Drupal Vs. Wordpress - The Gap is Closing
Many of you see that title and think, “I’ve seen too many articles about this topic, how could this one possibly be different?” I can answer that question with a word and a number: Drupal 7.
It is difficult to compare Drupal and Wordpress software because they target two totally different markets. Wordpress targets the blogging community while Drupal targets a much broader community. The only true overlap is that Drupal can be used to run a blog as well. This article is not designed to blast Wordpress and praise Drupal, because they are both competent pieces of software which we’ve used to build client sites for years, but to inform you that the usability gap between the two is closing.
What is Wordpress?
Wordpress is on open source blogging platform that has taken off in popularity with over 30,000,000 sites built on it’s software. It is the gold standard for free/open source blogging software. It has been embraced by companies of all shapes and sizes but most of the time there is a caveat.
Many companies specifically use Wordpress to power their corporate blogs, but not for their main websites. That is because the amount of time and money it would take to mold Wordpress to the needs of large organizations for a scalable multi-user experience, would be too great. Another reason companies use Wordpress is because they get lured into purchasing very inexpensive templates. I am not discounting the fact that these templates are great for a small business who have a website budget of $50, but your site will not be as unique and well branded as it could potentially be. Now that I’ve given some background about what Wordpress is and how it’s currently being used, lets take a look at Drupal.
What is Drupal?
Drupal is an open source content management system with over 650,000 sites running on its software as well as a thriving community of developers. Some of Drupal's strengths are handling multiple users, scalability, number of modules, and strong community involvement. It's an outstanding platform to build websites and web applications with a team of developers or individually. Like Wordpress, Drupal stores its data in a database and uses PHP to call up that data.
You won't find near as many Drupal templates as Wordpress, because it's easier to build a Drupal site when the developer has complete control over the architecture. Most of the Drupal sites we build, have specific purposes or goals which cannot be achieved through a pre-packaged template. We have developed a starter template which allows us to have a Drupal install up and running in no time. This increases development time on the front-end of the project while still providing complex functionality to build upon.
The Complexity/Usability Gap
There is always a decision that needs to be made when developing software. How much functionality can we provide while still making it easy to use. You don’t want to be too far to either extreme or it could be a detriment to the software.
When Drupal was still in version 6 there was a significant usability gap between Wordpress and Drupal.
- Easier to install
- Easier to update
- Easier to manage
- Smaller learning curve
- Superior admin section
- Harder to install
- Steeper learning curve
- Pain to update
- Inferior media handling
- More features
- More flexible
Wordpress has done an outstanding job of making what they have available extremely easy to use. However, once you try to increase Wordpress’ complexity its usability takes a steep plummet. Drupal on the other hand had plenty of tools to build highly complex sites, just failed in the usability department.
Drupal 7 was released on January 5th, 2011, which makes Drupal even more scalable in terms of complexity and attempts to tackle some usability issues as well. It is much more inviting to a non-techie user and can even be recommended for beginners. The learning curve that is said to be SO HIGH for Drupal, is slowly but surely decreasing thanks to Drupal 7. It has dramatically changed the way we develop our Drupal websites and with modules such as features and migrate for quickly reusing portions or whole sites we are seeing less and less projects go the way of Wordpress.
The reason we choose Drupal
Here are a few questions from clients in chronological order:
- Can't I just buy this $20 template?
- Can I update the content?
- Does it have a blog?
- Can I add a job board?
- Can I give my cousin Dan access?
- Can I open the site to allow for multi users?
- Can they each have a profile where they can upload resume’s?
You see how quickly a site can progress? This site has quickly gone from a basic Wordpress blog site to a fully functional job board. The reason Drupal is our CMS of choice is because you can use Drupal to run a simple site or to run a highly complex multi user ecosystem. Once you are in the Drupal platform the sky is the limit. We challenge our clients to make the right choice for their business at the get go, because it can end up costing them more in the long run if they make the wrong choice.