WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal compared

Content World


An upgrade of the extremely rudimentary media management has been on Joomla's agenda for some time. Until then, site operators can only upload and delete files.

In WordPress, site operators can scale, crop, rotate, and mirror uploaded images. For each media file, WordPress creates an attachment page that allows the file to be downloaded and presented in its full splendor once again.

Images can be grouped, as well, with a few mouse clicks to create a gallery and inserted as such into a post. Under Joomla, the admin first needs an extension to set up a gallery. In Drupal, you first need to define a suitable page structure for this task or use a module, which means you can also crop, scale, rotate, convert to another file format, and even convert to a black and white image. The site operator saves the necessary settings as templates (image styles), which Drupal then (semi-)automatically slots over the images in corresponding situations. A module that you explicitly need to enable alternatively creates responsive images, with sizes that adapt to the screen resolutions used by the user.


The look of each page is determined by design templates that WordPress (Figure 5) and Drupal call themes and Joomla calls templates. The WordPress and Drupal developers each have a theme catalog on their homepage. WordPress users can even access it conveniently from the back end.

Figure 5: The pages generated by WordPress are based on blogs by default.

WordPress comes with three quite universal design templates in a contemporary look. Each theme can be adjusted, within limits; usually site operators can at least choose a different color scheme. The adjustments are made in a special live preview known as the Customizer, in which WordPress demonstrates the effect of each change directly on the website (Figure 6).

Figure 6: In WordPress, a few mouse clicks in the Customizer are all it takes to adapt the design as you like. The tool now resembles a simple web construction kit.

WordPress themes usually divide a website horizontally into three sections: The logo and menus are at the top, the page content follows below, and a footer concludes the design at the bottom. The theme also provides areas in which site operators store menus and widgets that provide additional functions such as a tag cloud.


Joomla only comes with two design templates that are slightly long in the tooth. The younger of the two is based on an outdated version of the Bootstrap framework, which at least proves to be responsive. To find new templates, you have to search for them yourself on the Internet. As with WordPress, templates can be adjusted, within limits.

With Joomla, however, you first need to enable and activate a preview explicitly in the basic settings. After configuring settings, Joomla admins can save these as styles and then quickly retrieve them later at the push of a button. In this way, the site operator can switch quickly between a Christmas and a summer version of the template, for example.

In Joomla, the menu items determine what the pages to be accessed look like and what information they present. The concept not only takes some getting used to, it also makes troubleshooting difficult if subpages suddenly turn up with an unwanted design. Fortunately, however, the site operator is allowed to overlay a different template on each subpage. For example, companies usually make the press release area look completely different from the rest of the site.

A Joomla page always shows the actual page content in a larger region, around which you can place modules in further regions specified by the design template. These regions correspond to widgets in WordPress and offer small additional functions, such as listing the five most popular posts. The site operator also determines which module appears on which subpages.

Like Joomla, each design template in Drupal provides multiple regions. The page content appears in a main region, and Drupal places blocks in the other regions, which each provide additional functions, such as a breadcrumb bar.

Unlike Joomla, a block in Drupal provides the page content. The admin decides which blocks appear on which pages. Individual properties of the design template, such as the color scheme, can be customized. At the beginning, Drupal only comes with a simple standard theme with an old-fashioned look, but at least it is mobile-friendly.

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