WordPress versus Drupal: I have been asked a couple of times recently whether someone should use WordPress or Drupal for their new website. The results of the discussions were that one chose Drupal and one chose WordPress. What follows are some of the thought processes that we went through to come to those decisions. This is not a particularly technical article, in fact if anything it leans towards what ‘feels right’ for a particular site (although if there are any technical inaccuracies please let me know).
Intro to each system
In each case we started by giving ourselves a rough outline of what each system does. WordPress was developed as a blogging platform and blogging is still what it does best. However the interface was found to be so easy to use that it became more and more popular and therefore more and more developed until WordPress 3 and a real move towards a full content management system (CMS).
Drupal is a CMS. It can run blogs for multiple users as well as forums and create various types of content, right out of the box. It is not so user friendly though and many people find the interface difficult to navigate around.
Designs, or themes, for WordPress and Drupal are where we find the widest gap. Themes for WordPress are numerous, beautiful and being developed all the time for a wide range of sites from galleries to magazine style sites, from the cleanest, simplest blog to fully functioning “web site” that looks nothing like a blog at all.
Drupal designs are harder to come by and often cludgy, boxy and unattractive. They are getting better all the time of course but they still have a way to go to catch up with the diversity of the range of wordpress themes currently available.
Number of users
Drupal is designed for a number of users. User accounts are sophisticated and allow huge flexibility in permissions. Individual users can run their own blogs and Drupal sites are set up for multi-user access.
WordPress on the other hand is pretty much designed for one user. Yes, you can have multiple users but if you are just using the standard wordpress then tidying up things like subscribers seeing the backend admin style interface instead of your nice theme is a fiddle. It can be done but its another thing to sort.
Drupal is scary. It’s techy and not particularly plug and play. If you are new to managing your own website then Drupal is going to be a pretty steep learning curve. WordPress on the other hand has everything presented from the dashboard pretty much, right there in front of you. If you can’t find something its only a matter of clicking through the menus. In Drupal you have to dig a lot more and may well give up before you succeed.
WordPress: plugins and widgets Drupal: modules. Both systems have a good range of modules by which you can extend them. Again WordPress wins on the plug and play style of the plugins. Drupal will need permissions setting up as well as enabling of the module itself. Then it isn’t always easy to see where the options are for the module you have just installed.
As always, it will depend on the site requirements and the user and these will have to be balanced. What facilities does the site need? How experienced is the user/potential owner? Do they want to learn to manage a new site or do they just want to set up and go? Start with some of these decisions BEFORE choosing your platform and you might save yourself a lot of time down the line.
If you do a search on the web you will find numerous discussions on the wordpress/drupal debate. I thought this one was rather good: http://www.chapterthree.com/blog/jennifer-lampton/wordpress-vs-drupal-saga-continues