When it comes to choosing a CMS, I am often asked which is better – Joomla or WordPress. Though they are both uniquely and powerfully different, they have many similarities as well. Both Joomla and WordPress are open source software, which allows them to be easily customized to suit your needs, it often becomes a daunting task to decide which one is better to use. So, we bring you a comparison between both Joomla and WordPress to help you make an informed decision.
WordPress is a website content management system (CMS) that grew from what was originally a blog management system. It is easy to install as well as publish basic content with the WordPress system. In fact, ease of use is one of WordPress’ greatest strengths.
Joomla is also a content management system intended for managing and publishing different content types. In simplistic terms, Joomla is performing the same function as WordPress. The only difference between the two is their user interface.
Though it began as a blogging tool, WordPress has evolved into a full-fledged CMS. Because of this, the blog functionality is a particular area of strength for WordPress since that was originally it’s intended purpose. In addition, WordPress allows you to create pages by default and a variety of other content (or post) types through the use of plugins that extend the base functionality of WordPress. This is what has taken WordPress from a blog management system to a robust and flexible content management system that can be efficient and effectively used for just about any kind of website.
Joomla caters to end users, developers and designers alike. It was designed from the outset to be a content management system and it performs that function quite well. From user role management, to content creation and publishing; Joomla is a solid, well rounded system for publishing content. But, one area where Joomla is lacking is it’s capabilities as a blog or periodical publication platform. Since most business websites require this functionality to some extent, this puts Joomla at a slight disadvantage.
Estimated Number of Users
There are approximately 76.5 million WordPress sites in the world as of the date of this publication. This makes up roughly 25% of the entire worlds websites. Over 409 million people view more than 52.2 million pages created through the use of WordPress with those pages accounting for roughly 20.3 billion page views each month. WordPress.com users alone produce about 500,000 new posts and 400,000 new comments on an average day. This doesn’t even account for WordPress.org users. So this gives you some idea of the magnitude of the market share that WordPress currently inhabits.
Statistically, Joomla has much more modest market share. Joomla presently has 2.6 million active website installations. The usage of Joomla has actually been in decline recently, having shrunken from 2.9 million active website installations at it’s most recent peak in June of 2015. Although it is currently the second most used CMS after WordPress. Joomla has a loyal following of users that prefer it over any other systems which makes it likely that it will be around for quite some time, even if it doesn’t stand much of a chance of challenging WordPress for market share dominance.
Extensibility (Plugins vs Extensions)
For WordPress, there are currently over 43,353 plugins available in the official repository on wordpress.org, which have been downloaded 1,197,165,403 times and counting. This doesn’t even count all the third party plugins that are available through other vendors and the custom plugins many developers have created and made available on public code repositories like Github.
Joomla has 3 different types of extensions: Components, Modules, Plugins. A specific function is handled by each of these extensions. The official Joomla! Extensions directory currently lists 7,601 extensions available to the public. There are likely other extensions available from third parties for Joomla as well, but there is no doubt that WordPress has an edge here.
Design (Themes vs Templates)
The WordPress theme market, both on the WordPress.org repository and on the many third party theme marketplace websites, offers a wide variety of designs and functionality for any WordPress website. There are literally thousands of WordPress themes available. Some are free, others are paid. For simple websites, free themes can typically do the job. The more complex designs or functionality you need for a website, the more likely you will need a premium (paid) theme.
The Joomla template marketplace is more limited in terms of the quantity and availability of free and paid themes. The greatest downside for Joomla is that there isn’t a centralized directory where templates are stored on the official Joomla website. However, the premium themes that are available on various third party template marketplace websites has just as much advanced functionality and premium design features as similar themes in the WordPress marketplace.
Popular Businesses Using the CMS
With WordPress being the dominant force that it is in the content management system market place, it has garnered more than it’s fair share of attention from hackers. This is an unfortunate side effect of having such a wide distribution online. The availability of various security plugins for WordPress has made the task of managing your website security somewhat simpler. But given the ever present threat of zero day vulnerabilities, keeping WordPress up to date and secure can be a bit of a chore. Especially for larger, high volume websites.
For Joomla, being a less popular content management system comes with some benefits. That being less attention from the dark forces that inhabit the internet. With Joomla websites seeing less attacks from hackers as a whole, there are less security holes exposed over time. This ambiguity means that Joomla requires less security updates which reduces the time spent on maintenance for a typical Joomla website. So even though Joomla and WordPress have similar technical security profiles, Joomla gets the edge here.
User Base and Support
Given the size of the WordPress market share, the user base is similarly sizable. You can find everything from entry level users, designers, and hard core programmers on various WordPress forums. There are forums on the official WordPress.org website as well as having free and premium forums available on many third party WordPress developer websites.
Although the Joomla user base is smaller than that of WordPress, Joomla users tend to be an active group of users. The official community forum on the Joomla website is where you will find the most active users. Like WordPress, there are also some third party Joomla developer websites that have community forums, but these are fewer in number for Joomla.
The WordPress system takes up around 10MB on the server. The typical WordPress website runs pretty fast by default. After adding all the content a website needs, plugins for enhanced functionality, and a premium theme; a WordPress website tends to slow down quite a bit. You can tune a WordPress website with performance plugins and server side enhancement, but this can require a fairly high level of technical skill, especially for high traffic websites.
Joomla takes up about 30MB on the server. Recent upgrades to the Joomla system has made performance improvements in the system. Despite the larger size of the system on the server, it actually runs faster than WordPress by default. However like WordPress, once content has been added to a Joomla website along with extensions and a premium template, a Joomla website can still slow down. Still, the same performance enhancements can be done to Joomla.
WordPress doesn’t come with a whole lot of SEO potential by default. You can easily change your URL structure to use specific keywords. The title for each page of the website automatically includes the title you give it when you create the page. That’s practically much it. For enhanced SEO, like custom meta descriptions, XML sitemaps, and social media integration and more; you will have to utilize one or more SEO plugins.
Joomla has a similar SEO makeup to that of WordPress. It doesn’t come with everything that you need for optimal SEO by default. However, you do get slightly more functionality to start with. You can change the URL structure and page titles just the same as you can with WordPress. The one difference is that Joomla allows you to add custom meta descriptions per page without any additional extensions. For this reason, Joomla gets a slight edge in SEO over WordPress.
As with any open source system, WordPress comes with predefined features and functionality that can be useful. The available documentation of the WordPress system is also quite extensive, making it user friendly for novices, experts and everything in between. Yet these benefits can limiting at the same time when you try to push the envelope of what this system can do. Still, WordPress can work and work well for practically any kind of website that you apply it to. It is truly that versatile.
Joomla is versatile in it’s own right. There are many applications for it’s use for a wide variety of websites. Yet based on the current documentation of the system and the diversity of extensions and themes that are available for the system, there is much that is lacking for the Joomla content management system. For all that Joomla has come from and all that it has become, it is still a step or two behind WordPress and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.
Make no mistake by the outcome of this comparison. Both WordPress and Joomla are exceptional content management systems. When used correctly, either of them can produce quite robust and dynamic websites. Given the pros and cons, WordPress gets the edge between the two. Some of the main reasons for this is the size and scope of the WordPress support community and wide ranging applicability of the system. What should be taken away from this analysis is that every piece of software has it’s benefits, regardless of whatever preconceptions or reputations exist about it. Choose what fits your style of design and development best and be confident that the software you are using is more than capable of handling the task at hand.