When you’re ready to create content through the development of a website, the first step is to choose a content management system. A content management system is literally your outlet, your window to the world. Your success rate is going to depend on how well you use it. In order to increase your chances of success, it is best to choose the Content Management System which matches your skill set and expertise as well as your goals.
Currently the most popular site builders are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. All of them are free to use, open source systems. There is no cost to download, most of the support is also free, and the source code is made freely available. As far as cost, or lack thereof, the three are more or less identical.
So if site-building isn’t going to cost you any money whichever way you choose, how will you decide? Think of this. Your time. Your energy. You may not need to invest a penny to visit each of these sites and obtain the software, but you will spend precious time and energy using them. Exactly how much depends on how wisely you choose.
Superficially, WordPress is considered the easiest to use. Drupal is the most complex and Joomla falls somewhere in between the two. Computer geeks across the board agree that there is no “best platform;” it’s a matter of what you intend to do with it that counts.
By this logic, Drupal is the most developer-friendly. It requires the most tech expertise, although the program is becoming easier to use with each updated release. The Drupal software has proved difficult to install and use, even for people who have web building experience. A novice would need to set aside hours to learn the software, or more likely, hire someone with more knowledge. The benefit of Drupal is that it is highly flexible and versatile with content. It has the ability to organize complex data, making it very customizable.
Joomla is somewhat less “tech-y” and a little easier to use. The concepts of “modules”, “plugins”, etc, may be hard to understand initially, but are learned with time. Installation and setup are relatively uncomplicated. The steps are spelled out and numerous. Joomla is considered a good community platform with strong social networking capabilities. It can support e-commerce, though not as well as Drupal. It is flexible with content and can create fairly complex websites. However, a degree of time investment is required to understand its structure and terminology. This applies to both beginners and experts alike. Software is like a unique language. It starts with a very small circle of speakers, an elite group, and eventually spreads around the world. In order to function fluidly, everyone must learn. In Joomla’s case, there are many terms and most importantly, the flow of how you use the system is a little to be desired.
In language terms, WordPress is universal. It is hands-down the most intuitive and the most user-friendly of the three platforms. Tech expertise is not necessary at all. Essentially, if you can navigate basic computer programs and edit Word documents, you should have no problem managing WordPress. It has an extensive selection of themes and templates along with plenty of support and tutorials. It also makes it very easy to paste content from Word documents. It has been lauded by web designers and beginners alike for its simplicity. After an initial setup of database and website template, you are on your way. Even website hosts such as GoDaddy have WordPress 1 button setup systems in place to make setting up your website even easier.
Although none of these websites require payment, they do take varying amounts of time to learn and use. WordPress is most certainly the fastest, whereas a platform like Drupal basically requires a course in HTML. Code is not everyone’s cup of tea. There’s a reason why WordPress has mass appeal.
Over 60 million people use WordPress. Websites using Joomla are about half that number and as of December 2012, Drupal had about 800,000 subscribers. They say that numbers don’t lie and in this case, they certainly make sense. Small businesses are popping up with websites by the droves. Many business owners likely don’t have the tech expertise or the budget required to mess with Drupal or even Joomla.
It is true that the best platform is the one which is most closely fitted to your particular needs. But how highly do you value your time? What does your 2013 tech budget look like? Users who can wade through the complexity of Drupal are rewarded by its customizability. Joomla may be great for “in-betweeners.” But, WordPress works for everyone.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
- Advantages: huge community for themes and plugins, easy-to-use, hosting options, Search Engine Optimization friendly, free
- Disadvantages: plenty of unneeded options, some security issues, lower performance for high number of web pages
- Advantages: good security, extensions, large community for themes and plugins, hosting options, Search Engine Optimization friendly, free
- Disadvantages: complexity issues, compatibility issues
- Advantages: passionate community, commercial support, dynamic designs, powerful options, Search Engine Optimization friendly, free
- Disadvantages: complexity issues, performance, compatibility issues, ideal for larger websites