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The Break Down of Popular CMS Website Platforms

It may seem easy to build a website based on what it looks like when you type in an address, but what’s going on behind the scenes can make a huge difference in which Content Management System (CMS) you choose to use to develop a website.

The three most common CMS tools at the time this post was written are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. All are cross-platform operating systems written in PHP and each has pros and cons. This article will explain the differences between them.

WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool that has a plug-in architecture and template system. WordPress is currently the most popular CMS tool.  As of August 2011 WordPress manages 22% of all new websites.

Joomla is a free and open source CMS publishing tool for the Internet. It includes features like page caching, RSS feeds, news flashes, blogs, and polls. Between 2007 and 2011 Joomla had been downloaded 23 million times and as of November last year has more than 8,600 free and commercial extensions available.

Drupal is a free and open source CMS that is used as a back-end system for at least 1.5% of all websites worldwide. Websites that use Drupal range from personal blogs to corporate, political and government sites. As of this month, more than 9,500 free community contributed add-ons are available that can customize the behavior and performance of sites run through Drupal.

This article will assess the pros and cons to each CMS tool…

Let’s start with set up.

WordPress definitely has the easiest set up / configuration and offers the lowest learning curve for web developers when paired with a user friendly development interface from The only setting that WordPress requires is database information. It installs everything else for you and has all the basic site settings configured. The user can start customizing the website as well as posting on the blog portion of the website as soon as they sign up for an account.

Joomla is very similar to setting up WordPress but has options for more advanced settings. A novice may find the advance settings of Joomla confusing.

Drupal is the most difficult to set up because it requires a lot of third party modules to be installed for basic functionality of a website, and permissions to be configured. Many of the simple features that are offered by WordPress and Joomla are missing and a novice developer would have a very difficult time getting started.

User interface

WordPress has the easiest interface to use because it hides a lot of the more advanced features of a CMS so that novice users can easily understand the basics. The more advanced settings of Joomla offers a good mix of easy use and advanced features without being too confusing but would require a more advanced developer to fully understand how to optimize the features for content publishing. Drupal’s admin interface is more complicated and is best for advanced users or those who have had training for the interface. It automatically displays the most advanced settings, which can be confusing for novice users.


Plugins allow for extra functionality that isn’t already included in the CMS tool. Plug-ins are usually free ware and open sourced so they can be modified or adapted to the user’s preferences.

Best News / Image Rotator Plugins that can easily be themed: Joomla

(See Awesome Inc  Site for Example – provides a lot of free as well as paid extensions, which add great functionality to Joomla when displaying different types of content.

Best for Custom Content: Drupal provides functionality for having extra fields in custom content types, these content types can be used in several ways, image rotators, a way to display real estate property profiles, and much more.

Best for IT Managed Websites: Drupal

It is very easy to customize the core functionality to work exactly how the client wants. Unlike other CMS tools Drupal does not hide functionality from the user.

Best Built In Permissions: Joomla/Drupal

WordPress requires permissions plugins to be installed in order to edit permissions on users, content, etc. Joomla / Drupal have these permissions functions built in.

Worst Built in Permissions: WordPress

Joomla and WordPress have the easiest template to CMS conversion and are both currently supported by the’s gantry-framework, which allows developers to easily go from design template to CMS by using mostly CSS and limited HTML and PHP development.

For developers the easiest project transition is with Joomla and WordPress because if a company uses the Gantry-Framework the development process is standardized allowing for developers to take over a project without much time needed for knowledge transfer.

Drupal has the most configuration options because it doesn’t hold back any of the advanced features of the configuration of a website, allowing for optimal customizability. WordPress offers the least amount of customizable configuration options because it only shows the most necessary options for running a basic site.  Joomla has a mid amount configuration options.

For multi-site installs WordPress and Drupal are the best options because they allow for multiple themed sits to use one core install of the CMS tool. This allows the site manager to update the core and plug-ins with ease as they update on each site.

Your level of skill with development and the amount of customizing you’d like on your website will be defining factors in which CMS option you choose. The information above should be a good starting point for the decision. For more information please visit the sites below.