SCORE Small Business Blog

WordPress or Drupal: Which One to Use for Small Business Websites?
18 Comments

You need a small business website, and maybe you would like to blog.  You want to connect with your customers via social media easily.  You ARE NOT an HTML junky!  You know enough to navigate the web, install programs, post images, upload videos, etc.

CMS (Content Management Systems) like WordPress and Drupal allow you to build websites or blogs without having to deal with the html code directly.  As their name suggests,  they allow one to manage content:  pages, images, videos, pdfs, menus, articles, and portfolio items. Today we’ll look at the 2 largest platforms on Open Source CMS’s.

Making comparisons like this is a bit like asking if a Honda Fit is as good as a Mercedes Benz CLS550.  Both are cars, but they have different target markets.  Similarly, the small business owner needs to define his/her goals for the site including:

  • Who will use and manage the site?
  • What are the users’ and administrator’s level of technical competence?
  • What are the business goals for the site?
  • Is rapid scalability (growth) projected?
  • Is their large scale e-commerce application involved?
  • Is there a CRM application involved?

Knowing which system is better is not the goal.  The goal is to be able to pick the one that best fits the needs of the business!

Let’s compare the two CMS’s:

Feature/Characteristic WordPress (WP) Drupal
 User Base Used by close to 60% of the top 10,000 sites. Used by about 20% of the top 10,000 sites.
 Intuitiveness Very intuitive.  Initial install is 5 minutes.  WP appeals to people with little or no previous knowledge. Less intuitive and has a steeper learning curve.
 Community and Support Open Source (FREE).  Wide community support.  The Codex installation site is well done and very helpful. Open Source (FREE).  Wide community support.  The Drupal documentation is tedious and difficult to comprehend.
 Themes (Appearances) Thousands and thousands of themes, both FREE and paid.  Themes available for hundreds of industries. A good base of themes available, but WP simply overwhelms Drupal.  Estimated themes ~50% of WP.
 SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Strength Very strong with the WP SEO plug-in.  Search engines love WP content properly optimized. Less strong than WP, but still good.  Popular SEO plug-in is Pathauto
 Customization Capability for very high end sites. Serves the capabilities of 90-95% web based applications.  Has some high end enterprise limitations. Can be customized to almost anything.  Considered the “Enterprise” platform; the solution for complex sites.
 Cost of Customization Many developers who know WP.  Cost of customization lower. More complex development needed with fewer developers and higher development costs.
 Security Open source so, in time, anyone can learn how to defeat the system.  Plug-ins needed. Also open source.  Drupal has been considered as having an edge in robustness.
 CRM Plug-ins Version 3.x supported by Salesforce.com, Sugar, and others.  Degree of customization unknown. Also supported by CRM vendors.  Degree of customization unknown.
 E-commerce Integration Many plug-ins from the simplicity of PayPal and up. Best known for Ubercart shopping system.
 Facebook “Likes” on 5/17/12 392,650 31,730
 Alexa Traffic Data as of 5/17/12 Alexa Traffic Rank:  80
US Traffic Rank:  73
Sites linking to:  3,622,245
Alexa Traffic Rank:  425
US Traffic Rank:  643
Sites linking to:  99,680
 Sites That Use Are: The NY Times
CNN
The Wallstreet Journal
Yahoo!
The Economist
The White House
Nat’l Business Review
Sun Microsystems


Bottom Line

Wordpress offers the ease of installation, the intuitiveness, and the capability to provide almost any business with a powerful Internet solution.  Development is widely supported, and technical assistance can be readily found.  If you are in the 90-95% of businesses that need a strong web presence, and want to keep things simple, WordPress could be your best choice.

On the other hand, if your business is demanding of an Enterprise solution, you might wish to look carefully at Drupal.

Vernon WannerChapter Chair & District Director, Northern Illinois SCORE
Vernon’s professional career spans engineering design, engineering management, strategic planning, and the Internet. His web design and SEO business helps small businesses in Northern IL maximize their web presence and lead generation.
www.NorthernIllinoisSCORE.org | @NoILSCORE | Facebook | More from Vernon

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Discussion (18) Comment

  1. Great list, very comprehensive, thanks! I’ve found the stats to hold up in my experience with businesses. Drupal seems to be a play thing for programmers, so if you’re a company with the budget to pay a programmer full-time, don’t be too afraid of it.

    If you have a slighter budget, or even want to make updates yourself, stick with WordPress (or possibly SETT, we’ll see how that develops).


  2. margueriteVisitor

    Does nayone know any Drupal User support groups. We use Drupal and participate inthe Drupal technical groups, but have trouble finding user groups (which would hopefully include mentor/developer references).

  3. Used by close to 60% of the top 10,000 sites.
    I think here is the answer :-)
    If there is more than a half of successful sites that use WordPress platform – why doubt which one platform to chose?


    • muskratboyVisitor

      why doubt what platform to use? because you want to use the right platform?

      WP being used a lot is a function of its simplicity to set up, not anything else. for some, that is the right choice… but not for everyone, obviously.

      i doubt WP is the one to use because Drupal provides infinitely more flexibility and hence power. but the trade-off is the steep learning curve.


  4. Guy SabanVisitor

    I read the article and found a lot of what you wrote to be accurate but not all.
    Drupal SEO is very much on the high end of the business. Both in terms of SEO capabilities, in terms of tools to manage SEO campaings, and 3rd party plugin services.

    You mentioned pathauto module but that is a small part of it.

    See hear:
    http://drupal.org/project/seotools
    http://drupal.org/project/seo_checklist
    http://drupal.org/project/seo
    http://groups.drupal.org/seo

    I have often ready that Drupal is an excellent CMS for SEO.
    I have built a number of my clients sites on Drupal and they have always done very well with 1st place rankings for qualified keywords.


  5. DerekVisitor

    It all comes down to picking the right tool for the job. WordPress is best for simple sites, Drupal is for complex sites. BTW: Today Drupal has rock solid SEO add-on modules. I’ve broken out the differences on my latest blog post: WordPress vs. Drupal: Twenty-one Things You Need to Know. http://www.dmzinteractive.com/blog/wordpress-vs-drupal-twenty-one-things-you-need-know


  6. Shawn MichaelsVisitor

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.


  7. Henry DVisitor

    This article really doesn’t explain what Drupal can do that WordPress can’t easily to. Basically, if you want a site with advanced functionality, which may mean advanced databases/directories, search mechanisms, or a site where multiple users would be able to login, maintain profiles, blog, contribute content, then Drupal is the obvious choice.

    The more simple your needs, the better WordPress will suit you, but if you want to do something out-of-the box or a bit complex, then Drupal can be made to do just about anything, without the need for custom programming — though knowing how to configure all the modules requires a bit of learning.

    I took this course at new-media-solutions.com/drupal-training and it really helped.

  8. I rally like the detail comparison, it is really going to help the people who actually has the small business. Now they can understand what is good for them.

  9. Nice analysis! I needed this the most. I use Drupal content management system for my website and I am quite satisfied. I know WordPress is also good but it is not meant for my website. Thank you for providing us with in-depth analysis report comparing the two most used content management systems. Will wait for more information. I ran a SEO business. The information provided by you will help me select CMS as per our business needs.

  10. WordPress has grown up a lot over the past 9 years (this Sunday it will be 9 years).

    Our small business focuses on helping other small businesses have very secure web sites; and we’ve been doing so for almost 17 years now.

    We’ve had the pleasure of seeing WordPress grow from yet another piece of blogging software to become the number one choice for a content management system for building and managing a web site.

    Happy 9th anniversary, WordPress!


  11. Yvonne HerbstVisitor

    I, too, favor wordpress – but have no experience with drupal to compare or comment on it as an alternate website platform. As noted above, there are thousands of different ready-made themes (layouts) you can choose from to get the look and feel you want in wordpress, especially if you have an expert customize the theme with your own header, logo, and color scheme. I use two themes repeatedly: The Small Biz Theme from Expand2web.com and the Catalyst Theme, which offers greater versatility over the Small Biz Theme. The advantage of the Small Biz Theme is its built-in auto-detect mobile website feature, and its built-in Facebook Timeline app. See http://herbstmarketing.com/local-business-marketing-services/website-portfolio/ for examples of websites built on both the Small Biz and the Catalyst WordPress themes.


  12. LauraVisitor

    Great comparison! I always choose WordPress as the platform. The ease of adding new content even a whole new look makes WordPress appealing. But as you stated WordPress has so many theme options. This is where it can get tricky unless you are a small business owner then you choose the smallbiz theme. Everything you need in an easy package.


    • muskratboyVisitor

      drupal’s ease of adding new content easily matches WP, as does installing new themes… once you have it set up.

      it’s just much more complex to get set up in the first place.

      for people that need an easy package, WP is good. not so much for people that don’t.

  13. This is an excellent snapshot for decision makers, covering what really matters when business owners are looking through the myriad sources for information about WordPress and other CMS solutions.

    Surprisingly enough, I still have a substantial number of people cock their head and say, “Isn’t that just for bloggers?” when I recommend WordPress as a solution for their small business or non-profit organization.

    Vernon, with your permission, I plan to refer to this article and send my clients here to see your comparison table, first-hand. This is great!


  14. Julie LarsonVisitor

    Excellent article, Vernon! When I wanted to put my first site up, I was told by many that WordPress was the best platform for what I wanted to do. I have since put up many WordPress sites and exclusively use the Expand2Web’s SmallBiz Theme because of all the features geared toward small businesses.

    Prospective clients have asked why I use WordPress vs Drupal or Joomla and now I can at least show them a good comparison between WordPress and Drupal.

    Thank you for sharing!!!


  15. Diana RatliffVisitor

    Excellent analysis – as a web design/SEO business owner, I find the intuitiveness – the ease of learning WordPress and making their own site updates – of huge value to my customers. They don’t have to wait for a web designer, and spend $100+, every time they want to change, add or remove content.

    That also makes it easier for ME to support them too – they call me when major site revisions need done, not minor updates.

  16. I am a huge advocate for WordPress. I have built about 50 sites on the platform and frequently teach business owners how to manage their site without me. I am currently part of a contest in honor of National Small Business Week. Three of us are offering a Premium WordPress theme (The SmallBiz theme), consultation on customizing the theme and a 1:1 session on tools for your small business: http://www.eileenlonergan.com/national-small-business-week-contest

 

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