CMS (content management systems) are the foundations of most websites. These systems allow website owners to manage, add, modify, and delete all content displayed on their website.
After examining the most popular options, we decided to review WordPress and Drupal. Together, they make up around 60% of all CMSs available on the internet. If you are hosting training-specific content such as e-learning videos or training videos, consider using a learning management platform instead. The companies listed below cover the content management options available to small businesses, in terms of flexibility, features and ease-of-use.
Best CMS for Small Businesses: WordPress
WordPress is our favorite CMS for small businesses. It offers the best combination of features, flexibility and ease-of-use. In fact, we believe in it so strongly, it’s the CMS we use to power fitsmallbusiness.com.
WordPress vs Drupal. vs Joomla Summary Table
|Best for||Flexibility and ease of use, especially for blogs or news websites||Complex data organization requires more advanced technology||Users with greater technical skills will have more content and structure flexibility.|
|Pricing Reviewed Find More||No cost||No cost||No cost|
|Easy Setup/Use More||Simple||Intermediate||Intermediate|
|Advantages||User-friendlyExtensive integration of SEOMany themes are fully responsiveLargest user groupThe majority of themes and plugins are free||Stable and flexibleMultiple sites can be supported by a single code baseEasy to scale and enterprise-readySpeed and performance are the best||The best user admin to manage large data volumesBest for ecommerceActive and large developer communityA wide range of extensions and plugins available|
|Disadvantages||Security breaches are possibleA little bit too much code base||Smaller developer communitySteader technical learning curve||Themes and plugins that are most free are the smallestIt’s not uncommon for plugin compatibility problems to arise|
|Free Themes||3000+||More than 2,000||1000+|
|No Cost Plugins||44,000+||26,000+||More than 5,000|
|Average Update Frequency||Every 40 Days||Every 30 Days||Every 36 days|
Best Overall CMS For Small Businesses: WordPress
We recommend WordPress to small businesses due to its flexibility, features, and ease-of-use. It is the best option for beginners and can be used by small and medium-sized businesses as well as smaller e-commerce sites. It is also the most widely used content management system in the world.
WordPress offers the most flexibility and ease-of-use for small businesses.
One-click installation is one of the most prominent features of WordPress. This feature is available by most web hosting companies. This feature allows even the most novice user to have a blog website set up in as little as 5-10 minutes after registering a domain and signing-up for a hosting plan. After WordPress has been installed, you can choose one of the themes included and start posting in minutes. Both Joomla and Drupal offer one-click installations, but WordPress is faster and easier to set up and launch once it’s installed.
You’ll probably want to personalize your website to reflect your company’s branding and requirements. WordPress is a leader in this area. WordPress offers over 3,000 themes free of charge and 44,000 plugins for free, compared to the 2,000, 26,000, and 1,000 for Joomla respectively. There’s a theme for every style and a plugin for almost any need. These are only the free themes.
WordPress’ popularity has made it a target for hackers, making it more vulnerable to security breaches and attacks. WordPress has a bloated code base that can adversely impact speed and performance. However, it is unlikely that a small business website would be large enough to have this issue. WordPress doesn’t offer multi-language support by default. There are plugins available that can add this functionality but they don’t come with the core of Drupal or Joomla.
Best CMS to Manage Complex Data Organizations: Drupal
Drupal is our recommendation for complex data organization, regardless of whether it’s in content taxonomies and deploying multiple websites using one code base.
Drupal is technically more advanced and fully implemented than WordPress or Joomla. This makes Drupal the best option for companies with dedicated development resources, as well as those who outsource this work. If you have to make significant changes to the codebase, you can access the root files and edit them directly. It is also less resource-intensive which makes it more efficient and offers faster response times and loading pages.
Drupal’s version 8 update has some improvements that will help small businesses to improve their user experience, such as:
- Drupal’s new administrator experience is built around authoring. Drupal offers a WYSIWYG editor that is comparable to Joomla and WordPress, but also allows for in-line or in-context editing right from the website. This can be a time-saver for companies who manage their content online, especially for simple edits and for those not technically inclined.
- Flexible content delivery allows you to create and distribute content to multiple devices, applications, channels or platforms. You can also integrate content from other sources to Drupal. This will allow businesses to make the most of APIs as they become more common.
- Finally, Drupal makes it much easier to translate and localize. Drupal natively supports many languages from the authoring side. Drupal supports your business processes in language translation and localization, such as integration with other translation service providers.
Some of Drupal’s benefits for certain users may be detrimental to others. It can prove too difficult for small businesses to manage. WordPress and Joomla are easier to use out of the box and require less effort to set up and manage. Drupal has a steeper learning curve, a smaller user base, and may require businesses to be more resourceful in managing it.
Drupal is no exception. “Every CMS has its uses, which makes it better than others. Drupal is the most popular enterprise open-source CMS because of its integration with other software and its scalability. Drupal is a great platform for web applications, transactional websites, large data sets, large processing, and heavy traffic.
Best CMS to Allow Content and Structure Flexibility: Joomla
Joomla is our favorite CMS for structure and content flexibility. It is also a middle ground between Drupal and WordPress in terms of usability. It’s powerful enough to manage complex websites but doesn’t require as much technical know-how as Drupal.
Joomla offers many benefits, including:
- Joomla makes it simple to create social networks on the websites it powers
- A small amount of e-commerce support can be included in the package, without the need to install and configure third party plugins or modules
- It is one of the most user-friendly CMSs that we tested. It can manage a lot of articles and build and edit content structures.
Joomla is more difficult to learn than WordPress. However, it’s much easier to use than Drupal and will require a smaller learning curve.
Joomla has one major drawback: Despite being more popular than Drupal it offers fewer themes and plugins than either WordPress or Drupal. This makes customization more difficult than with other CMSs.
Joomla also lacks basic SEO support, which is why it doesn’t have the same features as Drupal and WordPress.
In-Depth: WordPress vs Drupal. Joomla
WordPress and Drupal as well as Joomla all use open-source software. This means that the base product can be used by thousands of people and is supported by large communities. Third-party companies often offer additional customization options, such as plugins, themes, and extensions. These are usually at a charge. Your website must be hosted by third-party hosting companies.
The actual cost of building websites using these software can vary depending on what you need. There is no customer support, all three software rely on their users.
Easy Setup and Use
A CMS’s primary function is to allow your business to easily design, build and launch your website. CMS is the interface that allows you to edit, add, and manage all the content on your website. It also lets you customize the functionality of your website with plugins and themes.
This is why it is important to find the best balance between flexibility and ease of use when choosing the CMS that will work best for you.
WordPress and Drupal offer different options for a one-click installation, depending on which third-party hosting provider you select. Let’s take a look at what you can expect after your CMS has been installed.
The WordPress post-installation process is faster and simpler than with Joomla or Joomla. The interface is simple and easy to use. Users can create pages or posts or modify the functionality of the site with plugins.
You will also find links to system configuration and profile pages on the left-hand navigation. You can scroll over each menu item with your mouse to reveal submenus, or click on the top-level link to navigate through each page. Each page has fields clearly labeled that allow you to enter basic information about your company, including name, tagline and contact information. You can also input system settings such as default URL structure and time zones.
If this sounds intimidating or overly technical, be reassured that it’s not. Navigation is intuitive, fields are clear, and you won’t be overwhelmed with options. WordPress’ defaults, while not ideal, are also enough to launch a basic website for you.
After you have set up your profile and system settings, you can start to customize the look and feel of your website using themes and plugins. WordPress comes preloaded in a variety of themes and plugins, which you can either use as-is or modify with basic coding skills.
However, this benefit is also one of WordPress’ drawbacks. WordPress is an easy to use CMS because it limits the ability for most users to make significant edits to the code. This helps to minimize the risk of error, but it also means that you can’t make significant structural changes to your website without the help of a designer and/or developer. Drupal and Joomla make it easier for you to make more meaningful changes to your website, but that comes with the associated risks.
You can browse the thousands of free themes or pay for one on third-party marketplaces such as ThemeForest. This includes both Joomla and Drupal options, but far less. It’s a similar process to add plugins to your website.
There’s still a lot to know about WordPress, regardless of how simple it is to set up and use. This is where WordPress‘ large audience comes in handy. There are many tutorial websites that cover everything from basic topics to advanced topics such as security enhancement. If you are using paid themes or plugins, they may also offer support.
Drupal stands out as the most versatile, but also the most difficult, of the WordPress and Drupal. This CMS is the most powerful, robust, and complex. It also comes with the most difficult learning curve. You will likely need technical support or development assistance if your business requires more than a basic website or small site.
Drupal’s installation is easier than Joomla or WordPress. Drupal makes it easy to add and create new content. In fact, Drupal’s greatest strength is how it manages complex information. However, it’s easier to make minor changes to the website’s appearance or functionality.
As well, searching for and adding new themes and modules requires you to leave your website’s administration section, unlike WordPress and Joomla which embed search field within theirs.
It is important to understand Drupal in order to consider Drupal for your business’ CMS. Although you don’t have to be an expert in HTML or PHP, understanding the structure and hierarchy of Drupal and being able trace the code to make modifications can save you time and money.
Your website will gain popularity in the marketplace and you will need to grow it. This will require an in-house or outsourced developer to make sure it scales smoothly. For small businesses, this can be a problem as Drupal expertise is often more difficult and more costly than for WordPress.
Joomla‘s user-friendliness is somewhere between Drupal and WordPress. It is not as simple, but more flexible than WordPress, and it is not as powerful or flexible as Drupal. This might lead you to believe that Joomla is the most flexible and easy-to-use platform. However, we consider ease of use as a primary concern for small businesses with limited resources.
Setting up a basic website is relatively easy, once you understand Joomla’s structure and can navigate through its administrative section. Where Joomla excels is that it makes it easy to create user communities, social networks, membership areas, newsrooms, discussion forums, articles, e-commerce websites, or accept inputs from external content contributors — all with features that come natively. It’s also easy to create a navigation structure for your website with little or no knowledge of HTML or other coding languages.
The downside is its inflexibility. It is heavy with many menus and submenus, which can make it difficult for new users to use. Although it doesn’t require as much technical knowledge as Drupal‘s, it isn’t nearly as intuitive and user-friendly as WordPress.
Integrations & Features
It helps to understand what WordPress and Drupal have in common. All of them are open-source software which means their base code can be freely distributed and that they are supported by their respective communities. They are all written in PHP and use MySQL as their database management system. They all use themes to create the visual appearance of their websites, as well as plugins, widgets and modules that allow them to extend their features.
Despite sharing many similarities, there are many differences between them that affect how they interact with users to build their websites.
WordPress is known for its simplicity of use. This does not necessarily mean any one element of the CMS. However, the user experience and learning curve will have a direct impact on the CMS’ effectiveness for your business. Your website will be ready to go faster if you spend less time learning how to use it. You’ll also be more likely to customize the website to suit your needs and take advantage WordPress’ other features.
WordPress’ active and large user base is another distinguishing feature. Open source CMS WordPress is dependent on the contributions of those who use it. WordPress is more popular than Joomla and Drupal, and offers many more plugins and themes for free.
WordPress comes with many SEO best practices, such as easy-to-update metadata and friendly URL structures. Many themes are fully responsive which directly affects how Google ranks you website.
Drupal is the most technically advanced CMS we reviewed. This is its primary feature.
It is the best at managing complex taxonomies and data organization. Drupal’s code base is lightweight, stable, and provides excellent performance and response time. Drupal is the best choice for scaling, as it can scale quickly to meet the growing demands of your website.
You can also deploy multiple websites from the same Drupal code base. An example of this that I have worked on in the past is a university’s website. Every school, department, and program at the university had their own website, but they were all based on the same base Drupal installation. This created many efficiencies of scale despite the larger up-front investment. Neither WordPress nor Joomla can offer a similar solution.
Finally, Drupal is the most flexible and customizable CMS of those we reviewed — assuming you have the technical knowledge, or have hired a developer who does. This opens up many possibilities for your Drupal-based website, if you’re willing and able to incur the associated costs.
Joomla is a web-based CMS that allows you to manage large quantities of data efficiently and offers structure and content flexibility. Joomla was designed to be a strong community platform that offers strong social networking capabilities.
Joomla, the best CMS we tested for managing data-intensive social applications like:
- Users communities
- Social networks
- Areas for membership
- Forum discussion
- E-commerce websites
- External content contributors are welcome to submit inputs
WordPress and Drupal are all open-source software. They’re not supported by a central business with a support centre. WordPress is the most popular software, so it has the greatest support base. Joomla follows Drupal.
Developers of individual themes, plugins and modules will often provide support for their products, especially for paid versions.
WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and Joomla all provide user documentation on their websites. Each is maintained by its respective communities.
All CMS Options For Small Businesses
There are many CMS options available. Here’s a list of the best from our research.
|WordPress||Small businesses get the best CMS overall|
|Drupal||Best CMS for complex data, scalability and security|
|Joomla||You need to find the right balance between flexibility and ease of use|
|Shopify||Ideal for small business ecommerce websites|
|Magento||Enterprise-level websites also have an option for e-commerce|
|Squarespace||The easiest CMS to create a templated website|
|Wix||Drag and drop interface allows you to customize your website.|
The Bottom Line: Best Content Management System
Joomla, Drupal, WordPress and WordPress are all great CMS options. Each has its own unique features and uses. The key to choosing the right CMS for your business is ease-of-use and flexibility. No two websites or businesses are alike so there’s no one answer.
WordPress has the most features, the most plugins and themes, and the largest user base. Its code base is prone to hacking and other security breaches.
Drupal has the greatest flexibility and scalability. It manages complex data quickly and can be deployed to multiple websites using a single code base. It requires technical knowledge and has the longest learning curve.
Joomla offers the best administrative experience for websites that have a lot of content or data. The platform balances flexibility and ease of use. It does not offer the most plugins or themes, and is not SEO friendly.
We recommend WordPress for small businesses due to its flexibility and ease-of-use, as well as its large and active user community.