When I'm talking with other business owners that are just getting started, I frequently hear how they built their site in WordPress themselves because it's so easy. Every time I hear "WordPress", I cringe a little (usually on the inside, but occasionally it creeps into my outward expressions). We manage WordPress sites for a few of our clients, but we advocate for Joomla. Here are a few reasons why.
I was trying to avoid a blog along the lines of Joomla vs WordPress (or A vs B or fresh bread vs sliced bread) because WordPress is an invaluable tool for 40% of Web sites which are using a content management system. If you're using WordPress and are happy with it, great. But if you're just starting out and you want to learn more about alternatives, keep reading.
I wanted to start by dispelling a few of the common myths about Joomla. I often hear from WordPress advocates that it is better for everything, but especially SEO and blogging. The reality is that all the same features to manage SEO and blogs are available in Joomla and it's no more complicated to manage a site in Joomla. There are many quality extensions available to add functionality to your site. Joomla is every bit as capable of managing a professional Web site as WordPress, Drupal, or Magento.
Now, on to some reasons why we chose Joomla as our content management system of choice.
Recently, my team was working on a WordPress site and missed a typo in one of the template files before they clicked "Update File". That one misstep crashed the entire site, front-end and administration dashboard, and the only way to fix it was with direct access to the files on the server. That's not really a big deal for us since we're developers and comfortable working directly with files on a Web server, but anyone working on their own site that isn't a professional Web developer could be in over their head.
Had that same typo been made on a Joomla site, the worst we would have had to deal with would be a flaw in the layout on the public site that we could easily fix by editing the offending file in the same Web-based administration we always use. Joomla is a content management system and was designed to enable Web-based content management from its inception (versus starting as a blogging platform and bolting on content management capabilities later). To that end, access to administrative functions remain active, even when you make something as simple as a typo in your Web site template.
There are some great extensions available for Joomla to supplement your blogging activity, which is supported natively (in the form of articles). In most cases, the quality of these extensions far exceeds that of comparable WordPress extensions. That's not to say they are all fantastic, Joomla does have it's share of sub-par performers when it comes to extensions, but that can be said of anything that's free. Some of the greatest extensions for both WordPress and Joomla aren't free, so if quality is a big concern you should plan on paying for the extension.
Ease of Use
Having worked on WordPress sites, I find myself having to forget best practices to make something work that I can create and manage easily in one place with Joomla. A content management system should minimize the number of places something needs to be changed so a Web site manager can create the content once and display it in as many places as they need to without having to copy it over and over. Each of these copies needs to be maintained separately, which just adds to maintenance costs over time.
Certainly, Joomla uses different terminology from WordPress, but that's to be expected. Once you learn the basics of Joomla, you can perform the same functions as any WordPress site, even without adding any extensions to your site. Sure, by switching to Joomla, if you've been using WordPress, you might need to learn some new terms for the same features, but that would be the case with just about anything - it's like changing from using Windows to using a Mac.
It's important that we provide training to our clients on how to make the most of their Web site. As part of the process, we provide training on each new site and even help integrate a client's site and blog with their email marketing (we love MailChimp and creating automated email campaigns to send out blogs). If we can ever help you with Joomla, feel free to send us a message.