The first of a four part series called Getting your Project off the Ground: A practical guide.
It is essential when building a new website that it meets all your needs while not being overly complex or intimidating to use. Being able to update content easily without having to call up your local web developer can help save money and ensure that you feel empowered with the product that you purchased. Most often, this means that the most logical choice is to go with a Content Management System, which ensures that you can make modifications; it’s built on a framework that is secure and sustainable; and has built in usability / ease-of-use tools.
When it comes down to CMS technology there are three major players presently: Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla. Each of these systems have their advantages and disadvantages. We hope to outline when / where you should be using each of these technologies and help you to feel empowered to be able to make decisions on which technology suits your needs best.
Drupal is the workhorse of the other three CMS technologies, and has the capacity to do some pretty interesting and advanced things given your needs and website design. Views allows for the capacity to customize the output of any page through passed parameters, user entered values, and so much more. It is not recommended for small websites which require more basic framework and lacks a sense of relationships between the content.
WordPress is the perfect CMS for the needs of those with a basic website idea. It was originally developed to provide users with a blogging-type website with the addition of other pages. Presently, WordPress has surpassed this and is used for much more than simply blogging websites. WordPress is more a mid-range website CMS since it is more difficult to do some of the advanced heavy lifting that exists in other tools.
Joomla is frequently a favoured contender with design companies because the backend provides the capacity to turn on a large majority of features through a simple interface. Joomla does lack the flexibility that both WordPress and Drupal offer in terms of customization and SEO options. Furthermore, Joomla’s backend interface makes it extremely difficult for clients to navigate how to edit, modify, and add new content and blocks.
|Usability||Each major version release finds new usability design, but it does take more time to truly understand how it all works||Takes the cake on usability design with a easy-to-use backend experience for new users||The backend interface leaves something to be desired whereby the way in which content and blocks are added are not intuitive nor can be previewed prior to making live|
|Plugins||Extensive list of features that can be added to your site completedly free||An extensive list of modules can be added to your website for free, but most often you need to pay for plugins||Much like WordPress, Joomla provides a wide range of extensions some of which are considered use-at-your-own-risk or for full features you must pay for enhancements|
|Themes||A great deal of themes are available but often a base frame is used to provide a responsive/reactive design and themed to build your design||There are free themes, but most often you will find yourself purchasing a theme that includes plugins and templates that can be used to build your website||While there are free themes most often users purchase a pre-made theme and modify that to their liking|
|HTML5 & Picture functionality||Some amazing free modules hav ebeen developed that support breakpoints and the Picture functionality after a little configuration! This means that your website will automatically deliver lower quality / smaller images for mobile devices and thus have a higher Google rating.||Out of the box, WordPress supports the Picture functionality BUT only for featured images. Some custom coding and configurations are required to truly make this work. Note: Not all plugins and themes fully support this functionality tragically which could effect your google ratings||Joomla is a little behind the game in this light. Presently, they are stripping out Picture HTML5 tags and extensions would need to be installed (or custom code) to truly make this work|
|E-commerce||Drupal Commerce is a free, secure, and well supported system||While Woocommerce is a free plugin there are quite a few plugins you might find you will need that require purchasing||There are extensions available to manage products and content|
|Search Engine Optimizations (SEO)||Provides extensive modules that provide a wide-range of capacity for SEO customization on social media platforms||Using free or paid plugins you can achieve great SEO with WordPress||Basic SEO|
|Speed||The caching system provided by Drupal is effective in serving up fast sites. As well, with proper development configuration you can ensure that page views are being cached effectively too||When adding larger plugins, such as Woocommerce, the performance of your site can drastically reduce without proper hosting. There are several caching modules that if tweaked properly will increase the speed||Can drastically consume resources if not tweaked properly|
|Cost||There are no hidden costs with Drupal other than that of custom module development or integration||Frequently, budgets increase when additional plugins and themes are required to enhance the user experience and/or create a base for the project||Sometimes purchasing extensions is required to ensure full functionality|
Overall, we hope that this guide helps to better inform you on the varying differences of these free open-source platforms that tend to be used more frequently. The take away from this is that not all platforms are going to suite your project needs, and it is important to do more research and ensure that the company you are hiring is truly doing an exhaustive look at your needs and finding an appropriate matching system. We have seen to many clients who receive systems that are, quite frankly, difficult to use and leaving the customer to abandon their websites. Using an empowerment model, we strive to ensure our customers are satisfied, equipped, and feel that what they receive is useful, functional, and meeting their needs!
If you have any questions about these systems or other services that we offer please don’t hesitate to contact us.