If you talk to a web developer regarding your options for setting up a website or a web application, chances are WordPress, Joomla or Drupal have popped up during this conversation. This is because these 3 content management systems are market leaders in the open source space and provide tons of features and functionalities that allow for ease of development and prove to be more cost-effective as compared to using web development frameworks for a project.
Undoubtedly a market leader in the open-source CMS space given that it powers 28.4% of the World Wide Web. The software has been built using the PHP scripting language and uses MySQL as the database. The platform started off in the year 2003 as a blogging tool and has undergone some massive changes in order to become a full fledged content management system that can be used to build anything from simple informational websites to complex web applications and eCommerce stores.
Joomla is second most popular CMS in the marketplace powering 3.3% of the websites available online. Launched in the latter half of 2005 as a predecessor of Mambo, It is an open source software that is based on PHP using Object Oriented Programming (OOP) and stores data using the following types of databases, My SQL, MS SQL and Postgre SQL. The CMS is quite popular when it comes to development of data collection and analysis systems, inventory control systems, integrated eCommerce systems, online forums communication tools and extensive product catalogues.
Considered one of the most complex open source CMS’s available in the marketplace, Drupal requires advanced web development (technical) knowledge and can be used to create powerful web applications. The platform’s history can be traced back to 2001 and at it stands today, Drupal is powering roughly 2.2% websites around the world. Drupal currently has 37,302 modules that allow extendibility beyond its core functionalities, 2,454 themes and an active community base of more than a million members. Drupal is a preferred platform for powering government backed projects and is a popular choice when it comes to developing intranet applications.
The Comparison Factors
As of August 2017, WordPress is used by 28.4% websites and has a CMS market share of 59.3%. Joomla currently powers 3.3% of the websites on the World Wide Web and has a CMS market share of 6.8%. Drupal is being used by 2.3% websites and has a CMS market share of 4.7%. WordPress currently stands at 140 million downloads followed by Joomla at 63 million downloads and then Drupal with 15 million downloads till date.
2- Skill Level
WordPress is one of the easiest and user-friendly CMS available in the marketplace followed by Joomla and then Drupal. Drupal is considered one of the most technically advanced CMS’s and requires knowledge of HTML, CSS and PHP scripting language. WordPress and Joomla have a somewhat of a smoother learning curve as compared to Drupal where the learning curve is quite steep.
To sum it up, WordPress is the best choice for beginners given that the CMS is intuitive and user-friendly. Joomla sits in the middle of the spectrum and requires basic level of technical skills in order to use and build websites or web applications. Drupal sits on the other end of the spectrum being the most difficult to use and is only recommended if you have advanced technical skills and want to build a enterprise grade web application.
All the 3 content management systems are open source and are free to download and use. You might need to spend money to further extend features and functionalities using plugins, extensions and modules with all the three softwares. The cost of each plugins, extensions and modules varies and is set by the publisher.
Winner- Tie between the 3 CMS’s
Customisation is an option with all the 3 CMS’s using third-party softwares (plugins, extensions and modules). Once downloaded the third-party softwares source code can easily be accessed and manipulated by an experience PHP developer in order to further customise the software based on the project requirements.
Winner- Tie between the 3 CMS’s
Performance (Speed) is a subjective topic and experts have a differing opinion when it comes to this topic. The speed of a website or an app depends on a number of factors other than the CMS. These include (but not limited to) type of theme used, quality of code after any customisations are done, Plugins/Extensions/Modules used in the project and the server configuration/environment where the website is being hosted, use of caching services and inclusion of a
Content Delivery Network (CDN).
Drupal– 60 MB for a typical website with number of modules installed.
WordPress– No prescribed minimum by WordPress but forums indicate 256 MB for an installation with a number of plugins running.
Joomla– No minimum standards set by Joomla. Online forums suggest 32 MB of dedicated memory should be enough to run a typical Joomla setup with a number of extensions. Another source recommends 64 MB to be the bare minimum in order to keep the website running smoothly and avoid any breakdowns during usage spikes.
Given the above memory recommendations for each of the three CMS’s, Joomla looks like the least resource intensive platform and therefore has the capability of providing faster page load speeds.
All the three CMS’s have a huge support community available online. WordPress has the largest and fastest or quickest support community followed by Joomla and Drupal. Drupal is also considered the most expensive when it comes to technical support options.
7- eCommerce Capabilities
All the three CMS’s provide the option of setting up eCommerce stores using plugins/extensions/modules. The process of developing an eCommerce store using WordPress is the simplest with loads of features including themes, plugins, shopping carts and payment gateways available followed by Joomla where you will require a certain amount of technical knowledge in order to setup the eCommerce store. Joomla is best suited for content driven websites and can be used for eCommerce websites that have small amount of products on display and don’t require price updates on a regular basis. For any reason if Joomla does appear to be your best option for an eCommerce store then it is best you get assistance from a skilled Joomla developer.
Drupal sits on the other end of the spectrum and requires advance level knowledge for eCommerce development and managing the store. If you have massive budgets or the time to put in to learn the CMS then Drupal is a good option otherwise Drupal should be a NO GO zone for you.
8- Multilingual Support
WordPress is not multilingual straight out of the box and such requires third-party plugins in order to achieve this option. Joomla on the other has multilingual capabilities built into the core of the CMS and does not require any third-party plugins to be setup. The process for activating various languages for your website is fairly simple. The new version of Drupal (Drupal 8) is now multilingual at the core level and does not require any third-party modules to activate multilingual support. With the new Drupal version you also don’t have to choose English as the preferred language during installation.
Winner- Tie between Joomla and Drupal
9- Best Use
WordPress is the best option for small to medium sized businesses for running dynamic informational websites to showcase their products or services. It is also a good choice for bloggers and eCommerce store operators who don’t have advanced technical skills and want to manage their eCommerce operations on their own.
Joomla is a good option for informational websites driven by lots of content, data collection and analysis systems, inventory control systems, integrated eCommerce systems, online forums communication tools and extensive product catalogues.
Drupal is a good option for users with advanced programming knowledge, require very high level of customisation or have the budgets to hire a highly experienced Drupal developer and can be used to develop enterprise level systems.
Winner- NA. Each Platform is a winner in its own right.
10- Frequency of Updates
WordPress– 42 Days
Joomla– 36 Days
Drupal– 51 Days
11- Availability of Plugins/Extensions and Modules
WordPress– 51,516 Free and Paid Plugins.
Joomla– A total of 7905 Extensions are available on the Joomla Extensions Directory.
Drupal– There are currently 38,238 Modules available for Drupal.
12- Installation Time
WordPress– 5-10 minutes
Joomla– 10-15 minutes
Drupal– 10-15 minutes
The 3 CMS’s are generally considered reasonably secure with a team of dedicated developers who are constantly working on the core software of the platforms, pushing out updates on a regular basis.
WordPress– WordPress has a security team 25 experts which consists of Security analysts, researchers and dedicated WordPress developers. They also offer an enhanced security and maintenance service for enterprise level platforms that are built using WordPress. Subscribing to this service provides access to technical experts who analyse an application’s code and provide recommendations for any improvements from a security point of view, access to managed hosting and ongoing project maintenance.
One of the most common reasons for security breaches in WordPress installation is vulnerabilities in third-party Plugins. This makes up for roughly 56% of the security breaches that take place on WordPress.
Joomla– Joomla has a dedicated team of 13 individuals including expert Joomla developers who are responsible for security related issues. Although Joomla is considered a secure platform, there is always a possibility of security breaches. One of the main reasons for security breaches with the platform is mis-configuration of components while setting up the system. The security and maintenance team are responsible for regularly updating the core files and updating documents and FAQ’s so as to educate users on security related issues and system enhancements.
Drupal– Drupal has a security team made up of 40 individuals and is considered one of the safest CMS’s in the world. Using statistical data published by the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) system, Drupal is considered the safest CMS with the lowest market share to incident rate ratio. Joomla on the other hand has the highest value for the same ratio. Also there were only 29 vulnerabilities found in Drupal for the years 2015 and 2016 combined.
Cross-site Scripting or XSS make up for the highest number of vulnerabilities for Drupal based setups. 39% of the vulnerabilities found on WordPress were also due to XSS and 15% for Joomla.
Given its capability to handle large amounts of complex content, scalability and solid security, Drupal is a preferred CMS for government organisations around the world including the White House.
14- Search Engine Optimisation
If you are a stranger to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) then here you go, SEO is the process of gaining visibility on the organic section of the search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. SEO can be broken down into two parts i.e. on-page optimisation and off-page optimisation. A large part of on-page optimisation is undertaken on the website level and it is good to have this functionality built into the CMS that is powering your website. Below is a comparison of the three CMS’s from a SEO point of view,
Uses a third-party plugin for enabling on-page optimisation features and allows a website administrator to edit meta title, meta tags, generate a sitemap, enable URL re-writing etc. Yoast is one of the most popular and powerful SEO plugins available for WordPress and has both a free and a paid version. Without a doubt WordPress has one of the most user-friendly and powerful plugin available in the market place. In fact Yoast has set an industry standard for other SEO plugin/module/extension developers.
Joomla and Drupal also has a plenty of options when it comes to SEO extensions which are both free and paid and provide a web administrator similar features as Yoast.
Winner- Tie between WordPress Joomla and Drupal
Transferability is an option for all the 3 CMS’s and there is plenty of published material online including step by step guides that can help you transfer between these CMS’s. It is suggested that you have an experienced developer undertaking the transfer if you run a complex content driven or an eCommerce store with a large amount of inventory.
Winner- Not Applicable
There are literally thousands of ready themes available for WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. Out of the 3 CMS’s WordPress has the largest number of free themes available for download. Better still if you can afford to hire a front end developer/designer, you can get a custom theme developed without compromising on the look and feel and loading speeds.
Based on our comparison, WordPress is the clear winner but it is best you consider your business needs and personal preferences prior to choosing a CMS to run your operations in the digital sphere. Some of the most important points to consider while choosing a CMS include, budgets, functionality, availability of development skills and future needs.