Wordpress vs Drupal: Page Optimization

August 29th, 2009

Wordpress vs Drupal: Page Optimization

As many of you know I use two well-known open source Content Management Systems (CMS) when developing websites, that is Wordpress and Drupal. These are two of the top guns when we talk about CMS’s. As with any job, there is always the best tool. Sometimes Drupal is the right choice, in other instances, it’s Wordpress. They both have a place in building awesome websites.

It’s like those stupid Mac vs PC vs Linux ads, all they do is confuse consumers with lies. No single operating system is the best. All of them have their uses and we should choose which one suits our needs best. With that being said, Wordpress and Drupal are two tools that are similar yet different at the same time and I’ll be exploring how each one does things differently in certain areas of web development.

Today I’ll be talking about how both differ in optimizing your pages, more specifically how each CMS can be used to compressing CSS and Javascript files along with serving cached versions of pages. With this series of articles on two of the most popular CMS’s out there, I hope that you’ll be able to choose which tool is best for you with a glimpse of how the two are different.

Wordpress

In Wordpress, there are many ways to serve pages quicker. For compressing Javascript and CSS files, I use a plugin called Script Compressor. Simply install this plugin and it compresses all your Javascript/CSS files into a single file that has been compressed with whitespaces removed. Apart from that, the plugin allows you to serve the files as g-zip when applicable.

Another nice feature of the plugin is that it allows you to serve the compressed files at the footer of the page which allows the page to load faster (or at least have the illusion of loading faster) because part of the page has been loaded before the heavier and slower downloading CSS and Javascript files get called.

In terms of caching, which means the content of pages is cached as to not hit the database for information with every visit, I found WP Super Cache to work pretty nicely. Just install and enable the plugin and it’ll handle the caching for you. Beware though, WP Super Cache’s admin panel is a mess and it may take you some time to fully understand all the options.

Drupal

Page optimization in Drupal is probably one of the easiest things to do. Why? Well, because it’s built into Drupal itself. All you have to do is go to the Admin panel and head to Site Configuration > Performance. From there you can cache and compress pages as well as optimize CSS and Javascript files. Once you’ve enabled the options, your pages will be optimized, just like that!

Obviously, Drupal’s inherit ability to optimize pages far exceeds the capabilities of Wordpress because you don’t have to keep installing these essential plugins over and over again. The only thing to note here is that Drupal does not yet allow you to load the optimized files at the footer of the page for a seemingly shorter load time. That to me is probably the best advantage that the Wordpress plugins have against Drupal’s built-in optimization tools.

Final Note

One thing to note though is that in my experience, compressing Javascript and CSS files along with page caching usually does the trick for optimizing page load times. Loading Javascript in the footer is not as important as the techniques previously mentioned but if you’re looking to shave off every excess millisecond, loading Javascript files in the footer could prove essential.

So there you have it, two tools that perform the same job but one is arguably better than the other, at least when page optimization is concerned. If you’ve ever used both, share your experiences with us and how you think one CMS bests another in a certain feature.

5 Comments
  • Damien McKenna
    3:53 am on August 29th, 2009

    The JS placement can be controlled by the modules through the drupal_add_js() function which by default puts it at the top of the page. Several themes change that to put them all at the bottom, which unfortunately can break some functionality.

  • Rj
    12:51 pm on August 29th, 2009

    Wow, thanks for the great tip Damien.. didn’t think of doing it at the theme level but I”ll have to check that out the next time I develop with Drupal. :)

  • [...] a past article, I’ve already talked about how Drupal bests Wordpress in out of the box page optimization techniques but also, how Wordpress is not far behind. Today, I’d like to continue my series by talking [...]

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