WordPress and Drupal are both popular, powerful CMS platforms, and if you’re a web developer, chances are that you’re going to have to work with both of them at some point in your career. Most developers have their own preferences for which one they’d rather work with, and these preferences can sometimes be based on arbitrary things, like which platform you worked with first, or they can be based on more concrete reasoning, like your level of PHP skills.
The truth is, WordPress and Drupal, while both CMS platforms, are similar in the broadest of terms, but it many ways they are very, very different. Neither is better than the other, but each is definitely suited to different types of projects and different types of developers. If you’re not sure which is most suited to you and your project, read our analysis of the two CMS platforms below.
The greatest thing about WordPress is that it’s super user-friendly. The install only takes five minutes, and once you have everything set up, you can jump right in using any of the default themes, which are all responsive and feature clean, modern designs. With WordPress, it’s possible for even the most inexperienced developers to get a site up and running in a very short time frame.
If you’re not into any of the default themes, you’re in luck, because there are thousands of free and premium WordPress themes available, both from WordPress’s theme directory and from third parties, so you can make your site look great without the need for a developer or designer.
The other great thing about WordPress are the plugins. There are almost 50,000 free plugins available to add to your site, and they can all be added using your WordPress dashboards, so technically you don’t need to have any coding skills or FTP experience to add the plugins to your server (although it probably helps). Plugins are used primarily to add functionalities to your site, so WordPress is a great CMS option for people who are tech-savvy but not necessarily coders.
WordPress also has a great support community in the form of forums. If you have a question, chances are it has already been asked and answered somewhere in the archive. For all of these reasons, WordPress is the better CMS platform for people who don’t code, or for people who are new to coding. For a lot of developers, WordPress is the first CMS they use, which might explain why so many people have a preference for it, and why it’s a lot more popular than Drupal.
WordPress’s user-friendliness is limiting in a lot of ways. Drupal relies a lot more on code than WordPress does, and using the dashboard interface isn’t as intuitive for a beginner as using WordPress is — generally, when you’re using Drupal, you have to use a lot more PHP than when you’re working on WordPress. Because Drupal is a little more technical than WordPress, it’s also a lot more powerful and dynamic.
Drupal has a lot of free themes and plugins (in Drupal they’re called modules) available to download, but they often require a little more time and effort to get up and running than the ones on WordPress…the default theme in Drupal is neither beautiful or responsive. You can get some that are, but you’ll have to search for them on your own. Drupal’s capabilities, however, are greater than those of WordPress, and the performance of a Drupal site is usually better and faster than a WordPress one. Like WordPress, Drupal also has a great support community.
If you’re just learning to code, Drupal probably isn’t for you. You should know a decent amount of PHP before starting to work on a Drupal build. However, if you’ve got some PHP knowledge or a coding background and want to build a powerful, dynamic site, Drupal is probably the way to go.
Use WordPress if you’re a beginner, or if the person who’s going to be managing the site is a beginner or not a coder. WordPress is also a great platform to use if you’re an experienced coder but are building a blog, or a site for a business that doesn’t need many custom functionalities.
If you aren’t an absolute beginner and/or you want to create a dynamic site that can handle all different types of content and perform many custom functionalities, Drupal should be your CMS of choice.