Presented by Incubation Lab: Wordpress vs. Drupal

The Presented by Incubation Lab series shines the spotlight on Content Management Systems by enlisting two station proponents to look at their favorite options: Drupal and Wordpress. If you have any thoughts about either CMS, or have a favorite of you own, add a comment below.

DRUPAL - Julianne Lamsek, KCTS 9
The Technology Director at KCTS 9 in Seattle for 5+ years, Julianne Lamsek manages the station’s Interactive and IT departments. She serves on the PBS Interactive Station Advisory Council and as board chair of a local grocery co-op, PCC Natural Markets.

How do you use Drupal on your site?
Drupal is the CMS that powers KCTS 9’s website, We began using Drupal in 2008, and are currently on Drupal 6.

Why is Drupal the solution for you?
The prior CMS we used for was proprietary, difficult to manage and challenging to support. Since we implemented Drupal, we’ve benefited from the large number of contributed modules, the ease of scalability and the support provided by the Drupal community.

The most useful feature you found so far?
The Content Construction Kit (CCK) module allows us to easily and quickly build feature rich pages from a point-and-click interface. Additionally, the Drupal community has been a helpful resource as we develop and support our site.

Other thoughts: Drupal is not necessarily intuitive to those who are new to it. If a station is considering transitioning to Drupal they should plan to invest in Drupal training for their staff so they can learn the framework. This is especially important for web developers if they are not already versed in Drupal.
The Station Manager at WTIU in Bloomington, Indiana, Phil Meyer is currently the chair of the PBS Interactive Station Advisory Committee, and has also served on PBS Advisory Groups for Communications, Development, PBS Connect and PBS Express. Before WTIU, he worked at WCET in Cincinnati for nine years and at WGBH Boston while in college.

How do you use Wordpress on your site?
For about three years, we have been building the WordPress infrastructure for

Why is Wordpress the solution for you?
We are a joint licensee in a small market with news, regular series and robust local production pipeline, so we needed a solution that was easy for almost everyone -- producers, reporters, marketers (and even station managers) -- to be able to enter content, while still keeping the structure and navigation consistent.

The most useful feature you found so far?
If I can post content through WordPress, it's got to be easy to use. We have also started developing our own plug-ins and are always looking for third-party solutions that have been developed by the WordPress user community.

Other thoughts: The biggest drawback so far has been a server issue. When we see a spike in traffic, our current server has trouble handling both the requests from us to post content, and the requests from users to access the content at the same time. We are hoping that separating the database onto two servers (one for us, one for users) will resolve this issue.

The Presented by Incubation Lab Blog Series tackles the digital media topics that matter to stations, while highlighting and celebrating the online efforts of stations. These regular profiles of products, people and trends can provide you with inspiration and potential collaborators for your own projects.


  1. WXXI is a Drupal station. I was a participant in a CMS Roundtable webinar that was presented by the iMA & the NCME: More info is here:

    The actual recorded Webinar is here:

  2. We relaunched on Drupal (WDSE-WRPT - in 2010. I've been using Drupal since 2007 to build sites and the level of control and configuration is pretty much endless, especially with your own custom modules. I've found Wordpress to be a bit limiting and less stable compared to Drupal - but I'm sure it's a great system, also.

  3. If anyone has questions about Wordpress, the folks who did a lot of the strategy, design and technical work at Indiana Public Media (WFIU/WTIU) - Eoban Binder, Pablo Vanwoerkom, myself and now Ben Serrette - are always happy to help.

    We're also getting ready to release a set of public media specific Wordpress plugins that many stations might find interesting/useful. You can find the details about that project here: and keep an eye out for a public release of that sometime later this spring.

    And finally, we have weekly calls (via Skype) at 1 pm ET for public media tech folks working with Wordpress, largely focused on ongoing development efforts. If anyone would like to join us, we'd love to have more contributors. Drop me an e-mail: and I'll add you to our list.

    Adam Schweigert
    Director of Digital Media
    WOSU Public Media
    Twitter: @aschweig

  4. It is great to see the progress over the years of stations using more holistic solutions for online experiences. I remember my days at a station, cobbling together anything (free) I could find to make it work. This type of progress and conversation is great to see!

  5. We use drupal almost exclusively in Connecticut (for microsites and main (D5), and (D6)). It has a steep-ish learning curve, but is well worth the investment of time. Drupal is extremely flexible and can probably build anything you could want/need. That being said, Wordpress might still get you up and running a bit faster for some applications.

    Stations/Folks interested in learning how to build simple microsites with Drupal should check out (similar to hosted WP sites)--you can host it there (and not worry about capacity/server setup, etc) or use it as a staging server and export your site (minus one or two features that are only for dg sites) to host on your own. We've just started playing with D7, and must say it is definitely the easiest version yet to get started with (we started with D5 in 2007).

    Drupal really seems to be maturing as a platform, and with the latest release, the community has put a lot of effort into simplifying UX and smoothing out the learning curve. You can now do a lot with Drupal without knowing much about PHP, Javascript/Jquery, CSS, SQL, etc., but if you know those things you can do some really neat things.

    PACKT and APRESS have great books available (e-book and print) and Lynda has some online modules for learning Drupal.

    Other sites worth checking out include:
    - (drupal homepage--repository)
    - (ratings, descriptions, reviews of drupal modules)
    - (well-known drupal experts, blogging, podcasts, etc)
    - (company started by Drupal founder to provide hosting, support, and "vetted" codebase/packages)

    Feel free to contact us with any questions.
    Dir. Online/New Media CPBN

  6. We're using wordPress at WEDU and the biggest learning curve I've faced is how to best use it's features and structure our content.

    The new 'Custom Content Type' is completely changing how wordPress is used. We're restructuring our data, so things feel a bit messy in transition, but in the long run it will allow us to implement new features and much better allow us to spread the burden of updating the website onto a larger amount of people. This way we can have the people who know the most about the content update it, nothing is lost in translation and content is updated more often.

    User updating is fairly easy. I often say that if you can write an email, you can update wordPress. Facebook is practically a training ground for something like this.

    When using any kind of CMS, especially a PHP/SQL CMS like wordPress/Drupal, caching is huge. Our server costs are minimal-at-best and we've had spikes of 10xs our normal traffic without much of an increase in load time. Of course, we're still consistently above our target load time and have plenty to work on, but with CSS/Javascript optimizations in testing, we're hoping will get us down to the avg1.5 second mark.

    As I've said, the most difficult part has been figuring how to implement new features, and choosing whether to create a modify our theme to create custom content type, to use a post in a category, to use a page, etc.. but URL redirecting is playing a big part moving forward, as we can store our content in any structure we like and have URL redirects point them in the right place. I've had a number of problems with wordPress' .htaccess redirects but with some thought and a plugin or two, we've made progress.

    I've not been able to get into Drupal, but I think it can be just as efficient. The tech used is so similar, it's hard not to be. As for wordPress, I think with enough thought and a properly made theme, it could be a cheap and easy install that works very well in most situations.

    John Megahan
    Interactive Manager