I’ve always been a fan of Joomla, having used it for almost fifteen years and even building the Archery World Cup in Joomla back in 2007; it was a pretty powerful tool back then and remains the second most popular CMS behind WordPress. I’ve always shied away from WordPress because in its heyday it was limited and more of a blogging tool, but in the past few years it’s become more popular and I’ve found myself using it for a number of clients.
So, what are the differences, and which one would I recommend? Here are the pros and cons (please note in my opinion) of using both platforms.
- Ease of Use
If you are managing your own content, there’s really no difference. You’ll hear loads of people talk about how easy WordPress is, but honestly, it’s what you’re used to and a lot depends upon the plugins that come with each.
For example, Elementor for WordPress and SP Page Builder for Joomla both offer drag and drop interfaces which you can administer from the front end. In WordPress you click on posts to update your blog, in Joomla you opt for K2 or content articles.
The WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor also makes a difference. JCE is pretty good for Joomla, and this is where Joomla does have the edge. WYSIWYG editors for WordPress are limited.
With both systems you can login in to the front end and click on any page, module or plugin to edit it before pressing save. And a good web designer will offer effective support, lock down many of the administrative features so you only see what you need and incorporate the right plugins to make editing as easy as possible.
Winner: Either – it’s a matter of what you are used to. However, if the WYSIWYG editor is important for styling your pages (bullet points, adding images, making font bold etc.) then go with Joomla because JCE is superb!
- Stability and Security
A CMS is only as stable as the server it is hosted on and the developer that maintains it. It should be maintained regularly and updated as new patches come out.
Saying that, WordPress has so many plugin conflicts that time and again I find myself spending hours trying to get a working CMS that does what I want it to.
Plugin conflicts rarely, if ever in my experience, occur in Joomla and updates are generally pain free. In WordPress, every update I have applied has caused some issue or another with, yes you get it – plugin conflicts.
According to stats on the internet, Joomla has a higher rate of being hacked, but these are usually sites that have not been updated. WordPress has some vulnerable plugins which makes it easier to hack even an up-to-date site if not properly secured. In my experience, WordPress sites are much more vulnerable and I have rarely had an issue with Joomla sites being hacked. However, securing them properly is a must. There are number of ways to do this including restricting IP access at website or server level, setting up 2 factor authentication, turning off user registration on the front end and applying any recommended updates. Maintaining a CMS takes work, and a good web designer should continually be keep your site safe and secure. I recommend mysites.guru as a good way to maintain and look after your websites on either platform.
Backups are easy in both platforms – Akeeba is a good backup tool for both, but be careful to download your backups and also keep a copy off the server, just in case, as well ensuring your hosting provider takes regular backups for you.
Joomla comes with an inbuilt captcha, great for preventing spam via your contact forms. For WordPress, you will need a plugin, and most of them aren’t that intuitive to use.
Winner – Joomla.
This is a difficult one. Both platforms are free and open source, however, if you want to add additional functionality to your site you need extra components.
Joomla tends to have better free extensions and WordPress plugins are mostly paid for – the free ones are usually limited to a free trial or severely restricted in functionality. There is also a lot more functionality in the core Joomla package, whereas with WordPress you need a plugin for practically everything.
However, Joomla extensions can be pricey. In comparing like for like, I found many WordPress plugins to be much lower in cost, but then there are extra plugins for each plugin which is really annoying (you pay for the plugin, then realise you have to bolt on half a dozen more to get it to do what you want it to) and more seem to be restricted to one or a set number of site licences, whereas if you buy a Joomla extension you can usually use it on any number of sites. Joomla extensions tend to come as all in one solutions, so in that respect start to be much more cost effective.
Winner – Joomla. I’ve definitely spent less developing each Joomla site and the extensions overall offer better value for money.
Being open-source platforms there is a good level of support available for both CMS’s via their open forums.
I have found – and please don’t hate me here Joomla lovers – that the support offered for some extensions via private sellers and on the forums can tend to be a little aggressive. Ask a stupid question, and they’ll tell you! However, there are many, many Joomla developers who offer fantastic support – OS Solutions, Tassos Marino to name but a few, so please don’t think that is reflective of the entire Joomla community.
On the whole though., WordPress does offer great support, especially if you have purchased any plugins, and they offer live chat, being patient in order to help you troubleshoot any issues.
Winner – WordPress, hands down.
There are numerous plugins for each platform but two of the most popular are VirtueMart (Joomla) and WooCommerce (WordPress).
VirtueMart is not easy to use – it’s lacks an intuitive interface and is a pain to set up. Once it is running, it’s not so easy for clients to update it. WooCommerce has a set-up wizard which makes it so much easier to install, and the additional plugins (providing they do not conflict!) extends it’s functionality far beyond that of any Joomla site.
If you are setting up a takeaway store, for example, you can set up tables, set opening hours, integrate SMS and more easily into WooCommerce. In Joomla, it is not only more complicated to set up but the number of extensions available is limited. VirtueMart has some serious work to do if it’s ever going to get to the sophistication and ease of use of WooCommerce – I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
WooCommerce also comes with a free app. This is great for clients working in a busy retail environment who need instant access to their orders.
Winner – WordPress
In Joomla, the SEO features are built in. You can set page title and metadata at page level. It’s really effective and you don’t need additional extensions, although for serious SEO performance that integrates schema markup and resolves any redirect issues, SH404SEF is pretty good. However, you really need to know what you’re doing to see that performance.
For WordPress you need to add additional plugins to set SEO data for each page, and there are often plugin conflicts with other plugins. Saying that, the functionality of some of the better SEO plugins is really good.
I’ve had really good performance with both, but for the ability to create page titles and metadata in its core application, there is only one choice here for me.
Winner – Joomla, for its built-in functionality.
This is a difficult one, because any good designer will be able to build practically anything in either platform. Design is only as good as the designer!
However, if you are relying on templates, WordPress has much more in terms of available themes, and generally Elementor is the best plugin to build a design from scratch using a drag and drop editor.
Winner – WordPress
WordPress was originally set up as a blogging tool. In this respect, it’s far better suited to blogging and if you are a serious blogger looking for the right platform, it really is the only choice.
Saying that, K2 for Joomla is a pretty neat tool and a serious contender, enabling you to create tags, add a main image, create a read more link and categorise your blog posts easily, as well as add a unique set of metadata for each post. But it’s still not quite a match for WordPress, the ultimate blogging platform.
Winner – WordPress
- Multisite and multiple templates
It is possible to use one backend and several front end websites or stores for either platform, however, in WordPress you will only ever be modifying a single theme for each.
In Joomla, you can have completely distinct templates with one backend and you can have much more flexibility in assigning different templates to different content types.
Winner – Joomla
- Multilingual support
WordPress has a number of plugins you can use, but here Joomla has the edge with its inbuilt language functionality. In fact the multilingual functionality of Joomla is quite impressive.
Winner – Joomla
If you are relatively new to web design and are looking for a good CMS, start with WordPress. It’s support will be better in helping you to get started and the user guides are pretty intuitive.
If you are looking for good SEO functionality, want a multisite interface or are looking for something a little more stable perhaps with a view to building a web design business with many websites to maintain at once, go for Joomla. In the long run, it’s less of a headache.
If you want an e-commerce solution, there really is only one option – WooCommerce on a WordPress platform. Of course there are other e-commerce solutions but WordPress is a full CMS so you’ll get much more flexibility and be able to integrate blogging as a marketing tool much more easily.
Overall – for me, personally, I’ll always be a Joomla girl! Can’t beat it, especially when it’s served you well for almost fifteen years!