CMS Wars: WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal

The battle of the Big 3

In every industry, there are always three big players that represent 80% of the market and dozens, if not hundreds, that scramble for the remaining 20% of market share.  In the American automobile industry it’s General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford.  In the European luxury car market, it is Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi.  In Japan, it is Toyota, Honda, and Nissan.  With search, it is Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

You know the deal.  Name just about any industry and there are usually three major players and one of the three is usually dominant.  So, what is the deal with open source web content management systems?  We think it boils down to:

  1. Joomla
  2. WordPress
  3. Drupal

So, lets ask Google Trends

Drupal was first on the market followed by WordPress.  Joomla burst onto the scene a year or two later and seemed to dominate for about three solid years.  But then came a point in time where Joomla seemed to stagnate and perhaps crash a bit.  The throne was overtaken by Wordress.  Meanwhile, Drupal steadily and stealthily continues to march.  Most recently, Drupal has been getting some good publicity in the Government web development circles because it is the CMS that powers the WhiteHouse.gov.

We consider WordPress the tool of choice for designers and do-it-yourself (DIY) professionals.  Drupal is the tool of choice by technical developers seeking to deploy multiple enterprise-wide websites.

Joomla has some great features and, to be honest, we have not tested it or used it since about 2007.  But, the reason we abandoned Joomla for WordPress was because of usability.  Joomla was simply a nightmare to deploy and horribly difficult to train non-technical users how to manage their website after we are done.

I guess that keeps Joomla developers in business because business owners have little choice but to hire Joomla experts to maintain their website.  But, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of a web content management system (CMS)?  Aren’t CMSs supposed to make it easy to manage content?  This is why our tool of choice continues to be WordPress.

Interesting story … last week we received a call from a Director of IT in a panic.  He represented a pretty significant non-profit organization in the Washington DC metropolitan area.  Apparently, somebody hacked into their servers and brought all of their websites down.  Our star PHP guru came to the rescue.  This nonprofit had about 9 different websites powered by various content management systems including Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress.

The dust is still settling and I haven’t been able to talk much with our PHP guy, but I would like to know how he would compare the three solutions side by side having worked on all three of them in the same weekend.