Why Joomla is a Great Choice for Small Business Websites
I think it’s obvious to anyone that has read my blog or knows me that Joomla is my preferred content management system. But when a classmate asked me about what they should use for their business (Joomla or Drupal), I realized that there’s a pretty sound argument in favour of Joomla for the vast majority of small business websites. I wasn’t able to share with him all of my points but I think I convinced him nonetheless. What I will say is that my argument is based on tangible factors that small businesses understand such as cost, time, quality, flexibility and control. These need not be conflicting idioms when you have the right designer working with you to achieve your business goals:
Cost: Small business owners should be concerned with two kinds of costs. The first cost is the most obvious and it’s the question that I get asked by all of my prospects. How much will this website cost? Joomla comes fully-loaded with a slew of features and extensions are easy to add on. But what puts Joomla ahead of cms’s like Drupal is the highly evolved templates that incorporate many feature-rich extensions. For example, you can get all of the Rockettheme templates for only $90 a year. The best Drupal template provider I could find was TopNotch Themes which sells individual themes starting at over $200. $90 a year for an entire inventory or over $200 for a single theme…no-brainer. With a few tweaks to a Rockettheme template, a Joomla site can be up and running in as little as a day, assuming the content is ready to go. The second cost is maintenance. We at Yardstick have a philosophy of empowering our clients as much as possible and Joomla is the platform that we prefer to train on since it has a well organized front and back-end user interface. This means that our clients can do all of the minor maintenance and changes themselves leaving just the heavy lifting to the Yardstick team.
Time: I have built websites with Joomla, Drupal, WordPress and other cms’s and I am confident that Joomla has the shortest development cycle (to prove the point, I built two basic websites this past weekend www.winepeer.com and www.vancouverprojectmanager.com). This is critical for a business like mine that sometimes compete on price. I’ll be honest, faster results means more cashflow. But it also means lower prices and quicker returns for my clients.
Quality: Joomla is incredibly secure and stable. I have yet to have a Joomla site “crash”. My only bad security experience was with an older version of the Yardstick website. A hacker discovered a hole by accessing an index.php file within a disabled stock template that was installed by my webserver automatically during an upgrade. So basically, it wasn’t even Joomla’s fault it was my (old) hosting provider. And given that there are thousands of people debugging and tweaking the Joomla core, you simply need to sign up for the security alerts to make sure you have the latest version. The only point against Joomla security is the extensions provided by 3rd parties. These are known to be full of holes and should be used with care, especially if any of them directly access or manipulate the site’s database.
Flexibility: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Over 90% of the web-related needs of small businesses can be satisfied by an existing solution. At the time of writing, http://extensions.joomla.org is “serving 3609 extensions to the community”. The vast majority of these are free which also helps to keep costs down. What this means is that my clients can describe a vision of what they want to see on their site and 9 times out of 10, I’ll be able to present them with a quick and effective solution to meet their needs. Remember, we’re talking small business here and not some brand-focused multinational corporation. So the expectations can easily be met or exceeded.
Control: We at Yardstick Services believe that our clients should have as much control as they desire. We have some clients who rarely call us because they themselves have gotten deep into Joomla and are making changes to their site themselves. Joomla gives us developers the power to make website quickly and effectively but it also has a front and back-end that, with a bit of training, allows even a complete technophobe to get comfortable. We like this and so should you.
If you’re still not convinced that Joomla is a good choice then take a look at Google trends to compare the popularity of Joomla vs WordPress vs Drupal. Joomla is winning…nuff said.