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Wordpress and Drupal and Joomla, oh my!
March 27, 2011 10:40 PM   Subscribe

Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla - I can't commit! Help me with the pros and cons.

It seems this hasn't been asked since 2009. I have a personal website currently (not the one in my profile) that is made up of HTML and CSS. I want to go with a CMS because I am horrible about updating HTML files by hand, but with more wiki-style editing I update a lot more often.

I already have a blog on Wordpress, and I like the software a lot, but I've broken it 3 or 4 times in the process of upgrades, so that makes me wary of running my whole site on it. I have installed Joomla (1.6) and Drupal (7) on my webhost during the past week and played around with both, put up some content, and so I have some working knowledge of both of those as well. Drupal seems easier than Joomla to me. The thing is, on my main site I don't need anything like user comments or to let other people edit or even log into the site. I only need that sort of thing on my blog. The one thing I am looking for is front-end editing - visit a page, hit the edit button, submit, and it's live. Are these CMSes overkill? (FWIW I tried TiddlyWiki and I don't like it.)

I also don't like the idea of mixing my site and my blog - static articles that rarely change with new posts that happen every couple of weeks - so on Wordpress I'd likely run 2 installations, one as my main site and one as my blog. (To me, the main page of my website isn't something that should change often, while the main page of a blog should, of course.) If I used Drupal or Joomla, I would likely keep my Wordpress blog as a separate entity. Of course the cons of this are running 2 separate CMSes. Do you have examples of personal websites that do combine a main site and a blog?

Finally, I completely suck at graphic design and don't want to have a free template permanently, so what's the going rate to pay a designer for a template for each of the CMSes? Is one particularly more expensive to buy a design for than the other 2?
posted by IndigoRain to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Drupal and Joomla are currently more robust than Wordpress, and they're both moving forward about 10 miles per hour. WordPress is capable of a little less right now, but is moving forward at about 100 miles per hour. WordPress's community is far more open and interactive than Drupal's or Joomla's, and WordPress is being used for sophisticated development of pretty high-level websites now (my company's new website relaunches in WordPress in about a month).

I don't see any exciting, optimistic news from the Drupal or Joomla communities, but it's every day from the WordPress community. I guess you can see what my answer is to your question.

I'd love to hear contrary opinions, though -- I'm not nearly engaged enough with Drupal or Joomla to assert an opinion that they're doomed.
posted by FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.) at 11:01 PM on March 27, 2011


I'm not nearly engaged enough with Drupal or Joomla to assert an opinion that they're doomed.

Then you missed the launch of Drupal 7, which is a big one. I would dispute your "10 miles per hour" quip. I can't speak for Joomla, but Drupal's problem was that it's big and industrial and moving it at 10 miles per hour is actually quite a feat. Drupal 7 addresses a lot of those issues. They're moving to a much shorter release cycle; they've added installation profiles for easy setup (basically a "pull the cord, wait until the hissing stops, and get in" arrangement); they've bundled that modules the everyone installs anyway into the core and announced a stronger policy for vetting modules. They're clipping along quite nicely now, and I know a few Expression Engine devs who are switching over.

For what the OP describes, any of the three will likely handle your needs nicely, so it's more a matter of which makes you feel comfortable. However, paying someone for a theme for Drupal will likely be more expensive than for Joomla, which will likely be more expensive than for Wordpress, because each is a step up the complexity ladder.
posted by fatbird at 11:21 PM on March 27, 2011


I run a business website on WordPress with fairly static front and product pages and an active blog called 'News' as a widget on the sidebar which is about the business. It's working well for its purpose.

If your website has one purpose, and your blog another then yes, keep them separate. I reckon you could put your blog up on wordpress.com (saves the hassle of updates and you can use your own domain) and then experiment making your other site with Joomla or Drupal.

Upgrading WP on your own host is a necessary hassle but if you have good habits (db & theme backups, child themes etc) then it should be worthwhile for the upgraded functions and security. That WP has so many updates amongst themes, plugins and core shows to me that the WP community is active and responsive.
posted by Kerasia at 11:30 PM on March 27, 2011


On WP themes... For important sites where solid functionality is required, purchasing a theme from a well rated professional is always worthwhile. It's probably also true of Joomla & Drupal but I've only bought for WP (about $50) and tweaked.
posted by Kerasia at 11:37 PM on March 27, 2011


Drupal and Joomla are fully-featured CMS's, while Wordpress is still technically focused on the blogging aspect. However, it's been so well-developed over the years that it's rare you need to do so much that it's not a good option.

I've been a web developer for many years, and I've messed with a lot of CMS's. About a year ago I got fed up with the problems I had with most CMS's and the maintenance that came with rolling my own.

Now, unless I'm doing some serious custom code or scripts, I just go with Wordpress for pretty much any site that isn't static. It's easy to setup, easy to hand-off to others (the interface is the kindest I've found for non-techies), and easy to maintain and keep up-to-date. I've personally never had any issues with upgrades, I'd definitely say I'm more comfortable updating WP than most platforms. Sometimes plug-in updates can have issues, but this is dependent on the plug-in author not the platform.

You're also going to have the most options as far as templates go with Wordpress, all-around. And generally they'll be cheaper.

For the average little site, CMS's like Drupal and Joomla can definitely be overkill. I was hired once to take over for a new site that had been being built in Drupal for over a year. I took the project with their head IT guy and, after practically scraping everything they had, churned out a very successful new setup in just two months combining a static site and Wordpress.

Bottom Line: Make a list of what you want to do with the site. If a few pages with some static and dynamic content is all, Wordpress is probably the way to go. Look through extensions for other things you might want to add. If you're talking about a much more serious site, maybe some e-commerce stuff or large corporate website...then you may start to consider things like Drupal.
posted by nmaster64 at 11:41 PM on March 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I'm not mistaken, can't Wordpress blogs be directly incorporated into a Joomla site, beyond cutting and pasting of exported code?
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:15 AM on March 28, 2011


Drupal is pretty awesome. It's super flexible, and you can get it to do almost anything. It's designed to be a very powerful tool that can handle most types of sites and setups. The downside to this is there's a fairly big learning curve. This is maybe less so under Drupal 7 but, I should imagine, still more than under Wordpress.

If you just want a blog: Wordpress is almost certainly going to be the simpler, easier bet - that's its core competency.

If you then want a separate site with a few extra, rarely changing pages: well, Wordpress can handle that as well, and if you've already got the skills then, unless you actively want to spend the time learning the ropes of Drupal, then it sounds overkill for this project.

In terms of your setup: I've seen plenty of personal sites that have a blog as just a link in the navigation (which is, e.g., about me / gallery / blog / contact) etc - that looks an easier setup than either a) maintaining and upgrading two CMSes (either the same or different) or b) running a multisite setup (which is trivial under Drupal, but still seems a bit more complicated than it needs to be). You could always include a block of info from the blog on the front page of your site with the latest headlines as well.

[Oh, and as a (mainly) Drupal developer who maintains one Wordpress site for somebody, I hear nothing out of the Wordpress community other than the occasional security scare - which probably just goes to show how easy it is to be siloed]
posted by Hartster at 3:55 AM on March 28, 2011


FWIW, you might even play around with Tumblr if you're looking for simple. It definitely doesn't offer the bells and whistles, but my grandma could put together a site on there with few problems.
posted by chrisinseoul at 4:43 AM on March 28, 2011


As far as the cores go for Wordpress, Joomla, and Drupal....I've noticed that Wordpress is, on average, the quickest to come forth with updates to address newly discovered vulnerabilities. To me that's a huge deal, as there's nothing quite like getting contacted by your provider to let you know your site's been shut down due to being hijacked. And there's nothing quite like sitting around anxiously waiting for Joomla to patch their code.

Security is something the folks that have created Wordpress seem to have taken seriously, which has been enough for me regardless of features, flexibility, or themes, etc. Joomla and Drupal, on a technical level, are also very impressive CMS's however. I'd like to see them get on the ball with addressing their vulnerabilities quicker..days instead of weeks, however you can also take a lot of extra precautions when setting up a Joomla or Drupal too. There's more than likely modules available that are similar to Wordpress' Bulletproof Security. They won't help against some hijacks, but can atleast help make cracking your site a bit tougher of a job.
posted by samsara at 5:26 AM on March 28, 2011


Do you need custom datatypes? If so, Drupal. Otherwise Wordpress. Note: I am not claiming that Wordpress cannot handle this, or that this is the only thing Drupal does well, but as a rule of thumb, if you are going to need custom datatypes, your project is of sufficient complexity that you will probably benefit from Drupal over Wordpress.
posted by Nothing at 5:40 AM on March 28, 2011


I'd vote Drupal, but without knowing more about how you work and what you want to do with all of this, that's only because I know it much better than Joomla and prefer the ecosystem to the Joomla one. I would not use WordPress since I don't find it nearly as robust as either Drupal or Joomla.

What I really don't get is why you'd want to run two installs. What benefits do you get from having one install that you barely use and one install that you use often? Now you've got two logins, two admin places, two installs to keep secure, two comment moderation queues, potentially two sets of web stats, etc, etc. Why?

You state:
me, the main page of my website isn't something that should change often, while the main page of a blog should, of course.
If you don't think this is something either Drupal or Joomla can do out of the box (go D7 and Views) in about 10 minutes, then you haven't even scratched the surface.
If I used Drupal or Joomla, I would likely keep my Wordpress blog as a separate entity. Of course the cons of this are running 2 separate CMSes. Do you have examples of personal websites that do combine a main site and a blog?
Look at drupal.org, it has a front page which changes way less frequently that the content found in the forums, on g.d.o or the modules. For more drupal sites, head to http://drupal.org/cases and http://buytaert.net/tag/drupal-sites.
Finally, I completely suck at graphic design and don't want to have a free template permanently, so what's the going rate to pay a designer for a template for each of the CMSes? Is one particularly more expensive to buy a design for than the other 2?
Start at http://drupal.org/project/Themes, then head to places like http://www.topnotchthemes.com/, who have done great work, such as http://drupal.org/project/acquia_prosper

For something completely custom, depending on complexity and how much hand holding (or customer service or whatever) you want and what continent you want them to be on, costs could range from $25/hr to ten times that.

(I am not associated with any of the above companies, nor have I purchased anything from them.)
posted by Brian Puccio at 5:42 AM on March 28, 2011


You may want to also consider Concrete5.
posted by mfoight at 5:51 AM on March 28, 2011


I'd like to see them get on the ball with addressing their vulnerabilities quicker..days instead of weeks

samsara, can you cite a security vulnerability that took weeks to correct in Drupal? From what I know of Drupal security practices, this statement is false. Maybe it's true for Joomla -- I don't know -- but it would be nice to cite something there too.

IndigoRain, it sounds like you're already comfortable with WordPress and the only problem you cited was upgrades. That's a thorny area with all three solutions, so I wouldn't expect that to get better by switching platforms. You might consider moving to a hosted solution, where they handle upgrades for you.
posted by scottreynen at 6:31 AM on March 28, 2011


I don't see any exciting, optimistic news from the Drupal or Joomla communities

Intended as informational, not a derail from the original question: As fatbird said, Drupal 7 (released back in January) is kind of a big deal: There are some big under the hood developments and much-needed front-end changes which address a lot of the usability issues that made people write off earlier versions as too confusing/complex. I haven't used Joomla in about 4 years so I don't know what's new there, but Drupal is far from doomed.

As to the question: If a platform does what you need it to and you like the way it works, I think it's only overkill if you go out of your way to use all the bells and whistles you don't really need. The standard D7 install installs with comments enabled, but you can always turn them off, ditto the user login form.

As for as having a site that mixes web-editable "static" pages with a blog: I'm pretty sure all three of the platforms you mentioned can do this. Drupal can for sure. I would avoid trying to maintain two separate installs because it would just be trading one maintenance headache (manually updated HTML pages) for another (trying to make themes for two different template engines look the same, keeping track of updates/upgrades for two different systems.)

Looking at your current site, I would say that Drupal with the Views module could make maintaining all of those tables a whole lot easier, and give you a lot of flexibility in searching/browsing them. Instead of manually adding a row to an HTML table, you could create a custom "Console" content type with name, photo, country, LE, and description fields and a 'Console Type' / 'Handheld Type' taxonomy field. You'd add each console as a separate Drupal node, and you could then build any number of views to slice and dice all of those records. You could recreate the structure you currently have, or replace it with one master listing with a filter at the top that would let you do searches like: "Show me only limited edition Sega Saturns that were released in Japan".
posted by usonian at 6:32 AM on March 28, 2011


samsara, can you cite a security vulnerability that took weeks to correct in Drupal? From what I know of Drupal security practices, this statement is false.

Actually, you're right. I somehow got that mixed impression from remembering this article (its been months since I last looked at it). I must have remembered it wrong, Drupal actually does have a really good track record on security patches, with none left unpatched according to these secunia reports. The statement I must have gotten stuck on was the part about Wordpress being MUCH better than it was in 2007-08:

6) Deliver high levels of Security, Reliability, and Performance speed. Security is always a top concern and all three systems provide pretty solid security in their base systems but the 3rd party widgets and plugins/modules are less so. The following are the profile of Security advisories listed at Secunia since January 1 2009 to date:

1)Drupal’s Secunia Advisories – 156 security advisories since Jan/1/2009; of the most recent 25, 17 were less critical, 7 moderately critical, 1 highly critical and all were patched;

2) Joomla Secunia Security Advisories – 192 security advisories since Jan/1/2009; of the most recent 25, 24were moderately critical, 1 highly critical and 18 were unpatched;

3) WordPress Secunia Security Advisories – 15 security advisories since Jan/1/2009; of the most recent 15, 8 were less critical, 4 moderately critical, 3 highly critical and 4 were unpatched – 2 critical;

posted by samsara at 7:33 AM on March 28, 2011


Wordpress is still a blogging platform at heart. But it's very good at it and I've been running my own blog on it for years and I've never had a major problem with it. But unlike you, I have mostly dynamic content and very few static pages.

I have a server I maintain at work for use inside the firewall. It's much more oriented towards static content than my personal blog. I tried using Joomla but it was a nightmare to install. Everything I did seemed to require changing permissions on some directory and then changing them back. I gave up.

Drupal 6, on the other hand, was much easier to install and configure. It's worked out fairly well for me (I even have some non-techies as contributors) but it's still not very easy to use. Module upgrades can be problematic, as Drupal keeps tabs on module dependencies and won't let you swap modules until you deal with them. Support can be funny, as the developers sometimes give short shrift to requests for features they don't think are important (like http_proxy, my pet peeve). Some of these issues have been at least partially addressed with Drupal 7 but I have not upgraded and may not for quite a while.

Please note my environment is pretty special, I can afford to be somewhat lax in security updates because my Drupal site is behind a firewall and not visible to the public. Real world Drupal site administration requires significantly more vigilance than mine.
posted by tommasz at 7:45 AM on March 28, 2011


Thanks everyone. I think I will just go with Wordpress for simplicity's sake and find a custom template designer.

Usonian, as I stated in my OP, I'm working on my personal site, not the one in my profile. But thanks. :)
posted by IndigoRain at 6:43 PM on March 28, 2011


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