WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are the top three content management systems or CMS in the market in terms of popularity. Note that WordPress leads the three as it powers 23 percent of all websites on the Internet while Joomla current dominates the second spot. Drupal is the least popular among the three, but it still has a decent following compared to other CMS.
WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal: Similarities and Differences
1. Main Similarities Between WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal
All three CMSs share general similarities. First, they are free and open-source software used for developing and administering websites. They are all written primarily in PHP and support MySQL as their database management system. Note that Joomla and Drupal support other database management systems while WordPress exclusively uses MySQL.
These CMSs are also flexible and extensible because they use add-on applications such as plugins or extensions to extend their respective functionalities. They also use themes or templates for easier customization and modification of the visual appearance of websites.
Nonetheless, because WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are free and open-source CMSs licensed under GPL, they are community-driven projects that take advantage of crowdsourcing or community involvement for further development, as well as for creating a publicly available knowledge base for tutorials and troubleshooting, among others.
2. Ease of Use and Expertise Requirements
One of the selling points of WordPress, when compared to Joomla and Drupal, is ease of use. It is very friendly to beginners because of its more intuitive and straightforward user interface that has a minimal learning curve unlike its counterparts. Note that this is the reason why this CMS has become successful. It also comes with a “five-minute install,” and there are a number of web hosting service providers offering one-click installation feature.
Joomla is more complex than WordPress. Its user interface is not straightforward because there are too many menus to click or options to choose from. It is also more independent on add-on software than WordPress because it offers more functionality out of the box, but this advantage comes with complexity. However, its installation is also as simple as WordPress, and there are also a considerable number of reputable web hosts providing one-click install features.
Among the three, Drupal comes with the steepest learning curve. Its user interface has undergone simplification over the years, but it is more complex than WordPress and Drupal because it allows a lot of customization than the two. Note that Drupal is actually one of the most complicated CMS out there. It would definitely overwhelm beginners. Users need to have expertise in PHP and HTML, as well as other relevant languages to take full advantage of its functionalities.
WordPress is the easiest to use while Drupal is the hardest and most technically advanced. Joomla is somewhere between the two. It is not as complicated as Drupal but not as easy to use as WordPress.
3. Customizability from Modularity and Extensibility
One of the remarkable advantages of using a CMS to develop and maintain a website is its modularity and extensibility. WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal all have add-on software to extend their respective functionalities and implement sweeping changes in website features and design.
However, WordPress has the largest library or ecosystem of plugins and themes. It essentially has different plugins and themes developed a specific use case scenario, thus allowing a website to be molded in any type possible with minimal coding skills and knowledge.
Joomla also has a decent ecosystem of extensions composed of plugins, templates, and modules, among others. But a good portion of the entire library comprises of extensions that are not free. When compared to WordPress, finding a suitable extension can be a bit difficult because of the limited option. Of course, it has more features out of the box than WordPress.
The issue stemming from a limited ecosystem of add-on software and themes affects Drupal to a lesser extent. However, it has a bigger library than Joomla but not as big as WordPress. Also, when compared to its counterparts, using add-ons has minimal compatibility issues because the developers of Drupal enforce a coding standard. Both WordPress and Joomla do not have standards for maintaining quality and compatibility.
All three CMSs are very customizable. However, WordPress has a higher degree of customizability relative to the competency of its user. Joomla and Drupal are customizable but they require a high level of skills and knowledge in web development, including expertise in coding and programming.
4. Costs of Implementation and Maintenance
Remember that WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are open-source and free to use. However, implementing and maintaining a website using any of these three still come with costs. Paying for web hosting is the most common expense associated with these three—unless the web developers or the users have their own in-house servers. Note that the prices of web hosting service providers vary.
Another expense associated with these CMSs involves the purchasing of add-ons. All three have their respective library of plugins, themes, templates, modules, and/or extensions. However, the fact that WordPress has a larger library, as well as a larger community of volunteers and enthusiasts mean that it as a greater number of free add-ons. Drupal comes second to WordPress. Note that the limited library of Joomla comprises a good chunk of paid extensions.
It is also important to note that because WordPress has a larger library and a larger user-base, it has more affordable plugins and themes due to the association between pricing and supply and demand.
The steeper learning curve of Joomla and Drupal can also come with a cost. WordPress is cheaper to implement and maintain because it is easier to use. A beginner can easily use this CMS without hiring the services of another web developer. If there is a need to hire one, a website owner has more access to a larger pool of WordPress developers.
In the case of Joomla and Drupal, a website owner might strictly need to hire the services of an experienced web developer. Of course, a beginner can still implement and maintain a Joomla website on his or her own. Note that hiring Drupal developers can be costlier than Joomla because it is more complex and technically advanced. This CMS is not for beginners.
5. Speed and Performance of Developed Websites
One of the remarkable downsides of WordPress is its issue with website speed and performance. It is considerably slower than Joomla and Drupal because of its focus on backward compatibility and susceptibility to bloating from overloaded plugins and intricate themes. Beginners who do not have familiarity regarding website optimization are more likely to develop poor-performing websites.
When compared to WordPress, Joomla is faster because it has built-in performance-enhancing functions such as caching and GZIP compression, image optimization, and plugin and HTTP requests restriction. It also has a customizable system that allows the implementation of small customizations with minimal dependence on extensions.
Drupal is the fastest of the three. It consumes fewer hardware resources than its counterpart because of is more optimized. Furthermore, because this CMS requires a higher level of expertise in web development, a Drupal website is smoother by default because it is developed and maintained by someone who takes into consideration website performance.
WordPress still has a redeeming quality with regard to speed and performance. A number of web host service providers are providing specialized WordPress hosting services. In addition, an experienced web developer who follows website optimization standards can easily resolve speed and performance issues.
6. Optimization for Search Engine
One of the aspects of online website visibility is search engine visibility through search engine optimization or SEO. Virtually all CMS has fundamental functions for SEO. Hence, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are very useful for such use case scenario.
However, between the three, WordPress has an easier to use SEO functionalities given the use of the right plugin such as Yoast SEO. While it has some basic out of the box features, a capable plugin will provide greater SEO controls minus the complications.
Joomla has a more extensive out of the box SEO functionalities than WordPress. However, the entire user experience can be messy because of the inherent complexity of the user interface of this CMS. Note that there are also capable extensions that expand the SEO capabilities of Joomla.
Similar to Joomla, Drupal has fundamental SEO functionalities built into its system. These functionalities are extendable with the use of suitable modules for more extensive SEO controls and for using web designs that are friendly for both desktop and mobile.
7. Other Characteristics and Functionalities
All three CMS support the development of multi-lingual websites. They also have options for changing the language of their backend admin area. Hence, when it comes to website localization, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal all perform the same.
Project management and collaboration are also key features of a CMS. WordPress provide user roles and access levels by default. Some plugins can extend further this functionality. Joomla also has similar access level management, and it also has extensions for specific project management functions such as task and workflow organization. Drupal also has similar functionalities, but it does not have predefined user roles and access levels. A Drupal developer needs to make his or her own user roles and controls.
With regard to security and vulnerabilities, take note that all three have experienced issues related to hacking and data compromises. However, security is dependent on users, particularly on the measures they employ. WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are open-source systems that are always vulnerable to malicious threats. Nonetheless, they still remain secured due to their regular updates and the proactive involvement of their respective communities.
Conclusion: WordPress vs. Joomla vs. Drupal – Which one is the best CMS?
WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are capable content management systems. However, based on the comparison above, WordPress seems the best among the three because of its ease of use and beginner friendliness, an incomparable ecosystem of plugins and themes, and an extensive support community. However, this CMS suffers from notable disadvantages. Perhaps, some of its notable cons include susceptibility to bloat, hacking, and website speed and performance.
Drupal seems like the best choice for developing and maintaining high-performing websites because it is more optimized than WordPress and Joomla. It is more versatile or scalable simply because it is more complex. Remember that complexity translates to an extensive functionality. Hence, Drupal has remained the ideal CMS for complex web development projects, including web applications.
The problem with Joomla is that although it is a capable CMS that has its own pros and cons, it generally sits between WordPress and Drupal. It is relatively better than WordPress when it comes to developing interactive and complex websites, but it is not as flexible and powerful as Drupal.
In conclusion, there is no best CMS among WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Each has their respective advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the most appropriate CMS among the three will depend on the level of expertise of the user, the type of website that is needed to be developed, as well as constraints in time and budget.