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WordPress vs. Joomla: What You Should Know and Which You Should Use

September 4, 2014
| Articles

Make it easy! Yeah, we all want things to be easier—that goes for blogging, eCommerce, news reporting, and every other kind of website imaginable.

 

 

Content management systems (CMS) make it a lot easier to create websites. WordPress and Joomla are the world’s top two CMSs, so it makes sense to compare the two and see where their strengths lie.

 

Cost and Development Model

 

With the WordPress vs. Joomla debate, the best place to begin is where the two options share similarities. Yes, they’re both content management systems. But that’s not all.

 

Both platforms follow an open source development model. Open source has a number of benefits. For one, you can rest assured that the technology isn’t going anywhere. With proprietary software, if the company tanks, that’s likely the end of the software. But open source development is less centralized.

 

Without forced centralization, you’re free to modify the software however you wish. You don’t need to stick to one company come hell or high water.

 

Of course, the biggest benefit of open source software is that it’s free. While you’ll have to pay for web hosting, neither WordPress nor Joomla themselves will cost you anything. Now let’s get to the real meat of the comparison.

 

Community

 

How many people use each software, and what is the sense of community surrounding each one? These questions matter because the answers to them directly impact your experience using the platforms.

 

User-made add-ons to core functionality (called plugins in WordPress and extensions in Joomla) and the tech support you’ll be able to get depend on the strength of each community.

 

WordPress and Joomla are the top two content management systems, but that truth masks the huge use gap between them. WordPress powers almost 23% of websites on the Internet, while Joomla provides infrastructure for 8%.

 

That’s a 7-to-1 disparity, and it’s why the WordPress community is so much larger than the number of people who use Joomla. You can also look at the support forums: there are 2.9 million posts on the Joomla forums, compared to 5 million on WordPress’ forums.

 

None of these numbers are perfect measurements of the size or strength of a community, and none of them will settle the WordPress vs. Joomla debate. But they can give you an idea. There are dedicated add-on-makers and support providers in both communities, so if commitment can be found on both sides, it might make more sense to go with the content management system with a larger number of users.

 

Extra Features

 

As we progress further with our look at WordPress vs. Joomla, let’s go a bit deeper into one of the things I mentioned in the last section: the availability of add-ons and extra features. In WordPress, they’re called plugins. In Joomla, they’re called extensions. Either way, these modules are ways to do things with your site that you can’t do with the core platform alone.

 

WordPress beats Joomla in the raw number of add-ons available right now: 32,000 for WordPress, 8,300 for Joomla. That’s almost four WordPress plugins for every one Joomla extension. The variety and choice that WordPress gives you is unmatched.

 

Some supporters of Joomla will claim that many of those WordPress plugins are low quality and buggy, but I think that even looking at only the top-rated, most popular WordPress plugins will still give you enormous flexibility.

 

And it’s a good idea to pick a system that offers you flexibility—you don’t know what you’ll need your site to do five years from now.

At the same time, however, raw variety isn’t always the most useful metric. If Joomla better meets your needs on other important issues and has add-ons available for the specific extra features you want, then it may still be a better choice.

 

Technical Complexity

 

WordPress is simple. It began as a blogging platform, and while you can now adapt it to many uses, the ease of blogging still runs through the entire platform. It boasts a user-friendly interface and intuitive structure.

 

Joomla is more difficult to grasp. Joomla requires more advanced knowledge of HTML and a better awareness of how computers and servers work. People who love Joomla say that this complexity gives you greater customization. It’s not as complex as, say, using Drupal or coding from scratch, but if you’re leery of a learning curve, you should head straight to WordPress.

 

WordPress vs. Joomla: Conclusion

 

As with any choice, the WordPress vs. Joomla decision isn’t clear. There are strong reasons to prefer each platform, and they both work well.

 

That said, I wholeheartedly recommend WordPress. It’s the platform I use for all of my websites, and I think that it’s fantastic for beginners and experienced users alike. If you’re really looking for hardcore advanced customization, I’m inclined to point you to Drupal rather than Joomla.

 

For most people seeking to make a site, WordPress is the clear choice. But, my bias aside, here’s the good news: when choosing between WordPress and Joomla, you can’t really go wrong.

 

What platform do you use? Are you happy with your choice?

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