Last week's Drupal vs. WordPress post, we dove into the world of open-source CMSes. As an agnostic agency, we work with clients on both platforms, but there's no question that the two have their own benefits. I hope we uncovered a few last week, and I want to continue that comparison in this second part.

In our first part, we covered:

  1. Responsive Design and Development
  2. Extendibility
  3. Security
  4. Performance
  5. Scalability

As we continue our comparison, we’ll look at:

  1. Professional Support/Managed Hosting
  2. Ease of Use
  3. Upgradability
  4. Internationalization

So let's get back to it!

Related Story: "Battle Royale: Open-Source vs. Closed-Source CMS"

6. Performance

CMS Performance - Drupal vs. WordPress

I like to describe website performance as the most obvious thing you don’t see. If a website is performing terribly, your users will notice.  Caching is a key part of website performance.  Caching allows the more data-consuming portions of a website like HTML pages, images, files, database queries, etc. to be stored in a number of ways.

Local caching keeps the user’s local computer from continuously downloading the same files over and over, which slows down performance. On the web server, caching can do things such as limit a number of times the website has to request information from the database, foregoing the need for some of the local caching options.

In short, caching is a good thing.

WordPress

WordPress offers a number of caching options.  It uses a vast array of plugins to extend its caching and performance fine-tuning to make sites perform quickly.

Drupal

Out of the box, Drupal offers a number of caching options and aggregation of scripts and style sheets (aggregating prevents a user’s computer from downloading a myriad of performance-costing files).

With contrib modules Drupal can integrate with enterprise caching systems like Varnish or Memcache.

Winner

Drupal. Both systems can be fine-tuned to deliver fast performance, but Drupal is more extendable with the options available for it and far more configurable.

7. Ease of Use

At the end of the day our clients want a system that is easy to understand and use. Any CMS can offer a wonderful front-end web experience—that’s the result of a talented web design team. But if the backend—the place where the content and website managers will work daily—is extremely difficult to maintain and manage, content can become stale quickly or inaccurate.

WordPress

WordPress is one of the easiest to use systems out there today. It organizes posts into various types and has a robust framework to quickly change page layouts on the fly.

Its tagging system allows users to easily categorize things and extend upon this categorization.  Plus, it has a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor built into it. 

Drupal

Drupal is Spartan out of the box, which can be a blessing and a curse. Only this year did Drupal, with the release of Drupal 8, incorporate a WYSIWYG editor out of the box (something WordPress has had since day one) as well as a robust administration menu.

While Drupal can be reconfigured to give a lot of features that WordPress offers out of the box, the job falls on the developer to plan those features. Clients occasionally hire us to take over their Drupal sites from previous agencies, and due to the previous agency’s lack of planning, the job, while manageable, can be a nightmare.

Winner

WordPress. This is one thing WordPress does VERY well.  We build our Drupal sites to be easy to use, but we strategize, plan, and configure them so—whereas WordPress’s ease of use comes out of the box.

8. Upgradability

CMS Upgrade - Drupal vs. WordPress

Like everything on the Internet, things upgrade and evolve from version to version. Your CMS system that was set up to be a best-in-class product will eventually become obsolete. To keep up, the CMS will need to be upgraded for a number of reasons like security, performance, features, etc. Both WordPress and Drupal iterate to new versions over a period of time.

WordPress

WordPress has historically gone from one major version to another every five years. Upgrading the website to the next version can be a complicated procedure and requires a number of steps to ensure that content and core functionality can be used in the next version of the CMS. 

Drupal

Major version upgrades to Drupal tend to take anywhere from four to six years. Drupal will continue to support the current version and the previous version. For instance, currently Drupal 8 is the main version, and Drupal 7 support will continue for the next four years.

Upgrading between numbered versions of Drupal is also a large undertaking. In many cases a redesign of the website is recommended over an upgrade due to the amount of work to move between versions of the CMS.

Winner

WordPress. While both offer tools to migrate to a new version of the CMS, Drupal 7 to 8 updates are currently difficult. While not ideal, WordPress upgrades easier and with less effort than Drupal.

9. Internationalization

Websites for our clients are global affairs, and to extend their online reach and presence, our clients require tools such as internationalization. The task could be to translate content for international users into native languages, such as Chinese for Chinese users and French for French users.

Internationalization CMS - Drupal vs. WordPress

WordPress

WordPress requires a number of plugins, such as Polylang, to allow the setup and configuration of the various languages. We also must create a language selector for content and website managers to choose the language as they add content.

Drupal

Drupal also requires a series of modules to allow internationalization. And like WordPress, Drupal also allows managers to select from multiple fields that are broken out by language.

However, Drupal can go one step further by serving up the language dynamically to the actual website visitor based on a number of criteria, such as IP address, geolocation, browser language settings, etc.

Winner

Drupal. While WordPress offers an easy-to-use platform to set up and add multiple languages, Drupal wins because of the sheer number of ways you can translate and serve up the content to the website visitor. A number of these core features come out of the box with Drupal, and allow for granular control over how your myriad languages are served.

And now, I declare the winner…

Drupal!

Overall our choice is Drupal as a platform that allows for greater customization to deliver web experiences that best meet our clients’ needs. From small sites to large enterprises, Drupal is flexible enough to give us a best-in-breed system.

Keep in mind, I’m not saying WordPress isn’t a viable platform. As I’ve demonstrated above and in last week's post, WordPress is strong for small to midsize websites and is one of the easiest to use systems out there. 

Share Your Opinion

Have opinions on the list? Have questions about other WordPress and Drupal comparisons? Message me (Tadd) on LinkedIn.

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