You’re about to begin a huge overhaul of your higher education website and one of the first steps is to choose a content management system. It’s probable that Drupal and WordPress have come up in your research, and you may be trying to pick between the two.
Drupal and WordPress are often compared to one another because they’re both open source content management systems. Both have the ability to design clean, responsive websites that are simple for content editors to manage. The functionality of both can be enhanced using third party code. And the code for both is openly available for anyone to use, change, and distribute, meaning there are no licencing fees like there would be with closed source options.
There are a significant number of higher education websites on Drupal; Harvard, Brown, and Oxford University all use the CMS, to name a few. According to Drupal.org, 71% of the top 100 universities use Drupal. And there’s some sound reasoning behind that.
Both WordPress and Drupal have strengths and are well suited for a diverse range of projects. WordPress was primarily built for standalone websites or blogs with minimal variation in content types. Drupal was designed for more intricate, feature-rich websites, like those needed for higher education, that demand extensive interconnectedness between pages or site components.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing between the two content management systems.
You’re probably in for a challenging project if you decide to rebuild a website for higher education. Your website likely needs a more complex architecture than others; you’ll need various sections that are targeted toward different groups of users, such as prospective students, current students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
Drupal’s ecosystem was built around cases like these. It can handle thousands of users and different content types. Upgrades in Drupal 9 have also resulted in better caching features that make for improved page load times.
WordPress works well for general, standalone marketing sites, but it will struggle with aspects like multiple install profiles, content sharing networks, consistency, maintainability, and connectivity with other parts of the site.
USERS AND PERMISSIONS
A lot of users and permissions are probably required to access your website. Different groups will need to perform different tasks and interact with the site in a variety of ways. You may also have different departmental sites that will need to be managed by different teams while staying consistent with branding guidelines.
Drupal allows for multi-site functionality that can also be centrally managed. You can limit users’ and departments’ capabilities to what they strictly require by assigning them various permissions and roles.
Security flaws can exist in every CMS, even the most robust ones. WordPress might have seen more security difficulties in the past simply because it’s a more popular CMS. WordPress relies heavily on plugins when used for more complex websites, and these plugins are often susceptible to security issues.
WhiteHouse.gov and other federal government websites trust Drupal because it is generally renowned for being a very secure content management system. Drupal has a dedicated security team that receives security issues from the general public and coordinates responses. Issues are resolved as quickly as possible and users are alerted to vulnerabilities through regular announcements. The security team also provides documentation on how to write secure code and how to secure your site. With these practices, you can rest assured that all of your student and faculty data would be protected.
EASE OF USE
When it comes to ease of use, WordPress outperforms Drupal for simpler sites. It is relatively simple to set up and run, even for folks who aren’t very tech aware, as it was designed for simpler, standalone websites. Drupal’s complexity means it has a steep learning curve and takes longer to build.
Although Drupal is a feature-rich CMS that can create more complex sites, it also requires a higher level of technical expertise. To complete your project, you’ll need a team of experts with ample experience, which will probably cost more than a team of WordPress developers.
But the extra price that you pay for a team of experts will pay off in the end when you have a website that is capable of doing everything you need it to. Drupal’s high barrier to entry with respect to module development also means the quality of modules available is higher, and the choices are fewer but more obvious.
WHICH SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?
When it comes down to it, Drupal is likely the better choice between the two. It’s clear that while WordPress has its strengths, Drupal is preferable for more complex websites, such as those needed for higher education.
Drupal provides a strong base to begin rapidly building a complex system. It’s often the CMS of choice for large websites that require significant interconnectivity between different sections. Security is a top concern for the entire community, and it also permits a wide range of user roles and permissions. Its many features make it a great CMS option for websites related to higher education.