I was recently alerted to some activity on a forum thread and I noticed some unpleasant commentary regarding an older blog article of mine about Joomla for Small Business Websites. That article I wrote IS very dated so it is somewhat out of context now. So, this is my updated and somewhat quick comparison of Joomla vs. WordPress for small business websites.
Over the past few years, both Joomla and WordPress have progressed significantly in terms of their security, user interfaces and core features as well 3rd party extensions and plug-ins. There is so much overlap between the two products that it’s almost a matter of personal choice when choosing one over the other. So, here’s my point of view as of July 2012.
Popularity: Since writing my original article, WordPress has grown in popularity globally primarily because of the number of individuals that started blogs and also because of the perpetuation of its brand amongst users and developers alike. Yes, Joomla is now behind WordPress on Google Trends and we have since adopted WordPress development ourselves to allow us to serve the growing number of business owners that already know WordPress and come in requesting that service. WordPress gets the edge here.
Development: As developers, we prefer Joomla. We feel it has a much cleaner code structure for us to work with – Drupal may actually be the best in this regard but I’ll leave that for another discussion. We currently develop sites in both Joomla and WordPress. However, our time (and thus cost) of developing in Joomla is lower.
Usability: Both CMS’s have a GUI backend which will allow any user to build and manage their site without needing to know code. As for the user interfaces themselves. WordPress is hands-down the best choice if you are looking to do a lot of blogging. Beyond the basic blogging features, it integrates really well with all sorts of 3rd party sites and applications that make your blogging life much easier. For users that have not used a cms at all, Joomla seems to be more intuitive as a lot of WordPress functionality is buried in multiple locations in the backend (see my comment on plug-ins later on). However, for anyone that has used WordPress and is familiar with it, they will probably not like switching to Joomla – this may be where some of the WordPress bias comes from. We also like that Joomla allows us to publish modules in various positions on a page and manage those modules very easily through the Module Manager in the backend. WordPress can do this as well with its widgets. But they are much more cumbersome to manage and there are some technical constraints that frustrate us (and our clients) on occasion.
Security: I consider both platforms to be equally secure since they used the same technology (the LAMP stack). Both platforms are being used by fortune 500 companies and big global brands so you can be assured their secure enough for a small business website so long as the version of Joomla or WordPress is kept up to date along with all your server software. Both platforms now offer one-click updates to the core files as well as the extensions / plug-ins. And both platforms have great backup solutions. We are currently using AkeebaBackup for Joomla and WordPress Backup to Dropbox. If you’re interested, here’s a recent post on preventing hacking to Joomla websites – same process apply to WordPress sites.
Templates: The template provider that we recommend to others is now YooTheme which is another change from a previous provider that we used to recommend. YooTheme, like many template providers, develops in Joomla and WordPress. So, take your pick there. There are thousands of templates available for both platforms. However, we find that template settings are more easily managed in Joomla’s backend. WordPress’ template settings page can sometimes be cumbersome and not cleanly laid out if the developer has provided a large number of options.
Extensions/Plugins: There are some small gaps in WordPress in terms of some of the more corporate features our clients request. And there are some gaps in Joomla when it comes to blogging. So, we recommend Joomla or WordPress to our clients based on their actual requirements and not our own preference. We are often frustrated by WordPress because the settings for individual plug-ins are found in one of three places depending on the individual plug-in developer. Depending on the plug-in, you have to go to either the main “Settings” backend menu item, a small “settings” link within the “Installed Plug-ins” list or the plug-in has it’s own main menu item within the backend. Joomla wins in this regard because all the Joomla extensions (and thus settings) are housed in an organized list within the Plug-in Manager. So, I give the nod to Joomla in terms of quality. But, WordPress currently has a larger number of plug-ins so it wins in terms of quantity. And it is a bit easier to install extensions in WordPress as you can simply search for them and then click install whereas with Joomla you must still download the zip file first.
SEO: I think it’s a tie here. Both platforms are ready and able to do full in-site search engine optimization and have numerous extensions/plug-ins which can help in this regard.
Social Media: WordPress may have the edge here because, as a blogging platform, it is more attuned to integrating with 3rd party software, websites and applications.
I hope that clears the air and provides a bit more context to those that are interested in educating and supporting others and not just posting slander. Best of luck to anyone looking to build a new site and if you have any questions, feel free to comment below or tweet me @yardstickceo.
P.S. – if you’re interested, check out this blog for a series of articles that has just been started comparing the two cms’s. Or Google “Joomla vs WordPress” and then set the date range to “Past Month” to see some of the more up to date commentary.