I am often asked why I specialize in building Joomla websites when many other web designers seem to use WordPress.
The short answer is that from personal experience I prefer Joomla, I think it is more secure and has more functionality than WordPress.
Back in 2007 when I started switching from static html sites to content management systems I experimented with Drupal, Joomla and WordPress to see which one worked best for me. Being a graphic artist first and a web designer second, I found that Joomla had more flexibility and was much more robust than WordPress.
The basic difference between WordPress and Joomla is that Joomla started out as a CMS meant to serve larger portal-like websites and WordPress is often associated with simple blogs, but it can also be a great solution for landing pages and basic sites.
Joomla is more geared towards developers who want to have creative control and are not afraid to “get their hands dirty” working with servers. WordPress, on the other hand, is more beginner friendly and very-easy to get started with. Many cheap web hosting companies offer one click WordPress installs for those who want to set up a simple site or blog. Joomla is more complicated.
Joomla is known for its complexity and a site built with Joomla can have endless possibilities, but the learning curve is very steep for those with little experience in web development.
Currently over 2 million sites are built using Joomla including The Guggenheim, Holiday Inn Express, U.K National Crime Agency, OpenVPN, United Nations, Linux, Harvard,University, Ikea, Lipton, and the Hill to name a few.
Security is always a big concern and WordPress accounts for 74% of all hacked websites. However – it’s also more likely that amateurs will use WordPress, and those people may not always want to spend the extra money to buy commercial security extensions, keep the site up to date or use premium web hosting.
Due to its popularity, WordPress has a giant target on its back when it comes to security vulnerabilities. There are thousands of plugins available to customize WP, but this also makes each installation a nightmare from a security standpoint because it’s impossible to make sure that every plugin remains compatible with newer versions of the platform.
Moreover, WordPress doesn’t ship with basic features such as forcing a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). In fact, most of its advanced security features rely entirely on plugins.
SSL and 2FA is native to Joomla, it offers its own set of security extensions, and its developers maintain a list of those extensions with known vulnerabilities.
In the very early days when I started out building sites, I used shared hosting or built sites on the clients hosting account. As my client base grew, I was able to upgrade and migrate to my own dedicated managed servers. I have built and manage every site on my server. If you don’t have your own server you are sharing space with a lot of different sites that are most likely not updated or secure, and could be easy targets for hackers.
Search engine optimization
If we compare the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) capabilities of both platforms out of the box, Joomla takes a slight edge due enabling its users to set meta descriptions and keywords for new articles. There are those who claim WordPress may be a little more SEO-friendly, but I doubt few serious web designers who would depend on the basic out of the box installation for SEO best results. Joomla can be made even more powerful by purchasing a few addons. I use several commercial SEO extensions that greatly increase Jooma’s functionality.
Performance is one of the weak spots of WordPress. But then again, if you buy a Prius you wouldn’t expect it to handle like a Porsche. Joomla has a good reputation concerning performance. Part of the reason is that it has performance-boosting functionality built in, and it also comes with plugins to make it even faster. Joomla also excels in the area of e-commerce with many extensions and templates for the purpose.
More Joomla Advantages
More advanced user management – Joomla offers a more advanced system for user access controls and user management out of the box.
Flexible for different content types – Joomla’s components and modules give you a bit more flexibility for displaying non-standard content types.
Multilingual support – Joomla has multilingual support built-in to the core, while WordPress requires you to use a third-party plugin.
Multiple templates – Joomla lets you use different templates for different pieces of content, or different parts of the site whereas you can only use one WordPress theme.
Working with Joomla since 2007 now I know it like the back of my hand. Over the years I have found the best extensions to expand Joomla’s functionality as well as speed and security.
I tell potential clients they wouldn’t go to a high-end Steakhouse and expect to get Taco Bell – so even though I could build sites using WordPress I will always recommend Joomla because the client will get a better, faster, stronger site - and the most bang for their buck.