WordPress vs Drupal

Mike Van-Rooyen
November 24, 2022

Often when we’re approached by a client to build a new content driven website, we’re asked which CMS (Content Management System) is better?

Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong answer, and it’s more about the context in which the CMS will be used. Here we’ll look at two of the most popular CMS available WordPress and Drupal to help understand how to best judge when each might be deployed.

Software

Both WordPress and Drupal run using the same open-source software, which is ubiquitous across hosting platforms. PHP, MySQL, and a web server are required for both Drupal and WordPress to be accessible on the Internet and this specification of hosting can be cheap and reliable. Though consideration needs to be made to make sure the architecture is secure and resilient enough for a business’ requirements.

Security

In principle both platforms should be as secure as each other. Both are backed by organisations which manage the core software and who are responsible for the security of it.

WordPress does have a reputation for being insecure, but this comes from the many plugins which have been developed by other users of the platform and the use of them. Anyone can create and sell plugins for WordPress and there is no process in place to make sure the code is secure. The target users of WordPress prefer to use third-party plugins rather create their own which can result in tens of additional pieces of software being installed on a very simple website.

Couple that with the high number of WordPress sites on the web, it becomes a popular target for hacking attempts, with quite high success rates.

Drupal really comes in to its own regarding security, as the community developed modules can be reviewed by Drupal’s own security team. And with less for the community to monitor, primarily due to the smaller number of contributed modules, the security of code within the website build is increased.

As with all online applications, it’s important to have mechanisms in place to maintain the security of the software being used. This includes server-side programming languages as well as the core software and third-party code.

Performance

As Drupal has been created for developers to build upon rather than using as it is with WordPress, there is greater scope for optimisation around page performance on Drupal.

Both platforms will perform similarly out of the box and on the same hosting architecture but again, WordPress’ page speed will be affected by the number of third-party plugins installed with little or no pathway for optimisation.

Cost

Neither platform has a licence fee so as a default installation both can be classed as free.  WordPress’ plugin store has paid for plugins along with themes that generally cost between £5 a month and £15. Drupal’s community haven’t embraced paid for modules so all remain cost free, including a large e-commerce extension.

Future development

At Low&Behold, we like to promote the idea that the launch of a new website is just the start of a long-term partnership with development being iterated upon.

Drupal suits this approach perfectly as everything is available to extend and the development road map can be planned in the knowledge that most things can be done.

WordPress is good at getting a new site up and running quickly, but it can be limited in its customisation in the future. The third-party plugins might become more limiting rather than flexible and compromises might need to be made with regards to functionality.

Whilst both CMS will have long life spans with the correct on-going maintenance, Drupal is better suited to growing with a business over the long term.

Summary

There is a place for both Drupal and WordPress in the CMS space, they just have slightly differing use cases.

WordPress is ideal for a marketing focused microsite with a short life span or even for a standard brochure site with limited functionality.  The problems with WordPress come when it’s pushed beyond its limits into a more enterprise area of requirements and often the result is a site that is difficult to manage, suffers performance degradation and relies on third-parties for features and bug fixes.

It’s at this point where custom integrations are needed, or future growth plans considered that a content driven site becomes more suited to being built in Drupal.

In short, a website CMS that needs to grow with a business or is complex, is best suited to Drupal. If it doesn’t need to grow much or have fairly simply functionality, then WordPress is probably the one to choose.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our development team to discuss whether WordPress or Drupal is the best CMS for your business.

Mike Van-Rooyen

Mike Van-Rooyen

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