Over the past few years, we’ve designed and developed sites in a range of Content Management Systems (CMS) from Squarespace and Craft to WordPress and Drupal. We see WordPress vs. Drupal come up frequently in CMS discussions and are usually asked which we prefer. Having used both, there are pros and cons of each that we want to share to hopefully help make your decision.  

 

While we made our preferences clear in “Skona <3 WordPress,” let’s start with what Drupal does right since they have positioned themselves better in the eyes of larger enterprises.

Multi-lingual

Multinational or multi-lingual sites can be easily deployed with out-of-the-box Drupal features.

Content creation/management

Drupal is ideal for large companies with huge amounts of content downloads and/or pages to be managed by hundreds of different people requiring different levels of access.

Security

The biggest difference between WordPress and Drupal is security because Drupal has an enterprise level of security. Many government websites, including whitehouse.gov, are built with Drupal. WordPress is, unlike Drupal, insecure by default. It can, however, be made extremely secure by implementing precautions at several levels, from user password security to choosing good hosting and server settings.

Multiple Users with Custom Permissions

Drupal has a strong user role and access control functionality. With Drupal, we can create various user roles and access levels based on your site requirements. For large companies with complicated approval processes and multiple levels of permissions, Drupal is ideal.

So, what does WordPress do better than Drupal?

WordPress allows for infinite design flexibility.

Drupal, not so much. Its code architecture has a certain look and feel that is very difficult to get away from, whereas WordPress allows you to easily set up flexible and customizable templates. By developing our sites to be modular, we’re able to give the client a huge amount of flexibility to create pages of any type in order to keep creating new pages after website launch.

Drupal is not as user-friendly.

WordPress has a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get / Microsoft word style) Content Editor in Core, which makes it really easy for anyone with Word experience to edit a page and format text. Their latest WP editor, Gutenberg, is even more focused on the “writing first/what you see is what you get” mentality. It has more writing space and is better fitted for people that are working on smaller computer screens. It also specifically features blocks, which make multiple types of layouts like columns available. WordPress, like everyone else, is moving towards being more Javascript focused. Gutenberg and the new Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) plugin are both now mainly Javascript driven.

Most people with website editing experience have used WordPress, so it has a low barrier to entry as far as content editors. With Drupal, there is no standard WYSIWYG editor leaving the site implementor to choose from thirteen editor module choices, none of which are maintained at the same level of Drupal core.

WordPress sites load much faster.

For every page load, Drupal runs a large number of SQL queries because of its underlying architecture. The WordPress number of queries can easily be less than 10, which makes WordPress much quicker than Drupal.

Revisions of WordPress-based websites are easier to deploy. 

WordPress is easier to deploy because the source code is easier to manage. It maintains a lot more of its logic in PHP code than the Drupal application. Drupal requires more SQL which ends up being a huge pain to deploy due to the way it’s structured – making changes to an existing website ends up being a big deal compared to WordPress.

WordPress requires less expensive hosting.

A typical Drupal site requires more server resources to attend to each of the pages than it does for the typical WordPress site. There are really great WordPress hosting options out there that handle everything for you – our favorite is WPEngine.

WordPress has the most integrations.

More companies and their third parties offer plugins for WordPress to integrate with their services than other platforms, especially more than modules available for Drupal. If there’s an online service you need to integrate into a website, it’s very likely someone has at least tried to do it with WordPress before, and pretty likely that there’s an existing plugin.

Conclusion

Overall, we think that WordPress is a more sustainable content management site than Drupal, although there are specific use cases where Drupal would be a better choice. For example, Drupal works great for .gov and bigger organizations that need a higher level of security and more levels of user permissions, but do not require a lot of flexibility and customization.

However, if you’re working with a site that is constantly changing, that needs to be fast and customizable, then WordPress is the way to go. You will spend less money and it is easy-to-use and incredibly flexible.

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