Skip to main content

Choosing a website platform

Signposts in the mist

Due to popular demand, I have agreed to write a blog that provides an easy to understand comparison between the most widely used open source platforms: Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal and DotNetNuke.

A website platform is what makes a website dynamic. It enables people to add, edit, delete and move all kinds of content.  The platform is usually very versatile so it can be used to configure websites, blogs, online shops, discussion forums etc. Investing time and money in developing your website on a specific platform is an important decision for any business and can be costly if the wrong choice is made.

I have therefore come up with a criteria that any size of business should consider when choosing a website platform. Each platform can be used for small to large scale enterprise level websites.  (The data collected for this study was done on 16 May 2013.)

Value for money

While they are free to download and install, all platforms have specific hosting requirements and require time by your web development team to setup and configure. This section is broken down into:

  • Hosting costs
  • Installation speed
  • Number of extensions

Hosting Costs

This determines what hosting commitments you need to make that will affect the website running costs.

  • Wordpress; £15 per month
  • Drupal: £15 per month
  • Joomla: £15 per month
  • DotNetNuke: £50 per month

(Based on our standards charges for a small website installation)

Hosting costs pie

Installation Speed

This provides a benchmark into how efficient the platform is for your development team to build a website. e.g. the faster it is, the greater the cost saving.

  • Wordpress: 0.5 hours
  • Joomla: 1.5 hour
  • Drupal: 1 hour
  • DotNetNuke: 4 hours

Installation speed pie chart

Number of Extensions

Extensions/Modules commonly provide plug and play functionality e.g. Newsletters. Each platform core installation is quite small so it can then be configured as you need it. The number of extensions (modules) provides an idea into how versatile the platform is and the chance of the website being able to do what you want it to.  This also provides a guide into how active the development community is for the longevity of the website. 

  • Wordpress: 24,897
  • Joomla: 6,519
  • Drupal: 21,813
  • DotNetNuke: 15,320 (approx.)

Installation speed pie chart


This provides an idea of the number of websites that use each platform. The more people that use the platform, the longer the platform will be supported.

  • Wordpress: 7,570,677
  • Joomla: 1,871,262
  • Drupal: 520,423
  • DotNetNuke: 111,857

From: Built With

Popularity pie chart


How successful is the security model of the website? It is not possible to know if the platform is vulnerable or if the hosting setup is at fault or both. We have however run simple Google search for “my [platform name] website has been hacked“ and then taken the total number of search results and divided this by the number of installations of each platform. This provides us with a rough idea of the proportion of internet ‘noise’ talking about being hacked. (Please note that while these statistics are scary open source software should in theory be more secure than any proprietary system if setup correctly.)

  • “my wordpress website has been hacked” = 75,900 / popularity = 0.010025
  • “my joomla website has been hacked” = 135,000 / popularity = 0.072143
  • “my drupal website has been hacked” = 1,510 / popularity = 0.002901
  • “my dotnetnuke website has been hacked” = 1,030,000 / popularity = 9.208185

Security pie chart

Active Communities

What makes open source platforms free of charge is the community behind the platform. The more the community contributes the more modules and the better the platform becomes. If the community is not active extensions/modules may not maintained as the core system improves. (The figures below are based on the total number of posts that have been posted in each support forum.)

Active Communties pie chart

System Maturity

This determines how much time each platform has had to evolve and be refined.

  • Wordpress: 10 years (27 May 2003)
  • Joomla: 8 Years (22 Sep 2005)
  • Drupal: 12 Years (15 Jan 2001)
  • DotNetNuke: 5 Years (25 Nov 2008)

System Maturity Pie


To then work out how each of them have scored, we have used negative percentages for the negative results.

Platform Hosting Costs Installation Speed No. Extensions Security Popularity Maturity Active Total Score
WordPress -16 -7 36 -1 76 29 44 161
Joomla -16 -21 10 -1 16 24 36 48
Drupal -16 -14 32 -0 5 35 15 57
DotNetNuke -53 -57 22 -98 0 12 5 -169


WordPress provides the highest score.

Have we just concluded that we should all be using WordPress? Wordpress's popularity score is very impressive which I think is due to how easy it is to install and the demand for an easy to use blog platform. Due to Drupal's versatility, security, number of extensions, and the un-measurable points below, we are still comfortable recommending Drupal for any size of project. Drupal still provides our clients with the best user experience and value for money long-term.


Accessibility responsibilities

It is a legal requirement in the UK for websites to comply with the W3C WAI accessibility guidelines to enable all websites to be accessible to all users, regardless of their physical disability and the devices they are using. This is often not taken seriously, so we have checked which platform is taking these considerations seriously.

Wordpress : There are many additional modules to help make Wordpress comply with the accessibility guidelines and some high quality themes that comply “out of the box’.Ref:

Joomla: There is no evidence or support to make the Joomla platform accessible.

Drupal: Thre is a Drupal initiative committed to ensuring that all features of Drupal core conform with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines: WCAG 2.0 and ATAG 2.0. There is plenty of support however it is down to the web developer to set up the site correctly using the appropriate modules and build an accessible theme or use an existing one.

DotNetNuke : There is no sign of this being taken seriously and very little is written about accessibility for DotNetNuke.

General Limitations

What are the limitations to what can be done with the platform without re-writing it or building new modules.

Wordpress: If you need more than a blog Wordpress can be used to run your online shop and forums etc but it is starting to do more than the platform was built to do and it not easy to manage the administration area or generate custom lists of content.

Joomla: It requires steep learning curve before you get started and once it is up and running I have heard of many people who find it difficult to content mange their website and the admin interface is a bit “clunky’. I heard from one of my development teams that they were inundated with work converting Joomla sites to Drupal because of the increasing number of Joomla sites that had been hacked.

Drupal: Requires a steep learning curve to get started. It is not easy understanding which modules you need without the experience of using and trying them out. By default it generates a lot of page markup. Large websites need to be optimised using its effective caching strategy.

DotNetNuke I received an email from Tony Valenti the CEO of PowerDNN asking all DotNetNuke users to install immediate updates. It was very worrying that DotNetNuke being a .NET based platform can be used for some big websites. There are few positives I can say about it when comparing it with these other platforms. It is expensive to host because it relies on Windows which also makes it inefficient with server processing. It is insecure and requires a great deal of technical knowledge to build the simplest of websites.


What other people say:

Like / Dislike:

Add new comment

What our clients say...

  • Our widely acclaimed website is now fully usable on mobile devices. We now have the web presence of a larger architect’s practice than our staff nos, allowing us to access really interesting new work, thanks to the team at Open Imagination.
    Studio B Architects
  • Open Imagination has been a reliable, effective and flexible partner in helping us set up our website. We are very satisfied with the end result and would not hesitate to recommend Open Imagination to other organisations in the charity and non-profit sector.
    Oxfam SRAF Guidelines
  • After only 3 days of on-site consultancy, we have been able to move forward rapidly and the site is nearing production. Matt has proved himself to be a skilled developer, with a passion for what he does, a keen eye for detail and a “can do” attitude; he is also a gifted & patient tutor and I would not hesitate to engage him again in future, or indeed to recommend Open Imagination to any University department, college or unit requiring timely, cost-effective and professional help with a Drupal-based project.
    Oxford University MSD IT Services
  • Open Imagination took on our ailing website just over a year ago and gave it a full revamp. We found Open Imagination's general approach to fit well with our business, he is always on the look out for ways to keep the site current and to make sure its working for us. All in all he offers a great, comprehensive, quality package for web services for any business.
    Green Room Studios
  • Matt really listened to what we needed for our website and helped with photographs and gave us lots of advice of ways to improve our SEO.