I’ve used Drupal and WordPress for the grander part of the last five years, and it’s clearer now more than ever where each of these systems triumphs. What these content management systems have to offer is vastly different than it formerly was, and this continues to evolve each year. That’s why I love writing my annual article entitled Drupal vs. WordPress.
Within this article, we’ll 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 a marketing team’s ultimate content management system for ease of use. For clarity, today we’ll be referring to the self managed version of WordPress (available here), as opposed to the hosted version (which serves better as a blogging platform due to limitations of its functionality). WordPress is far from the most technologically advanced content management system, yet it does stand out from a marketing standpoint. However, you do need to have the right plugins if you really want to wreak the benefits.
1. WordPress for SEO and Social
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 feature images that publish to social upon a post or page being shared). 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. This is a huge benefit in the Drupal vs. WordPress comparison.
2. WordPress for Content Editing
WordPress offers an inbuilt content editor (as part of WordPress 5) and other content editing solutions, all of which tend to offer drag and drop interfaces.
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.
With respect to alternate editors, I tend to use either Elementor or Visual Composer. Both are full page editors, meaning you can style the whole page from top to bottom. However, Elementor does seem to have wider usage with over 1 million active websites globally using this powerhouse of a page builder. I strongly recommend this for my content editors out there!
3. WordPress for User Experience
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, can be integrated seamlessly with external APIs, and can scale seamlessly across multiple servers if you’re expecting huge spikes in traffic. That said, the work required to get to that point is often what makes Drupal undesirable. Drupal was built for teams with developers, or those supported by external developers (such as yours truly). Let’s cover the same three factors as above, but now in the context of Drupal.
1. Drupal for SEO and Social
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. Its 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, and allows for far more customisation, but with more customisation comes more work for those not willing to put in the time.
2. Drupal for Content Editing
Drupal has come to the table with a more advanced content editor, which is continuing to improve thanks to the heavily contributing open source community. 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. Also, unlike Elementor and Visual Composer (both page builders available within WordPress), any form of styling with Drupal will require, yes you guessed it, a developer to get involved.
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, before they are then published. This is a clear demonstration of where Drupal triumphs, but may also be an indicator of Drupal being “overkill” and therefore not quite necessary if you’re working within a smaller team.
3. Drupal for User Experience
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.