This just in, today’s world is very different than the world your parents grew up and worked in. In fact, the world may have changed more in the last 30 years than in any other 30 year period in history, at least as far a technology is concerned, historical changes are always subject to debate and is best left to future generations.
With the remarkable explosion in the last three decades, a completely new way of doing business has evolved and a whole new language, or part of a language, has come with it. Imagine the look on your parents face if you told them you wanted to be a web designer in 1985. Now imagine telling them you will Facebook them or Tweet at them later. Their heads may explode.
Except for a select few, today’s marketing and advertising is done largely online and that trend is likely to accelerate. Think about it, newspapers and magazines are all but gone and those that remain are old news by the time they are published; television advertising is pretty much limited to the mega corporations and local car dealers during the evening news hour, and that will very likely change as online content continues to expand and develop. It’s not hard to imagine a day when there are no televisions as we know them today, with programing being developed for the online and mobile audience; it’s just a matter of time. Radio may be viable in the future, but that’s not what this is about, this is about content, specifically online content.
Online content is king today and will be for the foreseeable future. The hook is, and there is always a hook, how will the content be managed? The web pages you know and love today didn’t happen by accident, it’s not a simple as adding a couple of pictures and text boxes for names, credit card numbers and expiration dates. The look and feel of a website is vital to a site’s success. Chances are you’ve experienced a unfriendly or a clunky site at least once, and chances are even better that it took less than 3 seconds for you to decide your time was better spent elsewhere, and you closed the page.
This is where the content management system (CMS) comes into play. A content management system is exactly what it sounds like. It is the thing behind the thing that makes the first thing do what it’s supposed to do. That is obviously simplified but reasonably accurate, and unless you want to discuss application programming interfaces, core structures and sub-domains, it will suffice for this discussion about two of the major content management systems.
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The content management systems to compare are WordPress and Drupal. The casual observer has probably heard of WordPress, but maybe not so much of Drupal, and that’s to be expected as WordPress has a much larger community of users than Drupal.
This size difference in the user community could be seen as an advantage for WordPress as the chance of finding help from other users is increased. Drupal isn’t exactly small, it is the CMS of choice of about 16,000 of the biggest 1 million website, but it pales in comparison to WordPress’s 143,000 sites. Overall, WordPress claims about 60 percent of the CMS market compared to Drupal’s 6 percent.
By and large, Drupal is seen as the more robust management system and is the best choice for enterprise level endeavors, although that is not to say that major sites don’t use WordPress, companies like EBAY, Ford and the New York Times favor WordPress.
The two biggest differences between the content management systems are the ‘out of the box’ security capability and the initial ability of a beginner to use the product.
Drupal is equipped with enterprise level security considered far superior to WordPress and is trusted by many sensitive government websites whereas the WordPress plugins has been shown to be vulnerable to hackers and exposing a good number of sites to possible destruction. There are methods to mitigate this danger but the Drupal security capability is clearly better.
The usability of the two products is equally lopsided, only this time in favor of WordPress. A more correct statement would be the learning curve for Drupal is much steeper than for WordPress. Must beginning or intermediate level developer will prefer the more familiar look and feel of WordPress where the more advanced will forego simplicity for the raw power of Drupal.
There are many other differences between the two systems and get pretty far down in the weeds with mobile themes and the aforementioned sub-domains, which may cause an issue with mobile search indexation and search engine optimization, but that is a discussion for another day.
Overall project cost and time to market also favor WordPress. Hiring a designer to develop a site with WordPress will usually cost about half as much, or less, than with Drupal and the turnaround time should be less too.
The real key in choosing a content management system is understanding what the content is and what it needs to do. Drupal works best for complex projects with multiple, interdependent moving parts. WordPress, on the other hand, is a great tool for blogging websites and sites that require and rely on a crisp, clean user interface.
There is no wrong choice when selecting a content management system and as long as you know what you are looking for and looking at, the product will make the decision for you.