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Joomla vs Drupal – How to Pick the Right Content Management System for You

by Melissa Smich on August 20, 2010

Joomla!The two most popular open-source content management systems used on the World Wide Web are Joomla and Drupal. Both include a host of features for users to customize their Web sites and interface, and are supported by vibrant and dedicated communities. However, while both serve the same basic function, each comes packaged with its own strengths, and it’s important that your business chooses the one that best suits your needs.

The Basics – What Is Content Management, Anyway?

A content management system is used to manage all aspects of a Web page – from text and photos to videos and secure documents. It can be used to track and update anything that is found on a company’s Web page, and depending on the type of CMS that is used, will offer a variety of add-ons that will let you customize your user experience. A CMS allows large companies and small businesses to easily maintain and update their Web pages, and will typically display data in an easy-to-read, graphical format.

Joomla and Drupal – What They Can Do For You

When choosing Joomla vs. Drupal, there are a number of factors you may want to consider. Both Joomla and Drupal are “open source” applications, which means that they are free to download under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Users can modify the source code as they need and share variations of it with each other and the community in order to make both the Joomla and Drupal CMS stronger.

DrupalDrupal is used to build a wide variety of Web sites from small blogs to enterprise-level applications, and is known both for its robust code and the wealth of add-ons that are available for it. These add-ons include trackers that can provide users with lists of unread content, shufflers that can show a variety of articles, or copyright modules that will place a copyright logo at the bottom of each page, among others. According to the Drupal Web page, over 630,000 people are currently using their CMS. Sites that are currently using Drupal include Popular Science, AOL Corporate, San Jose State University and MTV UK.

Joomla, meanwhile, is known for its ease of use and simple set-up. In combination with many Web hosting providers, this content management system can offer a one-click setup for Web sites. Developers often use Joomla to create sites for customers, and the user-friendly interface provided by the CMS allows the new sites to be easily managed and updated. Joomla has a wide variety of extensions in their Extensions Directory, including a Twitter Widget, a Template Creator and Social Sharing Buttons that can be added to a Web page. The homepage of this content management system says that 2.7 percent of the Web is currently using their code, and companies like IHOP, Citibank and The Green Maven are using Joomla to manage their Web sites.

The Strength of Both Platforms – Features and Support

Both Joomla and Drupal are well-supported by communities that are committed to developing their code and making them more functional and user friendly. In a given week, for example, Drupal will see over 2,000 commits to its code and 6,000 comments about issues that have arisen within the CMS. Joomla is currently running version 1.7 of its code, and the latest emphasis from the community has been placed on making the installation process as simple and user-friendly as possible, as well as streamlining the release process for new versions.

In the Web community, Drupal is known for boasting robust functionality, but also for requiring a greater degree of technical proficiency to use effectively. Its community includes events and meet-ups of Drupal users face to face, chat rooms, and a community spotlight that highlights new innovations from community members.

Joomla, meanwhile, is known for its ease of installation and use. The content management system has been around since 2000, and currently boasts over 200,000 users in its community. Based on PHP and MySQL, the code is easily buildable and developing applications is simple across a wide variety of platforms.

Joomla and Drupal have active communities and are popular on the Web in their own right. Support for them is only growing, and either one will allow you to build a consistently updated Web site, backed by developers from around the world. Each one offers advantages, and a business only needs to decide which CMS best suits its needs and which system can provide a more effective Web site content management experience.

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PotsNPans August 23, 2010 at 8:41 AM

I never realized how complicated Drupal is. I don’t think I’ll be trying it anytime soon!!

Rusher August 23, 2010 at 8:43 AM

It seems that Drupal is the only choice if you want to make a lot of money online. It’s probably worth paying someone if you don’t know how to use it yourself.

Brad Traversy November 21, 2010 at 8:03 AM

what does it have to do with making money?

Sadart Abukari September 2, 2011 at 9:21 AM

Well said. A crazy programmer I know hates to see me use Joomla because of its ease of use. What make him hate joomla most is that he knows a guy who doesn’t know PHP, HTML, JavaScript and CSS but calls himself a web developer for a company.
As an advocate of super-easy-to-use applications I am all for any platform that makes me work super smart. He is a drupal developer and so I am. Drupal is great but when it comes to building applications with ease Joomla leads. No technical expertise is required. Just click your way through.

Azharul Haque January 12, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Seems like joomla 1.6 is out.

Rick February 1, 2011 at 8:40 PM

I tried Drupal out a few weeks ago. I did not like it very much. The install was not easy (the install has/had a bug or configuration error that kept the Drupal install from putting the tables into the database).

The Drupal administration area did not look very professional like Joomla’s administration area does.

The default template, while it looks ok, is nothing to get excited about. Needless to say, I did not go very far with trying out Drupal. :-)


I have used Joomla for over 2 years and it is absolutely awesome. There are several free professional templates to choose from. There are many free extensions to choose from as well.

One of the aggravations of Joomla that you might encounter is the editor that comes with Joomla. The default editor is, to put it bluntly, junk. I had to install a free editor extension that works light-years better than the default one.

Also, the permissions for Joomla (especially for a Linux server) can get aggravating and even messy (trying to get an extension to install by setting permission(s), while making sure hackers do not get in). I had to write a script to automatically set the permissions on a Joomla install just so I do not have to set them manually. :-)

Overall I really like Joomla. In my opinion is beats Drupal, and it also beats designing your own website manually, even with the free HTML templates that you can get off of the Internet.

In My Opinion: Go for Joomla

nostop March 3, 2011 at 11:18 AM

I guess you’ve done something wrong or there were some incompatible settings of your DB, PHP or Server with Drupal. I have never experienced some errors or bugs while installing Drupal 6.x. And I do not think that anybody will find difficult to rename the ‘default.settings.php’ to ‘settings.php’ and run simple install wizard.
Maybe you’re talking about Dupal 7? :) I haven’t tried it out. This is very fresh release and I wouldn’t suggest you to use it at least for half of a year. There’s also not so much of modules and docs for Drupal 7 as for Drupal 6.
Also, to make your admin-side easy and quick in use, install the admin-menu module. And ur life will be much more simple ;)

Jeremy @ Marketing Internet April 15, 2011 at 1:45 AM

Thanks for your honest opinion Melissa, I’m definitely in hesitating on choosing which I should start with.

I think I’ll go strait ahead in Drupal. It looks more solid and it has more functionalities. Always looking for the long term…


WrigleyF April 25, 2011 at 1:21 AM

Yes, definitely…all else equal, go with what will help you most over the long haul….

OfftheWall October 14, 2011 at 12:40 PM

I see how Drupal is better for the long term. Joomla might be easier to use at first, but after a while Drupal is bound to become just as easy to use.

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