• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

CMS: Wordpress vs Drupal vs Joomla - which would be best for a large, mixed-content site?


Formerly CyclingTribe
XenForo is excellent forum software but it isn't really up to running a large non-forum content and feature based site, so I'm looking at Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla as possible candidates for a project.

I need an events calendar; multiple directories within the same site (with different fields / layout); static content sections that won't change once added; articles / news that will change regularly (archived by categories); own-merchandise shop (later on); product and service reviews section; image/video gallery; and probably a few other things that will pop up as the site develops.

I've installed and set-up Wordpress a good number of times now, but I'm not sure if it can cope with the scope of different features / content / sections that might eventually be present.

Drupal is a complete unknown - other than being aware of it. I've never installed it or worked with it, but having an IT background I'm sure I'd be able to cope with it once I learned the basics.

Joomla - I understand to be easier to use than Drupal and more comprehensive than Wordpress, so I'm assuming content deployment would be quicker with this platform, but again, have no experience of installing or developing with it and would the compromise be worthwhile or would Drupal be the better long-term bet?

I assume I can buy themes and plugins/add-ons to achieve the various feature aspects of the site I want, so what experience have you had with them and which would you recommend for the kind of content and features I've mentioned above?

Shaun :D

Anthony Parsons

Well-known member
Based on the technicalities of what you want, the different areas, features and functions per area, so forth, I would say Joomla or Drupal. Wordpress is not suited to highly complex requirements. Sure, you can do it with add ons, but you can do complex out of the box with Joomla, and Drupal has come a long way nowadays.


Well-known member
I'm currently administering sites running all three, but definitely wouldn't consider myself an expert in the plugin ecosystems, etc. at this point. I'd tend to use WordPress if the site "feels" like a blog, with regular posts, where you want things like categories or monthly archives front and center. I wouldn't undersell it, though, as it just seems that more and more sites are using it in quite demanding situations. For example, I keep seeing it pop up in various departments at a large university (40,000 students) whose site I occasionally visit. (It's easy to check. Just ctrl-u, ctrl-f, "wp-", as WP folder names typically have a "wp-" prefix.)

Drupal is at the opposite end, being good for when you have structured data that you want to be presented consistently. For example, we have a "practitioner database" on the PPD Association's site. All the practitioners need to be presented consistently in a manner that looks sleek and professional. Drupal handles this marvelously.

Joomla is a compromise. It is "article based," so it isn't quite as flexible as Drupal, but at the same time, it isn't as "bloggy" as WP. I like that it uses MVC and Twitter's bootstrap. I found it pretty easy to use and found a series of videos from SiteGround by Brian Teeman one of the Joomla founders to be helpful for getting the lay of the land in an hour or so.

In contrast, Drupal felt more abstract, but still definitely learnable. It's famously used on whitehouse.gov ( https://www.whitehouse.gov/developers ) because it has the flexibility to handle the complex needs of a site as demanding and complex as that.

I think you are handling it wisely, thinking about your own specific needs rather than looking for a specific "best" CMS:

As for myself, you probably shouldn't believe anything I say, as I use MediaWiki on my main site and love it. With skin edits or the widgets addon, I can put HTML wherever I want it, so I feel like I have complete control over every page (that's how we handle our calendar, video, and MP3 embeds, for example). The security is amazing, as it runs what at one point was the sixth largest site on the internet. Finally, you can hide some of the wiki-like features for most users using CSS.


Formerly CyclingTribe
Thanks @ForestForTrees - whilst it will have articles and possibly a few blog posts from forum members, the majority of the site will be fairly static with pages and sections being added-to / built-up over time, so I'm leaning more towards Joomla and Drupal.

I like the idea of Drupal distributions, which seem like a good way of jump starting the process by installing key modules and WYSIWYG components - Panopoly seems to offer a good base to get you up and running with a responsive layout and being able to add some starter content fairly quickly - but I've yet to install anything as I'm trying to develop the site framework / structure first so that I have a focused approach to building it; I've spent far too many hours in the past installing software with an "idea" in mind only to find it doesn't pan out in practice.

I'd also like to get a better idea of the terminology and connections between nodes, modules, views, panels, taxonomy, and a raft of other things I've read on various Drupal related tutorials before diving in. It looks like a monster, but in a good way. :)