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Web Development (Part 3): The Advantages and Disadvantages of Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla

When it comes to using an open source content management system for a web development project, the first three open source CMSs that we will think of using are Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla. In a study conducted by Web Technology Surveys last February 27, 2012, Wordpress, Joomla and Drupal are the top three leading content management systems with an overall 69.7 percent market share. And since they are the most popular CMSs nowadays, it has always been a question which platform should you use in developing a website?

In our previous article “The Advantages of Open Source CMS,” we discussed the benefits of using an open source CMS for web design and web development projects. Now, we are going to tackle some advantages and disadvantages of the three of the most used content management systems for websites.


In the same survey, Wordpress stood out among Joomla and Drupal, with a total of 53.8 percent market share, making it as today’s number 1 content management system solution in web development. However, being popular does not give us the guarantee that it is already the best web development platform and we should always use it in every web development project we get. Just like any other web development solutions, Wordpress has its own share of advantages and disadvantages.


  1. User-friendly: Wordpress is not complicated to install unlike Drupal and Joomla. Beginners who have no knowledge in PHP or HTML have nothing to worry about coding because Wordpress has preinstalled plugins and features, and a wide array of web design templates, which are made available for the users. And if you’re thinking of setting up your blog, Wordpress is the best platform for you because it is an SEO friendly platform. Wordpress is “easy-to-use” and does not require advance technical-know-how in web development, making it perfect for beginners and bloggers.
  2. Custom Menus, Plugins and Themes: The custom menus of Wordpress can be rearranged to include categories and other site pages. Its collection of plugins, which most of it are free, is the largest among Drupal and Joomla. Wordpress users have also the power to choose between free and paid themes, which are made available in the community.
  3. Support from the Community: Wordpress has one of the largest online communities. Therefore, getting expert advice is not a problem for any of its users.
  4. Custom Fields, Advanced Custom Fields and Pods CMS: In Wordpress, you can store arbitrary information within each post you made through its Custom Fields. But if your website needs more flexible data, Advanced Custom Fields will solve your problem, while the Pods CMS allow you to create and manage different content types without using custom fields.


  1. Script: Wordpress has its own script, thus a knowledge of its script is required if you want to add or remove the blog features that you don’t need in your website.
  2. Knowledge in Web Design is Needed: A knowledge of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) language is needed if you want to create a unique design for your Wordpress.  But Wordpress’ toolset is not as powerful as the toolset available in Drupal-like CMS to satisfy your web design skills.
  3. Too Many Plugins: Installing many plugins can slow down your page. However, to be able to do the functions that Drupal and Joomla can do in a creative way, installation of these plugins is necessarily needed. Knowing what and how many plugins you would need for a functional Wordpress website ahead of time can save you from future encounter of this problem.
  4. Documentation: Although Worpdress has large online communities whom you can ask for assistance, still its documentation lags behind Drupal.


Drupal is highly powerful, flexible, and customizable which is designed for advanced and experienced users as it requires a high technical knowledge in figuring the process of Drupal. Web developers, who want to write their own codes, fit for this platform. Perhaps this is the reason why it fell short behind Wordpress and Joomla in the “Usage of Content Management Systems for Websites” survey, with only 6.7 percent of market share. However, you may still want to consider using Drupal as your CMS after studying its advantages and disadvantages.


  1. Basic Features, Building Tools and Templates: Drupal contains the basic features which can be used to build simple and complex websites. The building tools of Drupal are in module-styled format, which will help you to create content and rules quickly. Drupal has pre-defined configurations of site features, thus building complex website functions becomes simple. On the other hand, the templates and themes make the development of simple and complex sites easier and faster because codes are already available and just waiting to be enhanced.
  2. Content and Dynamic Design Creation: Drupal empowers the users to create and manage different content types. In addition to that, Drupal’s design tools are very useful in creating dynamic web designs.
  3. Organizing Content is Made Easy: Drupal has the power to categorize content using path URLs, create custom lists, associate content and create default contents, which helps the user to organize, search and reuse the content.
  4. Administrator Controls and Plugins: Drupal’s advanced administrator controls give the webmasters an option to setup new user accounts and user permissions, while its plugins enhance the Content Management System of the website.
  5. Documentation: Drupal provides better documentation as compare to other CMSs because it is specially designed for website developers.


  1. Usability: Since Drupal is made for coders, it has a high learning curve. Thus, users with little coding experience will have a hard time in maximizing its features.
  2. Speed and Performance: Loading time when using Drupal may take longer, especially if you have a slow computer because of the extensiveness of its tools and capabilities. As compare to Wordpress, Drupal is left behind in terms of loading and scalability.
  3. Few Themes: Drupal has a few themes available as compare to the large selection of themes in Wordpress.


If you’re caught between wanting to explore beyond the technical simplicity of Wordpress and having a hard time learning the complexity of Drupal, then Joomla is the web development platform that will surely suit your needs. Joomla is an amalgamation of Wordpress’ accessibility and Drupal’s CMS power. That is why in the same study done by Web Technology Survey, Joomla bagged the number 2 spot with a total market share of 9.2 percent. If your web development project is forums, news sites, multimedia, and other user-generated content sites, Joomla is the right solution for you. With more than 6,000 extensions, you can add so many website functions like subscription-based services, forum and chatting tools, blogging software and so many others.


  1. PHP Script: Joomla uses complete PHP scripting. And since PHP is the most common web development language, compatibility issues should be limited when using the framework of Joomla.
  2. Good for Intermediate Users: Anyone can download Joomla from the Internet, install it and start using it as it is already a ready-to-use out of the box CMS. As compare to Drupal, Joomla is easier to setup and does not require expert knowledge in writing the script, but it is more complex than Wordpress so a little understanding in website and design principles is also helpful to maximize the features of Joomla.
  3. Improved Hierarchies: Recent versions of Joomla have a more complex navigation pattern, which is very useful if your website has hundreds of pages because it supports more than two-level hierarchies.
  4. Plugins and Modules: As compare to Wordpress, Joomla’s plugins and components can do out of the box functionalities without installing too much of them in building your website. Joomla also provides modules containing design and functionality options, in which you can freely choose.
  5. Active Community: Just like any other open source CMS, Joomla has huge user-led community and selection of development tools and tutorials to assist you in building your website.
  6. Open Design Platform: Unlike Wordpress, you can hire a web designer to design your content and your website can be hosted by any domain host.


  1. Usability: Joomla does not have much advanced functionalities as compare to Drupal because it is designed for intermediate users with a little knowledge in coding.
  2. Themes and Plugins: Unlike Worpdress, Joomla has limited free themes and plugins, thus you have to buy for commercial themes and plugins if you want to have a better looking Joomla website with the functionalities that you wanted. Moreover, Joomla’s built-in functions are hard to customize.
  3. Compatibility: Joomla has compatibility problems when you simultaneously installed several modules, extensions and plugins.


Choosing the right open source content management system for your web design and web development projects will depend on the needs of the website, what you want to accomplish and on your skills as a web designer/developer.

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  • PHP Web Developer

    Great information about WordPress,Drupal and Joomla. It can really help me increasing the development side. Thanks for sharing best information.

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  • Filipino SEO

    One of my client is shifting his Joomla sites to wordpress. Can anyone help show a guide.. I have advance knowledge on Wordpress but I never tried moving joomla to wordpress.

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  • Darius Kane

    Even I think Joomla is somewhere inbetween WordPress and Drupal. If one wants to express something in words or images Joomla is the CMS to go. Joomla is not that easy but not hard too that you can’t follow.

  • Michael Bian

    Great [point and insights.

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  • Web Outsourcing Gateway

    Thank you for reading!