Which Open Source CMS is Right for your Website?

I was recently forwarded an excellent report by Idealware that compared four of the leading open source content management systems: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and Plone. Idealware is a nonprofit that provides reviews and articles on software for nonprofit organizations. You are required to provide your contact info in order to download the report, but doing so won’t result in an immediate sales call or email promotion; at least it didn’t for me.

Though this report is written with the needs of nonprofits in mind, the objective findings, especially the comparison tables-by-feature at the end, are completely applicable to any organization with a website. If you’re considering choosing an open source CMS for your website you really should read this report.

Our internet marketing agency develops websites in Drupal and we manage this blog in WordPress, so I’ve had direct experience with two of these platforms. This report substantiates many of our reasons for choosing Drupal both as a service offering and for managing our own website including:

  1. Drupal is built in PHP and MySQL, so it’s highly portable and doesn’t require development in a specialized programming language like Python (Plone)
  2. Drupal is widely used with a strong community of developers, so the functionality you want is probably already in the works
  3. Drupal is very SEO friendly out of the box, so it can help the visibility of your website provided your CMS developer is SEO-savvy
  4. It’s the platform of choice for Web 2.0 and social-media-rich websites, because it is architected to scale to large numbers of users, permission sets and 2-way conversation tools
  5. Drupal is secure because of the tight and clean coding in the core system, and thanks to the large community of developers who quickly address vulnerabilities

As far as WordPress goes, many websites have requirements that are too complex for WordPress’s out-of-the-box functionality. However, if you’re building a simple blog-focused website (which has its advantages in certain situations) it is a great option.

Even though these solutions are open-source (no ongoing licensing fees etc.) there is still an upfront cost in designing templates, setting up hosting, training and developing custom functionailty. There are also ongoing costs associated with maintenance such as installing updates to the platform or making design changes to templates. If you’re interested in getting a quote for Drupal development services for your website, you can quickly request one by submitting it through our website. I’d also be happy to answer any questions about Drupal or WordPress that you post as a comment.


  1. says

    Hi Justin,

    There are certainly great reasons for choosing Drupal, as well as any of the other CMS’s in the Idealware report. However, I respectively disagree with a couple of the assertions you have made.

    1) Python is hardly a “specialized” programming language. While not as popular as PHP, Python is still one of the most popular languages on the web. As for PHP being “highly portable”, I presume you mean it will run on many different OSs? Consider that WordPress and Joomla! are also on PHP and MySQL, and Python (which Plone uses) is just as portable. Or did you mean something else?

    2) The developer communities of all 4 of these products are truly awesome and robust. I’m not sure it’s fair to imply that Drupal’s community is somehow superior to the others. This is taking NOTHING away from Drupal’s community – I have deep respect for it.

    3) The SEO-friendliness of Drupal is certainly strong. The same can be said for both WordPress and Plone. I am less familiar with Joomla! but I think this is not a strong differentiator.

    4) I agree that Drupal has strong Web 2.0 capabilities baked right in. Certainly stronger than Plone’s, though maybe not so much stronger than WordPress’ at this point. Again, I’m not sure about Joomla!

    5) Drupal has had its share of security issues throughout the years, just like all of the PHP-based systems. If security is your big issue, consider Plone which has, by far, the best track record with security. This was a big point made in the Idealware report.

    As a final point, we’ve used WordPress as a CMS on a moderately sophisticated site and it’s worked quite well. It’s really not just for blogs anymore. For sites with higher-end CMS requirements, we’ve used Plone quite a bit with great success.

    Keep up the good work with Drupal!

    Scott Paley
    Abstract Edge

  2. Justin Barton says

    Thanks Scott,

    You are correct in all of your points. I think the report was a testament to the quality of Plone in many ways. For our business, the fact that Drupal is PHP and MySQL, as are some other technologies that we work with like WordPress is an advantage for us in terms of resources. So I meant portability from a business owner perspective rather than a technical one.

    Overall, my reasons for having chosen Drupal were because it hit the five points that I enumerated above, which were critical for our firm which is deeply vested in SEO, PPC and SMM services in addition to web development. In some cases the other CMSs the report compared were rated on par or superior to Drupal (definitely Plone for security), but Drupal did have high marks in all 5, which was a big factor in my decision.

    Thanks very much for the thoughtful comments!



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