Winner Takes All: WordPress vs Drupal vs Joomla!

So, which of the Open Source CMSs take it?

So, which of the Open Source CMSs take it?

In this article, we take a look at WordPress, Drupal and Joomla! to determine which of the three CMSs is leading the race in terms of specific usage.

When it comes to CMSs, WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal are the three leading names today. All three are open source software, and are free to use and customise. Each has its own community and user base, as well as a well-maintained repository of themes/templates and plugins/extensions. And all three have their pros and cons.

But before we go any further, it is worthwhile to point out that using (or not using) a particular CMS also involves a matter of personal taste. What works well for me may not work for you! Thus, if Drupal is already your favourite, and you hate WordPress — or vice-versa — this article does not intend to belittle or alter your preferences. The aim here is to simply compare three of the most popular CMSs.

The prelude


WordPress began as a blogging tool, but of late, has evolved into a full-fledged CMS powering the likes of The New York Times (Blogs), The Lance Armstrong Foundation, Miley Cyrus, Sylvester Stallone, Harvard Gazette, Mashable and, if I may add, LINUX For You. So if you’re using WordPress, you sure are in good company! You can disable comments/trackbacks, use static pages, and tweak your website by using widgets and plugins.

Make no mistake about it: WordPress has the easiest interface (as compared to most other CMSs). Furthermore, it also has many plugins and themes that can help you customise your website even if you are not comfortable with code and Web development. In fact, WordPress has the shallowest learning curve of all the three CMSs under review. Plus, the official documentation is so well supplemented by several community blogs all across the Internet that if you ever run into any trouble, you can be sure that help is at hand.

WordPress is in active development, and fixes/patches are released frequently. On the downside, these patches seem even more necessary for WordPress because it appears to be more vulnerable in matters of security compared to Drupal or Joomla! — over 50,000 WP websites are infected with spam. However, this number can also be attributed to the fact that WordPress is the most popular CMS out there, and thus, is more prone to such attacks.


Drupal has enjoyed a (rather unfathomable) distinction for being the most “developer-friendly CMS”. For quite some time, working in Drupal meant living without ready-made tools such as WYSIWYG editors to aid you — if you were using Drupal, you were hand-coding each and every element of your website, period. In other words, if you were using Drupal, you were actually employing one of the most complex tools on the Internet to build a website!

However, with the advent of Drupal 7, this has changed. Now Drupal, too, is as user-friendly as a CMS can be. Modules such as Panels, Webform and Views make website creation very simple for the end user, and such features are expected to progress even further in upcoming releases.

On the downside, Drupal can’t beat WordPress when it comes to user-friendliness, and this is one of the main reasons why WP is winning converts. Unlike WP (which is run mostly by a small group of developers), Drupal is more of a framework CMS nurtured by a large community of developers. Therefore, Drupal grows as developers fix/create things that matter most to them. The plus point is the loyal community that is always willing to give back to Drupal. On the negative side, more often than not, a newbie to Drupal is greeted by the, “if you don’t find/like it, please feel free to contribute,” syndrome.


Joomla! is another amazing CMS that powers many websites, and is in active development. The name “Joomla” means for “all together” (in Swahili), and the CMS does live up to its name. If WP is ideal for newbies and Drupal for developers, Joomla! attempts to cater to end users, designers and developers alike. The CMS is flexible and customisable, and boasts of a large community, as well as numerous extensions and templates.

With each release, Joomla! has shown a steady pace of development. However, there is still a long way to go, in comparison to WordPress and Drupal. For instance, when it comes to out-of-the-box SEO, Joomla! lags behind Drupal. While the admin panel lets you do virtually everything — from publishing articles to sending newsletter emails, running a big website with Joomla! can get confusing.

Also, from a developer’s perspective, Joomla! is not the first choice for a CMS any more. While Joomla! does have its share of talented developers using it, personally, all developers that I have seen using Joomla! swear at it in frustration at some point of time. The community too, though huge, mostly comprises relatively newer users figuring out how to get that particular thing done in Joomla!

The implementation

To further illustrate the usability and modus operandi of each CMS, let us perform a simple task using each one of them — posting an article to the website.

In WordPress, the Article Editor is straight-forward WYSIWYG. You can enter the title, use the Toolbar to format the text, select categories and tags, and publish your post!

The WordPress article editer/publisher panel
The WordPress article editer/publisher panel

In Drupal, the same process, though relatively more complex, can still be done with ease. You need to specify the title, tags and the text. Following that, you can set options for Menus, URL Alias, Revision Logs, Author Metadata and Comments. The same features are also available in WordPress, but are hidden by default. This is where WP wins — the great level of abstraction not only simplifies the CMS, but also makes it extremely usable. In Drupal, there is no (simple) way to hide the unnecessary fields in the Article Editor.
Article editor counterpart in Drupal
Article editor counterpart in Drupal

Coming to Joomla! — Code Mirror has been introduced in version 2.5, but it strictly caters to a specific genre of users who like to post their articles in HTML/code, rather than use WYSIWYG. The default TinyMCE Article Editor has the same Toolbar as that of WP, but the layout and interface is confusing. You can set the categories, tags, author metadata, comment moderation values, etc.

In terms of Article Properties and Permissions, you can set its parents/children, visibility settings, etc. Obviously, such features are not needed by everyone. Again, WP and Drupal do away with such bloated mechanisms. If you need to specify Permissions/Properties, you can do so by means of plugins/extensions in either WP or Drupal. Otherwise, more often than not, WordPress and Drupal do not bombard you with such relatively unused features.

Options overload on the Joomla editor
Options overload on the Joomla editor

The etceteras

Let us now come to the other major factors that determine the USP of a CMS.


WordPress is notorious for being the least secure CMS. While this is definitely because it is the most popular CMS, and thus relatively easier to hack, it still cannot be denied that newer security loop-holes are discovered in WP way more often than in either Drupal or Joomla! Furthermore, WP plugins and themes too come with their share of hacks and exploits.

Drupal, on the other hand, seems to be the most secure CMS of the three, with the least number of hacks and exploits, on an average (it was chosen by The White House for its website, after all).


In terms of freely available extensions and templates, all three CMSs come out evenly matched. However, it is in terms of commercial themes and extensions that WordPress wins the race. WP is supplemented by numerous commercial extensions’ marketplaces, such as Theme Forest, WooThemes, etc, who specialise in WP extensions. Sadly, the commercial extensions for Drupal and Joomla! stand nowhere in comparison.

User base and support

All three CMSs are well documented and have their own forums. However, when it comes to unofficial support, Joomla! and WordPress take the lead. Just search for “wordpress tips” on Google, and you’ll come across numerous blogs and websites dedicated to sharing their expertise on WP, and the same applies to Joomla! Sadly, Drupal doesn’t really have much unofficial support beyond the main documentation.

Speaking of the user base, all three CMSs have a loyal following, though WordPress does not have the same level of activity on its forums as the other two CMSs.

The verdict

WordPress is by far the most user friendly and popular CMS of the three. It can be used to run things way beyond blogs, and its popularity ensures that it has a monumental pile of plugins and themes (both good and bad) to its credit.

Drupal and Joomla!, on the other hand, are also in active development and have a dedicated developer community, but do not beat WP in terms of usability.

So, who wins?

If you are designing a website for a not-so-technical client, or are looking for a simple solution to create a website, WP should be your preferred choice. Using Drupal or Joomla! for a simple blog will be overkill. If security is a concern, Drupal or even Joomla! would be preferred. Along similar lines, if your website is of gigantic proportions (say, over 15,000 pages), Drupal can easily offer the robustness that you need.

On a personal note, I use WordPress for most of my websites, and Drupal and Joomla! for some others. While WP gets the task done easily and gives me the time to do better things, Joomla! doesn’t. Drupal, on the other hand, has not given me any error message yet (and I do not suppose it will, any time soon). For my WP websites, I can pick any theme as and when I feel like; for Drupal, my best source is drupalizing, and for Joomla!, coding the template myself will be better than searching for a worthy theme.

Suggested reading

How WordPress Took the CMS Crown from Drupal and Joomla — Smashing Magazine


  1. I use WordPress for quick development and Joomla for some high end projects … But since Joomla is updated to 2.5 bringing some really cool features … I don’t have any experience with Drupal as of now reason being WordPress and Joomla full fill my needs ..Last but not least it all depends on the requirement and that will tell which CMS to use .

  2. Did you know that there are thousands, yes, thousands of CMS products out there?  Comparing the big three is something everyone does ad nauseam.  Use the right tool for the job.  If the job is for a small, static site, then another CMS like Barebones CMS might be a better fit.

    • And the link points to a WP site. Hehe :P How would you know what’s best for advanced users if you consider yourself a newbie?:)

  3. I have used all three extensively, and WordPress is probably the easiest. It is also the least secure and the most limited. Drupal is the most secure, but the least user friendly. But Joomla! is by far the best balance of power and usability. With the new Google code rewrite, I think it may prove to be the most secure as well. In my opinion, the only thing holding Joomla! from completely overtaking the other two is horrible documentation.

  4. Sorry but all WP site are similar, and the only that is a real framework, is Joomla! 2.5. WP are a little game, yes with a lot of success but nothing comparable with the power of REAL cms like Joomla (and drupal, but this is doing some step in the wrong direction)

  5. I personally favour Drupal, as it is robust providing security and flexibility. Drupal 6 i found to have a steepish curve on it but Drupal 7 is a far more intuitive CMS. When i started looking at CMS I gave drupal(6) one look and used Joomla!, which i feel sits in the middle ground. Joomla! was easy to get started with but i found that there was a clear wall that was hit and hard to advance past when attempting to expand functionality.
    I haven’t used WP to any great extent, although i would use it for a simple informational or blogging site.

    • So most people use windows too that doesn’t mean it’s better than mac or linux. drupal fails in usability.

    • DAMN! You know that if the government is using it must be right. really, would they use an inferior, more complicated, less user friendly product? They probably only use Drupal due to putting it out to bid. It must have been the high bidder…

      • It’s not the gov, but the devs and trained employes who are using their Drupal.

        For the antitech people WP is the bet solution. If you want a best all-around easy-to-use CMS, use Joomla. If you are a programmer with lot of free time to make a site usable, choose Drupal.

    • CMSs are supposed to make it easy for non-technical users to update their site. If it doesn’t accomplish this it makes no sense. From a business stand point, not everyone company can hire a full time developer in order to maintain their site. If it can be updated by the secretary or anyone then it would be feasible.

  6. WordPress should be your first choice, end of story. It has a massive development community and can handle pretty much anything you’d want to throw at it.

    If you want to build an application vs. a website, Drupal is probably better suited for that.

    But when it comes to sites, WordPress is the *most* user-friendly and quickest TTL.

  7. WP fan boy said of Joomla! ”
    Again, WP and Drupal do away with such bloated mechanisms. If you need to specify Permissions/Properties, you can do so by means of plugins/extensions in either WP or Drupal. Otherwise, more often than not, WordPress and Drupal do not bombard you with such relatively unused features.”
    You use a Mac don’t you? This example shows the admin method, not the front end method. If you look for bad things you only see bad things.

  8. I used to swear by Joomla… but have definitely converted to WordPress. The code is signficantly more clean and jumbled. The only time I resort to Joomla is if it’s a truly massive content site, and I already have a theme in mind.
    It isn’t so much a WordPress is easier… it’s just FASTER…less searching, can get nice sites from scratch done faster. For the 5-20 page normal websites for businesses, restaurants, artists… It’s just so much better and Joomla was and is overkill.
    If I was doing something super complex, a client really wanted joomla and had a ton of users or social media plugins, then I might use Joomla still.
    Not much interest in Drupal… seems to be too similar to Joomla in what it’s trying to accomplish.

  9. WordPress if you are making a blog, or if you don’t have much programming experience.
    Joomla has a lot more features than WordPress built in, so if you want to build something more complex than a blog, go for it. More tools but not a lot more complex.Drupal has more tools but is harder to develop on, go for it if you are an experienced developer. If you know how to build a CMS from scratch, you might not want to waste your time when there’s Drupal available for free.

  10. What a bias article. You run a simple blog on wordpress so of course you’re going to think its the best.

    wp is a good blog but horribly overrated as a cms. I’ve had plenty of clients using wp wanting to do things that require extra widgets and hacks that joomla could do out of the box. Even something as simple as a contact form. Even putting a post on a different page requires a widget. and wp didn’t even have menus without a widget until about 2 years ago.

    You call access control levels and permissions “bloated” features just because you don’t use them on this simple blog.

    Drupal 7’s admin is still unintuitive and horrible. programmers are the only ones who like that piece of garbage.

    ultimately you’re comparing a simple pocket knife to a swiss army
    knife and just because you don’t need those extra features you say
    they’re worthless. This is a stupid an unfair comparison.

      • 1. rename htaccess.txt to .htaccess (on the ftp or upload it)

        2. administration > global config > search friendly urls: yes

        3. use apache mod_rewrite: yes

        Mission accomplished

  11. As a 10-years joomla professional i think this article is nice, but it touches only the dust on the tip of the fork… I really want to know if i should waste time trying WP or not.
    Just to let you know, joomla does not raise any limitations to me, i start designing with illustrator freely and when the client is satisfied, i then move to joomla production.

  12. Excellent summary! After struggling and evaluating Drupal and WP over the last year to build a community type site with multi-media management and many other requirements, I found Drupal to be the most maddening of the two. (I’m a developer), and your broad comments reflect the platform and environments really well!

  13. If you want to sacrifice capabilities for ease of use, go with WordPress. Which is more important: how easy it is to use, or what the final product can be? WordPress doesn’t come close to Joomla in the capabilities department. Not close. I think WordPress is a wimpy wannabe, and I refuse to drink the WP Kool-Aid.

    • Out of the box, WordPress may not have the capabilities you want, but that was by design. It is a platform that supports thousands of themes, plug-ins and other add-ons. As a PHP developer, I do swear at WP occasionally, but I’ve found it to be extremely flexible and adaptable for complex websites. At the same time, the editing functions remain accessible to newbies and bloggers.

  14. I started doing websites about 1.5 yrs ago and was told I needed to use Drupal. I ended up starting with Joomla. I figure I am pretty smart and tech savvy but it just didn’t make any sense. After weeks working on a site for kicks decided to try WP. It took just a day to accomplish the same (but I did have the extra knowledge learned from Joomla). So I tell people when they ask the question of which to use, unless you can create sites from scratch and write php, HTML, CMS etc… you might as well start with using WordPress. Naturally if you are going to build a complex site you probably already know php, html, css and can write a site from scratch…

  15. I’ve been working with Joomla for years and just started to experiment with wordpress on my own time. I am very impressed with wordpress so far.

    Every time I need to get something done that wordpress can’t do out of the box I can almost always find a good tutorial for it. Or a good plugin, that’s free! I hardly ever find good howtos for Joomla and the plugins/modules/components in Joomla vary alot in quality even if they are commercial.

    Tags, custom taxonomies, custom fields, custom posts and some clever thinking gets me a long way in WordPress, without using plugins. With Joomla I always have to use 3rd party components/modules/plugins to accomplish the same things.

    I very much like that wordpress isn’t bloated with stuff I rarely need.
    Also, I notice that most clients have problems understanding Joomla, I imagine they would find wordpress alot more intuitive too.

  16. I have used all three extensively, and WordPress is probably the
    easiest. It is also the least secure and the most limited. http://www.indiancyberalerts.comDrupal is the
    most secure, but the least user friendly. But Joomla! is by far the
    best balance of power and usability. With the new Google code rewrite, I
    think it may prove to be the most secure as well. In my opinion, the
    only thing holding Joomla! from completely overtaking the other two is
    horrible documentation.

  17. You offer here very essential publish. I have been so puzzled as to which CMS to select, between Joomla ! and Drupal or wordpress platforms. I am a new customer, so my inital opt was for Joomla !. Alhtough I am now assured on Drupal! The challenging studying will pay off it seems.

  18. Well I started with Joomla and still i find it best to develop high end projects.
    But recently i started with WordPress and feels like this all i want. I dont think now to move over to any other CMS.

  19. Hi. I’m new in this and would like some advice.

    I have a web site, based in Linux / Tomcat / MySQL. This site have been working for some years.

    I need to develop an application to show part of the contents of the site in mobile devices, including database contents, html, photos and video files.

    The question is: Is WordPress suitable for develop this application?

    Thank you.
    Antolo Diaz

  20. Hi. I’m new in this and would like some advice.

    I have a web site, based in Linux / Tomcat / MySQL. This site have been working for some years.

    I need to develop an application to show part of the contents of the site in mobile devices, including database contents, html, photos and video files.

    The question is: Is WordPress, Joomla and/or Drupal suitable for develop this application?

    Thank you.
    Antolo Diaz

    • Do some good research before committing to a particular CMS. If you ask me for my biased opinion I would say Drupal. A steep learning curve but a rewarding experience at the end of it all.

  21. Hi. I’m new in this and would like some advice.

    I have a web site, based in Linux / Tomcat / MySQL. This site have been working for some years.

    I need to develop an application to show part of the contents of the site in mobile devices, including database contents, html, photos and video files.

    The question is: Is WordPress, Joomla and/or Drupal suitable for develop this application?

    Thank you.

    Antolo Diaz

  22. Exactly! This is the main reason why i prefer Drupal. Drupal has a good reputation for security. As far as I recall modules (plugins) are first security reviewed before released to on There is also a third party service which will review your Drupal based website so you don’t have to only rely on your developers security knowledge. When drupal modules are found to have vulnerabilities it a notes as a security advisory – the module developer(s) are notified and they have a specific date by which the module needs ot be fixed else the module is flagged as a security risk on the modules URL on

    • Plus one for that. As a matter of fact it is difficult for anyone to masquerade as a drupal developer. You either got it or you don’t. So many fakes roaming elsewhere.

    • That is exactly the same for Joomla. There is a security strike team testing for vulnerabilities constantly, who then contacts each developer and flags the component, module or plugin.

  23. WordPress is the easiest Context Management System. I think Joomla is for the professional webmaster. but I’m confused which CMS does Google give more priority for SEO. above all thank to all CMS opentext partner

  24. The real pain of working with WordPress is that if you want something customize you have to develop that from scratch. There are plenty of features and plugins you may use, but if you want to to use WordPress with custom post types and apply twitter bootstrap of foundation you will face lots of difficulties. If you want a member site WordPress won’t be the cup of tea for you, unless you want to use someones plugin and get used to all uncomfortable thing it will bring to you performance and usability wise. Plus there are very few properly written plugins for WordPress… Most of them slow down your site and cause lost of issues

  25. This post looks like it is not written from a programmer perspective, but more from a I want to deploy a themed website with a pre-made template quickly.

  26. Thanks for putting together this list, I think it is very helpful for people just getting into the game to get some much needed information on these platforms. You make some very good points about each, but you make several statements, such as those regarding extensibility, that leave me scratching my head. If I am just setting up a basic website for a client and they have very little knowledge or capabilities in maintaining their website and do not need a lot of customization, I put them in WP. The themes install easily, can be customized slightly via the framework and they are off and running. But many MANY clients usually start with a theme and begin showing me other websites “they like” and want to incorporate features, styles, looks, structures, you name it, they see on these other sites. When building a custom website, you can begin with an existing theme and make small edits where necessary, but rarely does a client only want small edits. I have been burned many times by clients saying “all I need is…” and I put them in WP and in the end, I’ve hacked the theme to pieces, put in all of the widgets in the world and it still doesn’t “work” how they want it to. I then have to renegotiate costs with them due to the massive change in project scope and then they try to make me feel like I’m taking food off their kids plate because of it. After all that work in WP, I then have to jump to a different CMS which will handle all of the custom bells and whistles they want to see on their site. When they are finally happy with how it looks, they then complain that it’s hard to manage (that doesn’t matter what CMS their in, but WP does seem to get fewer of these complaints). As far as extensibility is concerned, I would say, yes WP does win as far as quantity but in terms on quality, my years of experience would say Joomla offers superior extensibility and options. I have been able to do things with Joomla that were not possible in WP. I have found that Drupal is too cumbersome for clients to manage and I have just given up even presenting it as an option, which is a shame as I really enjoyed coding for it. Ultimately, CMS platforms are like pizza, some people like pepperoni and some people like mushrooms, it’s really all about personal preference.

  27. Just have to jump into the discussion and leave my feedback. WordPress definitely is the most choicest and unbeatable platform as compared to the other. Joomla leaves much to be desired… is a bit more complicated and requires some level of skills, you know. Drupal is indisputably great, but not for those who can’t get a full advantage of it.
    I’m running a website powered by WordPress and consider it being one-fits-all solution. Came across Looks cool! Hopefully, you’ll find it useful. Regards…

  28. Well there was a test between WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. This is the o n l y test I have seen that can compare the systems

    And in Joomla forum there are users that compare WordPress & Joomla as well (biased or not like here). and there is guys like FlashRebel that try to destroy Joomla in any way etc

    Joomla is own by its community Open Source Matters not like WordPress = Mullenweg or Drupal = Dries…thats important bcs Joomla can not be sold to anyone in future.

    It will not be like MySQL that was sold to Sun and then end up in Oracle
    that have a problem to handle the situation with a open source product
    within the org. Joomla ecco system will survive bcs its community and
    system now to support many developers to contribute.
    As a Drupal user, you might have noticed that maintaining your website
    on Drupal requires a great deal of endurance and effort. The reason for
    that is that Drupal is mainly developer-oriented. It goes without saying
    that it is hard to build a truly robust and heavy website with tons of
    modules attached to it with the help of a simple platform offering
    unoriginal templates and components. In other words, a high-rise
    building needs a solid foundation.

  29. Go for WordPress, WordPress is, by far, the most popular open source Content Management System (CMS), used by approximately 75 million websites. WordPress is free to install, deploy, and upgrade. Thousands of plugins and templates power a flexible and simple interface, which reduces development costs and deployment time.


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