Choosing a Content Management System (CMS) is like deciding on a pet. You’ve got your dogs (friendly and loyal), cats (independent and slightly mysterious), and birds (beautiful, but a little hard to understand). In the world of CMS, we have WordPress (user-friendly), Joomla (powerful but a bit complex), and Drupal (robust, but can be tricky to navigate).

As your faithful Indianapolis web design guide, I’m here to help you decide which pet…err, CMS, suits you best.Pets representing different CMS - WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal

Now, before we proceed, let me confess – I’m a bit of a WordPress fanboy (it is in fact, the only CMS we use for building out websites for our clients). But don’t worry, I’ll give Joomla and Drupal their fair shake as I’ve used them both and they can do some great things. So, let’s dive in.

WordPress

First up, WordPress. Used by more than 40% of the world’s websites, it’s the dog of CMS. Friendly, loyal, and most everyone loves it (with a few caveats). It’s easy to use, boasts a vast array of themes and plugins, and has a vibrant community for support. It’s a solid choice whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro. But, like even the most lovable golden retriever, it might not be the best choice for a pet if you’re not a dog person (read: in this case – you are a multinational company with many divisions that need to be inter-connected).

But let’s take a deeper dive. WordPress isn’t just popular because it’s user-friendly. It’s also incredibly powerful and versatile. You know those custom-built page builders like Squarespace that allow you to drag and drop elements to create a website? WordPress offers that too, but without the limitations.  When built well, modern WordPress websites are like having a Lego set with unlimited blocks – your only limit is your imagination – and better yet, no code is necessary.

And here’s the best part – with WordPress, you’re in control. Unlike hosted platforms like Squarespace, Wix, and their ilk, WordPress lets you host your website wherever you want and move it whenever you wish. It’s like having your cake and eating it too.

However, there is a slight hiccup. WordPress suffers from a bit of an image problem. Some folks who used it in its early days, 15-20 years ago, remember it as a limited blogging platform. And some web designers, especially those who fancy themselves as ‘purists’, might look down on WordPress because it makes web design accessible to the masses.

But let’s clear up this misunderstanding. WordPress has evolved significantly over the years. Today, it’s a fully-fledged CMS, capable of powering anything from personal blogs to enterprise websites.

Yes, like a golden retriever, WordPress might not be the best choice for multinational corporations (I hear those corps like geckos). But for most website needs, WordPress is a robust, flexible, and user-friendly option.

Joomla

Next, we have Joomla which is used by 3% of the world’s websites. It is the cat of CMS. It’s powerful, flexible, and has a certain allure to it. It’s a bit more complex than WordPress, but it offers more built-in functionalities. It’s perfect if you’re looking for something a little more sophisticated, but be prepared to spend some time learning the ropes.

And this learning curve is where Joomla can be the biggest struggle for most of the clients we work with.  Organizations often need a CMS that allows them to make regular updates easily, whether it’s adding new blog posts, updating product information, or announcing upcoming events.

This is where Joomla can prove challenging. While it boasts more out-of-the-box features than WordPress, its interface is not as intuitive. It’s like the difference between a car with manual and automatic transmission. Both can get you from point A to point B, but one requires more skill and understanding to operate.

The complexity of Joomla’s interface can be a significant downside for organizations looking to make ongoing updates. It can lead to a greater reliance on developers, which could result in higher costs and longer turnaround times. It’s like needing a chef to make your morning toast.

Moreover, while Joomla’s community is robust, it’s much smaller than WordPress’s. This means fewer readily available resources, tutorials, and forums to troubleshoot issues or learn new tricks. It’s like trying to find a book in a library without a catalog.

Honestly, as a developer, I like Joomla in a lot of ways but as a marketer, it can be a hassle.

Drupal

Finally, we have Drupal (used by 1.7% of websites) , the exotic bird of CMS. It’s robust, secure, and highly customizable. It’s a great choice for complex, high-security websites. It does a great job of handling websites that offer many languages for example.  But, like taking care of an exotic bird, it requires technical expertise and can be a bit daunting for beginners.  From a marketers perspective, we need tools that make our lives easier, not more complicated. Here’s where things can get a bit tricky with Drupal.

While Drupal is powerful and flexible, it has a steep learning curve that can be intimidating. Imagine being handed a cockpit control panel when all you’ve driven before is a bicycle. That’s what the Drupal interface can feel like to marketers who are new to it.

Unlike WordPress, which offers an intuitive and user-friendly interface, Drupal is built with developers in mind. This means that even simple tasks like updating content or adding images can become a technical endeavor. It’s like needing an engineering degree to operate a toaster.

Plus, while Drupal offers a plethora of modules (akin to WordPress plugins), installing and configuring these can be complex. It’s like trying to assemble a piece of IKEA furniture without the instructions.

For marketers who need to react quickly to changes and manage various aspects of a website without always relying on a developer, this complexity can be a real bottleneck. It’s like trying to drive in the Indy 500 with a learner’s permit.

So, which one should you choose? If you ask me, I’d say go for WordPress. It’s the most beginner-friendly, yet powerful enough for most web design needs. Plus, with its vast community, you’ll never feel like you’re in the wild alone.  And of course, it is what we used – hey, I told you I was a WordPress fanboy :)  But I chose WordPress for good reason – for our clients.  I never wanted any of our clients to feel like they are being held hostage and need a developer if they just want to make simple updates on their own.

But remember, the best CMS for you depends on your specific needs, expertise, and the time you’re willing to invest in learning and maintaining it.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all these choices, fear not! Sharp Guys Web Design is here to help.

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