Choosing a content management system (CMS) is one vital step that can make or mar your website.
For starters, a CMS is a web software that allows you to make changes to your site without getting your hands dirty with code. In other words, it makes it possible for you to have a professional-looking website and maintain it without extensive technical know-how.
That being said, there are several content management systems available, and each has its own pros and cons. However, only two really stand out among the pack: WordPress and Joomla! These are the two most widely used content management systems, although WordPress is a distant leader in terms of popularity.
While you might be tempted to rush to the conclusion that WordPress is the better option (given its popularity), be aware that Joomla is no pushover. This less popular platform matches up to WordPress and even trumps it in certain aspects. So, before you contact that WordPress agency, you really need to dig into either option to figure out which would be more suitable for your website.
Here, we’ll be comparing both platforms based on a number of important aspects, so you can make a well-informed decision.
So, let’s cut right to the chase.
WordPress vs. Joomla: Introduction
WordPress is by far the most widely used CMS today. It takes up a whopping 60% of the CMS market share and powers about 30% of all websites on the web. Launched in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg, WordPress started out as a blogging platform but gradually evolved into a full-blown CMS over the next few years. It quickly became popular due to its user-friendliness, as it allowed non-coders to build and run complete websites. It’s therefore not surprising that it is the fastest growing CMS of the past eight years.
WordPress is used across various industries today. Popular sites running on the platform include BBC America and New York Post. The platform also owes its success and popularity to its giant global community, which comprises developers, designers, volunteers, and users from all over the world.
Joomla, on the other hand, was launched in 2005. And it has earned massive public interest because it allows for the creation of websites with amazing designs and functionalities. Although quite user-friendly, Joomla is a bit more technical than WordPress, as it was created with developers in mind.
Joomla has been used on millions of websites across various niches including health, educational, business, technology, entertainment, and others. And like WordPress, it has a massive open-source community that comprises enthusiasts from all over the world. This community provides support to its members, organizes events, and continuously helps to improve the platform.
WordPress vs. Joomla: Ease of use
One of the main selling points of content management systems is their user-friendliness. They enable people to create and manage websites without knowing jack about coding. WordPress, in particular, has ease of use as one of its biggest upsides. Within 5 minutes, you can setup a new WordPress website. In fact, most web hosts now offer one-click WordPress installation, which makes creating a WordPress website even easier than opening an email.
In addition, WordPress has a very simple, beginner-friendly user interface that allows you to tweak any aspect of your site with a simple mouse click. Creating content is also easy-peasy. If you can use Microsoft Word or any other word processor, then you can easily create a new WordPress post or page. And if you want complex layouts, you can still create them without touching any code — thanks to page builders. You can also update themes and plugins to their latest versions with single mouse clicks.
Joomla isn’t as easy to get around as WordPress. But it’s not that difficult, either. For a moderately techy person, the whole setup process should be fast and smooth. Like WordPress, Joomla can also be installed through one-click installation modules offered by most web hosts. The platform’s interface also allows for easy management of articles and extensions as well as one-click updates. Overall, Joomla offers more functionality than WordPress, but it’s consequently more complex.
WordPress vs. Joomla: Design and Functionality
In the aspect of design and functionality, WordPress beats all other platforms hands-down. The design of any WordPress-based website hinges largely on the theme used. And because there are tons of WordPress themes available, the platform offers unlimited design possibilities. Another plus in this aspect for WordPress is that you can easily access over 4500 official free themes directly from the dashboard. Just click “Add New” in the “Themes” menu, and you’ll be taken to the WordPress theme directory. This is not possible with Joomla.
WordPress also offers unlimited plugins — tools for adding extra features and functionalities to your WordPress site. Examples of important features you can add using plugins include SEO, security, enhanced speed, social sharing buttons, traffic statistics, image compression, and so on. And as is the case with themes, WordPress also has a huge plugin directory comprising over 50,000 free plugins. You can also access these directly from the WordPress dashboard.
Joomla, like WordPress, also allows you to control your website’s design using templates. But the platform has fewer options than WordPress, and it has no official template directory. To find templates for your Joomla website, you’d have to visit the websites of third-party theme developers.
And just as WordPress uses plugins, Joomla also uses extensions for adding extra features and functionalities to websites. But despite not having an official template directory, the platform has an extension directory that comprises over 7500 plugins. While this is a huge number, it’s far less than what obtains with WordPress’s plugin directory.
WordPress vs Joomla: Security
In the aspect of security, there’s no perfect CMS, but some platforms are more secure than others. Due to WordPress’s popularity, it’s widely linked with many security vulnerabilities. And that’s expectable, considering that there’s no way to effectively ensure that every theme and plugin the ticks all the security checkboxes and remains compatible with newer versions of WordPress.
In addition, WordPress doesn’t by default come with security enhancements such as Two-Factor-Authentication and SSL enforcement. You can only add these by modifying its core files. In fact, you’d need to install plugins to enjoy most of the advanced security features on WordPress.
Joomla, on the other hand, comes with built-in SSL enforcement and 2FA options. And it offers a range of exclusive security extensions that are constantly checked for vulnerabilities by Joomla developers. So, in this aspect, Joomla wins!
WordPress vs. Joomla: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
When it comes to traffic generation, search engines are among the most important sources. Although Google and other search engines don’t give a hoot about what CMS your site is built on, your ability to easily make SEO-related changes whenever you want matters a lot.
For WordPress, SEO is good even by default, since it ships with features like SEO-friendly markups and custom URLs. In addition, there are SEO plugins to give you full control over every aspect of on-site optimization. Another plus for WordPress in this aspect is that virtually all its themes are built for mobile-friendliness, which also helps with SEO.
SEO on Joomla isn’t as straightforward. There are no default SEO functionalities like custom URLs and title tag optimizations. Although there is an extension to give you extra SEO capabilities, Joomla clearly lags behind WordPress in this aspect.
WordPress vs. Joomla: Most Suitable Website Types
Since each CMS has its own unique features and capabilities, it’s expectable that it would be more suitable for certain types of websites than others. Although WordPress has been developed to be able to power any kind of website you can think of, it’s still most suitable for blogs. That’s no surprise, since it was originally a blogging platform.
So, if you’re building a blog or a website for which blogging is expected to play a significant role in its marketing, WordPress is your best bet. From post archives to taxonomies and a solid commenting system, the platform has all the necessary features to support blogging. WordPress also works excellently for e-commerce sites — thanks to WooCommerce and similar WordPress e-commerce extensions.
As for Joomla, it does better with social networks, forums, membership sites, and other websites that involve community building or user-generated content. It has built-in features as well as extensions to support these types of websites. And like WordPress, Joomla also rocks in the area of e-commerce, as it offers many e-commerce extensions and templates.
Your choice of CMS hinges largely on your capabilities and needs. If you’re building a website for the first time and would like to be involved in its setup or subsequent maintenance, or you’d be publishing new content on a frequent basis, consider going with WordPress.
But if you’re looking to build a more complex website such a community forum or membership site, Joomla is the way to go because WordPress can be exceedingly limiting for such websites.