Which is best, Joomla or WordPress?

Joomla is a CMS (Content Management System) and WordPress is a blog package. But is it really that clear cut? – Probably not, as with everything there’s very little black and white, just subtle shades of gray, and the Joomla vs WordPress debate certainly falls into the gray category. Here’s why –

Joomla

Yes it’s a powerful content management system with a host of add on features and functions through the Joomla modular component system. Here are links to the open source Joomla extensions website, where you can access a broad range of Joomla modules, many of them freely downloadable and easy to install.

Though it is listed, Joomla, of all things, doesn’t do blogs very well. Many Joomla website designers use WordPress installed alongside Joomla to cover the blogging aspect of a website.

But what if your website is pretty basic, and focus is mainly on the blog, with little need for extensive features and add-on functions?

WordPress

There is little doubt that as far as blogging goes, WordPress is king of the hill. Its user-friendly and intuitive layout makes it very easy for web novices to pick it up and get a website/blog thrown together in no time at all. And don’t think that it can’t grow with your business, it can be expanded in much the same way as Joomla, but not quite with the same powerful options. For example, most websites will hit the eCommerce button at some point, and Joomla will make that transition much simpler via it’s Virtuemart shopping cart component. Affiliate marketing? – Joomla, no problem.

I think basically, with more complexity comes more opportunity for functionality, and Joomla has more complexity/power than WordPress.

But there are certain types of plugin which seem to fit better and have more available options with WordPress – Internet Marketing plugins. Sure, Joomla has the usual social media integration plugins, email etc, but WP seems to have so many more options available.

So, how to decide on Joomla versus WordPress?

As I’ve said, it’s not a straightforward decision. Here are a couple practical scenario’s that I’ve encountered –

Most WordPress designs I’ve done have pretty much worked out of the box. Many web hosts come preconfigured with WP (and Joomla), so you can often install the WordPress software through the hosting control panel with the click of a couple links. If it’s not preconfigured then you’ll need to download the software from WordPress and upload it to your web server either through cpanel or FTP. The self-install utility is pretty robust and it should get you working with the software in a few minutes.

Most of what you’ll encounter with a basic website will be configurable through the WordPress admin panel and you may never have to go through cpanel or FTP after the software is installed. So you’re up and running with little or no prior web design knowledge or skill. You can add you modules through the admin and everything tends to run pretty smoothly without technical issues.

With Joomla, you’ll have a bit more of a challenge getting the software installed from the get go. You may run into trouble setting up the MySQL database which Joomla needs in the background. Your host may or may not make that easy for you.

Once you have it running you’ll want to enable the SEF module (Search Engine Friendly URL’s). This should work by setting two checkboxes in global admin, but I’ve never done a Joomla install where that has worked without the need to manually configure the .htaccess file. That involves FTP’ing to the server, grabbing the file and changing some parameters to get the SEF module functioning. Are you OK with that?

Many or the Joomla modules work out of the box, but many do not. It may be a case of having to manually create a directory on the server (simple) to manually hacking lines of code in PHP. Both Joomla and WordPress use CSS for styling, so you may need to access style sheets and often times an HTML editor can be useful for that.

So basically, if you have a simple website and you’re mostly interested in blogging, stick with WordPress. If you’re in Internet Marketer, looking for a broad range of plugins to expand your options, WP might be a better option for you. If you are a couple more notches up on the technical ladder and you have bigger things planned for you website, then shoot for Joomla (if you’re planning to pay someone to do the setup and Joomla web design then the technical skills become a non-issue). For a more detailed look at Joomla, try this article on Joomla features and design.

On average we’ve recommended Joomla 75% of the time to new clients. There’s no commercial advantage in us recommending Joomla, we just believe it to be a more flexible platform than WordPress.

CH