Comparing Costs and Scalability of WordPress, Drupal and Joomla!

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WordPress, Drupal and Joomla! Image credit: infinitemlmsoftware.

The search for an open source content management system (CMS) for the launch of Library Currents beta has nearly come to an end, and it’s been a fun ride! Playing around with demos for WordPress, Drupal and Joomla! was an exciting learning experience, and thanks to GoDaddy, fairly painless. In today’s blog, I will cover the remaining two areas of consideration for judging these three CMS’s: cost and scalability/stability.

For these two areas of consideration, I will not turn to the installations of WordPress, Drupal or Joomla!, but instead delve into the opinions and analysis of blogging experts. Let’s see what they have to say!

Costs in Price + Time

When people think about costs, they usually think in terms of money. In this rating, I will also consider the costs in time as well, for this is also important. Being that I am able to read and manipulate HTML, CSS, and PHP code, I could fix many issues or bugs that pop up. But not all code is simple or clean, and I would need help with javascript, xml and other languages often found in themes and packages. And sometimes programmers nest html in ways that are hard to follow, so the time to straighten it out is costly. There is also time costs in customizing themes and plugins.

A cost comparison by suggests that the setup cost for WordPress is $250-$15,000, for Drupal is $5,000-$50,000, and for Joomla! is $2,000-$20,000 (Namase, n.d.). These numbers seem accurate, given the research I have done so far in the demos. For a blog like Library Currents, the low-end numbers seem more realistic, although I would lower Drupal’s and increase Joomla’s financial costs. WordPress would require almost no vendor costs, while Drupal and Joomla! would require additional programmers to help me set up the blog correctly. Given the issues I had with Joomla!, that is certain to happen.’s analysis for monthly maintenance costs also show WordPress as the cheapest, Drupal as the most expensive, with Joomla! somewhere in the middle, stating that Drupal is the Rolls-Royce of CMS software (Namase, n.d.).

Time investment for the three CMS applications rank in similiar order, with WordPress requiring the least amount of time and effort and Drupal requiring the most. Several tech blogs state that Drupal may not be the best choice for users if they cannot invest time into learning the software’s features or hiring someone who does (Namase, n.d., Rackspace Support, 2013). also observes that most of the worthwhile Joomla! extensions cost money (Namase, n.d.), which was my observation last week as well.

Drupal does have something going for it in the cost of time factor, and that is its clean code (Namase, n.d.). A good architecture with clean code can save time for both the beginner coder, like myself, and the experience programmer.

Cost ratings: (Price + Time) : 10 points
Wordpress: (4+5)= 9/10
Drupal: (2+3)= 5/10
Joomla!: (3+4)= 7/10


Stability and scalability are two sides of the same coin. For the purposes of this rating, scalability describes the ability of the user to develop the CMS so that it can not only do new and better things, but also do them for more visitors. Stability indicates that the CMS will run evenly while serving a large volume of requests for web pages. Any bugs or bad code will reveal itself under a high volume load, so the integrity of the code affects the stability of the CMS. Security is another feature of a stable environment, as the level of hacker attempts will almost assuredly increase with higher traffic.

The blog Udemy indicates that in the areas of scalability and stability, Drupal excels. Drupal can handle hundreds of thousands of pages and millions of users a month, and scales easily (Mikoluk, 2013). While Drupal and WordPress have a high amount of plugins and modules to increase the performance and functionality of websites, Joomla! has only a medium to fair amount of extensions to do this (F. A., 2013). On the architectural side, WordPress was built to be a blogging platform, which drips content out, whereas Drupal and Joomla are enterprise-level platforms designed to dish out content at high volume (Mikoluk, 2013). This limits the scalability of WordPress, even though there are plugins that can add to the WordPress architecture.

WordPress is also less stable due to security concerns, as it is a main target for hackers (Mikoluk, 2013). Both Joomla! and Drupal have excellent security features, with Drupal leading the pack (Namase, n.d.). WordPress is saved by useful security plugins, many of which are free, but is still considered the weakest of the three.

Scalability/Stability ratings: (Scalability + Stability) : 10 points
Wordpress: (3+2)= 5/10
Drupal: (5+5)= 10/10
Joomla!: (4+4)= 8/10

Final Scores

Following several weeks of demos and analysis, the final ratings for each of the CMS applications for the specific needs of the Library Currents beta blog follow (on a total scale of 100 points):

WordPress: 88/100

Drupal: 74/100

Joomla!: 76/100

Next up: WordPress is the Best Choice for Open Source Blogging Software


F. A. (2013). WordPress vs. Joomla vs. Drupal: Which is the best content management system? Reviews and comparison of WordPress, Drupal and Joomla (CMS) released by Retrieved from PRWEB website:

Mikoluk, K. (2013). Drupal vs Joomla vs WordPress: CMS showdown. Udemy. Retrieved from

Namase, R. (n.d.). WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal which one is best and why? Techlila. Retrieved from

Rackspace Support. (2013). CMS comparison: Drupal, Joomla and WordPress. Retrieved from

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Mickel is an MLIS and the creator of Library Currents. His inspiration for the blog was the SJSU course "The Hyperlinked Library" taught by Dr. Michael Stephens, a course that is also a worldwide MOOC. If you wish to contact him, feel free to write to Mickel Paris at

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