Should we choose Drupal or WordPress?

Are they substitutes or completely different?

A CMS (Content Management System) is a software tool we use to a powerful website without charging a massive cost for development. It allows us to create, delete, publish, or edit website content all in one convenient place. As a website user, we can log into our CMS and decide what gets shown on our website, and update or remove those outdated content that is no longer making the cut.

Drupal and Wordpress are the two most popular CMSs globally, giving them the flexibility mentioned above, however they each do things a little bit differently, so let’s look into that.

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Where they are similar

They are both free - we know how everyone likes free stuff! They operate on the same coding language, called PHP. And they both offer significant customisation.

When logged in, you might be surprised at similar they are, displaying pages, posts, users, menus, widgets / blocks, and plugins / modules, though they structure these somewhat differently.

WordPress

Ease of use is one of WordPress’ greatest strengths, its user interface is simple, the menu offering the most important options and you can generally achieve quite a lot with just a few mouse clicks - like adding, editing or deleting content. More complex page layouts are also available as plugins but have to be purchased as add on at a significant price..

WordPress was originally aimed at bloggers, though it has evolved. It now also accommodates people to make their own websites for their business or organisation.

Many concepts are kept simple, and after a short course or two, the average user is able to build their own website and make the necessary changes they desire - within reasonable limit of course.

There are many beautiful themes to choose from, both free and premium. Plugins are little blocks of code designed for WordPress to increase their feature base, eg. page builders, SEO optimisers,  custom contact forms, everything you need to set your website apart from the rest.

For example, WooCommerce, the most popular e-commerce solution, is a free plugin. However, extensions such as new payment gateways and other features need to be bought. Prices vary from $30 to $300, this type of pay-for-feature design is quite common throughout, although there are some restrictive free plans available for some plugins.

Drupal

Drupal’s greatest strengths are its flexibility and scalability. Drupal has an admin area which offers many options to the user from the get-go. This will be daunting for new users since all the developer options are visible as well. Drupal has now modules which take care of this by allowing developers to create simple owner menus which hide the more complicated options from the user. Check out our own custom module we’ve contributed to the drupal community allowing simpler admin menus for website owner: AMSwap.

Drupal has always been more developer focused, requiring users to learn many new technical concepts from the get go. With the technicality of Drupal it brings many possibilities and custom capabilities that isn’t easily achieved by WordPress. There is lots to learn, like “content types”, fields, view modes, display modes, taxonomy terms, entity references. Sounds too technical right? Like mentioned before the complexity brings good news as well!

The Drupal environment allows developers to condense all those technicalities and build custom user experiences for their end users. People only see the not so scary things, and allowing and restricting editing where they want.

Plugins in Drupal are called modules, they are mostly aligned for the developers use and for the creation of convenient experiences for the website owners.It allows developers to do and achieve pretty extraordinary features. All modules in Drupal are free!

Note that if you are opting for a Drupal website, it is most likely that you will need a developer to design and develop it for you. However you are more likely to get all those complex features you really want as opposed to going with WordPress.

Famous last words

In short - WordPress is great for simple websites, it is fairly cheap to develop, and not too feature-heavy. While it has an incredible number of beautiful themes to choose from, feature-rich websites in WordPress can have significant monthly costs from those premium themes and paid plugins.

Drupal is great for enterprise-grade websites, offering fully customisable menus and permission settings for different users and custom-built themes. Drupal says yes to many of the “wants” of a website owner. Development cost of a Drupal website is generally higher, though you won’t end up sitting with high monthly fees on a monthly basis thereafter.