Which is Best: WordPress or Drupal?

wordpress vs. drupal

If your organization is looking to redesign its website, chances are you are faced with the question, “Which is better, WordPress or Drupal?” As two of the most popular open source content management systems (CMS), each with countless benefits, the answer is never simple.

At WDG, our expert web development team is comprised of both Drupal and WordPress experts, and our portfolio of work includes complex sites implemented using both platforms. We asked our expert development team to leverage their immense experience by breaking down the advantages, and disadvantages, of each to help you best decide which is right for your project.

Would you ever recommend Drupal over WordPress and why?

Yes, there are instances where we have recommended Drupal over WordPress. Through our experience, WDG designates Drupal as a great platform for content-heavy websites that require the need for developing complex web applications with deep integrations to third-party systems such as SalesForce and Apache Solr for custom search functionality. Think of Drupal as a flexible framework that you can build unique and customized solutions on and WordPress as a content management system with tons of out-of-the box functionality and features that can be extended to meet most client demands.

Guitar Gate is a great example of an instance when we recommended Drupal over WordPress. The client originally required integration with “recurly”, a payment gateway, to allow registered users to interact with the website to learn guitar lessons. Users start as a beginner and can advance to different levels. This build included gamification where users are rewarded for uploading their own instructional videos.

The Folger Shakespeare Library is another example of why Drupal was recommended due to the diversity of content (12+ different content types), integration with Solr Apache Search (easier to integrate with Drupal), integration with event ticketing system, and client preference. In-house technical expertise and Drupal knowledge was also a deciding factor. Folger could have been built on WordPress but, in this instance, our client had Drupal experience which was factored into the CMS recommendation.

Which is better: Drupal 7 or 8?

If your project does not require complex integrations, then Drupal 8 is recommended. Beyond being the most recent and updated version, building your website on Drupal 8 from implementation would be a financial advantage, as it would avoid the costly upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 in the future. The Drupal 8 community is growing at a rapid pace and the modules are catching up quickly. However, Drupal 7 may be the better fit if there are specific modules or integration requirements that are needed from the get-go which may not yet supported by Drupal 8.

How do you determine which platform to recommend?

In order to properly recommend either WordPress or Drupal, an assessment of the current platform in use and your technical infrastructure, coupled with the direction of your new content strategy, would be used to determine the degree of customization necessary going forward, and subsequently, a suitable platform. This takes place during discovery, as the initial phase of our projects.

Which Platform is best for content-heavy websites?

Both WordPress and Drupal are more than capable at hosting content-heavy websites. We have built complex and substantial sites on both platforms:

WordPress Examples:

Drupal Examples:

Which platform is better for supporting search functionalities?

In comparison, Drupal’s default core search functionality out performs that of WordPress. However, both platforms support plugins and third-party search integration to provide robust search functions that allow you to tag, facet, filter, archive and more, ensuring the most accurate results. If your project requires complex search functions, our experience with plugins, modules, and third-party solutions lead us to highly recommend both WordPress and Drupal as capable platforms.

United States Institute of Peace: We created custom integration for this Drupal site with Apache Solr for refined editorial control of search algorithm and custom facets.

American Enterprise Institute: With federated search covering several official online properties via a Swiftype integration, this WordPress powered site creates a seamless user experience.

City of Alexandria: Keyword matching search used to enable traffic funneled from radio listening to website via Relevancy and Swiftype.

What is the average range of post-launch maintenance costs for both WordPress and Drupal?

WordPress: Regular updates and maintenance, plus yearly upkeep, comes at an estimated cost of $3,000-6,000

Drupal: Regular updates and maintenance, plus yearly upkeep, comes at an estimated cost of $3,000-$10,000, dependent on the complexity of the features, modules, and integrations (as well as if Drupal 7 or 8 is selected).

Do WordPress and Drupal require different hosting?

When it comes to hosting, WDG has a diverse set of options that work for both WordPress and Drupal. Four of our preferred hosting and hardware partners include BlackmeshAcquia, WordPressVIP, and Pantheon. Blackmesh is an extremely robust Reston-based hosting provider for both Drupal and WordPress. A nice bonus is a discount offered to nonprofit organizations. Additionally, the customer service team is one of the best we’ve worked with; we place a huge emphasis on our clients, and believe that any vendor we use or recommend should hold the same standard.

Other top and reliable hosting platforms examples:

WDG is an official and trusted partner of Blackmesh and Aquia.

Which platform is harder to learn?

Both WordPress and Drupal operate via a browser-based dashboard, which means that after development and implementation, our clients can edit, add/remove, and amend content easily with no coding knowledge required. Additionally, both are open-source platforms, and the communities supporting and using both are extensive. With that, you can easily access forums, groups, blogs, and help centers that will assist in answering an questions that might pop up. Generally, WDG has found that more of our clients have previous experience with WordPress, so advanced training is easier when the basics are already covered; when starting from scratch, both WordPress and Drupal can easily be grasped. 

Does WordPress or Drupal take longer to build out?

Selecting either WordPress or Drupal will not affect build out time. Websites can be implemented in any range from a few weeks to multiple months, but this has to do with the complexity, amount of content, and special features needed rather than the hosting platform.

Need more Drupal and WordPress articles?

Ready to explore WordPress or Drupal further? Shoot us an email at [email protected], or contact one of our expert web developers who will help you figure out which platform is best for you.

Related Insights

Start a Project

Want to Skip Right
to the Good Stuff?

Contact Us