Drupal vs. Joomla: What’s Best for You?

Submitted by Candace Saunde… on 07/01/2019 - 09:00:am

Building your business’s website often starts with choosing the appropriate content management system (or CMS). You may have heard of the ever-popular WordPress, one of the best CMSs for content creators and small businesses alike. But if you’re looking for something with a bit more power, you may be debating between Drupal vs. Joomla instead. 

Joomla comes in second place to only WordPress, making up about 5.1% of the CMS market share, while Drupal comes in at a close third with about 3.3% of the market share (W3Tech). Like WordPress, both of these CMSs are open source, which means that they can be modified, distributed, or contributed to by anyone. With many similarities between the two platforms, choosing one or the other is a fairly close call. 

In the following, we’re going to discuss what each CMS has to offer. That way, you can decide who wins the Drupal vs. Joomla debate in your book. 

Ease of Use: Content Management

As both Drupal and Joomla are designed for creating more highly customized web solutions, it should come as no surprise that picking up either of these CMSs is going to require a bit more of a learning curve. However, if your web-based project presents the need for a unique software solution, learning to adapt to one of these platforms is worth it.

From a content management perspective, both CMSs have relatively similar administrative dashboards out-of-the-box. For instance, Joomla provides users with a relatively straightforward administrative interface, a win in the ease of use department. Where this provides some limitations in terms of customization, Drupal takes the lead, offering a greater number of settings for you to use and make the site really into your own. 

When it comes to adding content specifically, Joomla once again caters a bit more to those who are less technically-inclined by providing users with more intuitive tools, such as its comprehensive text editor. Drupal, on the other hand, provides a less detailed text editor that calls for the use of HTML here and there to fully meet your content editing needs.

Customization: Themes & Extensions/Modules

As noted earlier, both Drupal and Joomla were designed with customization in mind. Thanks to both the Drupal and Joomla open source communities, both CMSs make it possible to mold your site to meet your needs with the help of thousands of themes and modules. Moreover, because these themes and modules are open source, they can be modified as needed to better accommodate your needs. 

To start, Joomla has almost 8,000 extensions that can be easily installed to, as in the name, extend the offerings of your site. The CMS also provides a variety of themes for you to choose but does not offer a clear theme repository, which could make selecting the theme of your choice a bit more tricky. Conversely, Drupal brags over 40,000 modules, and that doesn’t even include the 2,000+ themes it has to offer.

While both platforms provide their fair share of extensions/modules and themes for customizing your site, Drupal outdoes Joomla in terms of providing a greater number of options for customization. Joomla, however, keeps things a bit less complicated for those foregoing the help of a web developer, making the CMS a bit more accessible to some.

Performance & Scalability

Even if your CMS is incredibly user-friendly or allows for unlimited customization, those features don’t help much if your CMS can’t offer the power your site needs to sustain heavy-content or high traffic loads. If your organization is in a phase of growth, you may also need a CMS with scalability to accommodate future growth. The good news, as open source platforms, Drupal and Joomla can support and grow with your business as time goes on. 

While both Drupal and Joomla are both packed with power and extensibility, Drupal is a bit more well-known for its ability to support content-heavy and high traffic sites. This is because Drupal has a greater ability to scale, while remaining a bit lighter on resources, which allows the CMS to maintain a quick site speed for users, regardless of the number of site visitors or amount content that could weigh the site down.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 

Along with performance and scalability, acquiring a CMS that can provide assistance search engine optimization (SEO) is desirable as well. SEO is dependent on both the content you add to your site, as well as the inner-workings of your site itself. In this arena, Joomla and Drupal are a pretty close match: Both CMSs allow you to mark the standard SEO boxes off of your checklist, such as providing clean URLs to adding metadata. 

For additional SEO features, from creating XML sitemaps to optimizing your content, you’ll need to install extensions/modules. Many Drupal users enjoy modules like the SEO Checklist, which helps users to perform on-page SEO checks from within Drupal. While many Joomla users take advantage of extensions like sh404SF to meet most of their SEO needs.

With both Drupal and Joomla, the quality of your site’s optimization is heavily dependent on how much effort you put into using these tools. Simply installing the tools won’t do the trick—you’ll need to do the work.  

Ecommerce: Online Store Support

Many businesses desire to have an ecommerce store built into their site, even if it’s only to sell some branded merchandise. If that’s something you’re interested in, both Drupal and Joomla can cater to your needs: Of the e-commerce modules/extensions available, Drupal Commerce is the most well-known for Drupal, as J2Store is for Joomla. 

As both CMSs require the installation of modules/extensions to build your ecommerce store, they require roughly the same amount of effort in terms of getting started. Generally speaking, however, some users find it a bit easier to use Joomla to manage their ecommerce stores. That said, Drupal is known for providing extensibility for more complex online store needs.

Security & Support 

Especially if your site will hold secure information, from credit card information to invoices, you’ll want a CMS that helps you to quickly identify and address security vulnerabilities. That said, both Joomla and Drupal are well-suited to provide your site with optimum security—open source communities often act as great watchdogs and are quick to warn fellow users of potential security threats.

Of the two platforms, Drupal is more well-known for security, thanks to its built-in security features, including security reporting. Used by a surplus of government organizations (e.g. the State of Colorado) and educational institutions alike (e.g. University of Colorado), the large Drupal userbase of elite organizations only further attests to the quality of Drupal’s security measures.

When compared to Drupal, Joomla comes with some built-in security measures but requires more configurations to meet your security needs. Thankfully, Joomla provides extensive documentation to help you out in this area. It should be noted, however, that Drupal users would benefit from additional security measures as well, and with either CMS, it’s up to you to ensure your site stays up-to-date and adheres to the latest security measures. 

Note: Don’t forget that you can find more information on how to maintain your site’s security by engaging with the CMSs respect communities, Drupal or Joomla.

What’s the Final Verdict for Drupal vs. Joomla? 

Of the CMSs out there, it’s a pretty close call between Drupal and Joomla. Both CMSs provide relatively similar offerings in terms of their administrative interfaces to the built-in security they provide. The two platforms most clearly differ in terms of ease of use and customization: Joomla is a bit more user-friendly for less-techy users, while Drupal has the power and extensibility to serve more complex needs. 

After weighing the pros and cons, if you’re learning toward Drupal development and are ready to build a Drupal-based site, we can help. For over a decade, our team of Drupal experts at ClikFocus has built highly customized sites to meet the unique needs of non-profits to enterprise-level organizations alike, and we’d love to begin developing yours today. 

If you need help choosing between Drupal vs. Joomla, let's chat