If you are going to build a website, chances are you’ll opt for a content management system (CMS). However, if you have never used one before, it can be difficult to pick the right one for your site. To give you an informed choice, this post will compare three of most popular CMS platforms currently available: WordPress, Drupal and Joomla.
WordPress, Drupal and Joomla: An overview
In this section, we’ll give a brief introduction to each of the platforms.
WordPress is the world’s most popular platform, currently used to build 27% of all websites. It’s completely free to use and is relatively easy to set up. Originally designed to create blogs, it has been extensively developed over the years and can be used to create all kinds of websites including e-Commerce stores, online media platforms and private membership sites.
One of its biggest advantages is that it comes with thousands of free plugins (over 49,000) which give it unparalleled functionality. It also comes with thousands of free themes, which enable users to create unique websites designed around their own brand.
Used by just over 2% of the world’s websites, Drupal is not only a powerful, free to use CMS but also a very secure platform. It’s ideal for those who take and store highly sensitive information about their users.
Like WordPress, it is highly versatile, and though it doesn’t have anywhere near as many add-ons available, it can be used to create websites that require specific functions.
Drupal can be more complicated to set up and manage than WordPress, so perhaps it’s not the number one choice for complete beginners.
Joomla is a free, highly powerful CMS, that is ideal for building media-rich websites. It is great at handling digital content such as images, videos, widgets and social media applications. Like Drupal, it’s more complex to use than WordPress, so if you are building the site yourself and have never worked with CMS before, there may be a steep learning curve. It is, however, a popular choice for web developers and is used on almost 3% of the world’s websites.
The platform is ideal for bigger websites, such as membership sites, large businesses or colleges.
Which is the most secure platform?
Security is an important factor that all website owners need to consider. When examining the security of these platforms, you need to look at three different areas: the core code, the third-party extensions (plugins, modules, extensions, etc.), and the ease of managing software updates.
- WordPress Security
WordPress does a great job at maintaining and updating its core code and updates are done automatically. Although there are occasional vulnerabilities, these are usually dealt with swiftly. Plugins available from the WordPress repository are also very secure and can also be automatically updated through the use of the Jetpack plugin.
Although most premium plugins are secure, these cannot always be automatically updated and there is no guarantee of security if they are not available directly from your WordPress dashboard.
Because WordPress is so popular, it is a target for hackers. They will use bots to search the net for WordPress sites with vulnerabilities (i.e. ones which haven’t updated their software to the newest versions) and attempt to gain access or infect them. If you opt for WordPress, you should always keep your site up to date to prevent intrusion.
There are a number of very powerful WordPress plugins which can be used to prevent hackers from attacking your site. We recommend you use these, together with any security measures your web host provides.
- Drupal Security
Drupal is the most securely coded platform of the three and there are very stringent practices put in place by the software’s security team for both the core code and the add-on modules. When vulnerabilities are found, security updates are provided quickly.
If you decide to edit or make additions to some of the Drupal coding for websites you are developing, you may create loopholes of your own. The Drupal team does offer guidance on how to minimise any security problems this may cause but you should be wary of tampering with the code if you do not know what you are doing.
- Joomla Security
Like WordPress, Joomla has a firm grasp of its core code security and is quick to respond to loopholes and bugs. However, as anyone can create a Joomla extension, there is always the potential for vulnerabilities with third-party software. It is highly recommended that you only opt for those available from the Joomla Extension Directory.
Result: Drupal is best for Security
Which is the best platform for SEO?
The way a website is designed can have a big impact on its ability to rank in search engine results. Ranking factors such as site speed, mobile-friendliness and ease of navigation can all be affected by how the code is written.
- WordPress SEO:
According to Google’s Matt Cutts, WordPress automatically solves a ton of SEO issues. In the short video below, you’ll see him show you that it takes care of 80-90% of the mechanics of SEO. There’ll still be SEO work to do, such as optimising the keywords in your content but if you’re looking for a search engine friendly platform, WordPress is one of the best available.
There is also a host of great WordPress SEO plugins you can use to enhance the ability of your website to rank even higher.
- Drupal SEO:
Whilst the Drupal core architecture is not as SEO friendly as WordPress, it is not too difficult to get it more search engine friendly. It does have a selection of SEO modules available that can be used to make it easier for search engines to index the site and which make it simpler for you to optimise your content.
It is interesting to note that Yoast, which is the number one SEO plugin for WordPress has now launched a version for Drupal. That’s good news for Drupal users.
- Joomla SEO:
Joomla is very similar to Drupal in terms of SEO. Whilst it has some search engine friendly features, it’s not geared up in the same way as WordPress. Once again, there are a number of SEO extensions in its directory which you can use to improve optimisation of your site and the content.
Result: WordPress is best for SEO
Which is the best-performing platform?
The performance of your website can have a big impact on its success. Not only does it need to load quickly, customers want it to carry out its functions quickly too. So, if you run different processes on your website, these need to be coded in a way which makes them take place faster.
Do note, however, that performance is not entirely due to the way a website is created. The speed of the server you are hosted on and the computing resources at your disposal can all have an impact as can the volume of traffic your website is experiencing. That said, a well-designed site can significantly speed up performance.
- WordPress Performance
If there is a price to pay for the vast range of plugins that WordPress offers, it is that they can slow the website down. Each plugin you install will require processing time and if it is something which needs to be sent to the user’s computer will slow down the loading time. For this reason, WordPress users should avoid the temptation to install too many unnecessary plugins.
Luckily, there are ways around this. It is possible to use compression, caching and content delivery networks to speed up the transfer of data and you can also take steps to optimise images so that they are smaller in size. Plugins such as JS Minify and W3 Total Cache are very popular tools for doing this. Some hosts also provide tools in the cPanel which carry out performance enhancing measures.
- Drupal Performance
If WordPress offers the best out of the box SEO solution, Drupal does the same for performance. It’s exceptionally well coded and highly agile, enabling it to run applications swiftly and efficiently. However, if you add a lot of content or there is a high volume of traffic, this can slow it down. As with WordPress, to overcome this, you need to enhance its performance by disabling unused modules and using caching.
- Joomla Performance
The good news for Joomla users is that improvements in performance are still a key focus for developers and each new version sees a positive move forward. There is also a good selection of performance improving extensions available.
Once again, image optimisation, caching, and compression are all helpful ways to reduce the load on the server and speed up the delivery and operation of your website. You should also make sure that you keep your software updated so the newer, more agile versions are in place.
Result: Drupal is best for performance
WordPress is best overall
When it comes to security and performance, Drupal is the clear winner when you look at the three platforms straight out of the box. For SEO and ease of use, WordPress has the advantage.
Overall, WordPress probably takes the top spot simply because the number of plugins available gives it far more functionality and versatility than the other two. Indeed, with the right plugins installed, WordPress can perform just as well as Drupal and be as secure.