A Brief Comparison of Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress

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If you’re trying to choose an Open Source Content Management System for your website there are a million things to take into consideration. I put together this little report to help make the decision a little easier when you have a similar set of requirements (which are really pretty basic):

  • Multiple user accounts/logins
  • Sites with lots of highly structured content, such as Real Estate listings.
  • Social Networking – “just like MySpace”; “a dating site”
  • Search functionality, for example search real estate listing
  • eCommerce

The CMS being reviewed are Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress.

User Accounts

All three systems have built-in user management; Drupal and WordPress also include role-based permissions, however, the roles are not configurable in WordPress.

Structured Content

Drupal is the only system that supports customizable structured content which could be used for a real estate website. Custom content types are supported out of the box, and with the addition of one or two modules nearly any type of structured content or form can be easily created without ANY knowledge of HTML or PHP . This is one of the most appealing aspects of Drupal for website development which requires much flexibility.
Social Networking

Some of the most common features in community-oriented websites include:

  • Friends
  • Interactivity
  • Messaging
  • Multimedia
  • Posting
  • User profiles

All of these features are easy to set up using either core or community contributed plug-ins/modules in any of the three systems.

Both Drupal and Joomla include the ability to show who is online in the core installation. Additionally Drupal includes media sharing and customizable member profiles in its core install.

All three CMS ’s are suitable for blogging, although WordPress is far superior for this use out of the box (as blogging was its original intent). A few additional plug-ins/modules, however, can make both Drupal and Joomla just as capable as WordPress.

On the other hand, the broad, flexible focus on customizable structured content as seen in Drupal seems to better position it for community centric sites of all types. It is difficult to imagine MySpace running on Wordpress no matter how customized.
Search

All three systems include search ability right out of the box. Drupal has advanced that allows a user to search by content type, category, keywords, and more.
eCommerce

All three systems can gain eCommerce functionally through the use of contributed plug-ins/modules.

Other Factors

The following section is purely opinion. Although some points are fairly agreed upon throughout the CMS community, others are not.

Ease of Setup

Each of the CMS ’s being reviewed have varying levels of difficulty in regards to setup. In order from easiest to most difficult:

  1. WordPress
  2. Joomla
  3. Drupal

Flexibility

Each CMS had a specific purpose when it began. This is a rating of how much flexibility each has from the most flexible to the least flexible, in regards to its major purpose.

  1. Drupal
  2. Joomla
  3. WordPress

Ease of Use

This is a listing of the most user-friendly systems from the easiest to use to the most difficult to use from the end-user’s perspective. This mostly includes items like page and menu creation.

  1. WordPress
  2. Joomla
  3. Drupal

Scalability

This rates how well a platform can scale under stress. It also rates how scalable a platform is in terms of functionality. E.g. can a user start with a blog and grow into a full-fledged web-application. From most scalable to least scalable:

  1. Drupal
  2. Joomla
  3. WordPress