Today there are many options to build a website without the need of knowing any programming language. Those who want a simple website may go with a site builder, but others who want a more powerful and flexible online application will choose a content management system. There are many great software that are categorized as CMS, but the most popular are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
Beside the fact that all these three applications are built with PHP and MySQL and they are very powerful, they are also open source which means they are free to use. The best way to see which system fits you most is to try out each of them. It is important though to know the virtue and the downside of each system, because most people tend to stuck with the cms they have started with, even if would be wise to use other system on certain projects.
According to wappalyzer.com the market share leader (at the time of writing) in the CMS category is WordPress with 65%, followed by Joomla with 15% and at the end Drupal with only 8%. The other 12% divided between lots of other such as Typo3, Modx, Xoops and others. Before you start exploring the features of the top cms, let’s analyze these three first.
The virtues and downsides of using WordPress
It started as a blogging platform and over the years has advanced significantly, today being the most popular content management system, used by over 74 million websites. Accordion to Wikipedia 23% of the top 10 million websites use WordPress.
The software has become so popular, that a whole industry is saddling around it. Many hosting companies like BlueHost offer the possibility to automatically install wordpress, others like WP Engine offers customized managed WordPress only hosting. There are also hundreds of web development companies that offer custom development services and web design for wordpress sites.
There are many reasons why WP has become so popular, here are the most important:
Easy installation and setup: as mentioned before, many companies offer automatic installs through their control panel, this means that with a click of a button the software will be installed to your website within seconds, ready to publish content.
Easy to customize: thanks to its active community, there are many tutorials and hack guides to change the core and customize your website with wordpress. There are also thousands of free and commercial plugins and themes available, which will significantly reduce the time of creating a website from scratch.
Great community support: its community is very active and beside the thousands of tutorials you will find online, if you have a specific question you can ask it on the official support forum where someone will answer you within seconds.
Fast and easy startup: after installing the system, it is ready to go. There are few tweaks you want to do before making your first post such as enabling search engine friendly url, enabling Akismet to prevent comment spam, but other than that, you can just keep the content flowing. If you are fast enough, it is possible to have your website online in less than 10 minutes.
There are downsides as well that you have to take in consideration when you start using WordPress. The popularity makes it a huge target to hackers. To be sure that your website is safe, you have to have a reliable and secure web hosting and update the core and the plugins when a new version is available. Don’t worry, the system will tell you when there is a new update, so you don’t have to check it manually. Another downside is the slowdown of the system with the increase of installed plugins and increase of website visitors.
Pros and Cons of Joomla
Joomla uses object oriented programming technique, it is written in PHP and stores data in MySQL database. It is a powerful content management system, which is used by thousands of website. It is mainly used for company websites, web-shops, forums and community sites, and also by governmental and non-profit organizations.
Unlike WordPress, Joomla is not so popular; however the software has been downloaded more than 50 million times and this number is increasing rapidly, let’s see why:
Easy installation and setup: many hosting companies allow automatic Joomla installation too to their servers. The installation will not differ much from the setup of WordPress.
Active community support: Joomla’s community is also great; on their official support forum you can get help pretty fast from other members and joomla users. There are lots of tutorials available on the internet that will help you in many cases. There are thousands of free extensions and templates available for the system.
Fast and easy startup: when installing Joomla you can choose to have a blank installation, or to have some content on your website. If you choose to have nothing but the system, you will have to manually create and activate the modules and add articles. The time required to setup a joomla website does not differ much from the time it is needed to start with a website based on WordPress, however Joomla needs a bit of practice to get it going.
Joomla is also targeted by hackers, this could be a downside of using it, but with the right setup and constant upgrades you can prevent hackers to destroy your site. It may be a bit difficult to start off with the system but offers more options to customize individual pages unlike wordpress.
Why should I choose Drupal?
Now that you have seen two great cms, which are easy to use, why should you bother with software that is more complicated? In fact, Drupal is not so complicated, it is technically more advanced than Joomla and WordPress and is built to use less server resources, so you don’t have to worry about upgrading your hosting package as you are getting more visitors.
Drupal can be used for many purposes from blogs trough to news portals, anything you can recall. There are some pros and cons however:
Relatively easy to install: many hosting companies offer the possibility to install Drupal automatically, however not all of them support the software. That means if you run into any problem with your Drupal system and you ask your host to help, they are more likely to send you to the community forum.
Good website performance: websites built with Drupal load more quickly and have faster response time than those that use Joomla or WordPress. Like in the case of other cms, as you add modules it will slow down.
Highly customizable: many development companies choose to build websites for their clients using Drupal, because it can more easily be customized to the client needs.
The downside of using Drupal is the lack of plugins and designs available. The customization of a Drupal website may be difficulty for users with basic programming skills. Because it does not has a huge community, it is harder to find answers to your questions related to this cms.
My personal choice
Back in 2007, when I first decided to use a cms for building a project for a client, I started with Joomla. At that point I have started with the 1.0 version. It was very difficult to upgrade to 1.5 version, but with huge efforts it was possible. After the release of 1.6 version in August, 2011 I gave up on Joomla.
Switched to WordPress and found out how easy is to build websites with. Also realize that it runs faster than Joomla, it was a very good experience and I’m glad I made this step. I prefer to use WordPress for my websites, because it is more convenient for my needs.
Which is your favorite?
After this read it may be too early to tell which your favorite cms is. I suggest taking the time and trying out each software, and decide which one is most suitable for your needs and style.
If you are planning to build a simple website for yourself, or for your company, probably WordPress or Joomla would be the best choice. If you are planning to expand your site in the future with additional features, Joomla could be the choice. If you are a geek and have huge dreams about your site, and have the skills or the resource to further develop into a huge project, Drupla is your friend. But at the end of the day, it is your choice, because if you are not happy with the software you choose, it is possible to migrate to another cms, however this requires some additional technical and programming skills.
If you have any question or would like to share your opinion with us, please leave a comment below.