WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal compared

Content World

Personnel Department

WordPress can protect pages and posts with individual passwords. Only users who know the password can gain access. Alternatively, the site operator can mark a page or a post as private. In this case, only visitors with a WordPress user account are allowed to access the text. Each registered user belongs to one of five predefined user groups (roles). Their membership determines which functions the user is allowed to call. Site operators are not allowed to create their own user groups or change the actions approved for a role.

User management in Joomla, in contrast, leaves virtually nothing to be desired: By using Access Control Lists (ACLs), the site operator defines in detail which user and visitor groups can call which actions and subpages. For example, companies can set up separate private areas on their websites for consumers and business customers. However, the corresponding settings are extremely confusing and are hidden in various places in the back end.

In Drupal, the site operator first defines roles in detail that control access to the functions offered by Drupal and then assigns the appropriate roles to the users. Site operators also can make blocks (e.g., menus) visible to certain users only and thus set up areas for certain users in an alternative way.

In all CMSs, new posts first need to be released by an authorized person. Whereas the site operator in Joomla regulates responsibilities with ACLs, they depend on user groups in WordPress. In Drupal, reviews are only possible with an add-on module that was still experimental when this issue went to press.

Joomla offers a rudimentary internal messaging system and a mass email function. The site operator can use it to send a message to all users. However, this function is not a good substitute for a mailing list.

Find Me!

All three CMSs produce readable URLs, whose structure the site operator can manipulate if necessary. Only Joomla offers further functions for search engine optimization (SEO). For example, the CMS queries suitable metadata as soon as a post is created.

The development of WordPress is progressing at a relatively high pace. As a rule, a new version is released twice a year, which then completely replaces the previous version. After a somewhat chaotic version policy in the past, the Joomla developers have now also adopted this strategy.

WordPress updates are fully automatic if so desired. Joomla only reports the availability of a new version in the back end, which the site operator then has to import with a few mouse clicks. Some manual work is necessary to update Drupal.

WordPress and Drupal can manage multiple independent websites within one installation, which simplifies the maintenance of the respective system; however, setting up this multisite feature is not exactly trivial in either case.


Site operators can quickly add new functions with the use of extension packages in WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. The developers of WordPress and Joomla maintain repositories on their respective homepages that can be accessed directly from the back end. Joomla distinguishes between components that add major functionality, modules, and plugins that handle menial work in the background. Extensions often comprise several components, modules, and plugins, so this strategy leads to additional maintenance overhead.

Because of the popularity of the three CMSs, almost every imaginable occasion and need has an extension. Most of the extensions come from third-party manufacturers, so quality varies greatly. WordPress and Joomla, especially, have numerous outdated extensions on the Internet. In the case of Drupal, many modules have not yet been adapted to version 8 or were still in beta at press time, even though the new Drupal 8.5 version [5] [6] was just released while this article was being written. Site operators still need to take a close look before downloading extensions and should always put them through their paces in a test installation.

Developers can program extensions for all three CMSs in PHP. Joomla relies on a model-view-controller architecture, in which even outputting "Hello World" requires about a dozen files.

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