WordPress vs. Drupal: Choosing the Right Platform for Your CMS

Ralph Otto author photo
Ralph Otto Director of Product

If you’re in charge of creating marketing content for your company, then you know your content management system (CMS) can make your job easy (or super hard). Keeping up to date or adding content to your website shouldn’t be part of the challenge that comes with marketing. Your tools (i.e. WordPress or Drupal) should always assist in producing quality content. We hope your CMS makes your job easier, but if you need help finding the right platform for your organization, let us guide you through the process.

Initial Considerations

WordPress vs Drupal


Before you choose a specific platform, take notes on your existing CMS experience and your desired future state.

  • What are the goals and objectives of the website?
    • Consider both current needs and future growth.
  • Who will be using the CMS, and what is their technical proficiency?
    • Consider the need for the CMS to be user-friendly for non-technical team members.
  • What type of content will we be managing?
    • Assess whether you must handle diverse content types like blogs, videos, and e-commerce.
  • What parts of the website will be updated daily, weekly, or monthly?
    • Consider the areas you’d like to update without developer assistance.
  • How much will the site expand in the future from a content/sitemap perspective?
    • Think about how the CMS will need to grow with your organization.
  • What level of customization does our website require?
    • Identify how much you need to customize themes, layouts, and functionality.
  • What is the ongoing budget for ownership, and who will fund it?
    • Include initial costs and ongoing expenses for maintenance and updates and whether this will be a marketing or IT budget item.
  • What tools need to be built into the CMS vs integrated from a 3rd party service?
    • Consider essential integrations such as CRM, email marketing, and social media platforms.
  • What type of security is needed?
    • Investigate the CMS’s measures to protect against data breaches and cyber threats.
  • What type of support will be needed in the long term to make improvements?
    • Look into the availability of design/development resources, in-house team members, and documentation.

Open Source vs Proprietary

Our recommendation is to use open-source software for your CMS. Open-source software is developed and maintained by a community of developers worldwide. Proprietary software is developed behind closed doors without access to the underlying code. We use open-source software for just about everything that we build, so we’re a little biased, but there are many benefits to an open-source CMS.


Here’s why we recommend open source:

  • Cost: Open-source software is often free, reducing the financial barrier for individuals and organizations to use or implement it. Additional resources like training and documentation are typically available and provided in various formats (official, unofficial, written, video, etc.).
  • Flexibility: With access to the source code, users can modify and customize the software as needed to meet their specific requirements. There are a large number of qualified implementation partners.
  • Community: Open-source projects benefit from contributions by a global community of developers. This collaborative approach can lead to rapid innovation, enhancements, and bug fixes. Users can extend functionality through free or inexpensive plugins/modules.
  • Transparency: The openness of the source code allows anyone to conduct thorough security audits, potentially leading to more secure software as vulnerabilities can be identified and addressed promptly. The feature roadmap is also well-planned and driven by user needs.
  • Security: Contrary to some beliefs, the transparency of open-source software can lead to higher security standards as vulnerabilities are quickly discovered and patched by the community.
  • Scalability: Open-source software can be a highly scalable option, as users can adapt the software to handle growing amounts of work or to be capable of operating on a larger scale when necessary.
  • Agility and Speed: Businesses can achieve a faster time to market by leveraging open-source software, which allows for rapid prototyping and iteration.
  • Enterprise Backing: Most successful open source CMS have an enterprise organization backing them to assist in the ongoing development and support of the product.


Open source has some disadvantages, which the choice of a correct CMS or a good implementation partner can help mitigate.

  • Lack of Warranty: Open-source software typically comes with no warranty. Users rely on community support for troubleshooting, which may only meet the needs of some businesses. However, the implementor is almost always the group responsible for support, whether it is open source or proprietary.
  • Vulnerabilities Exposed: With open source, anyone can see where there is a vulnerability. Being unable to patch vulnerabilities quickly and notify site owners is primarily an issue for open-source CMS with small communities or those that lack enterprise backing. We recommend selecting a CMS that releases regular updates and bug fixes and has mechanisms to help identify issues before they are released.
  • Perceived Security: Due to the exposed nature of open-source code, some executives and IT professionals may be nervous about using open-source technology to run their corporate sites. As technology professionals tangent to IT, we get it. However, we can mitigate these worries by implementing layers of security outside of the code. Solutions include infrastructure, DNS, or third-party protections.
  • Integration with Technology: Integrating open-source software with existing systems and ensuring compatibility can pose a challenge, requiring skilled developers familiar with the open-source ecosystem and the organization’s existing infrastructure. However, this is no issue with an experienced implementation partner and a software engineering team.
  • Ongoing Sustainability: The long-term sustainability of an open-source project can be uncertain, depending on the community’s continuing interest and participation in its development. To mitigate this, we recommend using open-source software with a large community and roadmap for ongoing development.

Our Recommendation: WordPress or Drupal

We primarily recommend two open-source content management systems: WordPress and Drupal. In the rest of the article, we’ll explain why we recommend these two platforms and why you might decide to use one over the other.



years active development


of all websites use WordPress


increase in usage per year 

WordPress (WP) is a comprehensive content management system (CMS) and is the most popular content management system in the world, running 45% of the web. WordPress has been in development for 21 years and continues to innovate as a product. It caters to a broad spectrum of users, from individuals without coding knowledge to professional web developers, allowing them to design, build, and manage websites tailored to various needs. Originating as a simple blogging tool, WordPress has evolved into a robust platform that supports a wide array of websites, including media galleries, online stores, and membership sites.

The platform is available in two distinct versions: WordPress.com, which offers a hosted solution with various plans to suit different requirements and levels of expertise and WordPress.org. This open-source software project allows users to install and host WordPress using their web hosting services. This duality ensures that WordPress can cater to users seeking simplicity and complete control over their web hosting environment.

Professional web designers and developers use WordPress.org, which allows for much more flexibility and customization. This self-managed version is the most appropriate choice for an organization. Automattic, a software company valued at $7.5B, sponsors much of WordPress’s ongoing development, including the code hosted at WordPress.org.

Learn more about how we WordPress.



years active development


of the top 10k sites use Drupal


community members

Drupal is a prominent open-source CMS that facilitates creating and managing diverse digital experiences. In the top million websites, Drupal is the second most popular website CMS. The first version of Drupal was released 23 years ago and, like WordPress, continues to have regular updates and significant feature improvements. Crafted with flexibility and scalability in mind, it caters to a wide range of users — from individuals creating personal blogs to corporations managing complex corporate websites.

Drupal’s robust architecture and modular approach allow for extensive customization and functionality expansion, making it a preferred choice for developers and organizations seeking a powerful platform to build on. Its ability to handle high traffic volumes and intricate data integrations has established Drupal as a reliable foundation for websites and applications worldwide.

An active global community sustains the platform, continuously contributing to its development, security, and technical support. This community-driven approach ensures that Drupal remains innovative, secure, and aligned with the latest web technologies and trends. Furthermore, Drupal’s commitment to open-source principles guarantees that it remains accessible to use and modify, fostering a collaborative environment where ideas and solutions are freely exchanged. Drupal has enterprise backing in Acquia, a company valued at $1B with a significant focus on Drupal hosting solutions.

Learn more about how we Drupal.

Comparing WordPress and Drupal

When comparing WordPress and Drupal, both platforms offer a range of features catering to different user needs and preferences. While both offer compelling features, the choice between them often boils down to the specific needs and goals of the content management team. 

Strengths of Both WordPress and Drupal

  • Content Management: Most importantly to marketers, both platforms offer a variety of content creation and formatting tools to content managers. They both do an excellent job of providing intuitive tools for creating, editing, and managing content, including pages, articles, and media files.
  • Large Ecosystems: Both platforms include access to thousands of plugins or modules, which enable activation of new functionality with lower effort and are a good starting point for custom development.
  • Robust Community Support: Both open-source CMS have large, active communities providing extensive documentation, forums, and third-party resources for support and learning. The community includes a vast network of capable design and development teams that can implement each platform well.
  • SEO-Friendly: Each CMS has built-in features and available SEO plugins or modules to help optimize websites for search engines, improving visibility.
  • Security: Both platforms have constant updates and a wide range of security extensions to help safeguard websites against threats. Further, each CMS has a dedicated security team and rigorous coding standards for contributions to ensure that the core platform code is secure.
  • Backend Accessibility: Both platforms’ administrative controls have accessibility requirements, making either candidate a good choice when your administrators may need accessible controls.

WordPress CMS Strengths

  • Ease of Adoption: WordPress has always prioritized ease of use as a platform priority. They make it easy to update content and make the technology more accessible by having minimal infrastructure requirements and simplifying platform installation and setup.
  • Block Editor: WordPress’s backend experience has always been its killer feature. In the last several years, the addition of the Block Editor has dramatically improved the content editing experience, transforming from a Microsoft Word interface to a more full-featured page layout builder. Improvements to the Block Editor are regularly released, allowing sites that have this technology activated to take advantage of new features.
  • Block Patterns: Block patterns are reusable portions of pages or layouts that significantly speed up the content creation process. The WordPress core platform allows for custom patterns and recommended block patterns that provide content managers with suggestions on communicating information (very helpful!).
  • Block Themes: WordPress’s newest prominent feature is Block Themes. Block Themes allow users to implement a WordPress site with no or low code. This competes directly with platforms like Webflow and Squarespace, which currently own that market. While capabilities are more limited, this early implementation shows a lot of potential for what’s to come.

Drupal CMS Strengths

  • Robust and Flexible: Drupal takes a different approach than WordPress. You get less “out of the box” with a fresh installation of Drupal. Still, you have more ability to customize exactly how your CMS works. It is less friendly to use out of the box but a better option for experienced teams that intend to grow, require a lot of custom functionality, or plan on integrating with many systems (ERP, HRIS, DAM, CRM, etc.).
  • Site Building: Custom Content Types, Taxonomies, and Views allow administrators to display highly custom content types in various ways. This is similar to WordPress Block Themes in that it allows administrators to customize the function of their website without having to write code. Unlike Block Themes, every aspect of how these are displayed can be manipulated through the Drupal backend, including custom variables and fields set up per content type.
  • High Performance: Drupal excels in managing high-traffic volumes and large amounts of data, making it ideal for large-scale websites and applications. It was designed with structural efficiency in mind, a dramatic difference from WordPress’s architecture. This makes Drupal a better CMS candidate when large amounts of data are included in the website.
  • User Management: Drupal includes comprehensive roles and permissions, making it easier to implement fine-tuned capabilities. This capability often makes Drupal the better choice when building an interface that requires different users to have different access, workflows, or capabilities.

Choosing the Right CMS

We reviewed initial considerations earlier in the article. Those questions were very general and designed to get you thinking about the type of platform you’d like. Assuming WordPress or Drupal fits your general requirements, here are some more specific questions you can use to narrow down your decision-making.

This choice is significant and can influence your site’s functionality, user experience, and manageability. Both platforms offer robust solutions but cater to different needs and skill levels. Shameless plug: if you work with us, we’ll make a recommendation.

Project Complexity and Customization Needs

  • WordPress is excellent for small, medium, and large websites where ease of use is the priority. It is an ideal candidate for a marketing website or news publication with lots of content. WordPress shines in scenarios requiring extensive front-end customizations and some integrations, like CRM or a couple of APIs, but without the need for deep integrations with large data sets or numerous APIs.
  • Drupal is excellent for medium or large websites that may have complex requirements. Drupal performs well in highly customized projects requiring extensive data management and scale, such as marketing websites with portions driven by data integrations, user portals, and sites needing intricate workflows/permissions. Drupal’s flexibility is a meaningful asset for projects with unusual or evolving requirements.

Technical Expertise

  • WordPress is accessible to users of all technical backgrounds with its user-friendly dashboard and intuitive content creation tools. Authors can build custom layouts and post content quickly using tools that come out of the box.
  • Drupal has a steeper administrative learning curve but can be configured to be very similar to the WordPress visual editor. Teams that feel relatively comfortable with technology will feel at home with Drupal’s CMS.


  • WordPress is secure, but its popularity makes it a frequent target for hackers. Regular updates, vigilant security practices, and reputable plugins are necessary to maintain site security.
  • Drupal is known for its robust security features. Governments organizations and financial institutions often choose it because its robust security protocols and regular updates help protect against vulnerabilities, making it highly trusted for security-critical projects.

Scalability and Performance

  • WordPress can scale to handle high traffic, especially with proper hosting and optimization plugins. However, very complex sites with integrated data or content relationships require significant optimization to perform well.
  • Drupal, due to its scalability and performance optimization, is excellently suited for large-scale, high-traffic websites. It efficiently handles complex content structures and vast amounts of data, making it ideal for ambitious projects.

Multilingual Support

  • WordPress offers multilingual capabilities through plugins, enabling the creation of multilingual sites. While effective, setting up a multilingual site may require additional configuration and plugin integration.
  • Drupal provides extensive built-in multilingual support by default, allowing easy setup of multi-language sites without extra modules. This built-in capability makes Drupal a strong contender for international projects.

Community Support and Resources

  • WordPress boasts a vast, active community offering extensive documentation, forums, tutorials, and third-party resources. Due to its widespread use, finding help or hiring professionals familiar with WordPress is generally more accessible.
  • Drupal, while smaller than WordPress, has a highly engaged community and offers a wealth of documentation, user guides, and forums. The community is known for its commitment to quality and security.

Cost of Ownership

  • WordPress-built websites generally have a lower ownership cost. Since it is the most popular CMS, numerous agencies work on WordPress sites, and hosting services that work well with WordPress are widely available.
  • Drupal websites have a higher cost of ownership, but building on Drupal is often the right move for teams where the price is worth the benefits. It would be far more expensive to build on a platform that scales poorly with complex project requirements (i.e., WordPress).

Advice in Deciding Between WordPress and Drupal

Generally, this choice is clear to us. A good digital agency partner can help evaluate your needs and map them against a technology solution. Consider engaging a digital agency (hint hint) to help you through this process before you make your selection.

Most agencies have reviewed and evaluated thousands of websites, including their CMS solutions, and we know the pitfalls and roadblocks that can occur when you choose the wrong platform. However, when choosing between WordPress and Drupal, you should know that both platforms are excellent. Here’s a real-life example:


  • Uses Drupal
  • About $7B in assets
  • Has a dedicated marketing team
  • Does not have in-house developers
  • 32% year-over-year increase in website leads
  • Continues to support marketing effectively
  • 5+ years

Learn more about this work


  • Uses WordPress
  • About $10B in assets
  • Has a dedicated marketing team
  • Does not have in-house developers
  • Increased loan applications by 26%
  • Continues to support marketing effectively
  • 2+ years

Learn more about this work

We are lucky to work with two highly effective marketing teams at these comparable credit unions. The CMS selections came down mainly to the preference of each internal team. Each website has similar complexity and capabilities. As we project their roadmaps, we are confident that their websites will continue supporting their growth for many years.


Your choice between WordPress and Drupal should be guided by the complexity of your project, your team’s technical expertise, security requirements, anticipated performance needs, specific CMS capabilities, and budget.

WordPress offers an accessible, widely supported platform suitable for many websites, particularly those prioritizing ease of use and community support. On the other hand, Drupal presents a powerful option for projects demanding advanced customization, exceptional security, and scalability, albeit with a higher learning curve and greater reliance on technical skills. Consider your long-term goals, available resources, and the specific needs of your project to choose the CMS that will best support your vision.

Use the information in this article to help you choose the right CMS. The best platform is the one that works for your team. Every organization is different, so weighing the pros and cons of each platform is critical to finding the right fit. Oh, and did we mention that we can help with that?

Let us know if you need help deciding between WordPress and Drupal. You can message us via our contact form, email [email protected], or reach out to (804) 433-3582. We’re happy to help you make the right decision for your team.

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