DotNetNuke / DNN vs. Other CMS's

Quick Pros and Cons of the Top CMS's DNN, WordPress, Joomla and Drupal
Developer-friendly .NET Open-source/Paid CMS

DotNetNuke / DNN CMS: Overview

DNN Evoq (formally referred to as DotNetNuke) is one of the best open source Content Management Systems (CMS) available, but also comes in paid license versions with tons of additional features and Technical Support. Clarity has built more than 1,000 sites on DNN over the last 14 years, and as far as a developer-friendly CMS, DNN is our first choice. So whether you need an out-of-the-box website or a heavily customized one, DNN delivers. When it comes to managing your website system, DNN consistently proves to be a top-level performer. So, how does DNN compare to other CMS systems? The most common question we get is, "Which is better, DotNetNuke vs. WordPress?" Well, let's dive into the DNN CMS and compare it to three of the industry's most popular CMS platforms.

  • Some of the best sites out on the internet have been created using a DNN-DotNetNuke CMS framework due to it's robust features and top-notch security (.i.e. the DoD, NSA, etc. are just a couple). Security groupings, access, and role assignments for assigning dynamic content for either access or editing is easiest and most flexible of all CMS platforms, and since our entire staff of developers are DNN experts, you've got access to a qualified team of DNN experts that can be integrated into your team as needed (i.e. per project, hourly, for training, consulting, etc.).
  • Another advantage that DNN presents versus its competitors is the ability for the administration tools to fully integrate into the website. This makes it easier to modify things, whereas for other CMSs you have to go to separate administration area to make changes (WordPress launches a Dashboard page, etc.). You can edit text inline, without launching another pop-up or window, layout pre-view is the default editing view, so fewer refreshes. DNN has numerous (23,000) helpful modules which allow individuals to easily customize their websites, or assign granular editing rights to pages or parts of pages to other team members or outside partners. 
  • DNN is built on the .NET stack. Every CS major graduating from college knows .NET, and with it being Microsoft's core technology stack, you're got a winner for a development platform with tons of tools and many developers being able to work on and extend your site.
  • DNN's modules are similar to WordPress plug-ins, but written in C# instead. In our opinion, that makes them more robust and secure. Once installed, they're available to all sites-portals within the DNN installation and you can simply drag and drop them into the container you want them to appear on within any page. Fast, flexible, extensible AND they can be granularly controlled with permissions (i.e. you can place a module containing HR docs onto a page, and with one click, set the permissions so that they only display for employees). The permissions, scoping and access control with DNN is second to none, and is out-of-the-box for every webmaster.
  • DNN and Wordpress are both great platforms with which to build your web presence and together make up the majority of CMS's used online. However, usage generally comes down to your site's purpose. DNN is preferred for medium to enterprise companies, while Wordpress is preferable for bloggers, artists, and smaller, local businesses that desire a respectable and stylish web presence.


  • Let's take a deeper comparative look at some of the top CMS competitors or Jump to the DNN FAQs & Resources:
Popular Open-source PHP blogging CMS

DNN (DotNetNuke) vs WordPress

When people compare DNN to WordPress, they generally discover DNN is more powerful and in most cases, WordPress being easier to use. Historically, WordPress is generally easier to install, but this is not true after the implementation of the DNN Evoq version 9, especially the Cloud Edition. Both DNN and WordPress prove to show incredible speed. WordPress uses PHP and MYSQL which gives it great swiftness, while DNN uses .NET and SQL (MS-SQL, SQL Express, Postgres, etc.). They both use WYSIWYG content editors, with DNN's being inline and on-page, making it faster and easier to use.

  • WordPress is mainly utilized for blogging and small to mid-level marketing websites. Quite frankly, some people consider it a blogging platform with web page extensions more than a true CMS. It does, have thousands of themes at very reasonable prices (templates, skins, whatever your favorite term) and most of them are now responsive and very robust. My favorite site to review and purchase themes from is Theme switching, updating plug-ins and building menus is easier in WordPress. For smaller, marketing websites this can be an advantage to helping you keep your website design fresh, as it's inexpensive and easy to preview each theme. You do, however, need to be careful of blindly accepting all plugin updates, as it can crash the site. If you can afford it, we recommend having a staging site, where you can "preflight" anything you want to push to production.
  • WordPress has been around longer, has a much larger install base, more plug-ins, community support, etc.
  • Some individuals feel that WordPress is organized more neatly compared to DNN. At Clarity, we disagree because WordPress hasn't changed much in many years, causing you to bounce back and forth between the dashboard and site, while DNN makes huge strides with every version and is natively integrated into the actual page you're editing (built in toolbar across the top of the page with view, edit and layout modes, full and partial page cloning built in, and tons more). DNN is based on .NET, WordPress on PHP. .NET is a first-tier developer's platform, meaning that every college CS major can develop and customize the site. While both platforms have tens of thousands of plug-ins/modules available, DNN is easier to develop for integrations and customizations.
  • If you're a startup or small company looking for a simple marketing site, then it's very hard to beat WordPress. You can build a beautiful, responsive marketing site for less on WordPress than any other platform.
  • Having been around a lot longer, there are more and cheaper hosting options for WordPress sites. WordPress is usually hosted on Linux, and shared hosting plans allow up to 200 websites to be hosted on a single Linux box. Windows servers usually only allow 80, so hosting companies need to charge a little more.
  • That all said, WordPress is notorious for crashing and getting hacked. Almost every day you log into WordPress, there will be an available update for some 3rd party plugin. While WordPress makes it a breeze to click a button and stay up to date, very often that one click will crash your site. As these plugins get updated, the developers use different code libraries, such as JavaScript, and if you update a plugin that loads a newer version of that library than the site or another plugin uses, it commonly crashes the site and you're stuck unable to log in at all to fix the issue. You then need to call your development company, who will have to FTP in and restore to a backup, or what we do, is to disable all the plugins, re-activating one at a time, until we find the culprit, then address with whatever is the best option. Bottom line, of the 1,300+ sites we've launched, only WordPress sites have been hacked and it's due to past clients not keeping their sites up to date and secure (most clients don't understand how important site maintenance is).
Developer-friendly Open-source PHP CMS

DNN vs Joomla

It’s a little more difficult to choose between DNN and Joomla, as Joomla is built more for developers than marketers. Joomla continues to improve as a CMS, but just as Joomla was gaining momentum, Magento interceded and stole most of its thunder. They even stopped offering technical support. As of last year, however, they had more than 50 million downloads and owned 3% of the CMS install base, second only to WordPress.

  • Since 2003, Joomla has been an open source, PHP-based CMS that developers grabbed onto and ran with. The community is pretty strong, although it's been on a slow decline for the past five years.
  • Like most CMS's, it has plugins, called extensions. There are roughly 8,000 extensions currently available, split into dozens of categories, like marketing, social, toolkits, content editing, etc.
  • Also like WordPress, it has a built-in blogging function, so for blogging sites, it's an easy choice.
  • Since Joomla has been around for a while, it's had time to build up a pretty good-size community. With this community comes many options for technical support, updates, and help with your project.
  • Joomla is pretty responsive with needed security patches, updates and the like.
  • A minor weak point is Joomla’s inability to work well with Windows; especially, because a majority of global businesses utilize the Windows operating system. Like WordPress, Joomla is written with PHP and also utilizes MySQL. It excels by working in congruence with Linux.
  • Joomla administration functions can be tricky to use, but are very powerful, with many of the things you'd typically need a plugin for, built into the system. The security group settings are shakier compared to DNN or WordPress. However, there are some 3rd party modules that will help you with this small issue.
  • Joomla is a completely adequate tool that is comparable to DNN. It really just depends which system you’re using and whether you choose a tool who's community is growing rapidly (DNN) versus one that has been declining. Joomla still has a pretty good following and that community has many more developers in it than WordPress' community so your answer tend to be more technical and accurate. The best feature of Joomla is the ability to easily add any kind of link to any navigation menu.
PHP-based Open-source CMS

DNN vs Drupal

Drupal is another PHP-based CMS. It's got more than 1 million sites deployed on it, although their adoption has been on a steady decline since 2015. One of the major selling points of Drupal is its ability to create and manage a wide variety of content types, such as videos, polls, blogs, podcasts, and statistics, most similar to WordPress in that way.

  • When people compare DNN and Drupal, they often find DNN works more efficiently with Internet Explorer, which is prevalent among government and manufacturing. Drupal tends to work a little bit better in Firefox.
  • Drupal and DNN are similar in that they are both have open source and free versions that are robust.
  • The majority of Drupal users use Drupal core which has all the basic features of a CMS system. Although Drupal is one of Clarity's supported development CMS platforms, we see less than 1% of our client base using Drupal.
  • The Drupal community has contributed over 16,000 modules and plugins, making Drupal very flexible and extensible.
  • Same as all the other platforms here, it has integration with Social platforms, feeds, an API for deeper integration with line of business applications and is SEO friendly.
  • Drupal is also written in PHP and distributed by GNU. According to, “Drupal is only used by 2.0% percent of the websites in the world.” Drupal is commonly used for a lot of personal blogs and government websites, similar to WordPress' community and we find it falls somewhere between Joomla and WordPress (i.e. easier to use with more extensions like WordPress, yet not as developer friendly as Joomla).
Web Development Experts

Clarity Can Help

Custom DNN Module & Site Development

DNN, being written on .NET (thus the formerly known as name DotNetNuke), allows C# developers to write their own custom DNN modules and extensions. While at first glance this may seem easy, after 15 years, more than 1,000 DNN sites and thousands of custom modules, it is not. There are numerous issues to consider when you undertake a custom DNN module. Here is a list of just a few:

  • DNN versions. What happens to your module when DNN is upgraded? Do you have multiple DNN portals? Are they all the same version or some still on DotNetNuke? Are your buyers searching DotNetNuke still (if so, make sure to optimize for both newer and older versions)? Are you trying to sell or post your module for general availability? If you said yes, to any of these, things just got a lot more complicated. You'll want to ensure that you've set up the different environments and tested your module across all the different platforms. Even the way DNN manages and updates modules, have changed many times over the years, and you'll need to know how to support the different scenarios.
  • Localization. If you want to release or make your module available, even if you don't, many other companies may be running different localized content. Have you tested the module with special or double-byte characters? DNN introduced localization support back around 2012, so it's been around for a long time. Here's a short video we've put together to discuss the four ways to build a multilingual DNN website.
  • DNN site installation. DNN can be installed in either the default root directory, or in some cases, a sub-directory. If you custom module interacts with the DNN sub-system or file system, you'll need to be able to handle these custom installations.
  • Multi-portal configuration. One great feature of DNN, is the ability to have multiple portals, easily spun up from the core DNN installation. This multi-portal environment may pose interesting challenges for you. Most DNN modules, installed into DNN, are made available to all portals within the system. The issue is that not all the portals should or may not have access to the information in any of the other portals, so you need to ensure that your module is multi-tenant (multi-portal) aware, and secures the data to the local file directory that it's run on.
  • MSSQL. Almost all installations of DNN are set up to use Microsoft SQL database. We've configured it for others, such as Oracle, Postgres, SQL Express and the like, but 99% of the time, it is Microsoft SQL. That said, there are some differences between the versions of SQL server that you may need to be aware of. Test across as many versions as you can. Almost all versions, except SQL2000, usually run without much problem, and our clients have upgraded and not seen any real issues. You'll just want to make sure you've tested across the versions yourself.
  • Custom DNN (DotNetNuke Module Development) module development allows programmers, like Clarity, to extend and create any new functionality and features that the CMS doesn't provide. Clarity has developed more than 1,000 custom DNN modules, providing functionality for things like AI-learning functionality to serve up related content personalized for each visitor, SEO administration UI modules, custom CTA modules, advanced marketing analytics, custom locator maps, and tons more.
  • Testing, testing, testing. What happens if someone installs a new version of your module over the top of an old version? Does DNN allow this? Can it be done manually? What happens when your module is uninstalled? It is clean? Does it work across the different versions of DNN? Does your module get affected by other 3rd party modules, such as new Skins. If your module interacts with the UI, then you'll want to grab at least the most popular skins, such as Porto and EasyDNNThemes and install them, switch between them, testing to see if it affects your module.

If you're still not sure which CMS you need or want more information on the DNN Content Management System, feel free to reach out and we can help. If you need a partner who can design, build, launch and support your DNN site, Clarity's team of DNN specialists can help. From simple marketing sites, to custom portals, B2B eCommerce marketplaces, integrations to your back-office applications, SEO and CRO consulting, graphics and video development, we've got the experience to ensure your project gets done, and done right. No matter which CMS you decide to use, Clarity can help you customize any web software for any purpose or goal that your company needs.

Most Trusted Modules by Developers

Top Recommended DNN Modules

Clarity, as a DNN development shop, has to support the websites we build. That means that when clients come to us to upgrade their DNN site to a newer version, all of the modules that we've used on their site must support the newer version as well. Very few DNN module development companies keep up with DNN and support the latest versions well enough that we use their modules on nearly every client DNN site we build. And we've built over 1,000 DNN portals.

Here is our short list of the DNN modules that we use everyday:

  • DNNSharp Action Forms
  • DNNSharp Action Grid
  • DNNSharp MyTokens
  • DNNSharp Search Boost
  • DNNSharp Sharp Scheduler
  • Bring2Mind DMX Pro
  • EasyDNN News
  • DNNDev XModpro
  • Seavus Products GDPR Cookie Consent
  • Mandeeps Essentials
  • Mandeeps Porto5 (theme)
Clarity Ventures DNN Experts

Other DNN Articles & Resources


  • What is DNN (DotNetNuke) used for?

    DNN, was formerly known as DotNetNuke back before 2014, is a .NET based Content Management System for building websites, portals, intranets and extranets. It supports multiple portals from a single installation, and the DNN Store has many themes and more than 20,000 modules (often called plug-ins or extensions).

  • Is DNN Free?

    DNN comes in four flavors. The base one, called DNN Platform, is an open-sourced and free version of the platform. The other versions have a yearly fee associated with them.

  • Is DNN Open Source?

    DNN® Platform is a free, open source web CMS and the foundation of every professional DNN® solution. DNN has given the care and updating of the DNN Platform to the .NET Foundation. They continue to develop and enhance the Evoq Basic, Content and Engage versions of DNN, which are all paid versions.

  • How much does DNN cost?

    DNN platform is free (open-source), DNN Evoq Basic starts at $2,999 per year. DNN Evoq Content (addition of Liquid Content) starts at $7,999 per year. DNN Evoq Engage (includes Social, publishing solutions) starts at $19,999 per year. Here is a link to DNN's version comparison page. There is a features matrix letting you know what features are included in each version on DNN’s site. DNN is a software application within the DNN Prime library. This library contains other software applications, similar to Microsoft’s MSDN library. Also like the MSDN licensing, depending on the level of Support you pick with your license, you gain access to 1 (Standard Support), 3 (Gold Support) or Unlimited (Platinum Support) any of the applications within the Prime library. For a complete and updated list, visit the DNN Prime page.

  • What is DNN Evoq Content?

    DNN Evoq Content is DNN’s entry into the Enterprise Content Management Solution arena. Armed with many content editing and publishing features, such as: workflow engine, forms builder, publishing module, content version control, personalization, content analytics, integrations with Dropbox, Marketo, Google Tag Manager (and others), and finally the crown on top, Liquid Content. Liquid Content is a global asset management tool, where from any page and different display visualizers, the site can access and display content (i.e. Doctor’s contact information displayed on a directory or locator page, whereas the full BIO is displayed on a details page, etc.).

  • What is a DNN site?

    DNN, as a CMS is used to build websites, often referred to as portals in DNN. The reason for this is that you can have many websites all built on a single installation of DNN. So, similar to a WordPress "multisite" installation, DNN uses multi-portal installations. So a DNN site could be a single website or a group of DNN portals running on the same installation, however, most commonly everyone uses "site" to mean a single website.

  • What is a DNN Module?

    Modules (similar to extensions, plug-ins, add-ons) extend the functionality of the DNN installation. As DNN is architected in a modular fashion the term "modules" makes sense as a module represents a set of re-usable code that can be installed into any DNN site and / or version. Once installed into DNN modules can easily be dragged and dropped to a page. There are free and many for-fee modules in the DNN store, or you can always get a certified DNN partner, like Clarity, to build you a custom module.

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