Joomla vs. Drupal — A Comprehensive Comparison - Essential Project Elements

By Justin Kerr
March 15, 2014

Table of Contents

Every web project requires a number of essential project elements to be in place before development begins. Although all of these items are independent of the choice between Drupal and Joomla, they are intimately tied to the success or failure of a project. Note that each of the following is a topic unto itself and will not be addressed in detail here:

Understanding Project Requirements

The requirements of a given project outline exactly what the website solution must accomplish. These requirements should be as specific as possible in order to provide scope for the work to be conducted and to detail exactly what the solution must deliver. Having a written, properly scoped and developed set of requirements is essential to delivering a successful CMS project.

Understanding Web Development Processes

Experience and expertise in developing and deploying CMS (and other web application) solutions goes a long way toward delivering projects on-time and on-budget. The processes of setting up and using development, sandbox and production servers; establishing software design standards and syntax; working with version-control software; project managing web deployments; and handling software development lifecycle management all benefit greatly from previous experience.

Lining Up the Basics

Every content management system project has a number of non-platform elements which are essential parts of constructing the website: Without these elements, site buildout simply can’t happen. They include things like:

  • Content (text, images, multimedia, etc.)

  • One or more website designs and optimized HTML/CSS template frameworks to support them
  • Use case modeling for website interactive features
  • An established strategy for online media, including organizational goals, anticipated return on investment, mobile-specific strategy (and the features to support it), etc.

These basic elements are required not only for an advanced CMS project; they are essential parts of building any website.

Acquiring Platform Expertise

Fluency in either CMS platform is a necessity in order to accurately predict project costs and schedules. Any needed platform learning represents a big unknown, as the practitioner discovers and then tests various implementation and configuration options in a quest to establish best practices. This makes it very difficult to accurately estimate project costs and timetables.

The difference in learning curves between Drupal and Joomla is noteworthy. Although both continue to become easier to use and deploy, Drupal carries a much bigger up-front commitment to learning the platform’s technical details in order to effectively build Drupal sites. In contrast, Joomla provides a lot of plug-and-play, off-the-shelf functionality from the moment of installation, and it’s much easier to get basic results faster.