Choosing an open-source CMS, part 1: Why we use Drupal

According to W3Techs, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are the most widely used open-source content management systems available today. However, choosing which one to use can be challenging for companies. While conventional wisdom suggests that WordPress is the easiest to use, Drupal is best for large and complex websites, and Joomla is somewhere in between, this oversimplifies the matter. All three CMSs have undergone significant development, with Drupal becoming more user-friendly, WordPress becoming more sophisticated, and Joomla offering a CMS as well as a web development platform. Furthermore, there are several free Drupal modules available to simplify development, and some suggest that Drupal's power can even make it boring. To stay updated on IT thought leadership, insights, how-to, and analysis, consider subscribing to Computerworld's newsletters.

This series examines how companies decide which open-source content management system (CMS) to use, by interviewing users of each system. The users explain why they chose their platform, what made it the better fit for their needs compared to the others available, and how they leveraged the strengths and addressed the weaknesses of their chosen platform. In this first part of the series, we focus on Drupal, and hear from two companies that chose it for their websites: Integrated Device Technology (IDT) and Fearnet, which offers an on-demand and traditional cable channel as well as a website.


Drupal, which is known for its flexibility and power in developing complex enterprise websites, was not originally designed as a CMS. It began as message board software written by Dries Buytaert in 1999, while he was a student at the University of Antwerp. In 2001, Buytaert founded the Drupal open source project, and his "Drop" software was eventually named Drupal. For more in-depth reviews of these open-source CMSs, check out Site builder shootout: Drupal vs. Joomla vs. WordPress, and for development tools, try 10 free Drupal modules that make development easier.

According to Web technology tracker W3Techs, Drupal has a relatively small installed base, with just 2.3% of all websites using the CMS as of February 1, behind WordPress (17.4%) and Joomla (2.7%). However, Drupal has a substantial presence in the enterprise, as it was designed from the ground up as an open-source platform for web publishing and has a dedicated fan base among developers of high-end and enterprise-scale websites. Dries Buytaert, co-founder and project leader for the Drupal Project, describes the Drupal community as more technical than those of Joomla and WordPress. Drupal is a great solution for those who want to build feature-rich and complex websites, and it's well suited for large enterprises, says Buytaert. Despite its technical nature, Drupal's governance is "laid back," with few defined roles in a community where people step up as needed. Drupal has evolved into a sophisticated publishing platform with more than 18,000 modules developed by a community of 800,000 members, and is well suited for websites with thousands of registered users that need to be sliced and diced into different groups and access patterns.