Web Development

What’s the Difference Between Drupal and WordPress?

Not all websites are created equal, and neither are the platforms on which they’re built. Here’s what you need to know to choose between Drupal and WordPress for your institution’s online presence.


When you are building your own website, WordPress and Drupal are two of the most popular options, especially among higher education institutions. While they share some similarities, such as how each works with Schema.org, there are also important differences that could impact your site design and functionality far into the future. 


These differences could be important to you and your design and development team, as well as any content editors who make updates, changes, or improvements to the website over time. Both platforms offer a self-hosted solution on which to manage all your content, but whether or not they suit your needs will depend on the types of content you post and a few other factors.



The basics of WordPress and Drupal


WordPress has long been known as the bloggers’ site, but it is also a popular small business platform. It has wide-scale adoption and includes countless plugins for users to leverage in creating and developing their websites.


For simple uses, such as blogging, WordPress may be enough. But when it comes to sites with more types of content, functionality, and user roles, WordPress does not always provide the functionality universities and other institutions need. 


Drupal is a more robust enterprise- and proprietary-content management system. While WordPress holds more market share, Drupal has a larger presence among large organizations where the website must serve many internal and external roles, like colleges and universities.


Let’s compare them over some of the most-used features:


User interface


This can be a make-or-break feature for many, as we have already mentioned. Those born into the WordPress environment may tend to want to stay there because the interface is basic and easy, but Drupal is not hard to learn and offers many benefits. 


With Drupal 9, upgrading has become much easier and you will not even have to worry about a site redesign. The user interface is more robust and allows much more flexibility to install features, such as the ability to create a wider variety of content types. Once you learn the Drupal interface, you will quickly become more familiar with all of its features — and be happy you did.


Ease of use


For many, WordPress just seems easier to use, but that does not make it the best choice, especially for a higher education website. Your website is the first point of contact for a potential student or parent. You have to pay special attention to the first impression your site makes, and Drupal will give you the ability to create exactly what you need to give visitors the best possible experience.


What content types will you be posting?


This is one of the questions that can make Drupal shine. If you create web apps or API development apps, Drupal is for you. It is much more flexible in both areas. Also, Drupal’s default caching will create a quicker, better end-user experience for people who visit your website. This feature, out of the box, is simply more robust with Drupal.


Drupal supports more content types. You can also set image sizes inside the admin panel through the Image Style module. In WordPress, this is done through functions.php. While Drupal does take more set up in this area, the plus is it can be done in admin rather than through PHP files.


A word here about themes, as well: Both platforms do have a number of themes available for your use. You may feel free to use a Drupal theme as it is, even, if it fits your needs.


Do you have different users with different permissions?


You may have different user groups that need to access your site. This could include admins, editors, logged-in visitors, special groups — all of these can be customized to your needs with Drupal. If you and your business need a website that offers multiple permissions, Drupal may be a better choice than WordPress. 


A word on security


While many notable entities use both Drupal and WordPress for their websites, only Drupal offers enterprise-level security and site scaling. 


That is not to downplay WordPress or make readers think it is unsafe, but there is a statistic out there stating that over 90% of sites that have been hacked were on WordPress. Do take that with a grain of salt, however, as many of those sites may have been old, abandoned, or otherwise outdated. Many may have gone without needed updates for years, making them much more vulnerable. On the other side of that coin, know that, with WordPress, hackers can simply target a vulnerability inside of a plugin and wipe out hundreds of thousands of sites on which that plugin is used.


In either case, using either of these hosting companies will provide some security for you and your business, and most security vulnerabilities happen at the server level. 


In the end, the hosting service you use will dictate some of what you can do and how quickly it all comes together. For many institutions, it makes sense to get some help to determine which CMS will work the best for the institution going forward. Keep in mind the impression you want your website to give visitors and reach out for assistance in areas you may need it. 

KWALL can help you through any growing pains you have with Drupal or WordPress, letting the benefits shine while breezing through the learning curve. From site set up to content management, maintenance, and support, KWALL has you covered. We will even help with regulatory compliance moving forward.

When you think about the fact that a website is often the first point of contact recruits, parents, and teachers will have with your institution, it is more important than ever to put your best foot forward. With competition in the higher education space becoming tougher all the time, let the KWALL team help you create the best first impression.