Drupal vs. Wordpress vs. Joomla

Comparison of the 3 Most Popular Open Source Platforms. With heated debate over what platform is better, we'll tell you now that any platform-loyal shop will always tell you theirs is best. How can you find an objective opinion on what is best for your business?

Here are a few factors to consider:

1) How big will your site be:

  • are you integrating third party systems such as email like Constant Contact, MailChimp or Vertical Repsonse?
  • are you integrating any kind of ticket purchasing, reservations/booking engine, e-commerce?
  • do you desire custom designed social media feeds?
  • how many audiences are you speaking to?
  • how many constituents do you have, and do you need micro-sites for various content?
  • how many types of content do you need?
  • how will you display visual elements?
  • how many products are you displaying?

If your answer is "none" or "not many", just about any platform will do for your current site. If you plan on expanding your site in the future, see below for a comparison of how these three different open-source platforms will handle your growth.

2) How many people are administering content on your site?

If you have one, maybe two people managing the content on your site, it really comes down to what your preference is.  Wordpress, Drupal, and Joomla all work a bit differently, also basic functionality is pretty much the same across the board.

3) How deeply are you going to go with your on-page Search Engine Optimization program?

If you are looking for in-depth SEO, be sure to do your homework as Google's new Hummingbird algorithms are overhauling SEO.  However, the basic elements of SEO will remain the same:
  • URL strings
  • Page Titles
  • Image Alt Tags
With Hummingbird comes a change from keyword meta data to what we've always known: Content is king.  

4) How much do you want to customize your website design and information architecture to appeal to your audience?

Each of these three different open-source platforms has different capabilities when it comes to customizing your design.  If you're looking to develop a brochure site, Wordpress and Joomla are perfectly fine and will suit your needs.  If  you're looking for customize fonts, image sizes, design elements, content types, visual display, custom feeds, or more, then Drupal is the clear choice.  While it requires a bit of configuration on the back end, Drupal is hands down the easiest to use when managing your content when your site needs customized design.

Try listen to what your developer says with a grain of salt, and do your homework before investing in a new web site. Because we develop in all three, we can provide a better comparison of the three platforms.  While it can be farily subjective to compare the three platforms, here is a simple comparison of the three platforms, with information researched on Rackspace.com, Computerworld.com, and www.linuxforu.com:

Installation Easy Easy Easy
Interface (Content Display Blocks and Content Types (Page, Blog, Event, Property, as decided in the discovery process) Categories + specific page location Articles either as a blog post or a page
Admin Tool Management bar at top of page

- Don't have to assign actions to pages unless you're working on site-wide activity
- Intuitive explanatory dashboard allows admin to see controllable features in plain english
- Smoother and the most powerful
- Changes made on individual pages are readily available to review from the "View" tab, as it appears to the public (no need for two screens to see admin tool vs. public site)
- Some say learning curve is sharper, but it's personal preference and style.  After using and developing in all three platforms, our clients prefer Drupal.
Admin performed from the "back end" site.

- Admin can see edits made without having to change from one screen to another.
- dashboard makes it easy to make changes to content by types, similar to Drupal (intuitive).
- Easy to move content around.
- Menus are not easy to manipulate like Drupal, but it's better than Joomla!.
Admin performed from the "back end" site.

- Easy content page management system once you get to know it.
- Creating a page is easy, but having menu links for that page in more than one menu is tedious because each item must have a unique alias.
- Menus are tedious and somewhat difficult to figure out for configuration and content movement.
- Joomla! has a tendency to crash while performing seeminly small tasks.
- Admin cannot see edits unless a second window is open; refresh that second screen to see changes in real time.
Configuration - Adding Static Pages Easy Easy Moderate
Configuration - Adding modules/plug-ins Easy Easy Difficult
Configuration - Module/ plug-in integration and use Seamless Once installed correctly, moderately easy Seamless
Promotion - Social Media Easy module implementation and configuration

Easy customization of display/feeds
SM plug-ins offer limited capabilities, little customization. Difficult to find SM plug-ins that work
Promotion - SEO Nearly 100 tools available to configure for on-page SEO Nearly 100 tools available to configure for on-page SEO Nearly 100 tools available to configure for SEO
Promotion - Traffic Tracking Google Analytics module - install once and auto installs on every page. Several tools available, but need to sort through plug-ins to figure out which are best. Wordpress experts can do this will little effort. No information.
E-Commerce Easy - Ubercart, PayPal, and other widely used modules available.  Adding products very simple. Trickier to find a system compatible with Wordpress. JoomShopping plug-in easy to install, difficult to configure. Adding products very simple.
Support - # of modules/plug-ins 11,216 15,884 8,070
Support - History Development in Antwerp in 2000
Current Public Version: 7.0
Next Version: 8.0 in beta
First developed in 2003, an end result of the b2/cafelog platform. Version 3.5 due out late summer 2013. End result of Mambo, a platform developed in 2005 as a blog platform. Version 3.1 released April 24, 2013 in beta.
  • Most powerful for larger sites and systems integration
  • Flexible for Design
  • Easy to configure
  • Easy to manage and manipulate content
  • Easy module implementation and configuration
  • Easiest for smaller, content driven sites
  • Somewhat flexible for design
  • Easy to configure
  • Easy content management, moderate content manipulation
  • Easy module implementation and configuration
  • Not as well designed for users
  • Needs to more coding for custom design
  • Easy configuration
  • More of a puzzle to solve for plug-in implementation and configuration
Recommendation From Computerworld If you are building a more complex site, turn to Drupal first.  It has more flexibility to scale a site in terms of complexity.  It also has the ability to scale up into very complex sites to be used for a variety of business needs. Beginners: Use Wordpress, no question.  The themes and plug-ins are diverse and numerous, and this is a very good starter CMS. I would recommend Joomla! for sites that are a bit more complex and are going to be managed by someone with stronger technical skills.
Recommendation from Rackspace For complex, advanced and versatile sites; for sites that require complex data organization; for community platform sites with multiple users; for online stores. Ideal for fairly simple web sites, such as everyday blogging and news sites; and anyone looking for an easy-to-manage site. Add-ons make it easy to expand the functionality of the site. Joomla! allows you to build a site with more content and structure flexibility than Wordpress offers, but still with fairly easy, intuitive usage. Supports E-commernce, social networking, and more.

For more information about finding the right open source platform for you, contact us today.  We'll help you sift through the subjectivity and choose the right platform for your business.