WordPress vs. Joomla! vs. Sitefinity vs. Sitecore vs. Drupal
By: Travis Shafer
An engaging site that promotes your brand and supports your customers or clients means something different for every company. Content Management Systems (CMSs) offer bundled software and frameworks that enable you to create a professional website with ready-made templates or customized features from your IT team. This simplifies the process of building and managing your website, allowing it to grow as your company grows without starting over from scratch.
Finding the ideal CMS depends a lot on what exactly you are looking for in a website, so here are some of the major players:
This open source CMS is probably the best-known and most-used platform out there for building websites. There are currently 140 million people who have a WordPress site, including outlets like Forbes and CNN. There is a huge library of plugins that will help you do just about anything you need to do with your site. The open source nature of WordPress makes it a bit messy to use, with thousands of plugins and widgets. The upside is that there is just about a widget for everything already published in the library.
But WordPress is powerful from the get-go. As soon as you install the site, it's ready to be used since the most basic features are already in place. WordPress allows you to create static pages as well as pages with updated content, like a blog or press room. WordPress starts out pretty simple, making it a great option for beginners and small- to medium-sized websites -- especially websites that want to focus on blogging.
- Enables a fast startup and publishing process
- Doesn’t require IT programming knowledge
- Is versatile for changing businesses
- Automatically updates security features
- Best for small- to medium-sized businesses
Whoever works any Joomla account will have to have at least some knowledge of technical coding with PHP. This platform is more suited to those who want to run e-commerce sites or set up social networks. It's used by Harvard University, MTV Networks, and Quizilla. There are no site wizards for this platform and customer support isn't really accessible, since the platform was designed for developers who understand coding. But the dashboard is very easy to navigate and there is an active community on Joomla that is usually very quick to answer questions about the platform.
There are so many options on this platform that you will probably want to get a book on it before you start or you'll likely end up overwhelmed.
While WordPress is a blog platform, Joomla is a portal or social site platform. If your blog gets too big, Joomla can have trouble loading fast enough, since the core system is complex and requires a lot from the server. WordPress allows users to set up static pages or post pages, but Joomla uses articles and modules to create more of a tier navigation.
- Offers flexibility of static pages and network capabilities
- May be set up for members only sign-in requirements
- Offers a lot of deep complexity and layered navigation options
- Best for small- to medium-sized companies that want to build a community-based site
Sitefinity is one of our partners and what we use here at Aptera. The platform was designed with user-friendliness foremost in mind. There are plenty of video tutorials to help users at any point where they might get stuck. The page management section allows you to simply drag and drop to change the hierarchy of the pages. The Sitefinity team gets high marks for customer experience by being very responsive and by keeping contact options along the top of the site, as well as relevant help links along the bottom right of the dashboard.
Geared toward enterprise-level businesses, the platform offers easy-to-add widgets, like a blog section, news, images, forms, polls, mailing list options, etc. Businesses can also add an e-commerce section, with the ability to manage payment methods, shipping methods, taxes, product catalogs, and discounts all within a simple interface. The framework of Sitefinity is .NET and the site is set up with a lot of options ready to go. Sitefinity's newly released Digital Experience Cloud allows building your content strategy on a solid metric. DEC organizes analytics data to provide a 360-degree view of the individual customer and establish predictive algorithms for increased success strategies. Sitefinity is also fully equipped to offer responsive design.
- Pay per domain
- Great for a wide variety of tech skill levels
- Great for rapid page creation and modification, building forms, and user-friendly content updates
- Offers multiple licensing options to best fit individual or company needs, ranging from free to enterprise level
- Available Multisite Management provides in-depth tools for managing an unlimited number of sites.
The Sitecore CMS is designed to help large companies manage big websites or host multiple websites. The platform uses .NET coding, so companies that don't have developers with .NET knowledge on staff are going to be very limited or need to hire an outside development team to get started. With an open architecture, companies are able to build their websites from the ground up with rich development tools. You'll be able to customize everything (provided you know .NET) and Sitecore has the functionality to offer responsive design for various mobile formats.
Sitecore does not have the upfront option for a photo gallery, blog, live chat or forum. However, the design of the site is not constrained by Sitecore – developers have access to build out their site with very few limitations. This makes it possible to build a robust and complex site, but the development process will probably be more involved. There's a lot of training and support available for those who choose to use Sitecore. There's also a lot of community/developer support on the Sitecore forums, and multi-lingual support is available.
- Pay per server
- Easy upgrades, even for dramatically customized sites
- Impressive analytics and targeting capabilities
- Allows non-technical content creators to publish content easily, while offering robust features for developers to customize
- Content, design, and ecommerce options available
- Like Sitefinity, works best for enterprise-level companies
This content management system is also free to get started with and has been used by the White House and Warner Bros. It is a much more complicated site that provides a lot of power to those who know how to wield it. The one-size-fits-all mentality of this open-source platform powers millions of different websites, but it isn’t set up for beginners. Those newer to website design can, however, choose to use ready-made templates similar and plugins similar to WordPress.
Companies that are going to need to handle a lot of traffic and manage large numbers of pages will appreciate the power of Drupal. The well-known CMS was created for advanced designers as a flexible tool for efficiently creating powerful websites with PHP. This interface is ideal for a growing company that needs to have a flexible CMS for their shifting website needs.
- Great for user-generated content sites
- Works best for LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) or initial licensing costs can be problematic
- Rapid prototyping and development potential
- Handles high traffic well, but doesn't work well for complex page networks
At the end of the day, you are looking to transform a simple 3-5 page informational webpage into something fully functional for your company. CMS will take your business to a whole new level.
About Travis Shafer
Digital Marketing Guru. Travis has been in the marketing field for over 14 years. He started doing graphic design, moved into web design and eventually to SEO, social, and PPC. He has additional skills in HTML, CSS, PHP and video production. He is a member of the Ivy Tech VISC Advisory Committee and is Google, Bing, and Hubspot certified.