path toward the peak performance on your Drupal website.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, we were able to give you a clear view of the topic of this article and helped you choose from these three of the best open-source software. To give it a short review, Drupal is the perfect platform for all those users who want flexibility and don’t mind writing advanced code, it is undeniably the best source for security and performance so if that is what you are rooting for this might be the correct choice.

Joomla is just the right platform for people who are looking for a great selection of templates and need a simple framework, it lies somewhere between beginners and professionals, and the learning curve might be a little steep at first. So get ready for that.

And lastly, WordPress is the perfect choice for everyone, this platform has the biggest audience because it serves so many needs, it gives a chance for everyone to have a virtual voice and on top of that, it is both developer and dilettante friendly. 

In conclusion, Drupal is the perfect choice for developers with higher custom design needs. WordPress is perfect for users who want both ease of use and flexibility. And Joomla is a great choice for those who want a quick pick from the selection of templates and need a simple framework. The best feature all these three platforms have in common is that they are a community-based platform, and you will never be short of hand with all the extensive support and resources. 

Feel free to leave your comments and share your thoughts with us on who is the best CMS and why? We’d love to hear from you.

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