Developing a new website triggers many questions for those seeking to develop a successful website. Perhaps the first and most important question is: which website software or platform should be used? This article compares the two leading content management systems: Wordpress and Joomla. While also offering criteria to adequately determine which web design software is right for you.
Before proceeding into a side by side comparison, you must first understand all of your website's needs which may reveal which option best suits your needs.
Whether, you are a web design professional or a person with zero web development experience, the information shared in this article and criteria to consider are pertinent to both perspectives.
Therefore, this article will explore the following criteria:
A. Understanding all your options when selecting a web development platform for a web development project:
1. Web builders provided by hosting companies
2. Open Source Solutions (Wordpress and Joomla)
3. Custom Developed Proprietary Software
B. Criteria for basing your selection
1. Function ability required by project objective
2. Ease of use
3. The future of your website and the website software you are leaning towards.
C. Comparing Wordpress versus Joomla
3. Core Features
Moving forward with "understanding all of your options", first realize that most professional web design solutions are now built utilizing a content management system which allows it’s owners to update their websites easily with-out any professional web design or web development training.
Today, there are essentially three categories of web design solutions which offer content management systems allowing easy updating of your website:
- Web Builders provided by hosting companies or website’s whose services are strictly web building and hosting. This option can be quick and easy for those who are on a strict or zero dollar budget. Though developing a site using these tools may be cost effective to a start-up business, unless you are technically savvy and possess good graphic design skills your site will likely be blind to search engines and may lack visual appeal. For more information on this topic read my blog article entitled: Are Free Web Builders Good for SEO?
- Open Source Solutions such as Wordpress , Joomla or Drupal. Open source solutions are free to use and many hosting companies offer easy install options! “Open source” is a development model which promotes a universal access (per a free license) to software’s code and design, and universal redistribution of such code and design. Most open source web design solutions are developed using PHP scripting language which is also a free software with open source libraries intended to share code. Though open source solutions are free, to implement a proper installation, configuration and professional design, you may wish to employ a professional web designer that specializes in the software which you have selected. The good thing about selecting a popular open source solution such as Wordpress or Joomla, is that they are widely used. Therefore, the pool of talented web designers that support these solutions is huge. Open Source website solutions can be extended to include expanded function ability such as eCommerce, Paid Membership Access, Gallery Functions and more with the use of extensions, modules, plugins and/or widgets. Many of these extension/plugins are free, while others are developed by third party developers and require licensing fees.
- Web site developed using proprietary software. Proprietary software is computer software licensed under exclusive legal right of the copyright holder. A website developed using proprietary software can be coded in various scripting languages (which include ASP, Html, CSS and php). Custom developed websites can prove to be a bit more costly, as developing a front end template and custom content management system that is up-to-date with a constantly evolving internet and world-wide-web is a daunting task. When proceeding with a web site developed using proprietary software you are definitely using a professional web development firm, and you better like them because you will be in bed with them for the rest of your website’s life! As they will own and control your code and content management system until death do you part!
Now that you know a little about the different web design solutions and content management systems, we can move on to understanding the criteria which should be considered when comparing Wordpress versus Joomla!:
- Function ability required by client or project objective.
- Ease of use
- The future of your website and the website software you are leaning towards.
Criteria for basing your selection Item#1: Function ability required by client or project objective.
The first of the three criteria is the most important: Which option, Joomla or Wordpress provides the function ability required for your website? The platform you use to develop your website be based on the type of function ability which his needed. Both Wordpress and Joomla both offer easy install options and can be extended using a variety of components and/or plugins. A good web developer will know this and analyze your required functions prior to pushing you into any web design solution.
If you have consulted with or have hired a professional web designer/web developer who is interested in using one option over the other, then be sure to ask them why? This is important to verify that you are not only selecting the correct software, but also the right developer.
If you are not working with a professional web designer that is familiar with all of the extensions, modules, plugins and/or widgets provided by Wordpress or Joomla then you will need to do a little research yourself. For instance, if you wish to be able to sell and allow your users to send eGreeting Cards on your website, you may want to confirm and test the eGreeting Card components offered by both Wordpress and Joomla to ensure the function ability is available and suits your needs. Again, many of these extension/plugins are free, while others are developed by third party developers and require licensing fees.
Here are links which provide the extensions, modules, plugins and/or widgets provided by Wordpress and Joomla:
Granted, if your website requires no special function ability, then the next most important criteria you should base your selection on should be: “Ease of Use”.
Criteria for basing your selection Item#2: Ease of use
This criteria falls under a matter of preference and may require a slightly different perspective depending on if a person with zero web development experience or a web developer building a website for a client.
From the perspective of a person with zero web design experience: Many business owners and website owners feel it is wise to consult with, or hire a professional web designer to configure their Wordpress or Joomla website correctly. However, it is true that a user with little or no web development experience can install the core systems automatically using applications offered by most hosting companies. When it comes to posting updates to your website, Wordpress and Joomla are almost identical. Both Wordpress and Joomla possess easy to use dashboards and word pad editors which allow users to update pages and/or articles text and images easily. There are also many reputable template developers that produce professional templates for both Wordpress and Joomla. I would summarize “criteria item #2 Ease of use” by saying ease of use is a matter of preference. Therefore, a prospective website owner should sample both dashboards to see which they feel more comfortable with. This is where it would be wise to consult with a professional who has experience with both Wordpress and Joomla. Whereas, a pro developer could a quick test drive of both dashboards and various extensions which should reveal which platform is easiest for you! At the time this article was authored, Joomla does provide an online demo version while Wordpress does not. You can demo the core version of Joomla by clicking here to visit Joomla's official demo site. While you You can also demo the core of Wordpress by clicking here (demo posted on http://demo.opensourcecms.com)
From the perspective of a web developer: After verifying your clients needs and matching available extensions or plugins, you might typically discover that either Wordpress or Joomla will suit the clients needs and your decision falls back onto "ease of use". Which usually defaults to what are you more effective and proficient in using. Most true web developers can navigate and develop in Wordpress and Joomla with ease, equally. However, most web developers will have a preference to one or the other (again resulting from efficiency). Note to a website clients seeking a developer: if your web developer can not develop in both Wordpress or Joomla then find a new developer. Being a web development professional, I am active in many online communities and forums where the question of Wordpress versus Joomla is a common argument. I love reading into the comments when developers begin to get heated and put-down one option or the other depending on their position. This usually occurs when a developer lacks skills in one of the options and their frustration is revealed in some sort of ranting comment. As an active web developer serving clients in the Chicago area and surrounding suburbs, I feel it is required to be able to offer web development services for both Wordpress and Joomla. As the old adage goes, "If the client wants a brown suit, then you sell them a brown suit". Even if you think it not your cup of tea.
Criteria for basing your selection Item#3: Wordpress and Joomla are both here to stay! Therefore, you will enjoy software updates and continuing third party development on both platforms. Additionally, due to the popularity of open source solutions, you will always be able to find a professional web designer and/or web developer that will be able to assist you in upgrades, installations and so on.
The future of your website and the website software which you are leaning towards is perfect segue into the actual comparison of Wordpress versus Joomla.
Now onto the topic of this article which focuses specifically on comparing Wordpress versus Joomla!
This article will compare the following aspects of Wordpress and Joomla
- Popularity Wordpress versus Joomla
- Origins of Wordpress and Joomla
- Core Features Comparison Chart Wordpress versus Joomla
Popularity Comparison Wordpress Versus Joomla:
When comparing popularity of Wordpress versus Joomla, what better source then Alexa.com. Alexa Internet, Inc. is web based service owned by Amazon.com which provides commercial web traffic data. As November 21, 2014 (the date of which this article was authored) Alexa.com listed Wordpress.com (web based version of wordpress includes hosting) as the 27th most viewed website on the planet and 31st in the United States. While Wordpress.org (the free download version) is listed as the 89th most viewed website on the planet and the 145th in the United States. This is a stark comparison to Joomla which Alexa.com listed as 668th ranked in the world and 815th in India (no USA figure provided). This statistic provides a good segway into the origins of Wordpress and Joomla.
Explaining the origins of Wordpress and Joomla:
The orgins of Wordpress: WordPress is an Open Source project, which means there are hundreds of people all over the world working on it. Wordpress was developed and first released in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg (Houston, Texas USA) and Mike Little (Stockport England). WordPress is the official successor to a blogging tool developed by French programmer Michel Valdrighi named b2/cafelog. WordPress started as a blogging software, but has evolved to be used as full content management system and more. As Wordpress can also be extend by way of the thousands of plugins, widgets and themes which have been developed by third party developers all over the world. Visit the "About Us" page provided on the Wordpress website which provides a listing of it's core development team.
The origins of Joomla: Joomla is also an Open Source project, also developed by hundreds of people all over the world. Joomla was born resulting of a “fork” of Mambo in 2005. In the world of software engineering, a project fork occurs when a developer takes a copy of source code from one software package, and independently develops on its base, creating a distinct and separate piece of software. Upon the rebranding of Mambo, the development team announced the new name for this software as Joomla! Derived from the Swahili word: jumla, which means “all together or as a whole”. The leadership of Joomla consists of three teams: The Production Leadership Team (PLT), Community Leadership Team (CLT) and Open Source Matters (OSM). The Joomla website reflects a Leadership Team which is comprised of member all over the world. Michael Babker (Burlington, North Carolina, USA), Brad Baker (Sydney, NSW, Australia) Isidro Baquero (Seville, Spain, Europe), and Guillermo Bravo (Iquique, Chile, South America) to name a few.
Core feature comparison chart for Wordpress and Joomla:
|Easy Installation and Upgrades||Core||Core|
|Easy Theme/Template Installation||Themes||Templates|
|Full Standards Compliance www.w3.org||Core||Core|
|Application Framework||Various / Depending on Theme||Bootstrap/Responsive Core & Various depending on Theme|
|Database Type||MySQL & MySQLi||MySQL & MySQLi|
|Blog features||Core & Extend||Core & Extend|
|Search Engine Optimized||Core & Extend||Core & Extend|
|Multilingual||Core & Extend||Core & Extend|
|User Management||Core & Extend||Core & Extend|
|Access Control||by extension||Core|
|Banner Management||by extension||Core|
|Contact Management||by extension||Core|
|Web Link Management||by extension||Core|
34,582 per Wordpress website
8,586 per Joomla website
In closing, upon reviewing the above core feature listings, it is obvious that both Wordpress and Joomla provide powerful tools and extend ability that would suit various types of websites. In reviewing each of their respective websites you will see that many big name companies and celebrities that use both Wordpress and/or Joomla.
While it is clear that Wordpress is winning in the popularity contest, this appears to result from the fact that Wordpress started out as a Blog Software that can be extended into a content management system and many beginners are drawn to Wordpress due to it's ease of installation and use. While Joomla began as a content management system that could possessed blog features. My own personal polling of both beginners and web developers results in finding that are consistent with this statement. Whereas, most beginners and bloggers choose Wordpress. While those with more coding abilities prefer Joomla and/or are willing to endure the minor challenges of configuring and customizing Joomla.
I often compare the ongoing rivalry of Wordpress versus Joomla to the rivalry McDonald's versus Burger King. Both make cheeseburgers (or open source content management systems). The bottom line is that most websites do not require reinventing of the wheel. Therefore, either option could work. At the end of the day, if your sites function ability does not dictate your web design platform then if the client wants a brown suit, then sell them the brown suit!
My preference revealed......
I will add this final note, as a professional web designer I actually prefer Joomla. I develop sites daily, in both Wordpress and Joomla. However, I find Joomla to be able to handle more complex extend ability and I find it easier to customize and configure. I also find that with a little coaching my clients who have zero web design experience find Joomla's dashboard to be easier to use when moving forward with managing their website. In any case, I typically offer both options to my clients and go as far as to demonstrate both dashboards to them, rather then forcing them into Joomla. After a quick show and tell of both Wordpress and Joomla, most of my clients decide to go with Joomla. Perhaps my Joomla pitch is a bit more convincing because I am partial to it?