Joomla v. WordPress

A debate I’m always having in my head is whether to use Joomla or WordPress when developing a new site. I love WordPress. It is definitely my weapon of choice. But there are limitations.

For one, the back-end still functions very much like a blog in that the primary content distinction is between Posts and Pages. While this is not really a problem, it can confuse some novice users into think WordPress isn’t capable of accomplishing their needs.

Another problem is that there is no easy way to build sections. Sections allow the user to present certain groups of information and categories in a particular way. It would be somewhat difficult for me to create an “Election” page that dynamically displays only those posts/articles related to the election. This is one of the things I like about Joomla. It seems to promote a much more coherent organization of content.

Plus, Joomla has seamless integration of “Members Only” content. With WordPress you can password protect a page and you can create users, just like you would in Joomla. But the process isn’t quite as easy and intuitive.

Finally, WordPress takes a back seat to Joomla when it comes to module management. Worpress has sidebar modules that are easily editable by the user. However, modules are confined to the side bar. Whereas Joomla divides the whole site up into modules. While it takes a more experienced user to create the modules, any average user can move the modules around.

There are some WordPress templates that modular, and I think the future will move us in that direction. But right now it’s a clear advantage for Joomla.

WordPress, though, is not without is advantages.

WordPress is easy to use. It takes just an hour or so of training to teach a novice how to work with Worpress. Joomla’s backend is very complicated and counter-intuitive. I know from experience, training is a real bear.

WordPress is Search Engine Friendly right out of the box. Joomla requires a few patches to make it SEO-Ready. This increases the cost of installation. Moreover, the SEO patches for Joomla are not perfect.

WordPress has an awesome user-base which means it is a vibrant community that is constantly improving the software. Joomla on the other hand, has fewer users and fewer free plugins.

WordPress loads faster. In a world where we expect to watch HD movies over the internet connection without the least bit of hesitation, fast load times are priceless.

So here’s my general rule:

Use WordPress:

  • When you want good functionality for a very specific purpose.
  • When you want to blog.
  • When you don’t want to spend much time in training.
  • When you can afford to hire someone to constantly manage your content.
  • When looking “hip” is important.
  • When you’re on a budget.
  • For a small-business/non-profit or personal web site.

Use Joomla:

  • When you have large amounts of content that need to be organized.
  • When you don’t want a blog.
  • When you have staff to help with content management.
  • When you have room in you budget to pay for some of the bells and whistles.
  • When you want a more conservative look.
  • For a corporate or institutional web site.