Choosing a CMS: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal & Expression Engine

Your CMS is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when you create a website. Not only will your choice decide what you’re able to do with your site, but it will also determine how technical it is to handle, how many pages it can handle, and how much maintenance it needs.
I’ve arranged this quick guide for you in order of technical difficulty, to help make your choice in CMS easier.

WordPress (Self-Hosted)

The most user-friendly of the bunch, WordPress doesn’t offer developers as much freedom as other systems at its core, but there are a ton of plugins available and ready to be installed — most functionality changes are done with plugins. On the bright side, it’s easy to find technical help and there’s even more free help available online.
Usability really is the strong point for this CMS, no matter how many pages or posts you have. You can switch themes quickly and easily, control content with a few clicks, and if it needs maintenance, much of it can be done almost instantly.


Drupal requires a bit of a learning curve, but it’s claim to fame is flexibility. You can do virtually anything with this software, and if you have a large site or 10K pages or more, it’s the best of the bunch. Plugins make it even easier, which means it’s an even match with WordPress. It requires a bit more work to make it search engine ready and site wonderful, but overall, it’s not bad.
Because it’s a little more technical, you can expect some minor regular maintenance. Also, developers can be a bit harder to find than those familiar with WordPress.


If you’re looking to work within a set system, consider Joomla. It has very little flexibility, with some themes and plugins, but the core is pretty limited. Even for the user, it’s not that easy. It’s complex dashboard makes it difficult to manage, and there’s not a whole lot you can do to change that. Sedarch engines and theme ready is another complex issue. In fact, you can only optimize and ready the site to a certain point.

Expression Engine

Expression Engine is difficult technically, and it can be tough to find developers, but it has great flexibility, even with very few plugins or themes available. If needed, the makers of the software are available to help. All that aside, sites made with this CMS are beautiful and fluid.
It might not be quite as easy to use as WordPress, but it isn’t a whole lot more difficult either. It needs a lot of technical know-how at the beginning, and regular maintenance after, but you’ll find it has relatively good SEO and is great after it’s going.
Which CMS do you like best for your sites?

*Update* This is NOT a definitive guide. This piece is also not endorsing one CMS or the other. It’s merely a summary of general opinions. You should NEVER choose a CMS because of one post. You should always investigate things yourself and look them over carefully before making any decisions. The point of this post is to start discussion and bring up points and opinions about each, which it has, so I urge you to read the comments.

Secondly, I wasn’t clear enough on this point in the original post, so I’d like to clarify a few things here: It is completely possible to rank sites based on Joomla for a CMS. However, when you take away all external factors and compare them to generally accepted SEO practices (including those recommended by Google), Joomla doesn’t offer as many out of the box as WordPress. I’m not saying you should stop using Joomla, nor am I saying you should avoid it or only use WordPress. I’m merely stating you should be aware of these things before you decide to use any CMS. I’ve seen all of these systems work amazingly well and horribly, so in the end, it’s the person running the show that makes all the difference. In other words, make an informed decision.


Post a Comment