Wordpress vs drupal

One of my design clients has asked me to implement a content management system for the next version of their site.

I have watched average computer users while they tried making text or image changes with WordPress, and also with Drupal.

My impression is that they find WordPress easier to figure out. I also have competing concerns. Most of the developers I know think that WP is harder to debug, and I want to avoid those headaches. In addition, the need to pay for additional widgets & modules can make WordPress unattractive to clients.

Does anyone have any useful observations to offer?


I haven’t used Drupal for a few years now (since 2008 or 2009). I downloaded it and installed it when evaluating different CMSes to use for a personal site. I found Drupal to be very bare-bones and not easy to use.

Wordpress, on the other hand, is so easy anyone can use it with a very small learning curve. Wordpress is intuitive. A newbie can go into the admin panel and figure out what to do right away. There is little hacking that needs to be done to get a functional site which cannot be said for Drupal. However, Wordpress under the hood is very badly written. The code base is ugly. But the casual user will never know that.

You can try reading this comparison of Drupal versus Wordpress (and Joomla).

For a very large commercial project, I can see a justification for choosing Drupal. On a big project, most of your expense will be custom development anyway…

WordPress is the platform of choice in my opinion for the small, medium or large business.

But on a very large commercial project, why would you use Drupal when you can write everything custom? That way you get exactly what you want.

People keep asking these questions without giving any qualifications.

It’s like a golfer coming to a golfing experts forum and just asking “What’s better – a four iron or a 9-iron?”

If all you’re asking is which one is easier for the end user to edit a page … since Drupal 7, they’re both about the same. You log in, you navigate to the page you want to edit, you click “Edit,” make your changes, and hit “save.”

Now if the question is which one is easier for the site administrator or developer? That would be Wordpress by quite a long shot. But then again … with Wordpress, you’re going to have to be at peace with the fact that your site will probably never be much more than a blog or a basic portfolio site – which 90% of the sites are anyway, so if that’s all you need, then no need to even mess with the complexity that is drupal.

On the other hand, if you need your site to do a lot more things, and to behave more like an actual “application,” then drupal is going to get you there, and as you grow accustom to it’s idiosyncracies … you’ll grow to appreciate it’s power and capabilities. In summary, Wordpress is bicycle (and a very nice one) that will get you around the neighborhood, and Drupal is a hi-tech fighter jet or a nuclear submarine that you can traverse the oceans and take over the planet with.

Cheesedude, what you said about under the hood is what CS people have told me, in the context of debugging and other ways that they look at CMSes. However, according that excellent article you referred me to, this is not a situation that would call for Drupaling it. The site I am re-designing is in the small-to-medium range, and at the moment I don’t foresee its growing in any way other than the number of pages.

I still have reservations from the design-side, because I want to have control over the design. The two free themes that Alec recommended are so visually limited that it gives me pause.


The site I am redsigning is not an application, but it certainly does not look like a blog. Perhaps in your scale, I am designing a BMW cycle (cafe racer?) or a Tesla Roadster, in comparison with your fighter jet.

I guess that I need to read a bit more about how readily Wordpress 3 allows one to customize, particulalry if the base themes are like TwentyTen or Cutline, which are recommended in the article that Cheesedude recommended, above.

Thanks for your comments,

This is a great point! I think answering the question about which framework is best is a very broad question and cannot be qualified with such a simple inquiry. However, I would like to add in the defense of using WordPress that because it has such a small footprint (i.e. it only has 12 tables to start with) and handles very nicely some of the most basic necessities of any site that require more than just static pages that it’s a great launching pad for almost any web site and that it’s been around so long that there are so many themes, plugins and widgets for it that you’d be very hard pressed to find a good reason to go with any other framework unless of course you have the resources and expertise to develop your own site.