In 2016 Antonio compared WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla! (in Spanish) and focused on different aspects such as ease of use, multi-language support, or the community behind each platform. According to Antonio’s analysis, WordPress was the winner, albeit very narrowly and closely followed by the other two. In fact, some of you contributed very interesting points of view in the debate. One of the comments I liked the most and that really sums up the feelings of many users is the following:
Both WordPress and Drupal are excellent Content Management Systems, each triumphing in a different sector.
Drupal is far above WordPress in terms of potential and flexibility, but requires a much larger learning curve. (…) WordPress was created to develop blogs or simple pages without much programming knowledge, but one can use it today to create larger and more complex portals.
It’s been two years since then and many things have changed. That’s why we thought it would be interesting to revisit the comparison, see how WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla! have evolved over the last two months, and try to determine which one has the greatest potential for success. Shall we start a new flame war?
1. Ease of Use
Honestly, I don’t want to go into too much trouble to discuss again the differences in the overall user-friendliness of the different CMSs. A lot of people have already covered this topic, and the general consensus is that WordPress is more user-friendly for beginners. However, I’d say that today the three platforms are very usable and, once you get used to them, relatively simple.
One of the things that Drupal is always criticized for is its steep learning curve. But that makes perfect sense—Drupal was designed to create more complex websites and platforms. What I don’t like about this statement is its implications—we use it as an argument to justify how easy WordPress is compared to Drupal, but you know what? WordPress can be very complex and cumbersome to use too!
Yup, that’s exactly what I’m telling you. Actually, Antonio wrote about this topic a few months ago, when he looked into the question: “is WordPress as easy as we think it is?” And the answer was it isn’t. By default, WordPress is simple and effective and beautiful. As soon as you start installing plugins, page builders, and themes, that simplicity disappears and all that’s left is a (potential) mess!
Let’s add some context…
We (WordPress lovers) should be more careful when it comes to preach the simplicity of WordPress—problems arise quickly when we add third-party plugins and a lot of functionality on top of a vanilla WordPress installation. But there’s a catch: you’ll find this very same problem in any other CMS—as soon as you start installing more and more stuff on top of your CMS, it’ll become more complex. Therefore, it’s the responsibility of plugin and theme developers to make sure that their work fits elegantly and effectively into the WordPress Dashboard (or your favorite CMS).
In this sense, I think we have to highlight the efforts of the WordPress community to create a friendly, powerful, and context-aware user interface. I’m obviously talking about Gutenberg. If you take a look at the toolbar of the current WordPress editor, you’ll see that there are a lot of options, many of which you probably don’t need in 99% of cases: scratch out text, copy and paste, indent text…
Gutenberg changes this classic approach and proposes a completely different solution. The contents of your pages and posts are blocks (we’ll talk more about this topic next week) and the available actions depend on the active block. Too complicated to follow? Just look at the following example:
When you are editing a paragraph-type block, the actions you have are the typical ones used in that context: text alignment, bold face, underline, links… Everything else just vanishes and only the important things remain.
What if we change the block we’re working with?
Actions change too! In this case, alignment tools disappear (how a title looks depends on your WordPress theme) and, instead, you now have a few buttons to change the title hierarchy (
H4). Easy and simple.
In our original analysis in 2016, we compared the virtues of the different CMSs according to the number of plugins and themes each one offers. But I don’t know if “raw numbers” is a good metric for deciding which one is better. Instead, we should be talking about their quality and the level of support you get on each platform. Unfortunately, these metrics are way more difficult (even impossible?) to address, so I don’t know how to call a winner using any of those either ? Maybe you have an idea and want to share it in the comments section?
Anyway, from what I’ve seen in Barcelona, there are great professionals working on each platforms, so I assume you’ll find great plugins and themes everywhere.
Let’s assume we have a technical tie, shall we? WordPress has the largest market share and, therefore, it should be easier to find the right tool or professional… but more doesn’t always translate to better, so… ? What do you think?
3. Localization and Internationalization
The eternal blight of WordPress! It’s 2018 and we don’t have native i18n capabilities yet.
Unfortunately, in these two years things haven’t changed much and WordPress is still way beyond the other two when it comes to multi-language. There are multiple plugins to add multilingual support, but it’s a shame it still isn’t a native functionality.
Little can I say here: in terms of internationalization, both Drupal and Joomla! humiliate WordPress. Nonetheless, you should keep in mind that WordPress can be multi-language by installing a simple plugin (just take a look at our website, which is also available in Spanish), but it’s a shame that we have to resort to third-party solutions for something like this in 2018.
One issue that tends to be of great concern to all webmasters around the world is security. In this case, all three platforms benefit from an active community that takes care of fixing bugs as they appear. So you can rest assured regardless of the platform you end up using—if you’re up to date with WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla! your website will be secure.
Technical tie. While it’s true that WordPress is a honeypot for attackers (let’s not forget that it powers almost 30% of the web!), the speed at which its community fixes its vulnerabilities makes this threat harmless.
5. Community and Support
The three platforms are in good health and have a strong community behind them. They often hold meetups and conferences, support forums are active, users help each other and are very welcoming… in short, it doesn’t really matter which CMS you choose—you’ll never feel alone. But if I had to choose one CMS because of its community, it’d definitely be WordPress.
This should come as no surprise, for WordPress has an outstanding market share, powering almost 30% of the web. This means there’s an impressive number of people who use WordPress and, therefore, are part of its community. And you can feel it when you look at all the events they hold: regular meetups are held in many cities around the world, and not only in large urban centers, but also in small and medium-sized cities. In the Barcelona area alone, for example, there are 7 meetup groups! Not to mention the numerous WordCamps that are held in each country (in Spain we have had and have in Santander, Seville, Madrid, Barcelona…) and also macro-events such as WordCamp Europe, where professionals and users from all over Europe and the world come together for three days. It’s just unbelievable!
WordPress is the clear winner. Its market share and, therefore, big community makes them the right choice if you want to connect with users and professionals of this CMS
WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla! are great platforms for creating a website. In most areas, I couldn’t find a clear winner, but there are two things in which I think WordPress excels: its community and its ability to innovate. WordPress is is the platform with the most users in the world and their commitment to implementing a new user interface like Gutenberg demonstrates their eagerness to innovate and change the way websites are made.
What do you think? What CMS would you choose and why?