Choosing the Right Platform (Part 2)

Choosing the Right Platform (Part 2)

While discussing Web projects with other business owners, I frequently discuss the merits of Joomla versus WordPress. Many are surprised to learn about previously unknown options. Each platform has it's own merits and drawbacks, but this article will focus some lesser known options.

1. JOOMLA

Joomla is an alternative to WordPress. Both are content management systems, however Joomla was designed as a content management system from the very beginning (WordPress was orginally a blogging platform that evolved into offering content management capabilities). The management of a Web site in Joomla has a slightly steeper learning curve in Joomla, but that learning curve is worth it when you consider the overall quality of available Joomla extensions (in WordPress terms, these would be plugins) and the overall flexibility of the platform with regards to managing content. It includes all the same SEO features as WordPress, without the need for any plugin. Many of Joomla's extensions are free, though there is a smaller number available (quality versus quantity) and those that are paid downloads are of considerably higher quality. Finding the right extension for almost any task requires a little research, but your Web Team is likely to have a few favorites already in their toolbox.

Joomla offers native blogging capabilities, but the blogging extensions available provide social media integrations help you execute a strong content marketing strategy. We like EasyBlog (by StackIdeas) and RS!Blog (by RS!Joomla). There are plenty of free options available to add social media sharing automation to Joomla's native blogging capabilities if you don't want to pay for the feature.

2. MAGENTO

Unfortunately, neither WordPress nor Joomla currently provide exceptional options for ecommerce sites. Magento is a content management system, but was built using some of the same components used in high-performance Web application frameworks (including our framework of choice, Symfony). With the plethora of themes and extensions (plugins) that are available for the platform, Magento is ideal for ecommerce. This niche does come with a higher cost (many of the themes and extensions are $100+ each), but the quality is far above extensions available for both Joomla and WordPress.

For the hobbyist, Magento would be overkill. For a serious startup or business owner, Magento offers powerful features to launch an online shopping platform. It still suffers from some of the same limitations that other content management systems do, but Magento can easily be scaled to accommodate high-traffic online stores. If the intent is to launch a new Web-based service, however, Magento is still likely to fall short of a custom Web application built on a high-performance application framework.

3. WEB DESIGN-IN-A-BOX

That's not really the name of a content management system, but a broad term for a category of sites out there that market to small businesses and offer proprietary Web site creation tools (Wix and GoDaddy's SiteBuilder are a few that come to mind right away). A site that offers a "Web Design-in-a-Box" generally highlights how easy it is to set up a Web site using their system (see our previous article about red flags and using "their system"). They seem like great options to get you up and running quickly for minimal cost. The problems arise when you decide you want to move the site to a different hosting platform or your own server - it's often impossible to do without completely recreating the site from scratch. GoDaddy certainly has some hosting options with Joomla and Magento, but a Web site built with their SiteBuilder won't work on any server but theirs.

It's also important to check the fine print. Some of sites have fine print indicating ownership of any content created on their platform. I don't know about you, but when I write something, I'd prefer not giving a free license to another company to use my hard work in any way they see fit.

Those are just a few of the lesser known options that are available for little to no cost for the software itself. Regardless of the platform your site is built on, make sure you and your Web Team are comfortable using it.

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