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Wordpress or Drupal? I am so confused.

If you are looking to start at web project you are probably going to be using a Content Management System(CMS). If, Open Source is your preference you have a lot options. The list contains names like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, Magento, and concrete5 to name just a few. Choosing which platform to adopt can be a daunting task.

Here at Cheeky Monkey Media we work a lot with two of these CMSs -WordPress and Drupal - and while they share a lot of similar characteristics, there are also some huge differences.

It is obvious from our conversations with clients, that these difference are not only unclear, but that our clients have little access to information about how and when one or the other platform should be used.

Sometimes it is easy to recommend a solution: 

If all you are looking to do is to have a blog, then WordPress is the obvious choice; however, if you are looking to build a large community site, then Drupal is the better fit. But, more times than not the answer is not so obvious. In these situations, we need to slow down a bit, and ask some key questions.

What are you trying to do?

  • Who is going to be using (administering) this site?

  • How much content?

  • How many different types of content?

  • How many users? And are there different types of users?

Without, answering these we are making the mistake of trying to adapt to the technology instead of having the technology adapt to us.

What are their strengths?

Once we know what we are trying to do, we can match up your needs with the strengths of the platform.

Both platforms share a lot of features, for instance:

  • Both are Open Source

  • Both are written primarily in PHP

  • They support MySQL databases, although Drupal is capable of using other database management systems

  • Both use themes and templates for site appearance , and plugins or modules for extending features

  • Both have strong communities, that help drive projects forward.

As you might imagine, this just makes choosing a CMS more difficult. Sometimes it helps if we use a metaphor. Cheeky Monkey Media is fond of play, so it is no surprise that we use toys to help us explain the benefits.

Transformers and Lego

Hopefully you are familiar with these two toys. If so, you will know that a Transformer is a complete toy with an awesome design. It is a fantastic toy if you are looking for a robot that can also be a car or truck. Heck, some of them even connect all together to make a super robot.

WordPress is like a transformer. It is great if what you need is already available either in the main application ( referred to as core) or with a custom built plugin. However, if you need things to be unique then things can become complicated… quickly.

Next we have Lego. As you know a Lego block is not terribly exciting. In fact, if you have ever stepped on one you know they can be quite painful. But, if you have the time and the patience, you can pretty much build anything using Lego blocks.

Granted, you have to have all the right pieces. Or be willing to go out and get them. Also, the time to build is going to be quite a bit longer then transforming a robot.

As you can probably guess Drupal is like Lego. Instead of a complete prebuilt solution it is more of a framework. For some solutions, especially unique sites with lots of moving pieces, this is a fantastic choice. But, for something simple, like a robot, it is complete overkill.


Are you more of a numbers person?


Released in 2003, WordPress powers a huge portion of the web by owning 65% of the Open Source CMS market. In fact, there are roughly 74.6 million sites that are run on WordPress, 37 million on alone.

The core strength of WordPress is its community customizations. For instance, if you want to customize your site there are over 3,000 FREE themes and 36,000 FREE plugins. This does not even count the premium offers.

WordPress has an easy to use interface, that makes managing your site simple. Although this does come with a caveat. The more you ask your site to do, the more complicated the administration will become.

WordPress is free to use, and is an excellent choice for daily bloggers or new sites. The WordPress community is outstanding and finding a developer is a breeze. Unfortunately, it is not all rainbows and sunshine. The one true Achilles Heel with WordPress is a frequent target for hackers due to it’s popularity which makes security an ongoing endeavour.


Drupal is slightly older than WordPress. It’s been around since 2001. However, adoption has been much slower. Currently, Drupal is the 3rd most popular open source CMS, and it poweres around 763,000 sites.

Drupal is big on community. In fact, the motto is “come for the code, stay for the community”. And boy do they deliver. The Drupal community offers more than 2,000 FREE themes and more than 26,000 FREE modules (plugins).

Drupal excels at complicated websites. It handles complex data and high traffic with ease. However, it requires the most technical skills to administer. If you are planning on using Drupal, be prepared for a steep learning curve. It is often wise to hire a development shop that has the ability to teach you how to use the interface.  

Prefer to see this sort of thing in a list? Wahla!




Ease of Use

Easy-to-learn system for managing content, with options for as few or many content types as you need

Simple administration system makes posting blog or webpage content as easy as sending an email, fewer options for content types

Mobile - learn more

Yes - for all screen sizes

Yes - for all screen sizes


Less pre-made designs, more flexibility for custom design

Lots of pre-made designs

Setup and Flexibility

Relatively easy to set-up and use, with much greater flexibility and growth opportunities

Easy to set-up and use, with flexibility and growth opportunities

eCommerce - learn more

Yes - we usually use Drupal Commerce

Yes - we usually use Woocommerce

Custom applications

(i.e. member hubs, intrawebs, etc)

We haven’t found something we can’t build on Drupal

Lots of options, but there are limitations


Easy install and updates. 

Easy install and updates

Support Community

Open source with a strong community support from development to implementation. 

Open source with active community support for basic and advanced tasks.

Modules vs. Plugins  

(tools that help you do more)

Modules are great starting options, but not out of the box solutions, which makes customization easy 

Plugins are great out of the box solutions, but are not great if you would like to customize

The Bottom Line

In the end, both platforms are solid choices to build your web presence on. They will excel at managing your content, and generally make your website more efficient. Since, making the correct choice for your business requires us to have a conversation with you, it would be premature of us to make a recommendation here. However, if you would like to talk with us, we are always happy to hear from you.