CMS Comparison: Drupal, Joomla and Wordpress


If creating a website for your business is on the horizon, you may be wondering which content management system (CMS) is the best choice for you. Here’s a look at three of the most widely-used ones. All three are open-source software, each developed and maintained by a community of thousands. Not only are all three free to download and use, but the open-source format means that the platform is continuously being improved to support new Internet technologies. With all of these systems, basic functions can be enhanced ad infinitum with an ever-expanding array of add-ons, contributed from their respective communities.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here; it depends on your goals, technical expertise, budget and what you need your site to do. For a simple blog or brochure-type site, Wordpress could be the best choice (while very friendly for non-developers, it’s a flexible platform also capable of very complex sites). For a complex, highly customized site requiring scalability and complex content organization, Drupal might be the best choice. For something in between that has an easier learning curve, Joomla may be the answer.

When you have questions or need help, will you be able to find it easily? With all of these systems, the answer is yes. Each has passionate, dedicated developer and user communities, making it easy to find free support directly through their websites or through other online forums or even books. In addition, paid support is readily available from third-party sources, such as consultants, developers and designers. Each of these systems shows long-term sustainability and longevity; support for them will continue to be readily available for the foreseeable future. The more time and effort you are willing and able to invest into learning a system, the more it will be able to do for you. With both Wordpress and Joomla, you can order a wide range of services and options off the menu to suit your needs; with Drupal, you’ll be in the kitchen cooking up what you want for yourself, with all of the privileges of customization that entails.

See the comparison chart below for more insight into the differences in these top content management systems. Still not sure? Download each of the free platforms and do a trial run to help you decide.

  Drupal Joomla Wordpress
Homepage www.drupal.org www.joomla.org www.wordpress.org
About Drupal is a powerful, developer-friendly tool for building complex sites. Like most powerful tools, it requires some expertise and experience to operate.

Joomla offers middle ground between the developer-oriented, extensive capabilities of Drupal and user-friendly but more complex site development options than Wordpress offers.

Wordpress began as an innovative, easy-to-use blogging platform. With an ever-increasing repertoire of themes, plugins and widgets, this CMS is widely used for other website formats also.
Example Sites

Community Portal: Fast Company, Team Sugar

Social Networking: MTV Networks Quizilla

Education: Harvard University

Restaurant: IHOP

Social Networking: PlayStation Blog

News Publishing: CNN Political Ticker

Education/Research: NASA Ames Research Center

News Publishing:The New York Observer

Installation Drupal Installation Forum Joomla Installation Forum Wordpress Installation Forum
Ease of Use

Drupal requires the most technical expertise of the three CMSs. However, it also is capable of producing the most advanced sites. With each release, it is becoming easier to use. If you’re unable to commit to learning the software or can’t hire someone who knows it, it may not be the best choice.

Less complex than Drupal, more complex than Wordpress. Relatively uncomplicated installation and setup. With a relatively small investment of effort into understanding Joomla’s structure and terminology, you have the ability to create fairly complex sites.

Technical experience is not necessary; it’s intuitive and easy to get a simple site set up quickly. It’s easy to paste text from a Microsoft Word document into a Wordpress site, but not into Joomla and Drupal sites.
Features Known for its powerful taxonomy and ability to tag, categorize and organize complex content. Designed to perform as a community platform, with strong social networking features.

Ease of use is a key benefit for experts and novices alike. It’s powerful enough for web developers or designers to efficiently build sites for clients; then, with minimal instruction, clients can take over the site management. Known for an extensive selection of themes. Very user-friendly with great support and tutorials, making it great for non-technical users to quickly deploy fairly simple sites.

Caching Plug-ins Pressflow: This is a downloadable version of Drupal that comes bundled with popular enhancements in key areas, including performance and scalability.

JotCache offers page caching in the Joomla 1.5 search framework, resulting in fast page downloads. Also provides control over what content is cached and what is not. In addition, page caching is supported by the System Cache Plugin that comes with Joomla.

WP-SuperCache: The Super Cache plugin optimizes performance by generating static html files from database-driven content for faster load times.
Best Use Cases For complex, advanced and versatile sites; for sites that require complex data organization; for community platform sites with multiple users; for online stores

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-commerce, social networking and more.

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.


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