There are a lot of tools and services out there to help people who have no coding experience create a feature-rich and functional website. Choosing the right platform before investing time and resources in a website is critically important. However, sorting through all this information can be very tiring and intimidating for an absolute beginner.
In this post, I will help you choose between two popular open-source CMS projects, Joomla and WordPress. We will take a variety of factors such as ease of use, extensibility, maintenance and cost into consideration before making a final verdict.
Joomla and WordPress
Let’s begin with a brief introduction of both Joomla and WordPress to lay a foundation for further comparison.
You are probably already somewhat familiar with WordPress because it is the most popular CMS for creating a variety of websites. However, there are two variants of WordPress that you can use to create websites. The first one is a hosted version that you can find on WordPress.com and the second one is the open-source version that you can find on WordPress.org.
In this post, our comparison of Joomla will be limited to the open-source version of WordPress.
WordPress was first released for public use in 2003 and it has continuously received updates with new features and bug-fixes in that period. It needs to be installed on a web server to be fully-functional and usable by the public. However, you can also install a version locally in order to test, develop, and build websites.
Joomla has also been around since 2005 and received its first major update in 2008. It has also continued to receive regular updates since then. The project came into existence to help people with basic knowledge of website creation process build a website themselves.
Some of the similarities and differences between these two platforms arise form the fact that both of them are open-source and WordPress is much more popular.
Installation and Ease of Use
Both Joomla and WordPress have been written in PHP and come with MySQL support for any database management related needs. However, Joomla also allows you to use other database management systems like PostgreSQL. You can use both Joomla and WordPress on Apache and Nginx web servers.
All this basically means that the installation process is very similar and doesn’t require much effort from your end. A lot of webhosts will usually provide one click installation for both of them.
When installing Joomla, you are asked to first select a language and a website name and then set up your login credentials on the next page. You are prompted to set up your database connection after that. You can read the Joomla installation guide on the official website.
When installing WordPress, you are asked to choose a language and then set up your database connection details by entering the database name, username, password etc. You can find all the steps of WordPress installation on the official website.
Once the installation is complete, you will be able to create posts in both WordPress and Joomla. I felt like both of them offered a similar experience when it came to publishing content. However, Joomla was a little bit harder to navigate.
Tie: I rate both Joomla and WordPress equally for their installation and ease-of-use.
Available Design Choices
Everyone wants their websites to stand out from the crowd. A lot of things are important to make a lasting impression on visitors such as the content, the functionality and the design.
The terminology is a different for website design choices in WordPress and Joomla. What WordPress calls themes are referred to as templates in Joomla.
At the beginning of 2011, the share of WordPress in CMS market was around 55% and market share of Joomla was around 10%. In 2022, the market share of WordPress has reached around 64% and the market share of Joomla is around 3%.
As you can see, WordPress has been popular for over a decade now. This higher popularity means that more developers spend time in developing themes for WordPress instead of Joomla in order to improve their monetization opportunities. Availability of more themes in turn means that people will likely pick WordPress over Joomla. So, one factor basically reinforces the other and we end up with the current situation.
WordPress offers a lot of free and paid themes that you can install easily and have a website ready to go. The WordPress theme repository on the official website has over 10,000 free themes for you to use.
There are also multiple marketplaces like Themeforest where you can purchase premium WordPress themes with better features and support.
Unlike WordPress, there is no central repository for themes, or templates as Joomla calls them on its official website. However, there are third party repositories that host thousands of free Joomla themes. You can also find Joomla templates on marketplaces such as Themeforest among others.
Winner: WordPress is a clear winner when it comes to available design choices for your website.
It is highly likely that you will want your website to be more than just barebones webpages. You might want to integrate a forum, a commenting system, an eCommerce store or other features and functionality in your website.
Most of this extended functionality isn’t implemented in the core of either WordPress or Joomla. This will make the codebase bloated for anyone who doesn’t want this functionality.
A good way of injecting additional functionality into a website is through use of extensions or plugins. Extensions in Joomla are similar to Plugins in WordPress.
Both WordPress and Joomla have a central repository of plugins. However, WordPress has a much larger pool of plugins for you to use. This is basically due to its popularity as I mentioned in the previous section.
Don’t get me wrong. You will almost certainly find all kind of extensions for Joomla that integrate eCommerce functionality, SEO, media capabilities like slideshows etc. in your website. The advantage that WordPress offers here is that it gives you many more options of plugins so if some plugin is no longer being maintained actively, you can easily switch to another one.
Joomla offers around 6,000 extensions while WordPress offers a whopping 60,000. There are ten times more plugin choices available on WordPress.
Just like themes and templates, there are third party marketplaces that offer you feature-rich premium Joomla extensions and WordPress plugins to install on your website.
Winner: WordPress is the winner here due to so many available options.
Maintenance and Support
One of the primary features of an open-source project is that it allows you to tweak the source code in order to adapt its functionality to suit your needs. However, this can also be a disadvantage at times because you will have to spend a lot more time on things such as website maintenance.
Both Joomla and WordPress are open-source so you will have to take care of website maintenance yourself. Any plugins and extensions that you install need to be updated on a regular basis along with the website themes and templates.
You will also have to keep the compatibility of different extensions and plugins in mind before using them. Basically, website maintenance is a much more active process with both Joomla and WordPress in comparison to services such as Wix and Squarespace etc.
No matter how experienced you are at creating websites, you will likely run into some issues every now and then. When you get stuck, you won’t get premium support with WordPress and Joomla like you do with other commercial services. However, both these platforms have their own active and thriving communities where you can ask questions and there is a high likelihood for someone coming to your help.
Tie: WordPress and Joomla more or less equal when it comes to maintenance and support.
The cost of building a website with either WordPress or Joomla can vary greatly depending on your exact requirements. Keeping aside the cost of domain registration and hosting service, you don’t have to spend money on anything else with these two platforms.
The bill goes up only when you decide to use any premium themes or plugins. You will also need to hire developers in order to implement custom functionality if you don’t have much coding experience yourself.
It would be easier to find developers that specialize in WordPress instead of Joomla because of a larger ecosystem. However, the development cost should be pretty much same in either case for basic needs.
Tie: WordPress and Joomla are about the same in terms of development and hosting costs.
Let’s see a final comparison of WordPress and Joomla to see how they fare in different aspects.
|Installation and Ease of Use
|Available Design Choices
|Maintenance and Support
Both WordPress and Joomla are more than capable of creating various kinds of websites. You can’t go wrong by using either one of them for creating some blogs or portfolio websites. However, I would recommend that you use WordPress for complicated websites just because it has a larger community of users and developers around it.