Once you are all set up with your hosting service, a new question arises: what should be used to display the content of the website?
A Content Management System (CMS) is, as the name suggests, a system to manage content: articles, pages, images, videos, PDF, menu items, real estate properties, portfolio items, etc. etc. There are quite a few options when it comes to select your CMS, but we will focus only in the two most widely adopted: WordPress and Drupal [note]. The versions to analyze are WordPress 3.x and Drupal 7.x
The success of any application relies, with no doubt, in the easiness of use. Even if a tool is considered as more robust, secure and complete —as it’s suggested with Drupal— it doesn’t mean that it’s the best solution, even less if it requires a longer learning curve.
WordPress is much more intuitive than Drupal; even people with little or no previous knowledge of the platform catch up very fast and can start producing content after a couple of hours getting acquainted with it. Moreover, once the end-user (the person who will end up managing the content) is comfortable with WordPress, s/he’s more likely to face less stress while working with website makeovers or restructuring. Inclusively, the end-user could improve the performance of the installation by providing the developer with feedback that could allow a deeper customization.
Community and Support
Since WordPress is the number one CMS, there is more people experiencing and solving issues thus there is an overwhelming amount of resources to review when you face a specific situation.
More importantly, the Codex —the website that teaches how to customize your installation— is a jewel, well documented and with practical examples that can help you get started.
On the other hand, Drupal Documentation website is a mess; it becomes a tedious task trying to understand and “decode” the way the examples, tutorials and explanations are displayed.
Furthermore, a lot of the examples get mixed and you end-up being confused between explanations for different Drupal versions.
Being the dominant CMS out there, it is obvious that WordPress holds the title with more Themes developed: There are thousands of ready-to-use templates, free and paid, for hundreds of different industries.
As mentioned above, new WordPress themes are being developed according to the specifications of a targeted audience. Some examples:
- A theme built for a restaurant may contain menu items, promotions routines or different daily menus.
- Real estate templates my include areas for adding properties or to announce an open house.
- Artist could use it to display portfolio, recent projects, projects in process.
All of this, in a very simple and, once again, intuitive admin interface.
Developing Costs and Security
Any well-educated PHP programmer could easy add, remove or fix WordPress issues, even for old versions of the software. This makes WordPress a more economical option.
Working with Drupal requires the programmer to be acquainted not only to the most recent version of the CMS but with previous versions as well. Having said that, a Drupal-proficient programmer who masters version 6 and 7 could be much more expensive that a programmer working in WordPress.
Regarding the security of the software, I believe that there is no 100% safe system; both platforms are open source and any person with the enough knowledge can find, and potentially exploit, errors.
So make sure your programmer takes basic security routines in order to protect your site.
Prior to WordPress v.3.x, it was highly pointed out that you couldn’t create custom post types (for example: posts, pages, articles, books, videos) and taxonomies (like tags or categories). This certainly gave an edge to Drupal.
But when WordPress v3.x arrived, it marked a milestone in its development: the introduction of custom post types (to what many in the Drupal community called to be “as good as Drupal 5“) and the possibility to improve design integration with a non-intrusive software upgrade.
Upgrades are another issue, keep in mind that many websites will need upgrades in order to pass from Drupal 6 to 7 and this, obviously, imply a cost if you want to have the most recent version.
In WordPress, major improvements have been implemented virtually hassle-free since version 2.5 and if an issue arises due to the improvements/corrections in the new WordPress files, you will most likely find in the Codex the deprecated function with a link to a newer/substitute function, and possibly a practical example on how to use it.
Today, WordPress is used by 56% of the Top 10,000 sites, while Drupal only accounts for 22%; in other words, for every Drupal there are over 2.5 WordPress installations, and the tendency points to a constant increase in WordPress usage.
Which CMS do you prefer, and why?