Which Open Source CMS – Drupal, Joomla or WordPress?

Yep, I know it’s an age-old question that a lot people ask themselves when setting out with a content management system – or simpler still, wanting to build a scalable, easily-manageable website.

So I’m going to let you into a secret of how you choose the RIGHT one of the three, if you’re wanting to go Open Source, and non-Microsoft, etc.  There is NO RIGHT SOLUTION – go with the one that you prefer, or that fits your bill.  I could skew data to suggest one or the other, but it depends on you, your requirements, your knowledge or your team.

If we were going down the route of a .NET CMS solution we’d probably be choosing Sitecore or Umbraco – they both look great, are easy to use, scalable and very well supported both by community and staff.

Our criteria for Open Source CMS

So … back to Open Source – which one – Drupal, Joomla! or WordPress?  Well, we chose the WordPress route for ourselves about 2 years ago, having looked at all three back then and our decision was based on –

  • End-user ease of use
  • Community size
  • Quantity of extensions / enhancements / add-ons available
  • Documentation / help / support
  • Growth and scalability
  • Themes / design community
  • Integration with other systems

… and for all criteria, WordPress came out on top for us. We wanted a flexible content management system, that wasn’t owned by a company that could choose to close it down when suited them or their board, that was being heavily invested in by the community to see that it grew and worked well, and was highly extensible.

We’ve built probably somewhere in the region of 60 websites now with WordPress and it’s a real pleasure to work with.

It’s not difficult to integrate with other systems – for instance, WordPress and Magento work really well together.  Getting the best out of ecommerce and the best out of a CMS solution is fantastic for us, our developers and the client.

I thought I’d just take a look at the latest figures of what the web says is the biggest/most used/popular CMS system.  Take a look at the numbers below.


Elance is one of the world’s largest platforms for staff and employment opportunities and publishes data of the most searched/wanted roles in IT, Creative, Marketing and Ops.

As you can see from the table below, WordPress is positioned #2 overall, with Joomla! at position 22, and Drupal position 51.

elance skills list (click for large image)

Google Trends

Google Trends allows you to compare the world’s interest in your favorite topics – you get to see how often topics have been searched on Google over time. Google Trends also shows how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News stories, and in which geographic regions people have searched for them most.

Google Trends - WordPress, Drupal and Joomla! (click to see original)

Google Trends displays data strongly in favour of WordPress – that means it’s searched much more, but is it relevant data?  You decide.


Every year, Water&Stone, a full-service digital agency based in Indonesia take a look at lots of numbers and trends and pull together their own research around Open Source CMS platforms.  They’ve just released their 2011 report and you can find it here.

Other stats

The numbers above state one thing clearly – WordPress is used most.  But why?  I guess people generally knowing about it more commonly than other platforms (a lot of sites have the Powered by WordPress on them) but also that a lot of the web is just blog sites.  Pingdom produce stats every year of the entire internet and they’re impressive – in 2010, there were 255 million websites. 152 million of those were blog sites – that’s 60% of all websites worldwide are blogs!

And if you want, Mearra to look at the most popular Open Source CMS in Europe earlier in 2011.

Back in August of 2011, Matt Mullenweg, the founding developer of WordPress posted the “State of the Word” and stated –

“… power 14.7% of the top million websites in the world, up from 8.5%, and the latest data show 22 out of every 100 new active domains in the US are running WordPress …”


Well, to summarise, I wanted to share a gathering of some interesting stats.  If you’re trying to put together a business case, then this might help a little – it’s not an entire story.  We’re a team of web designers and developers and we chose the platform for our own reasons.  I’ve seen plenty web shops that only do Drupal and are successful.  I’ve similarly seen, and converted, some really badly done Drupal websites that don’t meet visitor need or business purpose.   And I’ve also seen scores, no hundreds, of terrible WordPress websites 🙂  So you choose what you want and do your own research.   We’re really happy with WordPress 🙂