Deploying a content management system (CMS) is a no-brainer move. What may not be so straightforward is which one to choose out of the dozens — if not hundreds — of options.

So how do you choose which CMS is right for you?

The expert developer team here at Windsorborn has your back and is here to help you find the perfect CMS for your needs.

In the beginning, web developers built websites using a series of HTML files. Each page had its own file, and if you wanted to change any content on the page, you had to edit each file one-by-one. Early websites were simple in nature, but as they grew more sophisticated, the old ways became problematic.

Thankfully, technology has evolved, and content management systems are widely available and easy to install. With a CMS, you have a backend database that stores your content and allows for a secure and user-friendly way to manage all the content in a straightforward fashion. Using a CMS also helps reduce the risk of deleting any critical code that handles the site’s basic structure and layout.

We’ve narrowed the list down to the three most popular CMS options, which are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Here’s a breakdown of each CMS so you can make an informed decision as to which one fits your project best:

 

Popularity

WordPress has a 63% market share, followed by Joomla with 4.3%, and Drupal with 2.8%. There’s no denying that WordPress is a CMS powerhouse that powers over 32% of all websites, including Tech Crunch and the national website of Sweden.

Joomla is holding down the second spot, with 4.3% of the CMS market share. It powers 2.5% of the web, including IKEA’s website and the site of New York’s famous Guggenheim Museum.

Finally, Drupal represents a 2.8% market share and accounts for 1.6% of all websites. A couple of notable Drupal-powered sites are NASA and Tesla.

 

Simplicity

WordPress is user-friendly once you get everything set-up and customized, but you’ll want someone with the right expertise to help you launch. Finding the right mix of plugins, personalising the website layout, and providing custom code to get the right blend of personality and functionality isn’t within reach of the average user.

Joomla has an impressive out-of-the-box feature set, meaning you don’t have to install a ton of extensions right away to start using it. If you want to add extensions, though, you need to install them on the backend site, which can require some technical abilities or expert assistance.

The backend admin side of Drupal is considered by many to be complicated. You’ll need a higher level of technical expertise to customise your site. As an example, if you’d like to add a module, you’ll have to install it via File Transfer Protocol (FTP), which will feel complex and confusing to beginners. Updating extensions can also get tedious since some aren’t always compatible with the backend of Drupal.

 

Flexibility

Simplicity is great, but if you’re reaching for the stars, you want something highly customisable. Something that not only gets the job done but does so in an appealing fashion. WordPress gets the job done with add-ons called plugins. Joomla calls them extensions, and Drupal calls them modules. The idea is the same — these add-ons extend the default CMS features.

Before we go any further, let’s talk numbers:

  • On the WordPress official directory, you’ll find 55,000+ plugins, and you have thousands of third-party developer plugins to choose from as well.
  • Joomla has just shy of 8,000 extensions on their official directory, and a few hundred more from third-party developers.
  • There are roughly 45,000 modules available for Drupal in their official directory, but very few options from third-party developers. 

From a usability perspective, WordPress reigns supreme with their options, especially considering the majority of those plugins are user-facing. This means that they are meant to be used by the end-user of the site with their simple user interface. 

Joomla’s catalog, albeit smaller than WordPress, also offers a solid catalog of extensions that cover just about every critical extension you could want from picture galleries and analytics to contact forms. 

Drupal has an impressive catalog of modules available, but most of them are designed with the developer in mind. Meaning, you’ll likely need to have the technical expertise to install and manage them properly.

 

Security

On the WordPress side, they’ve employed a team of “50 security experts” that work night and day to make sure your site is protected. Being an open-source CMS, their biggest advantage — and weakness — is that anyone can study its source code to improve it or find vulnerabilities. As such, they have no concrete timetable for updating WordPress. They just work on security bugs and fixes as they pop up or are reported. 

Joomla now offers automatic updates so you can take more of a hands-off approach to security. However, it’s recommended that you only utilise this feature if you regularly backup your Joomla site to avoid any negative impact. The Joomla twenty-eight person “Strike Team” is comprised of volunteers from around the globe who respond directly to core Joomla issues and rely on the public to detect possible threats and vulnerabilities to the core system.

Drupal’s deployed an elite team of 33 people to keep your site up-to-date and secure. Similar to WordPress and Joomla, they also rely on tips from users to detect potential weaknesses, bugs, or vulnerabilities.

It’s worth noting that no website, regardless of CMS deployed, is completely safe. To prevent malicious attacks, you should always use strong passwords, limit login attempts to prevent brute force attacks, and keep your CMS up-to-date.

 

Support

WordPress naturally has a larger support offering since they have such a large market share. You’ll find more help articles, YouTube walkthroughs, and a more modern and comprehensive support site. There’s also a WordPress forum and countless extension or theme-specific forums.

Joomla has an active support community and an in-depth help site. It’s organised, but it doesn’t feel user-friendly or geared toward beginners.

Drupal has a help site and forum as well. However, they feel a little less like hand-holding or troubleshooting and more like guiding you toward other resources off-site.

 

Pricing

All three of these top content management systems are free. You can download any of them directly from official websites with just a few clicks. However, there are other side costs you’re responsible for, such as registering your domain and getting a web host.

Beyond traditional costs, you’ll likely want to upgrade your site’s functionality with some plugins or themes which can be free or as much as several hundred dollars.

Here’s a simple table that ranks our view of the CMS offering we’ve presented:

Popularity     Simplicity    Flexibility    Security    Support    Pricing  
WordPress            #1         #1         #1       #1       #1    FREE
Joomla       #2         #2         #3       #3       #2    FREE
Drupal       #3         #3         #2       #2       #3    FREE

 

WordPress is ideal for travel blogs, lifestyle and recreational sites, news platforms, and websites creating static content. It’s simple enough to learn for beginners and complex and flexible enough with the right plugins for eCommerce sites.

Joomla, despite being marketed toward beginners, is a bit more challenging than WordPress. It’s more on par with Drupal in that it’s still suitable for smaller and medium-sized projects, from e-commerce to community platforms and social networking.

Drupal is geared toward small to medium-sized companies who have or have access to technical expertise. It’s great for sites with multiple users, community platforms, and sites requiring complex data organisation.

 

Which CMS are you leaning toward? Share your thoughts or connect with us if you’re looking for help building a website or just need some technical expertise.

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