The Great Debate: Joomla 3.1 v WordPress 3.5.2

July 25, 2013 by Staff Writer
The Great Debate: Joomla 3.1 v WordPress 3.5.2
It seems that when Marx and Engels wrote the "Manifesto of the Communist Party", they may have been talking about technology rather than class struggle. Whereas to date societies have generally not broken down into "two great hostile camps", technologies have almost invariably done so. Betamax vs. VHS, Mac vs. PC, iOS vs. Android - the list goes on... and includes Content Management Systems (CMSs)... i.e. Joomla vs. WordPress.


So which is best?


Until recently, the bulk of people you asked would have said WordPress was the better CMS, but since the release of Joomla 3.1 on April 26, 2013, the "hostile camps" are at it again. Joomla came through with a new look and feel, and some nice little tweaks.

Below we look at both systems side-by-side. But first - what do you do with Joomla and WordPress?

A Content Management System (CMS) is used to add content to websites. Without a CMS, the content is 'fixed' rather than 'dynamic' - either a web page stays the same, or you have to add content to a page and upload it to a server. A CMS has obvious advantages. With some variations, to upload content in new pages to a website, you need to either know HTML (or other website 'languages'), or use a website editor (Dreamweaver, etc.), and have an FTP account. And that really means being tied to your PC.

A CMS allows you to add content from anywhere. You have a user name, and a password, and you make the changes you want through the system. In addition, written in programming languages like .PHP, .ASP, etc., CMSs can automate a considerable number of website features. You don't have to create folders on your server - the CMS does that for you. You don't have to change the date on your website every day - the CMS does that for you. You don't have to... Well, I think you get the picture.

So, without further ado, let's look at our systems...

Background:

First of all, both Joomla and WordPress are Open Source programs, which is a massive plus for each. Open Source programs are free - meaning they cost nothing... absolutely zilch. They are supported by a number of volunteers who debug the system, write code for new versions, and create modules and plug-ins that enhance the functionality of the basic program.

Result: Draw - both free and Open Source!

Installation:

You need a hosting account with databases for both CMSs, but this is standard fare in even the most basic of (paid) hosting accounts. Both Joomla and WordPress can be set up quickly, with the latter installing marginally more quickly, but really, there isn't much in it - they are both easy to install.

Result: Draw - both as easy as pie!

Set up - Native Themes:

If you want to set your site up quickly, both Joomla and WordPress come with 'native' themes. These are essentially website designs that are installed when the programs are installed. The themes have a certain look and a set functionalities, and if you want to get up and running quickly, use either as is.

Although the native WordPress themes look good through mobile devices, they don't look as good as good as the native Joomla themes. Protostar is especially nice. It utilizes what is called a 'Bootstrap' protocol, which was originally used on Twitter. With Bootstrap, the various articles and pictures, etc. you add to your site are ordered and organized so they are very easy to read/see on even the smallest of mobile devices.

People have a tendency not to use the native themes provided with a fresh Joomla or WordPress installation because they are so recognizable. However, Protostar can easily be manipulated using Modules and Plug-ins that are native to Joomla. This means Protostar allows you to create a website with a reasonably unique look and feel, even though it uses a native theme.

If you want even more bells and whistles than the native templates can offer, and you are not a programmer, you are probably going to need the help of one for both systems. But for flexibility and creating a unique look and feel, Joomla wins here.

Result: Joomla 3.1 - hands down!

Set up - Free Themes / Commercial Themes:

As already mentioned, there is a tendency for people not to use the native themes that come with their installations because they are instantly recognizable by the millions of people who use Joomla and WordPress. As a result, people want to use other themes with more unique designs. There are countless free and paid alternatives available. Often free themes have links to a designer's website, while commercial themes cost anywhere around $10 to $100 dollars (depending on their sophistication) and are usually free of links.

While there are thousands of options, because Joomla 3.1 hasn't been around quite as long as WordPress 3.5.2, many developers haven't yet updated the themes they created for previous versions of Joomla. So, although there really are lots of themes to choose from, right now, I suppose we have to go with WordPress.

Result: WordPress 3.5.2 - technical knockout... Joomla 3.1 just hasn't been around long enough yet!

Customization:

There are lots, and lots, and lots of modules and plug-ins available for both Joomla and WordPress. Aside from volunteers creating them, there are commercial organizations that create modules and plug-ins for both systems. If you need it, developers and programmers can create customized modules or plug-ins with specific functionality.

Result: Draw

Security:

Security is an issue for both Joomla and WordPress. Open Source software is free, and as the name implies, anyone can access the code. If you know what you are doing, anyone can exploit vulnerabilities in the code, and they often do. The fairly recent 'Brute Force' attacks on both Joomla and WordPress websites are examples where vulnerabilities were leveraged. Many people lost control of their sites as a result of these attacks. However, with a team of volunteers hell bent on keeping you site up, updates and patches that remove vulnerabilities are always available. Until recently, WordPress has been easier to manage as far as updates are concerned, but Joomla 3.1 took Joomla to the next level, and now both systems offer "one-click" updates...

Result: Draw - both offer one-click updates

Hosting and Servers:

The bottom line is Joomla has traditionally been a bigger program that required more server resources. This meant that to get the same performance from Joomla as you could get from WordPress, you needed a better/bigger server - and that meant more cost. However, even though the new Joomla is a bigger program than WordPress, Joomla 3.1's responsive nature puts it in the same arena as WordPress. Even with a low resource hosting account, my Joomla 3.1 site seems light and responsive. It is difficult to say therefore which is better - more time is needed to see if the modules, etc. produced for Joomla 3.1 will slow down its responsiveness.

Result: The jury is out on this one

SEO:

WordPress allows you to create the URLs you want for any page you create. This gives you considerable power as far as SEO is concerned. Joomla 3.1 has a native SEO capability which allows you to create SEO-friendly URLs automatically. Good, and with a few teaks it gets better, but it is not a patch on the flexibility WordPress offers over how URLs are read by search engines.

Result: WordPress 3.5.2 - hands down!

Cool Factor:

Both Joomla and WordPress are pretty cool, but the recent addition to the Joomla family makes you feel that you are using a technology that has fully matured. Fact is, Joomla started as a website CMS, while WordPress started as a blogging tool. So, while Joomla has had the time to get its act together, WordPress has been through a transition. WordPress has morphed into a great CMS, but Joomla has always been a CMS, and it has been refined into the sophisticated tool you can use today. Very much a personal opinion, but when you are using Joomla you feel you are using a solid technology.

Result: Joomla 3.1 - hands down!

Scorecard:

3 draws, 2 "hands down!" for Joomla, 1 "hands down!" and a technical knockout for WordPress...

Joomla 3.1 is the winner by a whisker!!!


Did we get anything wrong? Let us know what it was. Did we miss anything? Leave your comments below.

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