Wordpress vs. Joomla vs. Drupal: A Comparison of CMS Solutions

Written by Robin WildingFebruary 15, 2011

In the competitive battle of Content Management Systems (CMS) solutions the current top three contenders are the famous WordPress, the powerful Drupal and the mid-range Joomla. If these CMSs were daytime TV: WordPress would be the uber chic and popular Rachael Ray with its multi-faceted approach, Joomla would be the informative Dr. OZ with its powerful backbone and toolset and Drupal would be the highly analytical Dr. Phil. If you cannot stand Oprah and her offshoots then completely disregard the last comment but read on.

Let’s take a look at the different elements, functionalities, and usability of the 3-big CMS solutions:

WordPress has an idiot-proof installation and setup, Joomla’s is close to idiot-proof while Drupal practically requires a PhD—OK not really, but it is by far the most difficult.

Winner: WordPress
Loser: Drupal

While WordPress’ 12,000 plugins would win this one based on pure plugin quantity, the fact is that WP needs most of these just to call itself a true Content Management Solution. Joomla’s 6,000 extensions and Drupal’s 7,000 modules are more beefy bits of code and offer significantly more functionality when you consider what is included in their native platforms.

Winner: WordPress (based purely on numbers)
Loser: Joomla (again based purely on numbers)

Both WordPress and Joomla offer fantastic themes although they can get rather cookie-cutter in nature. Drupal was designed by developers for developers and is not surprisingly is focused more on a strong toolset than themes.

Winner: WP (if you have no design skills) and Drupal (if you have kick-ass skills)
Loser: Vice versa

Drupal by far has the best documentation, which is not a surprise given that it was built by and for developers—who are sticklers for documentation. WP has practically no documentation, and the bit that exists is most likely out-of-date. Joomla, as-per-usual is stuck in the middle, although still does not have much out there.

Winner: Drupal—by a mile.
Loser: WordPress

All three have strong communities. Drupal has a geek-heavy high-tech community of developers to help you, but us normal people probably won’t be able to converse with them anyways. Joomla is very similar to that of Drupal but easier to understand. WordPress has a HUGE community, but you have to search through the whiney complainers that joined the community solely to vent their frustrations or feelings of superiority.

Winner: Joomla (with an honorable mention to Drupal)
Loser: WordPress

None of the platforms support multiple languages in their native states, but all have plugins to tackle this. WordPress uses the WordPress Multilingual Plugin (WPML), Drupal needs a module called Locale, and Joomla needs a module called Joomfish.

Winner: Drupal because it has the best plugin
Loser: WordPress as it doesn’t allow much multi-language integration

WordPress and Joomla both have point-and-click interfaces that make maintenance easy. Drupal however was clearly designed by developers and you will forget each and every time how to navigate. If you are an advanced user then you can customize Drupal’s menu to display the buttons you use regularly, but for most of us this would be hopeless.

Winner: WordPress (easier than Joomla although Joomla gets an honorable mention)
Loser: Drupal

Loading Time
Drupal has seriously fast loading times and is easily winner in this category. WordPress is also fast—until you install too many plugins (and no one has figured out this exact number yet). Joomla is by far the slowest of the three with famously slow load times.

Winner: Drupal
Loser: Joomla

WordPress was plagued with security problems circa 2007 but seems to have sorted these out; it currently has some security issues with its third-party plugins.  Joomla had some issues with spam links in 2009. Which makes Drupal the most secure as it has had the least problems to date.

Winner: Drupal
Loser: WordPress

Drupal is by far the most scalable as it is designed to add new elements and sections throughout the design and maintenance process. Joomla offers decent scalability as pieces can be added later, while with WordPress it is extremely difficult to add anything new once a site is complete.

Winner: Drupal
Loser: WordPress


WordPress was created as a blogging platform and should be used primarily for blogs—although small personal sites work as well. It is the best platform for beginner users with its clean interface and easy-to-use menu, tools and plugins. And although it is limited in its native scope it has plenty of plugins to add functionality (although beware using too many as it will slow the site down).

Joomla covers the middle ground between Drupal and WordPress and is designed for beginner to intermediate users who want to use their imagination and bust out of the cookie-cutter functions of WordPress. It is a great blend of Drupal-like functionalities with WordPress-like ease of use.

Drupal is by far the best solution…if you have the technical know-how. If you are not an advanced user of CMS solutions then you will need to make a serious time commitment to learning the system, which is possible due to their rocking documentation. This is also the best choice for high-traffic and hierarchically complex sites.


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