If you’re in the process of building a website and you prefer using a content management system instead of a web builder, chances are you’re having trouble choosing between WordPress and Drupal (and maybe Joomla too).
On one hand, you know WordPress is a much more popular CMS, as it’s the most widely used content management system, so it’d be logical for you to choose it as well.
On the other hand, you may have read all about Drupal’s security features and richer admin experience, and those are pretty convincing features for every aspiring webmaster.
So, how do you choose? What’s the best CMS for you?
We hope you’ll decide after reading our detailed guide, as we’ve reviewed both content management systems in depth.
A General Overview
In this part, we’ll go through the basics about WordPress and Drupal, their history and beginnings, as well as some useful facts to illustrate their significance. While both WordPress and Drupal have the same purpose – to provide webmasters with a platform upon which they can build their website and run an online business, they obviously have differences in their approach and overall features.
That doesn’t mean one is always better than the other, however. The purpose behind our WordPress vs Drupal guide isn’t to praise one and criticize the other. On the contrary, it is to explain why both CMSs have great advantages and useful features and to help you decide which one suits your current website needs best.
That’s why we’ll focus on each of them separately and outline their major features and advantages while comparing them in the process. So, in order to give you some context on Drupal’s and WordPress’ place on the market and their usage, let’s go through some drupal stats and facts:
- Drupal is older than WordPress.
- Both WordPress and Drupal cover more than 65% of the CMS market.
- Drupal has more than 2,700 themes, while WordPress has 3,945.
- Drupal is a free tool, however, you may find yourself spending up to $40,000 on website development; you can do the same with $15,000 to $20,000 on WordPress.
WordPress is an open-source content management system written in PHP. Originally created as a blogging platform, WordPress has grown into a platform capable of supporting a wide range of web content. It’s been around for almost two decades, and it has established itself as the leading content management system.
WordPress is very user-friendly (even for non-developers and content editors), and over the years it has established itself as a platform that allows users to build their websites fairly quickly. Mind you, this doesn’t mean your website will be looking plain simple, and that you won’t be able to intervene or know how to upgrade it in any way. In fact, with its numerous add-ons, free themes, third-party plugins, and so on, you can easily expand your simple site’s functionality.
To wrap up the WordPress section, let’s go through some telling WordPress stats:
- The keyword “WordPress” is searched for 37 million times every month.
- WordPress’ latest version (4.5) has been downloaded more than 20 million times.
- WordPress is said to power more than 30% of the Web’s top 1,000 sites and roughly 15% of the Web’s top 100 sites.
- Some large companies whose websites are powered by WordPress include CNN, USA Today, NBC, CBS Local, New York Post, New York Observer, TIME.com, Fortune.com, TechCrunch, Spotify, and so on.
- More than 500 new websites are built using WordPress each day, and on the whole, almost 20 million websites are powered by WordPress.
- To date, there have been more than 1.25 billion WordPress plugin downloads.
Drupal is also an open-source content management system written in PHP, however, as we briefly mentioned, it’s slightly older than WordPress.
Contrary to WordPress’ ease of use and simplicity, Drupal is aimed at slightly more experienced webmasters (and web developers). This is so because Drupal is created to power larger eCommerce websites, websites that need complex organization, and businesses that require greater scalability. On the other hand, WordPress would be great for small businesses.
That’s what makes its features more advanced too. Drupal offers solutions for security vulnerabilities, has various so-called “Drupal modules” and Drupal themes, and provides advanced extensibility for your Drupal site.
Finally, we’ve included some useful Drupal stats, as we did with WordPress above:
- There are 0.56 million live sites running on Drupal.
- Chaos is the most installed Drupal module with 11,584,746 downloads.
- The Drupal community has 1.3 million members.
- There are 42,650 free Drupal modules available for download.
- The whitehouse.gov website used Drupal from 2009 to 2017.
WordPress vs Drupal – A Comparison Guide
Popularity and Usage
WordPress powers 63.6% of all websites whose content management system is made known. In essence, that’s 37.6% of all websites.
Plus, different webmasters use different versions of WordPress. Here are the percentages of websites using various versions of WordPress:
- WP version 5: 78.9%
- WP version 4: 19.8%
- WP version 3: 1.1%
- WP version 2: 0.2%
- WP version 1: less than 0.1%
Overall, version 5 seems to be the most popular one among webmasters. WordPress 5 came out in December 2018.
WordPress also has many subcategories, so there’s a difference when it comes to their popularity and usage. Here are the major ones along with their usage in percentages:
- WooCommerce: 17.2%
- Web-Dorado Photo Gallery: 0.9%
- bbPress: 0.8%
- BuddyPress: 0.6%
- NextGEN Gallery: 0.5%
- wpForo: 0.1%
- FooGallery: 0.1%
- Robo Gallery: 0.1%
- Supsystic Photo Gallery: 0.1%
- Asgaros Forum: 0.1%
- Grand Flagallery: less than 0.1%
- WP eCommerce: less than 0.1%
- AnsPress: less than 0.1%
- eCommerce Product Catalog: less than 0.1%
- WP EasyCart:less than 0.1%
- Envira Gallery: less than 0.1%
- Shopp: less than 0.1%
- MarketPress: less than 0.1%
- Other: 79.4%
To get an even better idea of where WordPress is on the content management system market, take a look at the following diagram:
WordPress market position
The diagram above shows the position WordPress has on the market in terms of popularity and website traffic. Here’s how to read it: a content management system placed in the lower right-hand side corner is used by many websites (but, mostly by websites with average traffic rank); a CMS in the upper left-hand side corner is used by fewer websites, but usually by websites with high traffic rank; and, of course, the best position is the upper right-hand side corner.
WordPress is located on the lower right-hand side corner and is used by many websites, however, not by high-traffic sites.
Industry verticals where WordPress is being used
This pie chart clearly illustrates the industries where WordPress is used the most. Hence, WordPress seems to be the most popular in the Computers Electronics & Technology industry (2.53%), followed by the Science & Education sector (1.85%) and the Arts and Entertainment industry (1.66%).
There’s also a huge percentage under Others (92.46), which is completely understandable, as WordPress is embraced by a wide range of industries and sectors.
WordPress usage by websites across the globe
The map above shows the countries where WordPress is used the most. Hence, it seems WordPress is the most widely used in the United States (with 1,409,444 websites), then in Japan (with 439,455 websites) and in Russia, which is being ranked third, (with 384,850 websites).
Here’s a list of actual websites using WordPress as their content management system (CMS):
support.google.com / traffic rank 1.6B monthly visits
bit.ly 43 traffic rank 1.2B monthly visits
translate.google.com / traffic rank 734.6M monthly visits
outbrain.com 80 traffic rank 554.1M monthly visits
wp.pl 77 traffic rank 298.8M monthly visits
mediafire.com 159 traffic rank 270.8M monthly visits
With Drupal, we’ll apply the same approach as we did with WordPress. So, Drupal powers 2.7% of all websites whose content management system is known. That’s 1.6% of all websites.
As with WordPress, different webmasters use different versions of Drupal. Here are the percentages of websites using various versions of Drupal:
- Drupal version 7: 69.7%
- Drupal version 8: 23.8%
- Drupal version 6: 6.1%
- Drupal version 5: 0.3%
- Drupal version 9: less than 0.1%
- Drupal version 4: less than 0.1%
- Drupal version 3: less than 0.1%
And no, the numbering isn’t wrong – it isn’t hierarchical as was the case with WordPress (check out the WordPress paragraph again in case you need to jog your memory, or simply make a comparison).
Overall, Drupal 7 is the most used version, followed by Drupal 8. Please note that Drupal 9 came out in June 2020 so it would be impossible to expect a huge percentage of users.
To illustrate Drupal’s place on the market, let’s take a look at the following diagram as we did with WordPress:
Drupal market position
The same explanation we gave about reading the WordPress diagram applies here. Based on the information given, Drupal is placed in the upper left-hand side corner, meaning that it’s used by fewer websites, however, mostly high traffic websites (you can see WordPress’ location on the diagram again, which shows us their different position right away).
Industry verticals where Drupal is being used
The pie chart above shows the industries where Drupal is used the most. It seems Drupal is the most popular in the Science & Education sector (7.90%), then in the Law & Government sector (3.77), and in the Health department (3.17).
Drupal is also used by many other industries (82.15%).
If you can recall, we outlined two different sectors in the top three WordPress industries (only the Science and Education sector is present in both cases); so, WordPress was the most popular in the Computers Electronics & Technology industry, the second was the Science & Education sector which we just mentioned, and the Arts and Entertainment industry ranked third.
Drupal usage by websites across the globe
The map above shows the countries where Drupal is the most popular. As with WordPress, the first country where Drupal is used the most is the United States (with 78,867 websites), however, the next two countries differ.
The second country where WordPress was most popular was Japan and the third was Russia. That being said, the second country where Drupal is most popular is Russia (with 33,706 websites), and the third one is France (with 17,015 websites).
Finally, here’s a sample of websites that actually use Drupal as their content management system (CMS):
trc.taboola.com / traffic rank 608.9M monthly visits
taboola.com 71 traffic rank 605.6M monthly visits
cnbc.com 164 traffic rank 231.2M monthly visits
irs.gov 345 traffic rank 182M monthly visits
indiatoday.in 685 traffic rank 93.4M monthly visits
ad.nl 596 traffic rank 90.5M monthly visits
Pricing, Features and Other Specifications
WordPress is free, open-source software. Yes, you read that right. It’s FREE. Well, what do I pay for then? you may wonder. We’ll get into your potential expenses, but let us first explain what this “free” concept means.
WordPress is free to download and use, and the open-source aspect refers to the fact that its core data files can be read and modified by the users themselves. So, WordPress users are encouraged at all times not only to use the software but to modify and improve its core files as well.
That being said, WordPress does come with a special license called GPL – its purpose is to make sure anyone distributing the software also includes the license which makes sure no one pays for using it. So, WordPress being free doesn’t refer so much to the pricing, but to the philosophy behind it.
Building and operating a WordPress site, however, is a completely different story that includes some financial expenses.
You see, when making a website, there are tons of aspects to be considered – buying and registering a domain name, finding web hosting and opting for an adequate hosting plan, hiring a web developer if you need extra help, and so on. Plus, depending on your budget, you may decide to invest in extra security features, or buy premium themes and plugins, to name a few.
Here are some WordPress cost estimates when it comes to these expenses:
- A domain – from $15 a year;
- Hosting – from $90 a year (our recommendation: Bluehost or check out cheap WordPress hosting providers);
- Premium themes – $30-$50 a year;
- Premium plugins – from $50 and up a year;
- Security – from $15 all the way up to $65 a year.
- SEO is important irrespective of which content management system you’re using. That being said, each CMS has its own tips and tricks that enable you to optimize your content for your search engine ranking.
So, here are some SEO features you can use to boost your site’s SEO:
- Install an SEO plugin (such as Rankmath);
- Use a caching plugin (such as WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache)
- Use rich snippets (for this, you can install the following rich snippets plugin: Schema – All in One Schema Rich Snippets);
- Optimize your images (you guessed it – you can install an image optimization plugin);
Use a CDN;
Use mobile-responsive themes;
Adjust the Permalink structure in the WordPress dashboard area.
- As you may understand by now, WordPress has tons of plugins and themes to choose from and they’re key when it comes to expanding your site’s functionality and features. There are both free and premium WordPress themes and plugins. Please note that most of the free ones are very useful, and you may not need to invest so much in WordPress plugins/themes. You can find all of them in the WordPress repository.
- WordPress is very easy to use – it’s very user-friendly and has an intuitive interface. It’s very suitable for beginners, and it strives for simplicity. It requires no coding skills whatsoever (that’s why everything is available in a plugin-like way).
WordPress security is one of the key priorities every webmaster should have. WordPress includes several security practices and it’s best to employ as many as you can.
One important thing is to remember to always keep your WordPress site updated, as these updates are vital for your overall site’s security. Also, don’t forget to install a WordPress security plugin (such as Sucuri, Wordfence Security, MalCare Security, Defender, All In One WP Security & Firewall, and others).
You can also use a web application firewall (WAF), which blocks all malware before it even reaches your website.
That being said, keep in mind that WordPress is a less secure option than Drupal when it comes to its security measures. Namely, hackers can easily target a vulnerability inside a particular plugin, and with that, attack and destroy thousands of WordPress websites.
If you’re using WordPress, there are several ways to get assistance. Of course, you can always turn to your hosting provider for help and assistance, or hire a web developer to fix your website’s issues. And that’s the most personalized WordPress help you can get, but there are cheaper options as well.
For example, WordPress.com has a toll free number you can call – 1-877 273-3049. When you dial it, you’ll hear a recorded message with some menu options. If you press “2” for support, you’ll be redirected to the WordPress.com support section and you can get help from WordPress’ team of Happiness Engineers.
You can also make use of WordPress’ Support Documentation – it’s a great place to get the information you need. It includes video tutorials and documents, that might be of help regardless of what your problem may be. Also, the WordPress support forums are a place where your questions are answered by WordPress’ staff and experienced engineers.
Finally, WordPress has a Live Chat option, so if you can’t find the answer to your question, or you can’t fix the issue, you can chat with a Happiness Engineer in real-time.
Awards and Recognition
Awards are significant because they support or expand the reputation a specific company has. Over the years, WordPress has received many CMS awards, and probably the most significant ones are in its earlier years and the period when it was still developing, such as the following:
In 2008 WordPress:
- received the InfoWorld’s Best of open source software awards: Collaboration award;
In 2009 WordPress:
- won the Open Source CMS Award Overall Best Open Source CMS;
In 2010 WordPress:
- was the winner of Digital Synergy’s Hall of Fame CMS category in the 2010 Open Source;
In 2011 WordPress:
- received the InfoWorld’s Bossie award for Best Open Source Software.
Finally, WordPress also has a five-star privacy rating from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (a California-based digital rights group).
Like WordPress, Drupal is a free, open-source software, and the explanation is the same we gave above: it’s free to download and install, and users can modify the platform. It’s also released under the GNU General Public License.
That being said, you have more or less the same expenses we’ve already discussed in the WordPress prices section. So, you can expect ongoing maintenance costs, scaling costs, paying for advanced security features, hiring web developers (especially if you have no web development skills because Drupal is far more complex than WordPress), and so on.
Plus, it all depends on the plan you have for your potential website – if you’re planning on including many content types, custom development, and a complex workflow, everything will be pricier.
In this sense, it might be fair to say that using Drupal is more expensive than WordPress, as with WordPress there are many technicalities you can handle on your own. Drupal is definitely a maintenance-heavy CMS compared to WordPress.
So, here are the Drupal cost estimates:
- Constructing – from $5,000-$6,000 to $20,000 or even more;
- A Standard Drupal project – from $20,000 to $40,000 or more;
- Maintenance – from $500 to $1000 or even more;
- Hosting – similar to WordPress (our recommendation: InMotion hosting).
With Drupal, everything price-related depends on the type of website you want to build and the features you want to include.
- When it comes to SEO, Drupal’s in-built robust features provide fast loading times, but webmasters make use of Drupal’s so-called modules. For example, the Drupal SEO Tools module provides you with the following:
- Keyword research
- Keyword management
- Keyword extraction
- Content optimization
- Content reports (via SEO Friend)
- Content tagging
- Link management
- Content auto-linking
- Cornerstone content & silo management
- Drupal SEO architectural enhancements
- Page titles
- Meta Tags
- Path & Pathauto
- Global redirect
- Path redirect
- XML sitemap
- Google Analytics w/ API integration
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Unlike WordPress, using Drupal can be a challenge for many. This is so because Drupal has much more robust features, and it’s equipped to handle more complex projects. That being said, if someone used WordPress in the past, but wants to try Drupal they may feel a bit intimidated by Drupal’s interface and overall functioning. There truly is a learning curve with Drupal, as there are content types, blocks, views, taxonomies, and so on.
Security is probably the biggest (and most meaningful!) difference between WordPress and Drupal. Drupal has enterprise-level security and much more robust features.
It’s enough to know that many government websites are built using Drupal (such as the whitehouse.gov site example we gave). This should tell you enough about the level of protection users have when they opt for Drupal. This is especially true for the past couple of years with the intense work related to handling security vulnerabilities. There was also a rise in the apps handling security issues, such as Pantheon and Acquia.
Overall, if you pick this CMS, here’s what Drupal’s security system can handle:
- User access control;
- Database encryption;
- Information sharing via security reports;
- Auto-update and core validation work in partnership with GitHub;
- Prevention of malicious data entry;
- Mitigation of Denial of Service (DoS) attacks;
- Patching of issues before they’re exploited.
Drupal offers customer support through several different methods. The first step is to search for answers on their official websites to check whether your question has been answered. The next step is to check out Drupal forums and read Drupal’s Community Documentation.
Drupal offers live chat support, but in a bit of a different way than WordPress does – you’d have to join Drupal’s Slack group or IRC group to chat with Drupal’s experts and get answers quickly. What’s more, you can use the Stack Exchange platform to both ask and answer Drupal-related questions. Finally, to get support for a core bug, head over to the core issue queue.
Awards and Recognition
Drupal received many awards and gained greater recognition throughout the years. Here are some major awards Drupal won in the period from 2006 to 2014:
In 2006 Drupal:
- took part in the Packt Publishing Open Source CMS Awards and won the Best Overall Open Source CMS award (2nd place);
In 2007 Drupal:
- was a CNet Webware 100 Winner;
- won the following at the Packt Publishing Open Source CMS Awards:
- Best Overall Open Source CMS award (1st place);
- Best PHP Open Source Content Management System award (2nd place);
- Best Open Source Social Networking Content Management System award (2nd place tie);
In 2008 Drupal:
- won the Webware 100 award;
- won the following at the Packt Publishing Open Source CMS Awards:
- Best Overall Open Source CMS award (1st place);
- Best PHP Open Source Content Management System award (1st place);
In 2009 Drupal:
- was a Webware 100 winner (for the third year in a row!);
- won the following at the Packt Publishing Open Source CMS Awards:
- Best PHP Open Source Content Management System award (1st place)
- Open Source CMS Hall of Fame award;
In 2010 Drupal:
- took part in the Infoworld Bossie Awards 2010 and won The best open source applications award;
- at the Packt Publishing Open Source CMS Awards won the Open Source CMS Hall of Fame award (2nd place);
In 2011 Drupal:
- won The best open source applications award at the Infoworld Bossie Awards 2011;
In 2012 Drupal:
- won The best open source applications award at the Infoworld Bossie Awards 2012;
In 2013 Drupal:
- won the Best Free CMS award at the Critic’s Choice Award 2013;
In 2014 Drupal:
- won the Best Enterprise PHP CMS award at the CMS Critic Critics’ Choice;
- won the Best Enterprise PHP CMS award at the CMS Critic Peoples’ Choice;
- recognized as one of the top 10 PHP CMS by Weblizar.
To sum up, both WordPress and Drupal have their advantages and one isn’t necessarily better than the other.
For me personally, WordPress wins hands down. It’s user-friendly, low barrier to entry in terms of
As a webmaster, your first priority should be to choose a proper content management system, but to do so, you have to be aware of your website needs.
Knowing your website needs and understanding what Drupal can offer and how it differs from what WordPress can do for your site is key in making the right decision. We hope our article guided you in the right direction, and now you feel more knowledgeable about both Drupal and WordPress as both are very powerful content management systems.
Finally, choose WordPress if you:
- want a beginner-friendly content management system;
- want an intuitive user interface;
- enjoy customizing your website.
Choose Drupal if you:
- want better security features;
- want a more enterprise-level content management system;
- are willing to handle Drupal’s learning curve.
Overall, whichever content management system you opt for, be sure that you can build great websites with it.
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