When outsourced to a vendor, Joomla & Drupal websites tend to differ in cost and what gets quoted in the open market. What actually leads to this difference while both are free open-source CMSs? Here, a project content volume, interactive functionality and integration requirements will affect the cost no matter the platform.
One primary reason of this difference of products and how implementers use these CMSs tools to build a website. Joomla will provide an out of the box functionality while Drupla will offer a more akin to structural lattice upon which a Drupal site implementor can build content types and structures before any content management. Implementing most features for a Drupal site requires this custom construction and with proper site planning one will cover his desired requirements.
Another factor for increase in cost is developer locking. Drupal's customizability gives site implementers incredible flexibility as to how they build out a site. Drupal does not mandate how developers must build out site structure, workflows, user management, content display and many other elements -- it instead offers options and tools that span core capabilities, Drupal developer "recipes," third-party contributed Modules (and families of Modules), and "distros" of preconfigured Drupal implementations targeted toward specific uses. Between all of these options and Drupal's framework-like nature, often only the original site developer understands how the site works, how it must be maintained, and how it can be extended and further customized. Any new Drupal developer who takes over the site will likely find that it would take more time to figure out the original developer's solution than to re-build from scratch: an expensive proposition.
Implementer Qualification is another factor affecting difference in costs. This same key difference in product approach also affects the requirements for a site implementer's expertise and experience. Effective, high-quality build-outs of Drupal sites require expert knowledge in both how Drupal works and the best methods -- among nigh-innumerable options -- for accommodating specific site features. This knowledge typically comes at a cost of years of experience working with Drupal; ideally the implementer also has an understanding of coding and development, especially in PHP, in addition to de rigueur knowledge about web hosting and site development. So, essentially, Drupal requires a "developer" level of expertise and years of experience with the platform.
In contrast, Joomla is accessible to site implementers who come from the content, design or management end of things: Experience with some HTML/CSS and similar types of web application interfaces and platforms, and the basics of how websites work is enough for a Joomla site implementer to get started. Getting intimate with Joomla and its best practices can take weeks or months, and once you've built one Joomla website, you have a basis of knowledge applicable to every succeeding Joomla site you encounter. Looking at this contrast, it's easy to see why Drupal is more expensive:
It requires more specialized knowledge and experience that take much longer to acquire than Joomla. This makes truly qualified Drupal implementers scarcer and in higher demand, especially given Drupal's growing market position.
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