Drupal vs WordPress: How does your business manage its website content?

Just how hard is it to get your business seen online? A website is the obvious place to start, but what does that involve? 

In 2014, if your business or organisation doesn't have an online presence, then you’re severely limiting your potential market.

Increasingly, people are using the internet to connect with companies and other groups; if you aren't online, you’re missing out.

For many, this means active use of social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, but most businesses start with a website, or more specifically, an interactive web application. So, what are the options for creating such an application?

You could jump straight in and start building a site from scratch using HTML and CSS, the basic coding languages around which most websites are constructed. However, this is a time-consuming and difficult process, not to be taken on lightly.

Consequently, many website builders opt to use content management systems (CMS), which have long been a popular means of creating new web applications.

These use pre-existing code to simplify the development of sites. Arguably the two most popular CMS available as open-source software (i.e. at no cost to the business owner - win!) are Drupal and WordPress.

However, these have quite different strengths and weaknesses and choosing between them is an important decision for the effectiveness of your web application.

Why WordPress?

WordPress is the more widely used, largely because it requires little to no programming knowledge to use and facilitates the production of basic sites at very little cost.

It is also very easy to make WordPress sites look attractive due to the availability of relatively cheap (or sometimes free) pre-configured ‘themes’ which are used to style the web pages.

These features have helped to make WordPress the world’s favourite blogging software. However, it can also have its functionality extended to undertake a wide variety of other tasks such as e-commerce or social media integration.

Organisations which use web applications built using WordPress include Time magazine, CNN, and Forbes.

Do it with Drupal?

By contrast, Drupal requires substantial technical know-how, and is likely to need ‘theming’ by a professional in order to look as slick as a WordPress site, making it the more expensive choice in the short-term.

However, the value of Drupal is derived from its superior handling of large volumes of data and users; for companies looking to grow their product ranges and client bases, it is likely to be a better choice than WordPress.

Additionally, whilst themes in Drupal are a more complex affair, this complexity gives them greater flexibility and increased potential for aligning exactly with your particular brand.

Organisations which utilise the Drupal CMS include Royal Mail, Eurostar, the Beatles official website, the University of Oxford, and BBC Good Food.

While both of these CMS can be used to achieve functionality required for most of the basic requirements you would expect of a web application, in general Drupal is the more enterprise-friendly of the two.

Within the web development industry, it is generally considered to have greater ‘scalability’ (effectiveness in dealing with large amounts of data, web pages and users) and superior management capabilities, providing more flexibility in manipulating web content. If you’re an ambitious business looking to develop and maintain a significant and brand-aligned online presence, then a Drupal based web application is the best starting point for you.

This is a guest post from Stephanie Hall of Drupal specialists Will Hall Online.