WordPress vs. Joomla CMS Review 2019


Let’s get to the point. Which one is better, Joomla or WordPress? The answer is… both are great for specific purposes and continue to evolve as new standards are established. Let’s also go beyond technical reasons for using either CMS and include the user and developer communities, localized popularity and the future outlook for each CMS. If the pros and cons are considered carefully there is a greater chance for success, with time and money saved.

I began working with WordPress in 2004 and Joomla in 2007 and it has been incredible how they both have  evolved over the years. Though WordPress was originally developed as a blogging platform, it has definitely dominated the market with 53% of total worldwide CMS usage over the past 7 years. Joomla on the other hand has been quietly keeping a strong base of users and developers in key pockets of the world: Germany, Netherlands, Italy and more. Between the two, they feed a healthy number of third-party extension, plugin, theme, and widget developers who continue to expand the limits of each.

The Case for WordPress

WordPress has everything needed for a quick dynamic website right out of the box. It is easy to install, login, and begin the basic process of creating a simple website or blog. For anything beyond the basics you have tons of options for plugins, widgets, theme frameworks, and all the third-party integrations that make a site function and be tracked. A key differentiator for WordPress sites is that they can be customized in the admin/backend without having to use third-party HTML or CSS tools.

The work done to brand, build, and sustain WordPress all these years has been excellent, due to a dedicated core of decision-makers and developers. The default elements of WordPress are maintained by the company Automattic, with help from technology partners and community contributors. It’s popularity is in part due to the high energy of the user and developer community and well-crafted strategies used to keep the development cycles running.

Pros Cons
  • Easy to setup and get started quickly
  • Lacking performance for large or dynamic websites
  • 18,000 extensions to choose from
  • Limited default features and extensions, needing plugins for basic functions
  • Large user and developer community
  • Many unreliable plugins and extensions that lack security
  • Admin has powerful features for editing and customizing sites
  • The least scalable of the major CMSs
  • Basic SEO out of the box and easy to index for search engines
  • Media management is not optimal for organizing files or for batch uploading
  • Easier for beginners to learn how to add content and manage the basics
  • Due to popularity, WordPress sites are targeted by hackers more so than other systems

Reasons for Choosing WordPress

The determining factors RolloutSF uses for choosing WordPress for a project includes the following:

  • The company is already using WordPress or has a preference for it
  • The site is mainly a brochure site or blog, and there is no plan to scale the site in the near future
  • There is a specific feature desired that WordPress has by default or a well-developed plugin for

When we engage with a company we quickly establish what the main purpose for the website will be and what their preferences are for the new site. In May of 2018 a Swedish based startup, BehavioSec, contracted with us to redevelop their WordPress website (currently in process). Due to familiarity and data retention WordPress was the best option and no other systems were even considered. Their IT admins already understood the technical specifications of WordPress, and with a short development timeline for our team the best option was to stay with the current CMS.

The Case for Joomla

Joomla goes a step further than WordPress in extending the CMS through components and built-in plugins and extensions. The comprehensive elements of Joomla give great benefits to a developer or an admin, though some advanced elements need well-trained administrators to maximize Joomla’s power. The components installed by default add features such as contact forms, URL redirects, smart search, news feeds, and much more. WordPress requires the use of plugins to gain most of the features Joomla has by default.

The organizational model used to develop Joomla over the past decade has been much different than WordPress: Joomla has worked to stay completely volunteer-based and not run by a for-profit organization. It has a cult following due to the passion, fun, and open source principles that has kept it going, even through some tumultuous times. This passion has led to “getting things done” and creating a top-notch CMS that is about to release version 4.0.

Pros Cons
  • Many great features and extensions out of the box
  • Admin backend can be confusing to new users
  • Better performance for larger or complex sites
  • Harder to find experienced developers or programmers in some areas of the world
  • Advanced access control (ACL) built in, giving comprehensive control over user access
  • SEO can be challenging and requires work-arounds or using an advanced SEO extension
  • Easier to override extensions to make coding customizations
  • Lacks blog-oriented features like comments, requiring an extension or custom solution
  • Faster and easier to scale and develop complex sites
  • Lack of knowledge or negative PR have prevented many companies from choosing Joomla even when it is a great solution
  • Multilingual by default, many great plugins and language files to make it easy to set up
  • Custom fields have been added to Joomla 3.x but the feature still lacks ease of management and options

Reasons for Choosing Joomla

Based on our extensive experience we love choosing Joomla if the situation calls for it. The determining factors RolloutSF uses for choosing Joomla for a project include:

  • There is no preference for a CMS, and a specific Joomla feature or extension makes it the best choice
  • The site will need to be scaled as the site grows and visitor traffic climbs.
  • Neither blogging or user comments are important

We will generally choose Joomla if we can, unless the factors above determine otherwise. As a developer-friendly and flexible CMS we know that a company will change over time and with that comes changes to the website. In 2015 we chose Joomla for Mojo Networks (now Juniper Networks) because they were re-branding and the development would be done in stages and evolve over time. It turned out to be the perfect choice as the site was redesigned 3 times in the first year, as it added new features and needed to differentiate itself in a crowded industry.

Choosing Joomla or WordPress

We have taken over many websites where decisions have been made with insufficient planning or consideration of future development or scalability. In many cases the marketing team or others did not carefully consider their options, or the developer was never fully questioned. WordPress is an easy choice for many companies since it is so well-known. Someone in the company may be familiar with it, but the path of least resistance is not always the path to success! A “quick and easy” choice may turn into an expensive, time-consuming process.

Consider the following when choosing between Joomla and WordPress:

Consideration WordPress Joomla
Site that is easy to write and publish posts or pages  
Budget is tight    
Mobile choices and functionality important
A startup in stealth mode or needs a site quickly
Only need a blog or simple website
Desire to have a multilingual site now or in future
Need to custom build dynamic sections of the site
Plan to scale the site over time and increase amount of users
Site will have e-commerce
Need high performance with 40k visits + a month
Security is very important

What Matters and Why

Many decision-makers think that both options do much the same thing and the choice doesn’t matter, but it does and will matter! If you are in a competitive Industry, want it done right the first time, or your company is growing quickly and you need to scale when ready, you need to make the right choice at the start. Considering options carefully and asking pointed questions of your developers will help the decision process.

Your website is where first impressions are formulated by prospects, investors, and users around the world. No matter what you are promoting, you will gain an upper hand on your competition if your site is the best it can be. Making the right choices at the start may be the difference between success and failure.

When developing a site I definitely have my preferences. If I were new to the scene, living in the U.S. and wanted a reliable CMS that could keep me locally employed, then WordPress is probably the best option due to its popularity. However, I will choose Joomla whenever possible due to my direct experience and the fact it has the power to deliver an enterprise level of functionality and performance. The international Joomla community is  smaller, but they’re a group of folks who are a blast to engage with, and the adoption of true open source principles continues to compel me to keep developing sites with it. The principles are summed up well at opensource.com and as advocates RolloutSF supports the exchange of information and coding without business hierarchy getting in the way. Both Joomla and WordPress follow those principles, to varying degrees, and we are proud to be part of the process.

Creating good marketing content means taking into account all of this, and more. If you’d like this level of expertise applied to your website, contact RolloutSF and let’s talk.

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James Foreman

James Foreman leads the marketing and development teams at RolloutSF and ensures that all efforts are aligned towards client and project goals. His deep experience gives him an intuitive ability to quickly know what a company needs for a cohesive marketing infrastructure, accelerated growth, and increased market share. bio

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