A content management system (CMS) allows users with little or no web development experience to refresh the content of a website. There’s no need to code and the websites are organised into user-friendly chunks. A CMS just requires a basic knowledge of computing. The three main Content Management Systems used to develop websites are WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach and it depends entirely on the capabilities you want from your website.
WordPress was the original blogging platform – it’s the most used CMS in the world. There is an extensive range of website templates available and plugins available for further customisation.
For small business brochure style websites with a blog, WordPress suits perfectly, but where there is any needed added functionality, such as e-commerce or custom elements, WordPress becomes a less suitable choice.
It’s possible to make beautiful websites through WordPress, and because of its simplicity, website owners are much more likely to refresh their content frequently.
Easy to use
WordPress began life as a blogging platform and consequently, it’s notably easier to use than Joomla! and Drupal. Anyone familiar with word processing software should be able to use it with minimal training.
WordPress is probably the most flexible of the major CMS’s, allowing for quick and easy creation of custom content types and custom taxonomies. This makes it an ideal choice for sites with many different types of content. For example, a booksellers’ website might have a need for a ‘book’ post type with several different taxonomies relating to the author, publisher, genre and so on. This can be achieved using WordPress at a far lower cost than in Joomla.
Support and community
Available WordPress documentation and support is much more advanced and helpful compared with Joomla! and Drupal. This makes developing for WordPress much simpler and less frustrating.
WordPress manuals and support for both developers and end users are light years ahead of what Joomla or anyone else has on offer. This makes developing for WordPress much simpler for the end user to maintain their site.
Because WordPress was originally a blogging platform, although over the years it has been developed into a full CMS, these origins are still very much evident in its architecture and much of the code.
This makes WordPress the ideal platform for magazine sites and any other site centred around a blog – which effectively is most small business websites. Because of WordPress’s simplicity when adding content it lends itself well to news websites.
WordPress is naturally more search engine friendly and SEO is easier to administer on there. Handy plugin, Yoast simply breaks down the different aspects for websites to become more Google friendly.
WordPress’s blog-like nature, whilst helpful for sites that do actually feature blogs, can be awkward to work on sites that aren’t based around blogs.
For example, all content on WordPress has comments enabled by default, the default templates arrange content chronologically rather than by topic. None of these are difficult problems to overcome, but you can never quite escape the fact that when you’re working on a non-blogging based website you’re working against WordPress’s nature.
Security is and always has been a major issue with WordPress, though the reasons for that are not necessarily faults with WordPress itself. Firstly, WordPress is the most popular CMS by a considerable distance and is, therefore, a major target for hackers. Secondly, most of the vulnerabilities which hackers exploit do not come from WordPress itself but poorly written or out-of-date, third-party plugins.
The obvious solution to that would be to not use third party plugins? But because WordPress is a blogging platform, not a pure CMS you sometimes need a plugin to provide functionality that another CMS might have out of the box. As a developer, you can write those yourself or make sure the plugin you’re using is up to scratch, but this is still extra work that would not necessarily need to be carried out on Joomla or another platform. In any case, WordPress’s popularity combined with its reputation as a target rich environment from a hacker’s perspective means a WordPress site is more likely to be the subject of attacks than something built on almost any other platform.
You need to be on the ball with security when you work with WordPress. WordPress is updated more frequently than Joomla, which is a double-edged sword. It means that security holes are quickly filled when discovered, but any platform update has a possibility of breaking a site and WordPress does not issue separate security updates, so it’s frequently a choice between a major, potentially site-breaking core update and leaving a security hole unpatched.
Is the middle man of the two, it’s much simpler to use than Drupal and offers more flexibility than WordPress. Joomla was created with websites in mind, not blogs.
Joomla! is more suited to websites where there needs to be a little more flexibility. Joomla! is more customisable than WordPress however, it requires more development knowledge to do so.
Flexible menu structure
Joomla separates menu structure from content in a way that goes even further than WordPress. This allows for a more flexible site structure, albeit at the expense of making the learning curve for administering the site a little steeper.
Joomla is a fully fledged content management system, where WordPress is a blogging platform that later developed into a CMS. These days, the difference isn’t very noticeable but when it comes to managing large amounts of content Joomla still makes the users’ life significantly easier.
Out of the box, a Joomla website will load faster than a WordPress one, but the difference is not especially significant. However, once additional, functionality is added to the site the performance gap between WordPress and Joomla widens noticeably.
Comparable with Drupal and WordPress, Joomla!’s supporting documentation is not as helpful or as ‘in depth’.
Difficult to Create Custom Content
Creating custom content types is possible in Joomla through a component, but compared to WordPress the process is time-consuming.
Customised post types allow the organisation of page types, which therefore allow specific attributes to be applied are noticeably more difficult to create in Joomla.
Although not as much of a target for Hackers as WordPress, Joomla is the second most popular CMS on the market after WordPress, so it also has its fair share of security issues. It is not as reliant on third-party plugins as WordPress, which means it’s less likely to have vulnerabilities however.
SEO functionality is not built in and therefore more time consuming.
Drupal is malleable and adaptable but also the most difficult to use. It’s not a content management system (CMS) as such, but a content management framework.
Drupal is brilliantly flexible, it can be the building blocks of any website, from blogs, to e-commerce to major governmental websites.
However, it is much more complex than the likes of WordPress and more difficult to learn and understand and therefore it’s a more time-consuming and costly option.
A custom task on the likes of WordPress can take an age to fathom on Drupal. But Drupal allows for that flexibility whereby you can create just about anything.
Drupal is the most powerful of the CMS’s, very flexible but requires the experienced developers and therefore works out to be not competitive for certain projects.
Powerful, adaptable and flexible
You’re able to build your site from the bottom up, exactly how you want it to be. You can build substantial websites with the ability to do practically anything.
Drupal is substantially more secure than WordPress and Joomla. Which is one of the reasons why major governmental websites are built using it.
Drupal has a strong community of developers who are able to provide advanced and in-depth support.
Drupal performs especially well on speed but only if set up correctly which is somewhat more complicated than on other platforms.
Has the capacity to handle substantial websites and large numbers of visitors without impacting performance.
It’s possible to apply the Yoast module to greatly simplify the task of applying effective SEO on a page. There’s also a host of sophisticated reporting tools to analyse how well a website is doing on search results pages.
More difficult to use
Drupal is the most difficult to pick up and requires development knowledge otherwise if websites aren’t set up correctly they can perform badly, with slow response page times and error messages.
Updates can be more time consuming and notoriously difficult to do.
Drupal is noticeably more difficult to work than the other two and therefore websites created using Drupal require more advanced developers and with it larger budgets.