WordPress vs Drupal vs Joomla

Illustration of a CMS developer

Most websites these days make use of a content management system (CMS), designed to allow users to make changes without the need for coding knowledge. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are among the most popular CMS suites currently available.

These CMS packages are free and easy to use and offer a range of features including customisation options and security. They are all community-driven open source projects and are licensed under GPL. All are written in PHP, and support for MySQL is offered by WordPress. Themes, templates, plugins and extensions provide plethora of options for personalising the look of a website and the features it offers.

With all this on offer, it can be difficult to decide on which CMS to go for. Well, we have made things a little easier by providing an in-depth look at all three, so you can choose which one is right for your organisation.

Set-up and ease of use

CMS systems are designed to work for people who don’t code and would like to just set up a website quickly and without fuss.


This CMS boasts a five-minute install with a lot of WordPress hosting providers offering one-click installs which means blogs can be started in minutes rather than hours.

The interface of WordPress is unintrusive and allows users to get on with creating content rather than configuring the website.


This is the second most popular CMS behind WordPress, and is not quite as quick to install as its prime competitor. Like WordPress, Joomla offers a one-click install, but post-installation, the interface shows up as a control panel where users can choose from a multitude of menus. This means it is slightly more confusing for users that want to concentrate on creating content.


Not as popular as WordPress and Joomla, Drupal is quick to install and is very powerful out of the box, but this comes at the expense of being more difficult to use. Drupal also offers bundles with configurations and modules geared towards certain types of websites.

Post-installation for beginners is the most complicated of the three CMS rivals. Using Drupal does require more knowledge from the user in terms of HTML, PHP, and other programming languages, in order to troubleshoot some issues.

Add-ons and themes

All these CMS systems feature themes and add-ons to change the appearance of a website and extend its functionality.


WordPress comes with a number of default themes out of the box, but most likely, users will add a theme from elsewhere. It has the most themes available (over 4,000). Adding a new theme is as easy as clicking on the add button in the Appearance page and installing from the official WordPress.org theme directory. There are also thousands of themes available from third-party vendors.

It also boasts more plug-ins than the other CMSs, around 45,000 and growing. Most can be found via the WordPress plugin directory and for free. There are a number of paid-for plugins offering premium capabilities.


Joomla comes with templates (that change the look of a website like WordPress’s themes) and extensions (which extend the functionality, such as adding an emailing list or social networking). These templates tend to be more basic and may not suit every need. Also, finding templates and extensions is not as easy as WordPress and not as easy to install from the web.


As with Joomla, Drupal users will have to search the internet to find themes and modules to add to the website. And again, there are not as many available for Drupal as there are for WordPress, but the number is pretty close, with around 34,000 currently available.


When starting out with a website, support will be a major issue. Undoubtedly, issues will occur that need fixing, so help will be necessary at some point.


If you do have trouble, there are millions of users that already use it and will support it. There are support forums that have answers to questions you may have about aspects of your setup that need addressing. Often, answers come within minutes from other helpful contributors.

There are also documentation and manuals available as well as hundreds of tutorials, and articles catering for everyone from beginner to expert level.

More complex issues may have to be dealt with by paid-for professionals. Numerous companies cater for this at a very reasonable price.

However, should you run into a problem, it always a good idea to google it first.


There is also a large community based around Joomla set up to give support to users and organisations. There are manuals and documentation available from Joomla’s website.

As with WordPress, there are forums, email lists, and chat rooms dedicated to sorting problems concerning the CMS. The CMS has a link that directly connects to community and support channels.

Paid support is a bit more difficult to come by with Joomla, and it can be more expensive than WordPress.


Drupal has a strong following of users and fans alike. It has the same level of community support as the others and documentation is easy to find as well as mailing lists, fora, user groups, etc.

The Drupal Marketplace is a good place to find paid experts to help on more difficult issues with setting up and maintaining a website. Once again, it can be harder to find such experts as the CMS is not as popular as WordPress.


No one wants a website they have created to be compromised. While no website is invulnerable, it is good to know where you stand in relation to a CMS’s security stance.


WordPress is the most popular of the CMS systems and so is a big target for hackers. The code is secure enough and WordPress responds quickly to security incidents with patches very quickly. There is an auto-update process with later versions of the technology, so security patches get implemented very quickly without user intervention.

There are a number of plugins available to backup websites and databases. Organisations can also deploy two-factor authentication, and other security processes to deny hackers easy access to your website.


The people behind Joomla also respond quickly to security issues but users must patch websites themselves, as there is no automatic updating available on this CMS.

Extensions exist to help protect your Joomla installation with backups, etc. Documentation exists to help strengthen security.


Drupal lists security vulnerabilities on its website as they are found and patched. There are not as many known security vulnerabilities with Drupal as with the others, although it may well be down to its relative popularity compared with Joomla and WordPress.

Drupal follows regular security standards.


All these CMS systems are great to use, but which one you choose will be down to your own level of expertise.

WordPress is very user-friendly and has a large community behind it as well as themes and plugins to quickly get the look and feel right. It is also great if you need to get up and running very quickly, as you don’t need to be a developer to get going.

If you want to scale up to serve millions of users than Drupal is the one to go for as it is not as resource intensive as WordPress.

Joomla offers a halfway house of ease of use and power or if you need to set up a website that is social networking or e-commerce orientated.

Dale Walker

Dale Walker is the Managing Editor of ITPro, and its sibling sites CloudPro and ChannelPro. Dale has a keen interest in IT regulations, data protection, and cyber security. He spent a number of years reporting for ITPro from numerous domestic and international events, including IBM, Red Hat, Google, and has been a regular reporter for Microsoft's various yearly showcases, including Ignite.