Drupal vs Wordpress Part 2: Which is the Best CMS in 2018?
We’ve covered this in previous blog posts, but I think it’s time we came back to this and gave the contenders another look. (It's only been three years since we last covered this, so everyone has probably been waiting with baited breath for this one.) Internet culture loves to pit things against each other to see which reigns supreme, so let’s do that for these two juggernaut content management systems.
Wordpress? More like Worldpress
It is no exaggeration to say that a lot of the internet (about 28% at the time of this writing) is made up of Wordpress sites. With that sort of share, it is no surprise that most everyone has heard of this blogging-tool-turned-web-platform. Among other CMS type sites, there is no contest as far as usage goes. Somewhere around half of all sites built with a CMS use Wordpress. You’ll find it as a suggestion on most shared hosting platforms and there are tutorials across the internet to help someone get started using it. This thing is everywhere.
Wordpress is currently on version 4.9.x right now and has the great reputation of making sure that most of its users are able to upgrade automatically without much threat of backwards compatibility issues. This is great from a stability standpoint. When you create a website you probably don’t want to worry that the next update to the platform will cause you to rebuild it more often than you are ready. That’s not to say it has a perfect track record when it comes to security. Not every site has a situation that allows for the automatic updates and even then there are thousands of plugins available that could have security holes.
Wordpress is everywhere and it has been for a few years now. It is not suitable for every web need though and that comes through the most when you need something that can’t be done by installing a few plugins and throwing on a premium theme purchased from somewhere. There are many places you can get a custom Wordpress site built, but the CMS itself isn’t well suited for sites with a lot of editors, permissions, and features that large enterprise sites might run into.
By making Wordpress into an easily accessible platform, it has precluded itself from being able to handle the scale that comes with more complex sites. Without diving into code, you can’t define a new role or give users a different set of limited permissions outside of what already is defined in the system. The same goes with the types of content you can create and the fields you will have available. Plugins can extend some of this, but the reliability track record isn’t the greatest from my experience.
Drupal is for big projects
When it comes to market share, Drupal is a sliver of the pie compared to the internet at large. What it lacks in sheer numbers it makes up in the number of large and significant sites that use it. Some of these sites include government sites, entertainment sites, and university sites. Drupal has a reputation of being complex and heavy to run. While that is true, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing all of the time.
Drupal 8 is a bit of a rebirth for the platform. Promises of better forwards compatibility with future versions means that it will be easier to stay up to date than ever before. This was a pain point with previous versions of the platform and the community has made it a point to improve. Drupal 8 makes life a bit easier with many more features ready to go when you install the site. You can craft a pretty good, simple, site with a vanilla installation of this version.
The real magic comes out when a skilled team of developers get their hands on Drupal. This platform has always been made by developers for developers and it shows through in 8. The new object-oriented approach to the code makes it simpler for those who aren’t as familiar with Drupal to get in there and make some changes. It is extended easily with the large number of modules that add specific features to a site. These modules are put through pretty rigorous review before they are deemed stable and it makes for more secure sites overall.
Drupal’s other big draw is the workflow experience for editors and site builders. With all of the different ways you can setup a Drupal site, it is possible to have moderated workflow between editors and whoever has the final say on published content. New editing tools include a better wysiwyg, responsive images, and dynamic data views.
Drupal 8 is easier than it ever has been, but that doesn’t say a whole lot when you think about where it came from. What separates it from the rest of the crowd is the ability for it to scale to whatever size is asked of it, but that only can happen in trained hands still and that is probably why it hasn’t taken over the market share just yet. Not every small project needs a whole development team to get it done. If you only have a few pages with some text, Drupal is going to be too much for the task. (Though it will work just fine, it’s just overkill.)
The winner is the web
There is place on the internet for both of these platforms, and while it may seem like this is a cop-out answer to come to after approaching this topic again, there is more to it. Wordpress has established itself as a useful tool for what it does best. It allows users to create a website and a decent one at that. It has replaced the old platforms of yore that helped build the early internet, but it isn’t the platform of choice for the largest sites that get the most traffic. Quantity of sites using Wordpress does not mean these sites get the most traffic individually. Drupal is built for scale and is ready to handle high traffic. Is it the obvious choice for every website? No, but should an enterprise size project be shoved into a platform meant to handle every other website or should it be able to have its needs met specifically by something meant for that task?