Drupal v. Joomla: The Challenge

After my previous post comparing Word Press to DNN to Drupal, I realized there would be Joomla folks out there crying foul, and as well they should.

Why compare Drupal and DNN yet leave out poor Joomla? 

My reason seemed good enough; after all, I had no experience with Joomla, as opposed to hours upon hours of work with the other tools; however, that was no excuse. If you look at trends, you cannot ignore the data: since 2005, Joomla has surpassed Drupal in popularity.

So, if according to the trends, Joomla is the CMS of choice for most websites, how could I leave it out? Not only that, but if Joomla is so popular, why have I not worked with it yet? And that last question is what’s been bugging me for the past few days, and it has led me to my latest project: The Drupal v. Joomla Challenge.

The Challenge

The challenge is to put Joomla and Drupal in a head to head competition of content management systems (CMS) in ‘a no holds barred’ smack-down fight. I have the perfect opportunity to test the two out: I’ve been commissioned to research which CMS platform is the best for my client’s needs.

I’ve been the webmaster for a not-for profit organization for some time now, and we have decided it’s time to increase the power and functionality of the site (it’s currently a static website, and I’m the only webmaster). I’ve been given the task to research what system we should go to, and if you ask me, the best way to research is by doing.

Over the next few days, I’ll create 2 separate sites: one using Drupal and the other using Joomla. I’ll include the same content and general functionality, and I’ll compare each experience and take notes on the process. I’ll begin with the out of box set-up: I’ll compare the features, code, administration tools, and ease of use in getting content posted.

Next, I’ll explore the themes and modules created for each CMS. I’ll look at the variety, ease of implementation, functionality, and code they produce.

I’ll then see if I can create the functionality I’m aiming for, and I’ll be taking notes on the process, and of course, see if it’s even possible.

Finally, I will make an assessment of the overall experience and choose the winner.

The Criteria

We need a way to compare the two. I have decided to look at the following criteria:

Functionality: Our website highlights a number of programs, classes, and clubs around the entire state, and we want the user to be able to easily find exactly what they are looking for by filtering content by location or cost or some other factor. We therefore need a flexible, yet powerful CMS, and the specs for our needs will be a good test of the overall system.

Ease of Use: I want to know how well each one works out of the box, how easy it is to add modules and themes, how easy it is to customize (both layout and features), and how easy it is to administer users.

Standards Compliance: the site I’m working on is tied in to education, and so compliance with w3 standards will be important from an accessibility standpoint. Of course, I hate tag soup anyway, so I’m always interested in how clean the code is. I want to know how easy it is to produce table-less xhtml code, and so I’ll be specifically looking at how many errors the two systems produce and how easy it is to fix those errors.

I’ll be posting my experience over the course of the next few days (or possibly weeks). Stay tuned…