When it comes to content management systems (CMSs), many people often think of WordPress first. However, browsing around websites of various technology outsourcing agencies, you can see Drupal is quite all-encompassing in CMSs. So what is Drupal? And what are some good reasons to use Drupal instead of WordPress? This article will give detailed answers for those questions and explain why you should build Drupal-based websites.
What is Drupal?
Similar to WordPress, Drupal is also a free and open-source content management platform written in PHP. As of October 2020, Drupal has provided back-end frameworks for nearly 3% of global websites — equivalent to over a million live websites worldwide. This makes Drupal have become the third largest CMS software, following WordPress and Joomla.
According to the Drupal usage statistics, this framework has been preferred by governmental agencies, educational institutions, large corporates, non-profit organizations. Various Fortune 500 companies, typically nasa.gov (Official Website of NASA), gwu.edu (George Washington University), press.princeton.edu and mslsoccer.com (Major League Soccer), are also making use of it.
There are some frequently asked questions about Drupal that you may want to check out.
7 Reasons To Use Drupal
There are many reasons for why Drupal has gained in the growing popularity and won trust from various governmental bodies, large firms and even celebrities.
Content Management Tool
Compared to other CMSs, Drupal also enables content authors to manage website contents without technical skills. Drupal’s WYSIWYG editing tool acts as Microsoft’s Word processing software. Accordingly, it allows users to directly publish different kinds of content to websites.
Originally developed for community-based websites, Drupal authorizes users to perform multiple roles as well. This means a user can become an “admin”, an “unknown visitor”, a “registered member”, an “editor” and many more. Accordingly, he can be authenticated and permitted to edit or review content even on mobile devices. Drupal 8 also offers an in-line editing tool that helps modify title, menu items and so forth without loading a full edit screen.
However, to avoid mislead, offensive or unformatted news, Drupal-based web managers has the feature of controlling the content input. It can also impose the rules to web content management. Besides, hosting with large providers as Blackmesh.com, Pantheon and Acquia offers powerful web hosting infrastructure to build large Drupal-based projects.
Furthermore, with Drupal, we can get access to content via different devices, from computer screens to wearables or voice assistants. As an API-first system, Drupal helps build one central backend from which your content will be distributed and displayed on a variety of front-end versions. This allows you to create and manage contents even on the go.
Since its introduction in 2000, Drupal has won trust from technology professionals and business leaders who are looking for a highly scalable, secure and flexible platform with a strong architecture and seamless integration with third parties. Drupal meets those technical requirements and then creates complex websites with quick load page speed.
Drupal’s flexibility comes from the Drupal core and its modularity. Equipped with the commonly accepted features for web frameworks, Drupal allows customizing websites, intranets and secure portals for numerous uses. In other words, Drupal looks like a LEGO set which provides different blocks to build whatever you want. Particularly, with scalability, Drupal developers can incorporate different modules with the core to craft websites of all kinds.
In addition to fundamental Web-based installation and administration which requires no technical skills, Drupal also provides sophisticated APIs for websites to communicate with other servers and mutually exchange information. Also, by using OAuth and SAML-based integration (e.g. Azure AD or SalesForce), Drupal facilitates Single Sign-On (SSO) to various different sites with only one account and password.
The Drupal core contains such basic features as user account registration and maintenance, page layout customization, system administration and so on. However, unlike other CMSs, Drupal is more complex as it provides a host of advanced modules. These modules are contributed and meticulously tested by global experts to handle large volume of content and improve the performance of thousands of pages. For example, Drupal uses a power in-site search module called Apache Solr Search. This module can speed up even complex searches and enhance user experience when they look for information on pages.
Moreover, its SEO options make Drupal stand out in the market. Particularly, a customized URL (“URL alias”) is given to each item in Drupal development and then modified to suit different content types. Other modules such as CCK (Content Construction Kit) or View Attach are added to Drupal-based websites optimize contents and ensure SEO compliance.
Since the release of Drupal 8, Drupal’s themes are responsive by defaults, allowing contents to work seamlessly on various devices. Concurrently, with four core modules involving Configuration Translation, Content Translation, Interface Translation and Language, users can easily choose their preferred language and build a multilingual website faster and easier. Besides, not only allowing simultaneous access to edit the site from any devices, Drupal facilities visually, aurally or cognitively impaired people to easily approach to its websites with the support of accessibility features as Alt text, Tabbing Manager or Aural Alerts. This is why Drupal is a preferred option for governmental agencies or NGOs which website contents mainly aim at the mass.
One of the reasons to use Drupal is its level of security. Drupal’s built-in security and support teams available are so strong that many governmental bodies, large-scale companies and even celebrities like Lady Gaga or Bruno Mars all depend on Drupal for website development. Indeed, as an open-source platform, Drupal’s codebase is thoroughly examined by a huge community of developers who use, modify and contribute to build top-notch codes. Therefore, any flaws and threats can be easily detected and reported to the Drupal’s security teams for addressing.
Since the release of Drupal 9, the support of Drupal 7 has not seemed to last much longer. This results in unexpected vulnerabilities for websites developed on those versions. The best way to tackle such arisen problems is upgrading to the latest version as soon as possible. Therefore, if being properly executed and maintained, Drupal proves itself a secure CMS for complicated, high traffic and heavy-content websites.
Similar to other CMSs, developers and clients are allowed to use Drupal to build complex, heavy-content websites without license fees. Accordingly, all Drupal modules which are highly customised by experts are free of charge, comprising of plug-ins, add-ons and widgets.
However, Drupal is originally designed for custom development. This requires users to have technical background and skills to take advantage of Drupal’s features for empowering their websites. If you are not acquainted with programming, you must hire a Drupal developer at a higher cost than WordPress. This is because the latter system is more prevalent and easier to use. Fortunately, the latest versions of Drupal have attempted to integrate frameworks (e.g. Symfony) which are common to PHP developers and then facilitate their approach to Drupal. Also, the latest versions of Drupal, such as Drupal 8 or 9, can help both professional developers and non-experts build websites much easier. Those partially reduce costs related employing Drupal developers. This is also one of the reasons to use Drupal.
One more reason to use Drupal: Active User Community
Drupal.org is a resourceful community where both novice and experienced developers can exploit to access education materials and latest news. They can also ask for support from fellow contributors and specialists. Until December 2019, Drupal reached the number of nearly 1.4 million registered members. They are developers, designers, strategists and other stakeholders. These members have working together to perfect Drupal core, design new modules, share effective practices and building up a strong sense of community. Accordingly, tons of modules are contributed and publicly online in repositories such as GitHub.
Difference Between Drupal And WordPress
W3Techs, a division of Q-Success that specializes in web technology surveys, produces a graph to demonstrate market positions of top five CMS platforms. The finding shows that although WordPress is much more popular than Drupal. But Drupal takes an advantage over WordPress in its SEO options which help to bring about high traffic for websites.
Accordingly, high-traffic websites such as those of governments, celebrities, universities or large enterprises have capitalized on Drupal. By doing so, people can guarantee the website’s security, flexibility and throughput. Meanwhile, WordPress looks more vulnerable to outside attacks, although it requires more secure hosting platforms such as WP Engine to address this problem.
Both WordPress and Drupal are easy to use and accessible. However, we cannot deny that Drupal is so complex that users can struggle to learn how to use it. Despite the powerful and advanced modules, Drupal-based websites could cause some hindrance when incorrectly developed. Therefore, Drupal is more suitable for complicated, heavy-content and high-traffic websites with large databases. This is how Drupal is different from WordPress which fits individual blogs or small businesses.