Wordpress vs Drupal: User's Edition

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Wordpress vs Drupal: User's Edition

Whoa, stop right there.

I'm willing to bet that right when you read the title of this blog post, you had already formulated an opinion about the topic. Clear your mind, take a deep breath, and calm down before scrolling straight to the comments to release those fingers of fury on the keyboard.

Alternatively, if you are new to the scene of content management, I hope you'll take this post into consideration when deciding which CMS is best for you and/or your company. The purpose of writing this isn't about trying to cut down one or the other, it's more about dismissing myths and shedding light. Throughout this article, I'm going to assume that you already know what a CMS is and the purpose of using one. If you don't, the guys over at Designzillas.com has a great post about why you should use a CMS.


Are you starting a blog?

If you answered yes, go with Wordpress. I guarantee that even most experienced Drupal users or developers will say the exact same thing. Wordpress was built for blogging, and it will continue to excel at that. It's relatively easy to install, even for non-technical users, and it shows you exactly what you need to do to start blogging. The challenge is, once you get past the whole blogging thing and you decide you want to add new features to your site, you might run into trouble, depending on what you need. Mark Koester of INT3c wrote a post about this exact same subject and posed a very good analogy. "You bought a smartcar but now you need it to pull a boat." 


Simplicity vs Complexity

I feel this is almost always the primary point that fuels the entire debate between Wordpress and Drupal.

The majority of the articles I read while researching referred to Wordpress as, "simple, easy to use, far less complicated," while Drupal often was tagged with, "complex, hard to maneuver, overly complicated." I don't want to make assumptions of people, but these writers portray themselves as technology illiterate individuals who compare making coffee in a Keurig to solving quantum algorithms. Now granted, a lot of the research I've been doing is from posts sprinkled throughout late 2011 and up until 2013. In this timeframe, Drupal 6 was kind of the standard as Drupal 7 was coming to popularity, particularly over the last year. But you know what has also happened in the last 3 years? Farmville had more users than Twitter, QR codes were way cooler than now, and we stopped Congress from shutting down the internet (as far as I'm concerned). 

Drupal has come a long way with better looking administration pages, cleaner interfaces, and more semantic menu names for things you're trying to find. Drupal is also known to have better security, a more flexible permissions system, and can even be used in an enterprise. These are just some things Wordpress has a hard time keeping up with, though I'll admit that it's getting better.


Modules vs Plugins 

Modules and plugins are usually considered the same, but they serve slightly different purposes. You can compare Drupal modules to cooking ingredients while Wordpress plugins are fully cooked meals. You can go out to eat every night, sometimes get a meal for free or pay for a really nice steak, but sometimes your order isn't going to be exactly what you want. It's like that arrogant chef who doesn't let you put salt on his mashed potatoes. Now, if you're willing to put in a little extra time and do a little shopping, you can save money, have more functionality, and better integration in the long run. Heck, sometimes you can buy those meals in a box, then add in whatever you want. With Drupal, the more often you cook, the better you get at it - and eventually you'll become a master chef, combining multiple modules into fancy feast. 

Drupal has a lot of great modules that give it a leg up on Wordpress in terms of customizing how your content is displayed, such as ViewsDisplay Suite, and Context.



Alright, I'll give a bit. From an everyday user perspective, Wordpress offers more aesthetically pleasing themes for free than Drupal. Some of the better looking themes I've seen from Drupal consist of Corporate CleanFontFolio, Corolla, and a few others. Wait a minute though, the buck doesn't stop there just yet. In Wordpress, most of the themes are pretty static from a region standpoint, where you can place pieces of content or widgets. And if you aren't a developer, sometimes you're stuck with the regions you've been given. Drupal has a pretty flexible region system, especially in mobile and responsive base themes such as Omega. There's even a module where you can add faux regions on the fly called Block Group.  

In Drupal, almost all great themes are built off of a base theme, and they're all free. Popular base themes include BootstrapZurb Foundation, Omega, and Zen - all with responsive support. I couldn't find very many references to base themes except BonesBase, and Thesis - of which the last two you have to pay for. 


So now what?

The whole point of this article was to educate you to be more aware of what Drupal has to offer over Wordpress' shortcomings. Drupal has a great community with a lot of support, so don't be afraid to take it for a spin! Do you want just a blog? Go with Wordpress. Do you want more than a blog? Start with Drupal. This is part 1 of a series where we'll be looking at how you can use Drupal as an asset to your business. I'll be writing a follow-up post, part 2, from how you as a developer can benefit from building on top of Drupal. I'll be discussing things such as plugin saturation, communities, and distributions - so don't miss out.


What's your preference, Wordpress or Drupal? Do you think the new and improved Drupal 7 is up to speed with Wordpress? Let us know in the comments below.

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