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Sep 11 2021
Sep 11

A frequent question in the Open Source CMS world is variation of: “Which is better, Drupal or WordPress?” 

Of course, there’s not a simple answer to the WordPress CMS vs. Drupal CMS debate. Many have a strong bias towards one content management system or the other, but often, staunch opinions on the subject are based on a few cursory facts or outdated information.

Both the WordPress CMS and the Drupal CMS have evolved a lot since their introductions in the early 2000s. In some ways, this evolution has brought them into closer alignment with each other, evidenced by developments such as the porting of WordPress’s Gutenberg content editor over to Drupal in 2018. In other ways, WordPress and Drupal evolutions have clarified distinctions. 

Generally speaking though, in the current environment, the majority of sites can be supported equally well by either option. 

Fierce Loyalists in Both Camps

That’s not to say that the WordPress vs. Drupal debate doesn’t still spark strong opinions. Both have their devotees. Promet Source has deep ties to Drupal, and over the past two years, we have broadened our perspectives and talent base to include WordPress advocates and experts. As such, we're well positioned to objectively cover the topic. 

Let's start with a few key stats and facts about Drupal and WordPress.

Drupal Advantages: The Internet's Heavy Lifter

A modular CMS written in PHP, Drupal enables developers to leverage a flexible taxonomy system that’s designed to organize complex content types, set highly customizable user permission levels, and ensure web accessibility compliance with enhanced testing and tracking capabilities.

Launched in 2000, Drupal now stands as the third most popular CMS in terms of market share.

Drupal’s enterprise-level trajectory was launched in November of 2015 with the release of Drupal 8, which resulted in a complete architectural overhaul and the creation of an enterprise-level CMS. Subsequent versions, such as the June 2020 release of Drupal 9, are now intended to be incremental, more of a point release than anything resembling the total CMS rewrite that occurred with the upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. 

As of February 2020, there were an estimated 1.3 billion websites on the Internet and Drupal accounted for: 

  • Roughly 2 percent of total websites and
  • An estimated 3 percent of the CMS market, with 
  • 560,000 live, active Drupal sites.

                              Drupal Share of CMS Market

Drupal stats for 2020         Source:  Website Builder: 67 Amazing Drupal Statistics,  Jan 2020

For reasons that include core support for multilingual sites, Drupal is often the CMS of choice for government, higher ed, large enterprises, and health care institutions. The NASA site is on Drupal site, as is Portland State University, the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, and Martin County Florida. The White House website was on Drupal during the Obama administration.

Drupal has a diverse and dedicated community of contributors, as evidenced by 42,650 free modules that are available for download. 

WordPress Advantages: A Pervasive Internet Presence

While websites with complex content models and data requirements gravitate towards Drupal, WordPress sites cover a wide spectrum of needs. WordPress accounts for roughly 60 percent of the total CMS market, primarily among small to mid-range sites, but a number of enterprise sites are on WordPress, as well. 

Originally developed as a blogging platform, WordPress has maintained its appeal for non-tech types with a low barrier to entry. While it’s possible to set up a WordPress site without development or coding expertise, experienced developers frequently work within WordPress and leverage their knowledge of HTML, CSS, and PHP to build sizable sites with a greater range of capabilities for business clients. 

Making steady inroads into the enterprise CMS space, WordPress is now the CMS for Time the New Yorker, and BBC America

Beyond the basics, WordPress offers thousands of plug-ins to expand functionality, outranking Drupal for ready-to-go themes that serve to fast-track development without the need for custom development work.

As of February 2020, of the 1.3 billion websites on the Internet. WordPress accounted for: 

  • More than 35 percent of total websites and
  • 61.7 percent of the CMS market, with 
  • 455 million websites currently on WordPress.

For more WordPress stats, check out this recent post in WPCity.

                              WordPress Share of CMS Market

WordPress stats 2020          Source:   Who is Hosting This?: 2020’s Most Surprising WordPress Statistics,  Feb, 2020

One conclusion to be drawn from WordPress’s impressive internet saturation: it’s a CMS that has proven to be the right fit for a wide range of different needs and has gotten many things right, from a wide ranging selection of plugins to an easy-to-use CMS. 
 

Convergence of Features

As more and more Drupal developers realize the advantages within Wordpress, and other user-friendly CMS platforms such as consumer-focused SquareSpace and WIX that offer an easier to use back end, we are seeing new frameworks and features being added to the default editor within Drupal. A multitude of no-code/low-code solutions, such as drag-and-drop functionality or component-based design, are finding their way into Drupal, due to the flexibility of the platform and providing marketers and content editors with greater flexibility and possibilities for making revisions to their sites. 

Core Distinctions

Both Drupal and WordPress offer a depth and breadth of add-ons that extend functionality. These are called “modules” in Drupal, and ”plugins” in WordPress. “Themes” that refer to a site’s aesthetics and user experience, such as design, layout, colors and navigation, is a term that applies to both Drupal and WordPress.

Unlike Drupal’s 2015 architectural realignment with the launch of the enterprise-ready Drupal 8, WordPress has never undergone that same kind of overhaul. The resulting difference is that expanded functionality for WordPress occurs at the theme/plugin layer. Much of Drupal’s functionality, on the other hand, is centralized within the ever-increasing core level, as the most frequently used and widely accepted Drupal modules are continuously incorporated into core. 

WordPress functionality relies heavily upon themes and plugins, and many contend that this represents a strength. WordPress modules tend to be more complete applications, and the vast WordPress collection of themes and plugins provides a high degree of flexibility. 

The flipside of this argument, and key factor that tends to fuel the appeal of Drupal for complex enterprise, higher ed, and government sites, is that there is an inherently a higher level of security and stability associated with working in core. Continued support for themes, plugins, or modules is not always guaranteed in either Drupal or WordPress, and their track record is not necessarily established.

Scalability vs. Complexity

WordPress has proven itself to be extremely scalable and the right fit for some notable sites such as time.com, which I mentioned earlier. The essential distinction which is often missed is not so much size or scalability, but complexity. Even though there are hundreds and hundreds of pages, on time.com, for example, the site consists primarily of articles. When a greater range of content types and complex data models are required, WordPress falls short and Drupal shines.

Acknowledging that both Drupal and WordPress are solid content management systems, and that there’s considerable overlap in the types of sites for which either would provide an excellent solution, Promet recently developed the following matrix in an effort to highlight the relative strengths of both options and open a dialog among our teams.

Here’s what we came up with relative to 10 key criteria.

                    Open Source CMS Comparison

Drupal vs WordPress  Open Source CMS Comparison

  1. Open Source. Yes. Both Drupal and WordPress are solid Open Source solutions with great track records. 
  2. Lamp Stack (PHP). Yes. Both use Lamp Stack PHP equally. Five stars for both.
  3. Enterprise Ready. Drupal: Yes. That’s where this CMS shines. WordPress: Yes and No. It’s applicable for some, not all, enterprise applications. 
  4. Dedicated Hosting Partners. Yes. Both Drupal and WordPress have dedicated hosting partners, allowing for proactive maintenance, as well as heightened security, speed, and reliability. 
  5. Available/Accessible to Novices. No for Drupal. Developing a Drupal site and understanding how to work within the Drupal interface requires distinct expertise and training. Yes for WordPress. A non-technical hobbyist or small business owner with a touch of know-how can find a theme that fits their needs and figure out how to build and manage a WordPress site, often within a few hours.
  6. Appropriate for a Brochure Site. No for Drupal. While it’s possible to create a straightforward brochure site on Drupal, there’s not much point in doing so when other, simpler options are available. Yes for WordPress. WordPress is ideal for a brochure and blog site. That’s what it was originally developed for. 
  7. Has a Complex Content Model. Yes for Drupal. Complex taxonomy content models are where Drupal thrives. Not so much for WordPress, which best serves sites that don’t require the organization of high levels of complexity. 
  8. Works for a Tight Budget. (under $10,000). No for Drupal. The flipside of Drupal’s ability to navigate complexity tends to be the requirement of considerable developer legwork and ramping up. Yes for WordPress. WordPress offers a greater range of out-of-the box solutions and, depending on requirements, it’s quite possible to build a respectable Drupal site for under $10,000. 
  9. Design Theme Availability. Drupal: Somewhat. Drupal has a limited number of design themes that are ready out of the box. Promet has created a Drupal theme as part its upcoming launch of a component-based, drag-and-drop capability for Drupal. WordPress: Yes. WordPress has an extensive and robust design theme capability
  10. Community. Drupal: Absolutely. Drupal has a great professional community of dedicated developers, who regularly gather for training and information exchange (now virtually) at events, camps, and meetups all over the world. This is less the case for WordPress. While there are many professional WordPress developers, the WordPress community is more diverse and less cohesive. 

 

Tracking the Evolution

Among those of us whose history in the CMS trenches dates back many years, it’s been very interesting to witness the evolutions of both Drupal and WordPress. At one time, Drupal and WordPress accounted for the vast majority of the open source CMS world. Together, they still account for a whopping 65 percent of the CMS market, but newcomers such as Wix and Squarespace are gaining ground among their respective niches, and GoDaddy has also just introduced a drag-and-drop CMS. At the same time, multiple closed-source website creations options have emerged that weren’t around as recently as a few years ago. 

To an increasing degree, Drupal and WordPress are viewed less as competitors, and more so as members of the same family.

One big indicator of this trend: in May of 2020, Drupaldelphia, the annual camp held in Philadelphia for Drupal developers, site-builders, content administrators, and designers, was renamed CMS Philly. The event was largely dominated largely by Drupal and WordPress. 

High Stakes Solutions  

When the stakes are high (and when are they not), selecting the right CMS calls for careful consideration and expert analysis. The Drupal vs. WordPress conversation does not lend itself toward across-the-board rules or easy answers.

That said, the judgment and expertise of anyone who suggests that Drupal is always the answer or that WordPress is always the answer should be considered highly suspect. As the saying goes: “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

WordPress and Drupal each have a definite place at their respective ends of the spectrum, with hobbyist or small business sites on one end and complex, enterprise-level digital experiences at the other. The vast middle ground between these two ends can be highly nuanced with no easy answers, but there’s a likelihood that either Drupal or WordPress would work equally well.

The main thing is the assurance that true experts with a depth of perspective and commitment to client success are doing the work. 

Interested in an expert analysis of the CMS that stands to represent the right fit for your organization’s distinct objectives? At Promet Source, we have all the right people to help with that. Contact us today. 

Source for Drupal Stats:

https://websitebuilder.org/drupal-statistics

Source for WordPress Stats:

https://www.whoishostingthis.com/compare/wordpress/stats/

Aug 15 2021
Aug 15

The digital age has sparked an era of self-serve with more and more of the tasks that were once in the domain of the experts being handed over to lay people. Sometimes, the new ways of navigating are met with the resistance. Other times: relief and excitement concerning new possibilities for empowerment, efficiency, and control. 

Content editors are largely falling into the latter category as the days of relying on IT departments or web development agencies to keep a site updated and brand aligned are giving way to easy-to-manage, drag-and-drop flexibility for creating original pages that serve specific purposes beyond the limitations of standard templates.

Of course, the potential of better content editor UX goes far deeper than greater job satisfaction for this particular role. The ability for teams to easily update content, add new new pages, revise designs, and switch up layouts -- essentially take ownership of their websites -- positions organizations to ensure that sites to stay on track and seamlessly evolve as needed. 
 

Content Editing in Focus

The current content editing capabilities are a bit uneven, with multiple options within a range of platforms, plugins, modules, and tools designed to streamline and simplify content. 

Studies show that content editors and site admins want more control over their content and a more streamlined, intuitive UI, better tools for media management and page building, along with WYSIWYG. These types of enhancements closely align with the Drupal Community’s current focus.
 

Raising the Bar within Drupal

Until recently, Drupal’s content editing reputation lagged behind the other top CMSs, as Drupal was largely considered to be at the challenging end of the content editing spectrum. While a less-than-simple content editor experience might have gone hand in hand with Drupal’s longstanding position as a top pick for large, complex sites that require considerable customization, the Drupal Community has been steadily chinking away at the sources of content editing complexity. 

The June 2020 launch of Drupal 9, represented a significant step forwarded for content editor UX with features such as:

  • The availability of Claro as the default admin UI theme, which follows the new Drupal Admin Design System to provide a more intuitive, aesthetically appealing, and content editor friendly UI;
  • The ability to craft layouts with the built-in visual layout builder, reuse blocks, and customize all parts of the page;
  • Management of reusable media in the out-of-the-box media library;
  • Greater enhancements to a structured, content-based system; 
  • A customizable media library management system that allows content editors and designers collaborate on images, videos, and other assets in an intuitive interface;
  • Superior taxonomy handling that extends to the media library, allowing for easy organization of library assets;
  • The ability to make changes from mobile devices due to a mobile-first UI.
  • Enhanced content workflows beyond the previous two optional default states of “Unpublished,” and “Published.” The core Workflows module allows for the addition of custom states (such as Unassigned, Assigned, or Draft) to better align with existing editorial processes. 

Paragraphs, Layout Builder, Provus

Drupal 9, combined with the options within primary content editing modules -- specifically Layout Builder and Paragraphs -- have served to vastly streamline and simplify solutions for designing, laying out, and revising pages. 
Leveraging Layout Builder, the 2020 introduction of Provus, further raised the bar with a component based design system that allowed for built-in adherence to brand and style guidelines.

Provus has effectively leveled the content editing playing field among the easiest to create and manage SAAS solutions, such as WIX and Squarespace, and Drupal’s inherent scalability, flexibility and ability to accommodate complex content models.

Paragraphs Pros and Cons

Paragraphs is an extremely popular contributed module that provides content editors with a solid level of control with minimal clicks. It’s often considered the best option for web applications that call for a flexible content model, but not necessarily a range of layout options. 

With the Paragraphs, content editors essentially create Paragraph Types, each with their own set of fields that live within the parent content form. 

Paragraphs was originally designed to create collections of fields within a larger piece of content. Even though its original purpose was not specifically to manage layouts, Paragraphs has provided content editors in Drupal with a proven module to build pages with components that can be switched up as needed. 
 

Layout Builder in Drupal Core

Drupal Layout Builder is a drag-and-drop page-building tool in Drupal Core that can be implemented as a no-code, site-building tool. The current version of layout builder enables visual page editing using intuitive, block-style layouts. 

Key advantages of Layout Builder include:

  • The ability to build default page templates for different content types such as FAQs, news updates, or product pages;
  • The option to override default settings when needed; 
  • The ability to create structured landing pages for a one-time offer or event that don’t follow a template; and 
  • The representation of layouts in the back-end of the site, providing content editors with the advantage of preview functionality for viewing their layouts as they work. 

Layout Builder is ideal for providing content editors with a visual way to manage how content and layout fit together. This can be accomplished by configuring Block Types, similar to how Paragraph Types are configured, and then providing content editors with access to edit the layout of a page.

An essential difference between Layout Builder and Paragraphs is the ability within Layout Builder to add “Sections” for each page, with the potential for each section to function as a container for the page content. Each Section can have its own layout, which means the potential for a high degree of flexibility. 
Often the decision concerning Paragraphs vs. Layout Builder hinges on flexibility and the degree to which it’s viewed as a necessary or desirable feature.

When needed, the Layout Builder Restrictions and Block Blacklist modules to can inject a level of control over the block types and layouts that can be added to a page.

Provus for Drupal: Next-Level Solution

Further leveraging Layout Builder, Provus was designed by Promet Source as a new approach to designing, developing, and managing Drupal sites. Content editing capabilities incorporate an intuitive, no-code, drag-and-drop page building tools with a curated library of high quality components that enable marketers and content editors to easily layer designs, add functionality, and rearrange layouts.

Provus empowers marketers and content editors with the ability to revise and reconfigure their sites within a customized framework of brand guidelines that are determined during development. The result is the assurance that all design and layout options adhere to organization’s guidelines for brand and site governance, and that a consistent level of aesthetic and design standards is carried through to every page.

Developed for Drupal, Provus provides for varying permissions levels to be set for everyone who has access to the site. 

Design governance which offers the assurance that content editor empowerment does not translate into mismatched, crowded, or sub-par page designs is a key factor fueling the success of Provus. Additional differentiators include:

  • Self-adjusting features within components that create a foundation for both readability and ADA accessibility, by ensuring, for example, adequate contrast between fonts and background colors; 
  • Customization options presented within an expertly calibrated design framework for ensuring adherence to quality design and UX standards on all devices, without breaking layouts or straying from an organization’s brand guidelines; and
  • The ability of content editors to seamlessly edit components and change patterns within the view mode, eliminating time-consuming processes of re-entering content and switching back and forth between edit and publish modes.

Content editing capabilities have experienced a sharp upward trajectory recently, and as new possibilities emerge, there’s increasingly less patience for limited capabilities and cumbersome processes.

Promet’s Open Source, drag-and-drop, component based approach to content editing is changing the game for content editing within Drupal, and now is the time to explore what it can do for you. Interested in learning more? Let's talk.
 

About Drupal Sun

Drupal Sun is an Evolving Web project. It allows you to:

  • Do full-text search on all the articles in Drupal Planet (thanks to Apache Solr)
  • Facet based on tags, author, or feed
  • Flip through articles quickly (with j/k or arrow keys) to find what you're interested in
  • View the entire article text inline, or in the context of the site where it was created

See the blog post at Evolving Web

Evolving Web