CMS overview series – Drupal

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Posted by : Darko Borojevic | contact me | go home

What is Drupal?

Drupal is free and open source PHP based content management system software that can be used by different users, to create or manage many categories and subcategories of websites. In this sense, Drupal is very similar to WordPress, but more built for webmasters and less user friendly for a non technical user. Drupal was developed by a Belgian software developer Dries Buytaert, and in 2001. it was launched as the first real, open source CMS. Despite being older than WordPress, Drupal did not win the market share battle with WordPress, and WordPress has a far bigger market representation and following compared to Drupal. Maybe in this article we will uncover a few old or new reasons why that is a fact.


1) Modules, extensibility and flexibility

WordPress has its own custom post types system built in, and WordPress eco system can offer plugins like Custom Post Types UI, Advanced Custom Fields etc., to further boost this default functionality, but Drupal’s default custom content types probably offer more options than that of WordPress. This can be viewed as a little advantage, but again, in my personal opinion, this is not a very big advantage over WordPress because third party plugins for this purpose are really amazing, and have been working well for a long time. However, Drupal can be perceived as more customizable and flexible solution because of its rich theme ecosystem and modules with which you can build any type of website, without the use of third party plugin system ( install a new plugin for every new feature is the name of the game in WordPress, most of the time ). Same things can be developed in WordPress ( WordPress can actually be used as a framework, but this is another subject ) also, but you either have to use plugins, or pay a seasoned PHP-WordPress developer to develop a feature for your theme ( this can be done with extensive use of WP_query object, and good PHP programming skills, but in general it is a slow process, and who has the time to wait for a new website feature, right? ). Drupal has an impressive amount of generic modules and you can build a very complex website without a massive use ( or abuse ) of third party plugins, just using core Drupal system itself.

2) Default multilingual support

Drupal’s multilingual support is great. Drupal has multilingual modules contained within its core installation, and therefore has a big advantage over WordPress in this matter. WordPress has to resort to third-party plugins to solve this problem, or pay for translators, and in general, WordPress did not solve the multilingual issues in a really good and sustainable way compared to Drupal.

3) Users / enhanced role management

Drupal’s role management and user permissions are more complex and detail oriented than those of WordPress. This in itself, offers more control over your webmaster team and different roles, and the content that they themselves can manage.

4) Caching

Caching is one of those features that Drupal has built into the system. This can speed your website compared to other applications that have to use third party libraries to resolve caching.


1) Market share and community support

Drupal exists in the real world of web applications longer than WordPress, but that is not reflected in the market share of Drupal. Drupal powers something like 2% of all the web content out there, while WordPress powers more than 25%. Drupal fans can say that this is because of Drupal’s more complicated learning curve, and more complex overall system, but my personal opinion is that WordPress has clearly won the user experience battle. Drupal is simply not user friendly, and WordPress is. Drupal has a fairly big and well established community that can provide support and second opinions, but WordPress user and developer community is still, much bigger.

2) Not easy to use for non-technical users and possibly requires a lot of technical maintenance

When I first encountered Drupal and its documentation, I didn’t realize at first sight that I’m reading about a CMS application, it looked more like a framework. To develop a feature on Drupal, as a Drupal module, you have to find a developer ( or a team of developers ) to build it, which is ok, but if a certain company can pay a developer or a team of developers, you can develop a WordPress plugin that solves the same problem in a similar way. After all, both of these systems are just PHP web applications. When using Drupal, you can achieve scalability only via Drupal partners, which in itself would not be a con if Drupal wouldn’t be so narrow and technically exclusive. Drupal development is very specialized, Drupal developers are not very numerous, and website development can be very costly and cumbersome. Therefore, you can always ask yourself a question from a perspective of a CEO in a big company, why should I use Drupal that requires so much technical knowledge and maintenance, if I have all the resources to build my own CMS that can be tailored to satisfy specifically the needs of my organization, and pay less more for maintenance in the future? This question presents a legitimate challenge to all Drupal fans.

3) Performance and security

Some sources list Drupal as a better performance and more secure solution than WordPress. However, considering a much smaller market share of Drupal this statement can’t be confirmed as a matter of fact. Drupal can present a problem for performance and security if not used properly and with care, in the same way how WordPress plugins can present a performance problem if used incorrectly. For me personally therefore, this “pro” reason to use Drupal and not WordPress or any other CMS is a bit redundant.     

4) Costly system requirements

While you can find really cheap hosting solutions for basic WordPress websites ( in WordPress you will usually spend a lot more on plugin premium versions than hosting ), or other CMS solutions, finding a hosting package for Drupal will usually not be cheap, even for the basic Drupal installations.

Posted on: November 10, 2022

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