Which of the 3 Open Source CMS is the Best for You?

Updated: November 23, 2010

Wordpress is Easy

  • Easy to setup: Wordpress has created a foolproof setup wizard. Also many hosting providers provide it as a turn-key solution.
  • Low learning curve: Back in 2003, Wordpress was designed to be the simpler and cooler alternative to MoveableType. So ease-of-use is inherently built into the product.
  • +12,000 plugins: very simple to get add-ons for SEO, Form-handlers, Gallery, Newsletter, Captchas, Surveys, Polls, etc.
  • Big developer community: you can quickly find PHP geeks to develop any bizarre extension into Wordpress.
  • Support & Training: It's fairly easy to get third-party commerical support and training. An important factor for the corporate environment.

With so many great things to say, what's so bad about Wordpress? Well not that much, it's strong, robust and somewhat secure. Wordpress security did take a bad rep, but that's so 2007. One area where Wordpress fails is scalability. Without load-balancing, you're better off looking at other options for high-traffic websites.

Joomla is Cool

The next level up is Joomla. It takes the easy-to-use concept of Wordpress and makes it slightly more complex. But in the process adds greater flexibility, extensibility and scalability (a lot of ilities.) It's still primarily used by SMEs such as severa.com (where I work). The advantages of Joomla are:

  • Relatively easy-to-use: It's not as intuitive as Wordpress, but not rocket science either.
  • +6,000 extensions: These include shopping cart, newsletter, extensible user profiles, cool survey, lead-capture forms, etc.
  • Fairly scalable: I can't find any real documentation on how scalable Joomla is, but general talk puts its a few notches above Wordpress.
  • Strong Tech community: Just like WordPress, Joomla also has a big tech community behind it.

Even though it does offer some ease-of-use, it doesn't beat Wordpress in usability. But that's something a little user training can't take care off. Joomla also requires a bit more technical oversight, which means more dough to dish out during setup and maintenance.

Drupal: Developers Dream

The last option is Drupal - the most technical, complicated and powerful of the lot. Most of the bigger websites using a CMS system opt for Drupal. Thats why you can see it run on mtv.co.uk, economist.com and rutgers.com. The benefits of using Drupal are:

  • Very Powerful: Drupal is a perfect fit for highly dynamic websites.
  • +7,000 modules: The plugins are so full of code, they are called modules in Drupal. And there are plenty to go around.
  • Developers Den: Since Drupal is designed for the true geek - you have a huge developer community behind it.
  • Best Performance: I haven't seen real numbers on performance but most techies boast about faster Drupal sites.

Even with all the good things to say about Drupal, I would be weary to recommend it for small-to-medium sized sites. It's really a complex system and not for the faint-hearted. Unless you need the added coding power, its better to look at simpler/cheaper options.

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