When you’re about to create a website for your small business, knowing where to start can seem overwhelming. Most small business owners usually want a website where they can update the content without having to call a web developer every time. Therefore, a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla is the logical choice.
There are three main players in the PHP CMS world: WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. In this guide, we’ll compare WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal, discuss the pros and cons of each platform, and discuss some tips on choosing the right CMS for your small business website.
Brief overview of the top 3 CMS
WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla have a lot in common in terms of technology, community, and philosophy. All three are open-source software, meaning they are free to use. They all have some great features, are built on top of PHP, and use MySQL as their database management system.
Finally, all of them use themes/templates for the visual presentation of websites and have numerous plugins/modules that can add extra functionality to your website.
While these popular CMS are similar in many ways, they also have some significant differences in the core software. They differ in how each system handles plug-ins and themes, how they handle security and how you build your website.
This CMS comparison table shows the main differences:
|user friendliness||No technical experience required. The interface is intuitive. A simple website can be set up in minutes.||A little more complex to use. The interface can seem a little intimidating to a beginner. Requires some time to familiarize yourself with the platform and terminology.||Requires more technical expertise than the others. While the user interface is simple when adding content, changing the look and feel is not that easy.|
|characteristics||Powerful enough for developers and designers to create custom websites while being easy for the end user to adopt and use.||More than a community platform with strong social networking functions.||Powerful taxonomy functions can categorize and organize complex content.|
|Available plugins||45000+ plugins||32000+ modules||7000+ extensions|
|eCommerce||Yes with WooCommerce||Yes, extensions for managing products and content||Yes and no – Drupal 8, the latest version, does not yet support a stable e-commerce module.|
|SEO friendly||Excellent SEO||Basic SEO requires additional tweaking||Good SEO|
|speed||Handles traffic well but requires better hosting plans as traffic increases.||If not properly adjusted, it can consume resources pretty quickly.||Usually loads faster and has faster response times than websites built with WordPress or Joomla.|
Now let’s examine each of the three platforms in more detail.
WordPress is the most popular CMS. Over 30% of all sites that use a CMS run on WordPress. It started out as a simple blogging platform but quickly evolved into a CMS that can handle complex websites like TechCrunch and Time Inc.
WordPress has many advantages for small businesses looking to build their own website. Some of these benefits are:
- Easy to Use – Most hosting companies offer one-click installation of WordPress, and even a newbie can install it, choose a theme, and set up a website in five minutes. The dashboard is simple and intuitive and does not require any technical knowledge.
- Free – WordPress software is open source and free to use.
- Customizable – With thousands of themes and plugins available, you can build any type of website you need, and because WordPress is so popular, you will easily find many designers and developers who can create a custom website for you.
- Community Support – Because of its popularity, there is a large number of websites that have WordPress-specific tips. The dedicated support forum is filled with WordPress experts who can answer your questions in a few minutes.
WordPress is not perfect. There are a few disadvantages that come with it:
- Larger, more complex sites can quickly become resource hogs and require a hosting plan to be upgraded.
- The API isn’t very user-friendly, which means that the core of WordPress is difficult to change. Those who make backend changes to their websites are likely to run into some problems.
If you want to learn WordPress, there are hundreds of websites that offer tutorials on all topics related to WordPress. From simple guides to explaining WordPress themes to WordPress security tips – you can find almost anything in one tutorial.
Apart from that, you can also ask questions about WordPress StackExchange and get a quick answer to your problem.
As for the design, there are free designs and plugins in the official theme and plugin repository. While free themes can seem great at first, you’ll soon find that they are all quite limited in terms of design and functionality.
Marketplaces like ThemeForest have tons of top-notch, high-quality WordPress themes, packed with features and creative designs that will make your website stand out.
WordPress is a great choice for starting your business website, especially if you are adding a blog or additional features.
You may like to have a look at an article that explains the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com.
Some consider Joomla to be a middle ground between WordPress and Drupal. It’s a powerful CMS that can handle complex websites well and yet doesn’t require as much technical knowledge as Drupal.
Joomla supports websites like Harvard University and Linux. It still offers many functions such as:
- Social Network – Joomla makes it very easy to create social networks that can be of great use to many websites.
- Commerce Sites – Setting up an eCommerce website is much faster and easier with Joomla than with Drupal and WordPress as Joomla has more native support for it.
- Not too technical – while Joomla requires a little more technical knowledge than WordPress, it is still accessible to users with experience in web development for beginners.
- Help Portal – Joomla has a great help portal for questions and technical support. It’s a little less extensive than WordPress community-based support pages, but it’s faster (and cheaper) than the tech support most people get for Drupal.
- Free – As with WordPress, Joomla is free.
When it comes to the cons, Joomla has its own cons:
- Learning curve – while Joomla isn’t too technical, it does take some time to get used to the platform.
- Limited SEO – While Joomla has some basic SEO features, it takes a lot of work to achieve the same search engine friendliness as WordPress.
If you want to learn Joomla, you will find numerous instructions in the documentation in addition to its own help portal. The Envato community also offers useful Joomla tutorials such as an overview of Joomla CMS, creating a social networking website, and modifying Joomla templates.
Joomla has fewer themes and modules than WordPress, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. At ThemeForest, you can find high-quality Joomla themes, such as the best-selling Kallyas Joomla theme.
Drupal is the second most popular CMS and serves 8% of the websites that operate a CMS. It’s extremely powerful and less resource-intensive, which makes it best for large and complex websites.
Websites running on Drupal include the University of Oxford and The Weather Channel. Some of the benefits of Drupal are:
- Flexibility – With almost 2000 designs and over 7000 extensions, Drupal is easy to customize. Given that you can edit the core files with relative ease, this is the most flexible of the top three CMS.
- Improved Performance – Websites created with Drupal load faster than websites created with Joomla and WordPress.
- Free – Just like WordPress and Joomla, Drupal is free to use.
- Community Support – Support is available at drupal.org as well as Stack Exchange and many other websites.
Unfortunately, though Drupal is as powerful as it is, it still has a number of disadvantages. The main disadvantage is:
- Steep Learning Curve – If you need more than a simple blog or small business website, you most likely need technical assistance, which means you will need someone to create the website, modules, and support.
If you’re looking for a few tutorials to get started with Drupal, our Drupal tutorial is a step in the right direction. If you know what Drupal is, you might want to find out how to implement a business theme using Drupal.
And if you’re looking for a high-quality Drupal theme, ThemeForest is the place for you. With 394 premium themes, you are guaranteed to find the perfect theme for your Drupal website, no matter what niche you are in. The InnoCompany Drupal theme is one of the best-selling products on our marketplace:
How to choose the right CMS
There is no doubt that all three content management systems offer great advantages. If you go to the internet in hopes of a definitive answer, you will come across fans of all three content management systems who claim that their preferred CMS is the best.
Of course, that doesn’t make your decision any easier. So how do you decide which CMS to choose? Do you choose WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal for your small business website?
Unfortunately, there is no ultimate answer. The fact is that every business and website is unique and every situation requires a different solution.
Joomla is better suited for medium-sized websites or those that want social networking and community-oriented websites.
Drupal, on the other hand, is the most logical solution for large, complex websites that require extensive functionality and scalability.
For those looking to set up a simple website for their small business, WordPress is probably the way to go.
Another thing to consider is your technical skills. If you are not tech-savvy, WordPress is definitely your best bet as it is the easiest to set up and use. On the other hand, if you have technical skills or are willing to pay for someone to take care of the technical side of things, Joomla or Drupal might be more up your alley.
What if you make the wrong choice?
It is possible that you select a CMS and later discover long the way that you made a mistake. For the most part, migrating from one CMS to another is pretty straightforward these days.
Note, however, that in order to properly migrate your website from one content management system to another, you need to allow some time and be familiar with the process to ensure that the migration goes smoothly.
WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal: decision time
When it comes to content management systems, WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are the most popular solutions. All three offer some great advantages, such as: Community support, themes that’ll help you make a great-looking website, plugins and extensions that you can use to add extra functionality to your website. You can use either on your website. However, they all have their own drawbacks.
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