Designing a new website is no longer an end point in a company’s online odyssey. Today, it represents the beginning of a journey to optimise online content, endlessly honing the site to maximise its appeal among search engines and users alike.
Regular site revisions require content management systems, allowing administrators to log in and make changes without needing a programming degree. Two of the biggest CMS platforms for today’s mobile-optimised websites are WordPress and Drupal, but which of these free platforms offers the best blend of abilities?
Any WordPress vs Drupal debate must begin by acknowledging that WordPress has been downloaded ten times more frequently, and underpins a quarter of the world’s websites. Everyone from household-name brands to sole traders has embraced WordPress’s intuitive interface and simple functionality, which can be complemented with 47,000 open source plugins. That’s a volume of specialised code that Drupal simply can’t match.
WordPress is wonderfully easy to use, with one-click installs and the ability to create a site in just five minutes. User registration has been streamlined, while fiddly tasks like social media integration and watermarking photos are handled with ease. A thriving online community is ready to help with technical queries, and security is well catered for. Finally, WordPress has a mobile app that can govern site mods and content updates from a smartphone.
Each plugin has to be processed by a web browser every time a page is loaded, which is a significant black mark in any WordPress vs Drupal comparison. It’s easy to get carried away installing plugins (particularly on ecommerce sites) and create an inefficient platform that’s slow to display. With page loading times affecting SEO results, that’s simply not acceptable. Structural aspects of WordPress sites are locked, which limits the degree of customisation on offer, while plugins are easily hacked – and often targeted due to WP’s ubiquity.
As the second most popular CMS platform, Drupal also has a thriving community, one which proactively engages and interacts at annual camps and regular local user groups. Supporters in any WordPress vs Drupal debate will also point out that Drupal is less resource intensive, offering endlessly scalable sites that load faster than WP sites. That’s a key factor in search engine rankings nowadays, as outlined above.
Drupal is a more evolved CMS than WordPress, created to service companies that generate large volumes of data or websites that receive high traffic volumes. That’s why Drupal powers one in eight of the world’s top 100,000 websites, with enterprise-level security allied to a proactive safety division and rigorous vetting of plugins. With 35,000 modules available, it’s hardly lacking in customisation options, and root files can be edited for added versatility.
The main drawback to Drupal is that it complicates what should be a relatively simple process of CMS-powered site development, making this an intimidating choice for many people. It isn’t recommended for users unfamiliar with HTML and PHP, or anyone reluctant to debug their own code and resolve site errors. This technical knowledge isn’t always readily available among freelance IT professionals (and tech support will come at a price), while the absence of site hosting facilities is another minus in any WordPress vs Drupal comparison.