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November 27, 2019

When to Move from Drupal to WordPress

Drupal is an incredibly powerful Content Management System (CMS).

It’s a powerhouse tool, and incredibly robust. In fact, it can do pretty much anything you can imagine a website doing. 

And yet across the globe, out of all the websites built with a CMS, WordPress dominates with nearly 60% of the market share, while Drupal just squeaks over 4.5% and is barely knocked out of second place by Joomla!.

Why would anyone switch from Drupal to WordPress?

Because sometimes a power tool isn’t the right tool. Imagine buying a chainsaw to cut delicate flowers for an art project. I don’t doubt it would be amazing to watch, but it would ultimately be a messy, expensive endeavor with an outcome that doesn’t look anything like the result you would have gotten if you’d just used a regular pair of craft scissors.

Maybe you went with Drupal because you didn’t know there were other options. Or maybe Drupal seemed like the right CMS at the time, but now that you’ve had your site for a few years it isn’t quite what you’d been hoping for. Perhaps your needs and goals have significantly changed, and your site no longer lines up. 

Regardless of how you ended up with a Drupal site, you now wonder if you need a different tool for the job.

Drupal vs WordPress

Before you decide to move away from Drupal, it’s a good idea to take a look at what both Drupal and WordPress can do specifically for you. They’re both quality platforms that can get the job done, but they do excel in different ways.

5 Advantages of Drupal

  1. Robust User Access Control
    If you need a lot of users, or various permissions and access controls, then Drupal is going to give you more options from the start, with plenty of room to grow.
  2. Multilingual Functionality
    Drupal has multilingual functionality baked right into the core. If your audience is multilingual, or your site will be used by a variety of countries, you’ll want this out of the gate.
  3. Easier to Keep Secure
    Drupal core has a lot to offer developers, meaning they often don’t need as many third-party additions and extensions. Fewer modules means fewer potential holes in a site’s structure. If you’re storing sensitive data, you’ll want to consider this angle
  4. More Flexible Content Types, Views, and Taxonomies
    Of course other CMSs have these capabilities, but Drupal has increased flexibility and control over how your content is displayed and the relationships between data.
  5. Better for Storing Huge Amounts of Data
    Large directories, content types, products, etc., require big solutions. If you need to store hundreds of thousands of entries, you will want something made the handle that kind of bulk.

5 Advantages of WordPress

  1. Easier to Use
    Overall, WordPress is highly user friendly and non-developers have a much easier time using the administrative backend, and Gutenberg has made the content editing process even better.
  2. Larger Library of Extensions and Themes
    Because WordPress has such a high rate of use across the world wide web, it has a huge community, with a massive library of plugins and themes, both free and paid. There’s plenty to choose from and you’ll almost always find a ready-made solution.
  3. Easier to Get Developers and Support
    More usage means more developers, and more avenues for support. There’s no shortage of WordPress devs out there, nor a lack of communities and forums where you can find solutions for your site. 
  4. Lower Development Costs
    WordPress has more ‘out of the box’ solutions that require less customization and development time. Reducing costs in those areas means developers can focus their energies on other aspects of your site.
  5. Faster Builds
    Because of the ease of use, extendibility, community support, and available developers, WordPress builds tend to take less time. Your site can be up and running on a shorter timeline, and then continue to grow it as your budget allows.

How to Decide

Make a list of what you want your site to do for you. Add to that a list of things that would be nice to have, but aren’t absolutely necessary. Then make a list of barriers that you’re facing. Compare those items to the advantages listed above. At first glance, which CMS seems to address the majority of items on all three lists?

If it’s starting to look like you don’t need any of the high powered Drupal capabilities mentioned above, then maybe you’ve been using a chainsaw to cut paper flowers.

WordPress is an amazing pair of craft scissors

WordPress doesn’t own 60% of the world market share of CMS usage for no reason; it is a phenomenal platform. Developers can extend it to handle robust content needs, and can build most anything with or without third party tools. 

Security also doesn’t have to be a concern; using custom solutions reduces the security risks associated with excessive plugin use, and there are several security services and hosts that specialize in WordPress.

As your needs grow, WordPress can grow too. You don’t have to switch back to Drupal because three years down the line you suddenly find a need for tightly controlled user roles and permissions, those things can be built into your site. Same with multilingual solutions and large data storage. Over time your site might become a Swiss Army tool of sorts, with new attachments being added onto those craft scissors, but instead only adding what you need as you need it. Sometimes a precise tool is better than a power tool. 

Choose Your Tool

If a Drupal site is working for you, stick with it. We often recommend it for clients with complex needs, and who have a passionate crew of Drupal contributors. And as an agency that builds Drupal sites, we’re fans. But if it’s not working out, then maybe WordPress is the better tool for you. Whatever direction you choose, contact us if you need help. 

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