Drupal vs WordPress: Which CMS is Best for Higher Ed?

Drupal vs WordPress: Which CMS is Best for Higher Ed?

Drupal vs WordPress

Building a higher ed website can be a bigger headache than cramming for finals. With multiple departments, templates, goals and audiences, managing one college’s website can feel like managing dozens. That is why choosing the best content management system (CMS) for your responsive website can mean the difference between a seamless online experience and a discombobulated, confusing mess.

So how do you know which CMS is right for your school?

First it is important to understand that it is a necessity for higher ed institutions to have a responsive web design and digital presence. A school’s website should be viewed as a critical resource for running a college or university. The business of higher education has moved online and your website needs to be homebase. This means the machine your website is built on has to be robust and equipped to service multiple back end users and an array of front end visitors.

Every school has their own needs. How do you know which CMS is right for you?

Two of the most popular CMS choices for higher ed today are Drupal and WordPress. We lay out what both are, what are some of their best features and what schools currently utilize which platform.

We’ll let you make the call- Drupal or WordPress?

Drupal CMS

Drupal CMS for Higher Education

What is Drupal?

As Matthew Sherman, Inflexion Interactive’s Director of Technology & Project Management, tells us, Drupal is an open source enterprise class CMS that allows higher education institutions and companies alike the ability to create world class web experiences for their users and customers.

Open Source CMS?

An open source CMS like Drupal (and WordPress but more on them later) means the source code is available for anyone to access, study and alter. There is an entire dedicated community working together to better the product. That is one of the greatest appeals to Drupal for a higher ed website; not only is the platform being worked on constantly by dedicated programmers, there is a collaborative community helping each other with every aspect of Drupal services. It’s like having a Drupal consultant on demand!

What else makes it great?

Drupal doesn’t just have a well-connected community, it is also user-friendly behind the scenes. While Drupal’s backend can take some getting used to, once you have the hang of it you can easily build, launch, and maintain new content and landing pages without relying on IT.

Speaking of content, Drupal is an ideal platform for higher ed because of its flexibility for publishing university information in aggregation with user-generated content. It is also robust enough to combine different mediums and types of content with academic necessities like lecture note and assignments.

Some quick stats

71% of the top 100 universities use Drupal services 

26% of all .edu sites use Drupal

Who uses Drupal?

All the Ivy Leagues
University of Oxford
Stanford University, just to name a few…


WordPress WordPress CMS for Higher Ed

Isn’t WordPress for blogging?

No longer.

While it is a common misconception that WordPress is simply used as a blogging platform, it has evolved into one of the most common CMS options for websites today.

Like Drupal, WordPress is a free open source CMS. There is an enormous community of volunteers, most of whom are WordPress consultants, working together to update and better the platform. With over 74 million websites built on WordPress, there are a lot of partners working to make the CMS as efficient as possible.

Why do so many people choose WordPress?

WordPress is known for its user-friendly backend. It is extremely flexible and can be modified to fit almost any need an institution has. While WordPress is most commonly used for corporate websites or small-medium sized business, the platforms adaptability allows for it to be the second most popular CMS choice for higher education.

Anything else?

WordPress has an impressive offering of plugins (over 29,000!). This tends to be the number one feature that sets WordPress apart from other CMSs. Plugins allow users to customize their website’s features without the help of developers or their IT department. As Tom Ewer at ManageWP Blog says, “give it a few years and all you’ll be hearing is ‘There’s a plugin for that!’”

Some quick stats

24% of all websites are built on WordPress

13% of higher ed websites use WordPress

Interested in more? Check out 14 Surprising Statistics About WordPress Usage Infographic.

Who uses WordPress?

Boston University
Georgia State University
Bates College
The University of British Columbia, among many others.

So which CMS is best for your school’s next responsive web design project? Give us a call and we’ll help you evaluate all your options.

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