Joomla or WordPress?

wordpress vs. joomlaIn the past two weeks, I’ve been asked a few times whether I prefer Joomla or WordPress for blogging and/or website development. There are many, many articles on the ‘net that outline the advantages and disadvantages of both. However in my own personal view, it really comes down to what you want the website to accomplish. In order to make a decision between Joomla and WordPress, you really need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will the website have multiple authors or site developers?
  • Will the website be more focused on static pages or an ongoing blog?
  • What type of plugins and extensions will you need – i.e. forum, live chat capability, e-commerce, etc.?
  • What do you want the front page to look like?
  • What is your budget in terms of purchasing extras; such as templates, extensions, etc.
  • How much time do you have to devote to site development and customization (or programming)?

These are just some of the questions that you’ll need to consider when making a decision. Here is my take on both systems, and what their best applications should be:

Joomla

Without a doubt, I just love Joomla to pieces. I hear all the time that it is complex and unwieldy; but if a non-techie like me can grow to love it, it can’t be that bad! From my perspective, Joomla presents the website that you are working on in a very similar way to a canvas. You make your menu items; you select which sections and modules appear when you click on these menu items; you add extensions with the flexibility of presenting that extension as a module (or widget) on a larger page, a simple link, or an entirely new page. I also find that with the right template, you can make a Joomla site look like almost anything.

If you want to use Joomla to blog, then you’ll need to add in the K2 extension. Theoretically, you could “blog” using the Joomla core; but K2 gives you tighter control over user permissions, a commenting system, the ability to “append” an author bio with social media links to each item, etc. You also have the ability to use a different template for your K2 page, giving the blog portion of your Joomla site a different look and feel (if wanted).

But ultimately, I would not choose Joomla to create a blog site. Why? Because it’s like a single man living in a 4 bedroom house. You do not need all the added complexity, and if you aren’t using it, then why have it there? Do you need a file repository, multiple user permissions, a forum, categorized web links, an e-commerce system, a job board & applicant system, and a media section? Even if you did need some of these things, you can also accomplish them in WordPress…which brings me to the following conclusion about Joomla:

Joomla is great for websites that have a blog section; but not for blogs in general.

WordPress

WordPress is very easy to install, update and add content to, and personalize. There are tons of templates and plugins out there for WordPress. So it can be hard to determine which one to use (I do like Joomla’s extensions directory more). With premium themes and extensions, you can push the envelope even further. However I do feel that the WordPress core is very limiting…even in the most simple of areas. Take the “Links” feature for example. In Joomla, you can categorize and sub-categorize your links…numbering them in the order that you wish for them to appear. In WordPress, you can’t even sort them alphabetically. Also I’m never really comfortable or satisfied with the “Pages” feature of WordPress…again, it feels very limiting. In Joomla you can pick from several “types” of content that a menu link can be: i.e. weblinks, a single article, a category/section blog, external link, etc. In WordPress, it’s either a blog post, or a page.

But ultimately I chose WordPress for this site. Why? Because the focus is my blogging. Anything else that the site may include is auxiliary.  So the conclusion is:

Use WordPress for a blog or personal site, its simplicity, flexibility, and ease of use justifies its use over and above Joomla.

Some other considerations…

Cost: while both Joomla and WordPress are free to download, the real power and flexibility comes with the extensions/plugins. I believe that a good template should be your foundation; and I’m ambivalent when it comes to free templates. Nowadays, most free templates are really limiting and unimaginative. Some of the free templates that I found that looked good actually had spam links in them. So plan to spend about $40-$60 on a template club membership; and about double that if you want a more exclusive, custom template. This holds true for both…but especially Joomla…who’s free templates tend to be especially ugly. You’ll probably shell out some money for extensions in Joomla too. So in terms of both money…& time, Joomla is a bit more expensive than WordPress.

Magazine websites: I don’t have any experience with managing a magazine-type of website (although I’ve dreamed about it). I’ve seen great examples of magazines websites based in both Joomla and WordPress. There is the opinion out there that WordPress is better. Yet I find that Joomla’s built-in capability to assign permissions and roles to each user to be potentially very important to an online magazine. But if you are looking to build a magazine site in either Joomla or WordPress,  I would strongly suggest paying a professional web design agency to help you (unless you are really good with layout and content in addition to web programming). A magazine site is way more involved than a personal or company site. But if you “had” to go at it alone; I would suggest Joomla.

Expertise & support: While I don’t think that Joomla is as impossible as many people make it out to be, if you are a techno-phobe, or would rather not be super-reliant on others for help and support (or if you don’t have the time to research every little issue online); then I would opt for WordPress.