How to decide between Joomla and WordPress

When creating your new website, you face three broad options: A choice between a static HTML site, a dynamic content management system-driven site (CMS) or a Flash site.

Static HTML is old-fashioned and perhaps suitable for smaller, low budget sites. Flash is beautiful, but becomes inflexible when building large sites. This then leaves a CMS-powered site as your key choice.

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Once you’ve decided to go the CMS route, you face another significant choice between the two biggest players in this field: namely Joomla and WordPress. I’ve developed using both, and in a nutshell, it can be summed up like this: You are able to do more with Joomla, but WordPress has a better user interface.

What you choose will entirely depend on what content and features you want on your site. There is also a way to integrate a WordPress blog into your Joomla site, giving you the best of both worlds.

Joomla has better templates — however, most of the good ones will cost you (although they are affordable). Joomla also seems to have more extensions (plugins for WordPress) available to take it further, including a wide range of free options. For a list of Joomla extensions, you can search through this list, the Joomla Extensions directory.

WordPress is easier to learn and use as both a blogging platform and a CMS. A drawback to Joomla’s extensive functionality is that it less intuitive: It can take a while to learn its menu system, and how to manipulate sections and categories, while WordPress is easier to grasp. It’s important take the experience of whoever will be managing the site into consideration when choosing which platform to use. For example, a less web-savvy individual may find WordPress easier to use than Joomla.

From a search engine optimisation (SEO) perspective, both deliver the goods. Joomla requires a bit more work to become SEO-friendly, but if executed properly can definitely match up to WordPress — and perhaps even be better.

If you go with WordPress, be sure to get the All-in-One SEO plugin, then turn on your search-engine-friendly canonical URLs and your permalink preferences.

For Joomla be sure to choose search engine friendly URLs, rename your Htaccess file, and, in order to prevent duplicate content, be sure to turn off the “PDF” and “Print” options that appears in every post. A recommended Joomla plugin for SEO is SH404SEF, which is not free but well worth the cost.

So the choice between these systems depends on the purpose of your website and your knowledge of web development and design. When you compare the complexity of both systems, you will notice that working with WordPress is easier — so beginners often choose it over Joomla.

When you start a particular project, check the requirements of your client before you choose either of these content management systems. They are both wonderful systems and have changed the very nature of online publishing, but for me, when taking everything into account, it’s a case of WordPress before Joomla.

Joomla Pros

  • Developer-friendly and easily customisable
  • Has wide, good support through forums
  • Keeps upgrading to new technologies EG: Ajax and HTML5

Joomla Cons

  • Not as user-friendly as WordPress
  • Quite “buggy”

WordPress Pros

  • Extremely user-friendly without much modification needed
  • Excellent for blogging or sharing thoughts in a sequential manner
  • Manages images and media files well

WordPress Cons

  • Less customisable than Joomla

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