Had we compared Drupal with WordPress several years ago, the use cases would have been very similar.
However, given the changing landscape of their target markets, what these content management systems have to offer is vastly different than it formerly was. My article published last week compared a number of different platforms and their basic use cases (including Drupal and WordPress), which you can read here. We’ll use the same logic as a basis in this article, but compare three primary features of each content management system that will enable you to confirm the ideal platform for you. Based on our experience working across marketing departments, communications teams and developers, these are the three most important facets to both content management systems.
WordPress is the marketing team’s ultimate tool for ease of use. For clarity, today we’ll be referring to the self managed version of WordPress (available here), as opposed to hosted version (which serves better as a blogging platform due to limitations on the functionality). WordPress is far from the most technologically advanced content management system, yet it does stand out from a marketing standpoint for these three reasons:
WordPress is seamless from a search engine optimisation and social media sharing standpoint. Using tools such as Yoast, you’re able to add meta tags that are well suited to both your search engine performance and social media experience (including hero shots, and other key tags). Yoast certainly handles all the heavy lifting, which makes use of this platform incredibly easy. In fact, it also provides advice on the overall optimisation of each individual page as you’re adding or editing content, enabling you to check off all criteria before submitting content to the public.
WordPress offers an inbuilt content editor (as part of WordPress 5) and Visual Composer, both of which create a drag and drop interface for your content. This means that creating tables, image slideshows, video embeds or any other key elements you’d require is a seamless experience. If all the bells and whistles aren’t quite required, this shouldn’t be an issue! WordPress also offers a basic text (WYSIWYG) editor which provides core functions such as bold, italic, image embed, alignment changes, dot/numbered points and more. Thankfully, this is all out of the box with little manipulation, as is the content editor that ships with WordPress 5. Visual Composer on the other hand does require some setup, but is still fairly seamless once the plugin is installed.
While we’re aware that the user experience of any platform will be dependent on the web designer, WordPress is provided out of the box in a format that appeals well to people’s expectations of a blogging platform. This creates an enriching experience and an ease of use that Drupal will require some custom modification to achieve. Therefore, this would be a huge selling point should you be developing your WordPress website with reduced development input.
Drupal (available here) is the heavyweight content management system, allowing a development team to add far more functionality than a platform like WordPress. It is coupled with security standards that have been approved by government, and can be integrated seamlessly with external APIs (if this is something you’re interested in). That said, the work required to get to that point is often what makes Drupal undesirable. Marketing teams are generally more fond of WordPress, with communications teams actually favouring Drupal for one key reason. Let’s cover the same three reasons as above, but now in the context of Drupal.
Drupal permits the use of more meta tags than one could possibly imagine. The SEO Checklist module is a dream come true for developers looking to build search engine friendly websites. However, with the meta tags and other tools required for Drupal to be search engine friendly, it does produce a tremendous amount of clutter, and is sometimes a little much for the content editor. To elaborate, it purely creates too many potential input fields for meta tags, where the result is an experience that almost demotivates the content editor from filling them out. It’s inability to match WordPress’ Yoast, which is capable of providing you with a “health check” score of each piece of content (and guide you through the process of being search engine friendly) is a tool that is solemnly missed with Drupal. In short, it does have all the tools required, but could certainly provide a better experience to the content editor.
Drupal has finally come to the table with a more advanced content editor in Drupal 8. With the latest major version of Drupal, users are now able to edit content with a text (WYSIWYG) editor. This provides basic functionality such as bold, italic, image embed, alignment changes, dot/numbered points and more. The Paragraphs module can then be used to create a drag and drop editor similar to WordPress. However, the creation of new elements (such as image slideshows) does require a developer to get involved, which is often not ideal. There is one major selling point within content editing though which can make or break your decision to go with WordPress over Drupal. Drupal, unlike WordPress, allows completely configurable workflows with revision based iterations. In other words, multiple people can work on content, with only the latest approved version live to the public, allowing other iterations to be edited in the background. This is a clear demonstration of where Drupal triumphs, but may also be an indicator of Drupal being “overkill” and therefore not quite necessary.
Out of the box, Drupal’s user experience is nothing to write home about. Drupal 8 included the Views module by default, which allows developers (and others who are Drupal savvy) to create new feeds (such as content feeds) with little effort. This creates a key comparison point for the two content management systems. From a user experience standpoint, if you have a developer working on your Drupal website, you can create an extremely custom feed using Drupal. The tools it offers are seamless for creating anything a content team could imagine. On the contrary, if it’s more than the basic blog/article feed, you won’t see any major benefits here that you can’t achieve with WordPress.
In summary, Drupal screams customisation where WordPress is about having a solution that requires you to focus on writing content today. If you have the development resources to build a Drupal website, and the time required for content editing (and a rather rigid content approval process, for that matter) then Drupal is right for you. However, if you’re running a marketing department and want your team to produce content with ease, WordPress is most definitely the platform for you.
While there are other content management systems like Adobe Experience Manager and NationBuilder worth considering, these solutions do require a licensing fee and are far less mature than WordPress and Drupal. They do offer their own benefits though, so we’ll cover these in an upcoming blog post.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact us via the form on our contact page.