Content management systems (CMSs) have completely democratised the world of web development. No longer is it necessary to be equipped with degree-standard qualifications in order to build an extremely professional looking and feature-rich website. No longer is there a need to be versed and fluent in umpteen software languages in order to code myriad functionality into the backend of your home page. No longer do you need to employ a full-time squad of IT security professionals in order to ensure that your website is fully protected from each new wave of cyber attack.
No, all you need now in order to arm your site with all of these things yourself is one of the extremely powerful CMSs that are out there on the web waves, most of which can even be used for free (or else for a small monthly or yearly fee you can gain access to premium options where all sorts of added extras and plugins can be readily available with just a few clicks).
If you have decided to go down the open source as opposed the bespoke route (see our recent post ‘CMS: Bespoke Vs. Open Source’), then you will probably find yourself presented with 3 main options – WordPress, Drupal or Joomla.
These are by far the most popular on the web (and in fact WordPress has been downloaded more than 3 times as much as the other 2 put together). There’s good reason for this – they are all incredibly powerful systems which make the designing, building, publishing and maintenance of a website very simple for anybody with only the very minimal grasping of IT skills (with the exception of Drupal, it should be noted).
Indeed, this is what we expect these days – any programme that we encounter on the web or elsewhere we expect to be intuitive and user-friendly. And the fact that these 3 powerhouses have become so popular in the CMS realm through having met these demands is great testimony to this (and indeed, the fact that WordPress requires the user to have the least technical computing and coding skills of the 3 is a sure indicator as to its overwhelming popularity).
But they are not just the same product repackaged in 3 different ways by any stretch of the imagination. They all come with their own set of unique features and functionality, meaning that one of them is bound to be more suitable to your requirements than the others.
Before we go into a summary of each, take a look at this infographic from websitesetup.org so you can get a general overview of the key differences between the three.
Ok, so let’s now look at these 3 brilliant CMS options more closely, which should help you in choosing which one is right for you.
We’ll start with the big one. WordPress is the perfect CMS for absolute beginners in website development. In fact, no previous technical computing or coding skills are need to launch a very professional looking website. As such, in about 5 minutes flat you can have your very own website complete with your own branding up and running and live on the web for your online followers to start using immediately.
There is a large focus on the blog aspect of the website with WordPress. And so, if part of your ongoing marketing campaigns are likely to be focussing on content marketing (and, to be honest, no matter which CMS you choose, they really should be) then WordPress is a great tool to use.
Although WordPress is the ideal choice for the novice, there’s nothing to stop the more adventurous and indeed qualified web developers out there from using it. Although perhaps not the best option to choose in terms of scalability, there is still a lot of leeway left open for customisation, which can be utilised for the purposes of advanced development as well.
Drupal is the most technically advanced of the 3, but is the most powerful as a direct trade off. Put simply, if you know absolutely nothing of html or PHP, then there will be an extremely high learning curve for you if you want to use this CMS, or otherwise you will need to hire the professional hands of expert developers to help you.
But, there is no denying the fact that Drupal is the most flexible. If you are equipped with an appropriate amount of technical knowledge, then you will even be able to alter and re-programme even the very root files of the CMS.
With this in mind, Drupal tends to be favoured for building large corporate sites, due to the fact that the scalability is absolutely limitless. However, it should be noted that there is no option to host your website on Drupal servers, so you will need separate web hosting available in order to run Drupal.
Joomla represents the halfway house between WordPress and Drupal, in terms of both ease of use and popularity (not to mention power). Joomla’s real reputation lies in its support for ecommerce sites, as it indeed provides native support for this.
That’s not to say that you cannot build an equally good online store using either WordPress or Drupal, but Joomla has specifically built functionality that makes for great ease of use.
Similarly to Drupal, there is no option to host your Joomla site on Joomla servers, so you will need to source a hosting platform from a third party in order to run your site.
Which CMS do you favour? Tell us about it in the comments below.