Creative & Tech

Choosing between Drupal and WordPress for Your Microsite

April 17, 2009

By David Levin, President of 360i’s Design & Development Group

A recent Adweek article [“Digital Shops Embrace Cheap Chic”] discusses how, given the current economic downturn, interactive agencies are foregoing million-dollar experiential Flash microsites in favor of small sites built on growing social media and CMS platforms, such as WordPress and Drupal.

The Onion uses Drupal to power its online wit.

The Onion uses Drupal to power its online wit.

Drupal and WordPress are the most recent go-to platforms for quick-turnaround microsite development projects. Both have fairly equivalent feature sets, but understanding the differences between Drupal and WordPress can help make an informed decision of which platform is right for your project. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that we use WordPress to power this blog.)

WordPress

STRENGTHS:
• By far the most popular blogging platform
• Easy to install — even for non-technical users
• Built-in SEO-friendly features
• Huge support community
• Thousands of free skins, design themes and plug-ins to provide additional functionality

POTENTIAL LIMITATIONS:
• Can have challenges when supporting multiple blogs and authors
• Supports basic social networking tools, but integration of custom community functionality can be time-consuming
• Not strictly designed as a content management system

SUMMARY:
WordPress shines when you primarily want to communicate in one direction only. Integrating deep Web 2.0 functionality that allows users to interact within a community can be difficult.

Drupal

STRENGTHS:
• Built as a true content management framework
Provides a Content Construction Kit offering basic-level of customization out of the box
• Platform features offer additional customizability and interoperability
• More extensive skins and design theme capabilities

POTENTIAL LIMITATIONS:
• Steeper learning curve; generally requires more development time
• Includes blogging functionality, but only as part of the overall framework and not as a core feature
• Fewer readily available modules (equivalent of WorPress plug-ins)

SUMMARY:
Drupal is generally a better solution for more complex microsites that include a high degree of social interaction between users.

Ultimately, regardless of which tool you choose, the technology is only the means to an end. A site that is cheap to produce won’t fly without a big idea and creative concept.