Our post a few weeks back about when to use Drupal and WordPress generated a pretty good discussion in the comments and on other websites. Below are the best questions/comments and our responses.

(1) Amnon – Drupal Israel: “Did you notice any performance difference between the systems?”

Considering the functionality both of them possess and what both the platforms are trying to accomplish, we have found WordPress is more resource intensive then Drupal. By default, WordPress makes a ton of database queries and has no built-in caching. Drupal has caching out of the box. Poorly optimized WordPress sites have actually become a sort of running joke on Digg, where WordPress site after site that appears on the Digg homepage goes down within a few minutes due to overwhelmed database servers. However, those with a bit of experience can run WordPress efficiently by using the WP-Cache plug-in and by optimizing your hosting set up. In addition, the brand new WordPress 2.3 release supposedly includes some serious speed improvements. We are testing the new release now.

In addition, when implementing both WordPress and Drupal you should be conservative in the plug-ins you use, as they can cause performance problems. This has been less of an issue for us in Drupal, mostly because Drupal has most of the functionality we need out of the box and we haven’t had to install a ton of plug-ins.

(2) Sebastien: “Very interesting. ‘If you have multiple dynamic content types (press releases, news articles, blog posts, etc.). Drupal is great at allowing you to create this stuff on the fly, with WordPress you are hacking things together.’ Would you mind elaborating on this one, especially on the WordPress side?

By default WordPress has two content types: Pages and Posts. You can create additional content types, but it isn’t very elegant and, is, well hacked together. You are asking WordPress to do something it isn’t really designed to do. Through its node system, Drupal allows you to easily create different content types with unique templates. Thus, if you are planning on having a bunch of different content types, you should use Drupal. You’ll be saving yourself some headaches.Our head designer, Jei Park, chimes in with the following observation about the template systems of Drupal and WordPress: “I feel that ‘hacking things together’ really applies to coding for WordPress and not for actually putting together content. Both Drupal and WordPress include index and sublevel templates, but WordPress has only one default side content include file, whereas Drupal has the option of including left side content, bottom content, top content, and right content (and create even more personalized areas if the need arises). Once you master the concept of ‘blocks’ in Drupal, you can manipulate the order and what goes on the each block section from the admin section. What’s even more great is that you can turn it on and off from the admin section instead of having to go through the template. Even though both platforms will most likely require filters and conditions, it’s just convenient for Drupal to have all those extra options that keeps the template clean.”

(3) urbanmike: “I’ve now set up three sites in Drupal and two in WordPress. My main site is in Drupal and my most recent project, a church website just couldn’t do half the things it does if it were a WordPress page. Thanks for writing this up, I think a lot of people have a WordPress-centric view of the web, and Drupal is a good solution for businesses and bigger sites.”

I think a lot of folks see this as an either/or proposition, meaning they choose one or the other and get kind of dogmatic about it. We try to use the system that is going to best serve the clients needs and not based on our personal preference. There is a time and place to use both platforms. I think you’ve identified an instance where using Drupal was definitely the best choice.

(4) Jonathan: “Agree with Sebastien. Also, while I can see your point in the article, I don’t think you (and more so some of the commentors) are giving WP its due credit. Imo it does MANY things better than Drupal and it is much more intuitive to use. I think in the end, WP knows what it is, knows what it should do, and does it very well. Drupal basically doesn’t know what it is, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s the building blocks you need to create an online community. If you’re only wanting to build a blog, however, don’t reinvent the wheel. Out-of-the box WP does it better than any amount of Drupal tweaking could hope to. There are reasons to use Drupal over WP, but I feel like these are less frequent than you lead on. I’d only use Drupal after planning it out and admitting that it would be less work to “build” what I want in Drupal than to customize WP to work for me.”

I more or less agree. If I’m just building a simple blog, I would definitely recommend WordPress every time. However, I think you are making Drupal sound harder than it is. After you create a few sites in Drupal and get used to using it, you will find that you are “customizing” a lot less than you are “building.” It is more complicated than WordPress because it can do a lot more.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.