6 Ways Drupal is Different from WordPress

If you get more than a handful of developers in a room, you will probably find that they have different approaches to building websites and code. These differences can be based on sheer preference, desired outcomes, scalability or even client preference. The development and design teams at PML have extensive backgrounds in Drupal, WordPress, and more, and we understand that not everyone has the development knowledge necessary to differentiate.

Here are a few ways Drupal is different from WordPress:

1. Security

When sites like whitehouse.gov pick a CMS platform, you know it must be secure—and Drupal has first-class security. WordPress hackers target vulnerabilities within plugins and can do some major damage; however, there are hosting applications that can manage your security risks for both platforms. Security vulnerabilities tend to happen at the server level, and having properly configured hosting environments reduce plugin vulnerabilities as a concern.

Additionally, Drupal allows for third-party single sign-on options such as LDAP (widely used in large businesses for managing user accounts), Facebook, or Google Account logins.

2. Customization

At first glance, WordPress might seem to be the easiest CMS to customize and transform your website into your ideal marketing piece. However, once you look deeper, you will see that Drupal has multiple layers of customization. Traditionally a CMS allows you to modify the front end of a website while the back end is built the same way for all — with an admin area that allows you to edit content, add new pages, adjust theme, etc.— not all CMSs are created equal. Building your website with Drupal gives you Lego pieces to build the front end and back end, and customize how the back end looks and functions for whomever is using it—from a content writer, to website owner.

3. User Permissions

By allowing customization for what each individual user can see and access on the back end, Drupal’s functionality is more robust out of the box than WordPress. WordPress does allow permissions to be set up based on user, but Drupal’s permission level customization are unparalleled. Each module can be assigned to a user individually, giving them access to a section, page or the entire site easily. Administrators can quickly designate access to groups of individuals. Content management and review is simplified through robust versioning capabilities as well as multiple options for content approval workflows.

4. Responsive Design

Both WordPress and Drupal allow you to choose your break points for image scalability. WordPress allows you to set these break points in the functions.php file. Drupal allows you to access these in the admin area through the Image Style module. While this method does take a bit of time to set up, you can adjust the break points without the need to manipulate PHP files directly. Both systems allow you to design your templates as you wish, and include starter responsive themes that help cut down time spent on development.

5. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

It’s been a well-circulated claim that WordPress is best for SEO and Google’s search engine. However, that is not entirely true. WordPress does have less margin for error, but as long as the Drupal developer knows what they are doing, Drupal sites can be just as effective at ranking in Google as WordPress sites.

6. Plugins and Modules

First off, plugins and modules are essentially the same thing. WordPress called them plugins, Drupal calls them modules, but to the end user, they are the same. WordPress has the biggest range of plugins, but Drupal has a large collection of modules. A vast amount of Drupal’s modules are user-contributed and these elements are more robust than the typical WordPress plugin. The Drupal community has many members that are continuously building, tweaking, and assisting each other on various forums and communities. According to the Drupal website, “We’re more than 1,000,000 passionate developers, designers, trainers, strategists, coordinators, editors, and sponsors working together.”

If you are new to development or you are trying to understand what is happening in the development world, it is easy to see that a typical website can be built on either platform; however, if you have a specific result in mind, it might be best to choose one platform over the other. As one of our Drupal experts, Mike Raichelson, explains, “Think of Drupal as a collection of Lego parts,” you can build what you want, color code various parts, and move them around as you wish. You can customize the front end and back end on both WordPress and Drupal, but the Lego blocks of Drupal allow you deeper and more dynamic customization.

The big takeaway is not that Drupal is extremely superior to WordPress. It is not that one CMS is more ideal than another, but rather that most non-developers would initially find it is easier to build with WordPress, than Drupal. “People new to Drupal usually say, ‘Oh, this is lacking, it’s not built in’ because at heart Drupal is more of a tool for building a CMS for a particular site’s needs than it is an actual out-of-the-box CMS,” said Raichelson.

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