Which of the three big CMS delivers the knockout blow?

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5 Minutes

CMS review

Which of the three big CMS delivers the knockout blow?

There are many methods to creating websites these days and the most popular are open source, web content management systems (CMS).

It’s often debated as to which is the best platform to use but Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla are the big three heavyweights in this category and are downloaded by millions every year.

All three are open-source software, each developed and maintained by a community of thousands. Together they power around 40% of all websites on the planet.

The heavyweight who delivers the knockout blow depends on your own situation and your goals. Perhaps you are a web designer or web developer looking to choose the right technology for your next project or a marketer looking to find the most Google-friendly CMS. There are no simple answers or one-size fits all approach to CMS. It’s important to consider all three when looking at technical options for your business and Web Foundry can help to build with all of them.

Popularity or performance

Over the last ten years, interest has grown in Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla as people have searched for the best CMS to use for their own needs.

Figure 1 Google search trend


Before you make your choice, consider the following:

What is important to your business? How long will this investment last? What is the main thing it must do very well?

If you consider yourself to be a novice, then Wordpress is a good all-rounder and simple one to get started with. It’s a flexible platform that can be used to create a simple blog or brochure type website, without the need to fully understand the coding behind the pages. Wordpress can also be developed into a more complex site with the use of ready-made plugins and attractive themes.

However, if you are a web developer who wants something that is highly customisable, then Drupal may be the best option. This is great for scalability, as your website evolves and adapts to meet the user needs. Drupal is a powerful tool for developers and so does require some expertise and experience. It requires a familiar understanding of HTML, CSS and PHP.

If you are on limited budget just now, then Wordpress is a simple choice but Joomla is a good option for something with more site development options. Joomla is like the middle ground between the developer-oriented, extensive capabilities of Drupal and user-friendly Wordpress. It may take a little more time to fully understand but it would be more of a smooth learning curve then going straight to Drupal.

Who uses what?

These high profile websites are powered by each CMS.


  1. Jay Z’s life and times site is an excellent example of what you can with Wordpress web design and a skilled developer. A unique homepage gallery slider with great responsive design. http://lifeandtimes.com/
  2. ESPN distributes thousands of hours of media content and this efficient design performs well for them with scalability. https://mediadistribution.espn.com/


  1. BBC Store is a place where you can buy digital copies of BBC programmes. An attractive ecommerce site. https://store.bbc.com/
  2. As a charity, Cancer Research make use of Drupal to showcase their stories and encourage donations. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/


  1. A site for stunning photographs with gallery formats. http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/
  2. This site brings together the company’s branding and story with sliders throughout. http://www.ihop.com/


Although the CMS software is free from licence costs it doesn’t mean the website is without cost. Your investment is required for key elements such as design, branding and custom modifications to the way it functions. Each CMS comes with extensibility options with the use of plugins and widgets for varied solutions. It also takes time to deal with the configuration of the CMS and to host, maintain and market it.

Everyone has their favourite

Familiarity is important with each CMS and for some people, the simple interface for the web administration is essential so they can easily use it regularly and show other members of staff too. This is where Wordpress scores strongly.

Once invested in the learning curve, it is often rare that designers and developers will jump ship and try an alternative.


Each CMS has a road map for future features and developments. All of them have regular security updates and technical support through forums available. However, it is worth spending some time to look at what the community is like for help on each platform and the infrastructure around the project.

In some cases, you will have to dig deeper to discover if it is only going to be used in some countries and some web projects or services may not be around for much longer.

Objective opinion and conclusion

So there you have it…. the three biggest, baddest CMS on the planet, slugging it out for your attention. Each has its fans and detractors, each deserves its place in the market and each has matured to the point where under the right circumstances can deliver a knockout blow to the others. It comes down to the project requirements and the skill of the people implementing the project (which is usually more important than the choice of CMS anyway).


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