Drupal vs. WordPress: Comparing Enterprise CMS Platforms

May 3, 2019
Andrew Creek
Technical Lead

Software, Web Development, Drupal, CMS, SEO, Website

Our experience as Drupal developers

Savvy developers have become increasingly interested in Drupal throughout the past few years, and for good reason. While we have more than our fair share of fully customized WordPress websites under our belts, we're leaning Among other things, Drupal boasts a massive array of technical capabilities and yet, in spite of all its power, is still incredibly easy to use and customize from a programming perspective.

That’s certainly been the case for our team here at ADK Group, who have come to recommend Drupal as the ideal solution for enterprise-size companies who need websites that can accommodate their enterprise-size audiences.

Take Hancock Natural Resource Group (HNRG), for example - an organization that specializes in the management and leasing of timberland and farmland properties. They’re constantly challenged with managing new and existing licenses for their investors. When they came to ADK Group to help find a practical solution for managing this complex wealth of data, we recommended Drupal. Now, Drupal simplifies their entire licensing process, significantly reducing the need for laborious man hours on both the company and the user end - and that’s just the start.

However, this isn’t a post about why we recommend Drupal as the go-to enterprise-level CMS for one or two different clients. More specifically, we want to explain why we recommend Drupal over WordPress specifically for enterprise organizations, in spite of the fact that WordPress continues to dominate the CMS market share. But first, let’s explain a few important things.

WHAT IS AN OPEN SOURCE CMS (AND WHY SHOULD YOU WANT ONE)?

An open source CMS is a content management system that’s been built to encourage a community of developers to continuously collaborate on and improve the product. From a more technical perspective, this means its source code (the fundamental component of a program that is created by a programmer) is readily available for anyone to use, allowing developers to freely access, copy, edit, or build whatever they want with it.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are also commercial/custom/proprietary content management systems. These are built, hosted, and licensed by one single company or organization. Naturally, open source systems are cheaper than paid ones, but may be more appropriate than open source CMS for some use cases.

However, if you choose the right open source platform for your business needs, there’s absolutely no reason why this type of CMS can’t provide you with everything you need to achieve your enterprise-level goals (especially when you’ve got the right people helping to build, customize, and manage your website).

After more than a decade of building and managing all types of websites and countless other web applications, we firmly believe Drupal is the very best open source, enterprise-level CMS on the market, even if WordPress currently beats it in terms of popularity.

WHY DRUPAL IS THE BEST CMS FOR ENTERPRISE COMPANIES

As an open source CMS, Drupal is free for anyone to download and develop further through additional programming and coding. But when it comes to organizing massive amounts of content and data, Drupal has the clear advantage.  

In fact, we consider it to be one of the most powerful, secure, and customizable content management systems on the market, which also makes it one of the very best enterprise CMS solutions available, no matter what sort of content you’re managing or what industry you’re in.

Here are some of the reasons why we Drupal should be on your shortlist when comparing content management systems for enterprise-level businesses.

Scalability & Collaboration

Scalability is the ability of a process, network, software, or organization to grow and manage increased demand. When it comes to managing huge amounts of content and information, scalability is directly tied to a company’s preparedness to grow and keep up with their consumer base. A well-configured Drupal site can easily accommodate many millions of visitors per day, and it’s this sort of scalability that sets it apart from other CMS platforms.

For example, let’s say you run a website that routinely experiences a moderate to heavy amount of traffic for the majority of the year. But, during certain months or seasons, your site needs to be able to support an exponential spike in visitors. Two of the most extreme examples of this are the GRAMMYS and the Olympics. Both websites see relatively light traffic for most of the year then receive an explosion of traffic during their prime times.

As it turns out, the websites for the GRAMMY Awards and NBC Olympics are also both powered  by Drupal precisely because of the system’s ability to keep up with these massive spikes.

The ability to handle massive amounts of daily traffic and sufficiently accommodate unexpected spikes without impacting the user experience ensures excellent performance and responsiveness on both the front end and the back end. For example:

  • On the front end, shoppers get an incredibly streamlined and smooth shopping experience, ensuring they find their way to the checkout with the least possible friction. That also means faster load times and better chances of your site ranking well, since Google notoriously penalizes pages that take longer than 3 seconds to load. There’s also mounting evidence that faster site speeds lead directly to higher conversion rates, as evidenced when dunelondon.com selected Yottaa Rapid CTRL to improve the site speeds. Shortly afterwards, Dune London’s page load times were reduced by up to two seconds on average, resulting in a 4-5% increase in conversions!

  • On the back end, Drupal’s ability to support thousands of contributors at the same time allows developers to work together, collaborate, and manage different types of content simultaneously. Over the years, this feature has worked wonders for ADK when it comes to getting tasks done as efficiently as possible, mainly because there’s no need to wait for one developer to finish a task before another can start work on the next.

Customization & Flexibility: Plug-ins, SEO, and Beyond

While WordPress offers over 50,000 plugins compared to Drupal’s 39,000+ modules (their version of plug-ins), Drupal still has the advantage here. That’s because, with Drupal, much of the functionality needed to customize the CMS is already built into Drupal’s core components.

As a result, there’s less of a need to find, assess, manually download, and then install numerous third-party modules with Drupal compared to WordPress.

Plus, many of those WordPress plug-ins cost money to download and use. The ones that don’t cost money often have a high risk of opening up backdoors and exposing vulnerabilities to your website.

Another feature that makes Drupal the best CMS for enterprise companies is directly related to how fluidly it lets developers and marketers manage their content with the ever-important practice of search engine optimization in mind.

From an SEO perspective, Drupal allows developers and content creators to:

  • Utilize a robust, built-in taxonomy system that intuitively categorizes content into the most appropriate locations throughout your website. This allows your visitors to easily locate the tags and products that are most relevant to them, streamlining their entire shopping experience. This intuitive, categorization-based taxonomy system also flattens your site’s overall link architecture, making it significantly less hierarchical.

  • Also, by making your site’s hierarchy less complex, you’re more likely to avoid issues related to Google’s crawl budget, which is the number of pages that Google will crawl on any website on any given day. Since the number of URLs that Google will crawl and index is not always equal to the number of URLs on your site, it’s important to manage your internal linking structure and link visibility to ensure that the most important and valuable links are more accessible to these crawlers. Properly cross-linking content helps accomplish this, and Drupal makes it easy to do that.

  • Use a system called the Real Time SEO module to optimize content around strategic keywords and other SEO imperatives by analyzing copy and comparing it to SEO best practices - all in real-time, as it’s being typed.

Security & Protection

For larger companies, keeping your sensitive information safe and secure is paramount. which Drupal excels at compared to others. Drupal doesn’t force users to download often-questionable third-party plug-ins to expand its capabilities. WordPress? Not so much.

Every single time an additional plug-in from a third party provider is downloaded and installed into a WordPress CMS, another potential security threat is created. Since Drupal is much less reliant upon these third-party extensions, it’s intrinsically less susceptible to malicious threats, vulnerabilities, and hacking stemming from third-party plug-ins.

A Highly Supportive Global Community

Due to Drupal’s global popularity, it has created a massive following of users from all around the world. These developers are constantly conversing on numerous websites, including the official Drupal.org community, helping less-experienced users learn the ins and outs of the CMS, as well as how to create a more secure CMS environment that will better protect client information. This means that newcomers and experts alike can always find something of value from the global Drupal community.

For example, if you’re experiencing a bug on a Drupal site, it’s very likely that hundreds of other websites are experiencing the same issues, or have at least encountered similar ones in the past. That mean hundreds (if not thousands) of past and present Drupal developers have worked to resolve those bugs, as well as many other similar issues you might encounter while working with the CMS - meaning a plethora of answers awaits in any forum or community dedicated to the system. This scale of community-based problem solving is also quite unique to open source CMS users as well, especially when compared to closed or proprietary content management systems where online communities are very often miniscule, nonresponsive, or nonexistent.

While Drupal is extremely proactive about maintaining and expanding its online community, WordPress is lacking in this area, even though it, too, is an open source CMS. That’s most likely because WordPress wasn’t designed for use by technical wizards or highly skilled developers; it was built to help small- to medium-sized businesses manage their content in-house with the limited content management development resources at their disposal. As a result, the WordPress community isn’t nearly as active online, whereas thousands of Drupal developers are geeking out over its capabilities and features every single day.

Drupal: The Best CMS for Enterprise Organizations

For larger companies with the ability to outsource their content management requirements, the content management capabilities afforded by Drupal are far superior to those of WordPress. And when you’re working with a highly skilled application development company, there are infinite possibilities at your disposal for creating a website reflective of your enterprise organization.

If you’re part of a large company that needs the best enterprise-level CMS on the market, Drupal is the clear winner. It may take longer to set up at the start, but in our experience, it will be absolutely worth the additional time up front if you’re serious about expanding your company while also managing an ever-growing assortment of content and transactional information.

Also, keep in mind that the Drupal features we covered here barely scratched the surface of what this incredibly robust CMS is fully capable of. If you want to learn even more about why today’s leading enterprise organizations are using Drupal to unlock the full power of their content management systems check out our guide on why enterprise leaders choose Drupal.