Struggling to make the decision between WordPress vs. Joomla vs. Drupal? Choosing a content management system (CMS) is one of the biggest decisions facing your fledgling website. It’s the foundation that will power your site for years to come – so you absolutely need to put in the research time before you make a decision.
While you may expect some bias given our website name (that WP stands for WordPress, in case you were wondering), I promise I’ll put my personal feelings aside for this post. I’ll give you an in-depth, “by the facts” breakdown of these three content management systems.
And then I’ll tell you why you should probably pick WordPress anyway 🙂
Summary: WordPress vs. Joomla vs. Drupal
In the next few sections, I’ll dig into each CMS in detail. But to prep you for those sections, I want to first give you a quick summary of what you can expect with each platform.
|CMS Market Share
|Themes and Plugins
|Templates and Extensions
|Themes and Modules
WordPress – World’s Most Popular CMS
Far and away the world’s most popular CMS, WordPress is the easiest CMS for most beginners to pick up thanks to its user-friendly interface, easy extendability, and huge support community.
By the Numbers: 27.4% of all websites use WordPress. WordPress controls 58.6% of the CMS market. (Source. W3Techs)
WordPress Ease of Installation
Thanks to its popularity, 99.9% of hosts have made it painless to install WordPress and get started. Most web hosts use something called cPanel which allows you to install WordPress with just a few clicks.
Beyond that, many web hosts offer dedicated WordPress hosting. Some of these WordPress-specific packages even include a pre-installed version of WordPress.
Basically, even if you have zero technical knowledge, you can probably get WordPress installed on your host.
WordPress Extendability – Themes and Plugins
WordPress includes two easy ways to extend its design and functionality:
- Themes – themes mainly affect the design of your site, though some also add advanced functionality.
- Plugins – plugins can do everything from a simple tweak to turning your WordPress site into a full-blown eCommerce store.
WordPress has tens of thousands of free themes and plugins available. Add on the huge number of premium options, and you’ve got a massively extendable platform. Neither Joomla nor Drupal can compete with the sheer numbers of WordPress extensions.
WordPress.org maintains directories for both free themes and plugins, which makes it easy to search from one centralized location. Neither Joomla or Drupal has as well-designed of a central repository.
WordPress Pros and Cons
- Beginner friendly. WordPress is by far the easiest system for beginners to pick up.
- Largest community. Makes getting help and finding themes and plugins easy.
- Flexible. 45,000+ free plugins plus thousands more premium plugins make WordPress incredibly flexible.
- No code knowledge needed. WYSIWYG customizers and plugins called page builders make it possible to design complex pages with no code skills.
- Doesn’t always scale well. WordPress isn’t great at handling huge amounts of content/data in comparison with Drupal/Joomla.
Types of Websites You Can Create With WordPress
- Static site: Yes (no plugins needed)
- Blog: Yes (no plugins needed)
- eCommerce Store: Yes (with a plugin)
- Forum: Yes (with a plugin)
- Social Network: Yes (with a plugin)
How Much Does a WordPress Site Cost?
The actual WordPress software is free.
In theory, all you need to run WordPress is hosting and a domain name. For a beginner, hosting typically runs for $5-10 per month, while a domain costs ~$10 per year.
In practice, you’ll likely also want at least a premium theme, which will run you an additional ~$50+. Free themes are fine for hobby sites, but professional sites should go with a premium option.
You may or may not need premium plugins on top – it all depends on your site. Some sites are able to skate by exclusively with free plugins.
Famous WordPress Examples
- BBC America
- Tech Crunch
Joomla – In Between WordPress and Drupal
Joomla is a nice bridge between WordPress and Drupal. It retains some of WordPress’ user friendliness, while moving towards the flexibility offered by Drupal.
Joomla is the second most popular CMS, though the gap between it and first place WordPress is massive.
By the Numbers: 3.3% of all websites use Joomla. Joomla controls 7.2% of the CMS market.
Joomla Ease of Installation
Just as with WordPress, most hosts make it easy to install Joomla through cPanel. As long as your host uses cPanel, you won’t need any technical knowledge to get started.
You’re unlikely to find Joomla-specific hosting, though. Some hosts, like SiteGround, do offer it. But it’s nowhere near as popular an offering as WordPress hosting.
Joomla Extendability – Themes and Plugins
Joomla offers templates (similar to WordPress themes) and extensions (similar to WordPress plugins).
While the official Joomla website maintains a directory of extensions, it lacks a template directory. So if you’d like to browse templates, you’ll need to go to individual template sellers’ websites.
Joomla Pros and Cons
- Multilingual. While you can make WordPress multilanguage with plugins, Joomla includes this functionality in its core software.
- More flexibility for handling content. Out of the box, Joomla lets you work with content in more ways than WordPress.
- Good for community sites. Joomla works great for creating community platforms.
- Becoming more user friendly. Some developers are creating page builders for Joomla, which makes creating Joomla sites more beginner-friendly.
- Higher learning curve. While not as complex as Drupal, Joomla will take more time to learn than WordPress.
- No official templates directory. Makes it a tad more difficult to find the right theme for your site.
Types of Websites You Can Create With Joomla
- Static site: Yes (no extensions needed)
- Blog: Yes (no extensions needed)
- eCommerce Store: Yes (with an extension)
- Forum: Yes (with an extension)
- Social Network: Yes (with an extension)
How Much Does a Joomla Site Cost?
Base Joomla costs are similar to WordPress – the software is free, but you will need hosting and a domain name.
After that, you’ll likely need to spend $60+ on a premium template to customize your site’s looks.
You may also need premium extensions to get all of the functionality needed for your site.
Famous Joomla Examples
- Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
- The Hill
Drupal – Flexible, But Not For Beginners
Used by large organizations like Oregon State University and London Gatwick Airport, Drupal can power high-traffic websites storing huge amounts of data. But, to get the most out of Drupal, you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time learning the platform.
By the Numbers: 2.2% of all websites use Drupal. Drupal controls 4.7% of the CMS market.
Drupal Ease of Installation
As with both other platforms, most hosts with cPanel allow you to install Drupal with a single click.
Drupal Extendability – Themes and Plugins
Like WordPress and Joomla, Drupal offers two ways to extend its functionality:
It currently has ~20,000 modules, which are the rough equivalent of plugins (WordPress) and extensions (Joomla).
It also has 2,400+ themes listed in its official directory. Drupal’s third-party theme ecosystem is nowhere near as vibrant as WordPress or Joomla, though.
Drupal Pros and Cons
- Flexible. If you have the required knowledge, Drupal is the most flexible system out of the box.
- Developer-friendly. Drupal is easy for developers to work with and customize.
- Detailed taxonomies. Great for categorizing and organizing large amounts of data.
- Not beginner friendly (or even intermediate friendly). Even as a fairly tech-savvy person, I struggled to find my way around Drupal. If you lack, at a minimum, basic HTML/PHP knowledge, you should stay away.
Types of Websites You Can Create With Drupal
- Static site: Yes (no modules needed)
- Blog: Yes (with Blog module)
- eCommerce Store: Yes (with a module)
- Forum: Yes (with a module)
- Social Network: Yes (with a module)
How Much Does a Drupal Site Cost?
Monetary startup costs are similar to WordPress and Joomla – Drupal itself is free, so all you technically need is hosting and a domain.
The startup costs in time spent configuring your website will be much larger than WordPress, or even Joomla, though.
Famous Drupal Examples
- Oregon State University
- The Economist
- London Gatwick Airport
Can You Migrate from One CMS to Another?
Can you migrate between different content management systems? Yes.
Is it something you want to actually do in practice? Not if you can avoid it.
While there are tools that help you migrate between WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, I don’t recommend relying on them. They’re more “tools of last resort” than something you want to plan to do.
On that subject…
What’s the Best CMS?
All biases aside, if you’re just getting your feet wet in the world of websites, then it’s a no-brainer to go with WordPress. There are certainly times when Joomla or Drupal is a better solution, but beginners will rarely encounter those situations. Nor do most beginners have the required skills to create a well-functioning website with Joomla or Drupal.
If you’re a more advanced user, well…you probably didn’t really need this comparison. Because if you’re making the choice to go with Joomla or Drupal over WordPress, I hope you already know the reasons why.
Not sure where to go from here? If you’re a beginner looking to create your first website, we put together a detailed guide telling you exactly how to create a website with WordPress. It will take you through the whole process step by step.