The Differences Between WordPress and Joomla

The debates between the CMS’s (Content Management Systems) rage on with everyone having their own opinions. I am frequently asked which CMS is best and I say that it depends on what you want to do. I stick with WordPress and Joomla because they seem to be the top. Drupal is a pretty close 2nd to Joomla but I hear that it’s a developer nightmare, and even confusing for the end-user, so I stay away from it.

Be aware that prejudices are often determined by feelings, not fact, and one bad experience can distort reality. Or in some cases, a good experience with one can lead to a clouded opinion of another. For example, among car aficionados Ford guys often think that all Chevys are junk and vise-versa. Be careful who you get your information from as they be be giving you a distorted view. It’s best to check with a variety of people if possible.

To start with, WordPress was designed as a blogging platform but is used for building websites, where Joomla was designed as a platform for websites. WordPress has standard features that geared for blogging where Joomla has standard features that are more applicable for website maintenance. Both are successfully used as the CMS for blogging and websites including websites that are very large and have high traffic.

I do prefer Joomla over WordPress but I don’t hate WordPress so I am trying to give an opinion that is as balanced as possible. Take these however you want…

Here are some points that I see:

Built in Abilities

Joomla has more features for organizing and displaying content. The downside of more abilities is that there are more controls and features to wade through. WordPress may not have as many features but there are tons of plugins available and you can have something custom programmed.

If you  don’t need a lot of the features then Joomla may be too much to deal with. WordPress is a little easier to use but if you have to install a lot of plugins and get custom programming then you may have a larger expense. Also, the more plugins you have installed then the more problems you will have with maintaining and updating. You also have more risk of a plugin going bad and wrecking the website.

Ease-of-Use

As mentioned above, Joomla has more features which makes it more complicated to use. Joomla also offers more ability for the end-user to control appearance but this can cause confusion over what gets changed where. I have to spend more time with users to teach them how to use the Joomla site I made them then when I make a WordPress site

WordPress isn’t perfect but simple can be better if that’s what you need. If you need a simple website, or just a blog, then WordPress is hard to beat.

From a web developers standpoint I often have problems with WordPress because it is too “dumbed-down”. It automatically puts in breaks and paragraph tags which causes problems with some custom programming. It can be turned off but that’s an extra step.

Both suffer from poor documentation. I have found WordPress documentation, especially docs about customization, to be overly technical. They often sound like they were written by high-level programmers to other high-level programmers and they leave out steps and information on the assumption that you already know it all.

Joomla documentation, on the other hand, is easier to understand but chronically out-of date. There have been substantial changes between 1.5 and 3.2x and the screen shots and references are usually for the older versions and some spots don’t do much more than duplicate what is already shown in the backoffice.

Many times, for both CMS’s, I have had to research the forums to find the answers I need.

Viruses and Hacking

I can’t say which CMS is more susceptible to hacking and viruses from a core programming standpoint but I have read more complaints of holes in WordPress than in Joomla. It seems that WordPress often requires more 3rd party plugins to create a basic site and the more plugins you have the more security risks you have. There are more websites using WordPress than Joomla so WordPress is targeted more by hackers, which could be giving it a bad rap.

Both are susceptible to hacking if you haven’t updated plugins. Both can be hacked if your web hosting company has security problems.  And most commonly, anything can be hacked if you leave your login laying around or if you use the default passwords.

Ability to Develop a Website

This really depends on what you want to do. If the features you need are in Joomla than that will be easier, and cheaper, to build a website in Joomla.

Both have tons of templates you can choose from, both free and paid, and it’s not hard to customize. I, and some of my programmers, find that Joomla is easier to customize because the code is more logical where WordPress has lot’s of WordPress specific coding. I, and my programmers, started working in both at the same time and we had a lot less frustration with Joomla than with WordPress.

Joomla has a lot more templates to go through so if you are not experienced then it can seem daunting. Once I got used to them I found them easy. If you are used to WordPress, or if the templates are laid out in ways that automatically make sense to you,  then you might not agree…and that’ s ok.

Final Words

These are just a few key points that I run into frequently. If you disagree that’s ok. I don’t mind as everyone has their own experiences. There are other points that may be important too and maybe I’ll add them later.

If you haven’t planned your website out then it’s hard to choose one over the other. I would also keep in mind what you will need in the future as you don’t want to redo all your work.

Both are free, and both are automatic installs in most web hosting account panels so it wouldn’t hurt for you to install each (one at a time), test them out, and then make the decision. Of course, if you need help designing a website for either one we would be glad to help.  😉

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