Joomla VS. WordPress – The New Project

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I gotta tell you guys, sometimes it’s difficult for me to decide what CMS to use to build my new projects.

I’ve got a new site coming up, and as usual my choices are a toss-up between Joomla and WordPress. Let the battle begin!

Joomla vs. WordPress…to the DEATH!!

Nah, just kidding. I don’t want to get started on one of those articles that stirs people up and ends up with hundreds of name-calling comments. I just want to make a website in the most efficient, least frustrating, and yes, fun way possible.

The long way to WordPress

I just want to quickly outline my progression through various web development tools as I learned the ins and outs of building these sites.

The first program I used was called Freeway, from a Uk company called Softpress…

ME: “Wow, it works just like QuarkXpress, this is the ultimate web development program!”

ME (2 years later): “Freeway BLOWS!! I can’t believe I used this garbage for so long!” (swipes all computing equipment off desk into trash in fury)

After that ordeal, I moved on to Adobe (then Macromedia) Dreamweaver…

ME: “This is it! Dreamweaver is the way, all my problems are solved. This is obviously the best, most efficient way to build websites on the market!”

ME (1 year later): “Macromedia, you SUCK!! I hate this program and I won’t rest until you’re bought and absorbed into a larger company!” (goes off to broker deal between Adobe and Macromedia)

Yes, as it ended up, my revenge was not very well thought out. Anyway I decided to try my hand at content management systems…

ME:pMachine is awesome! I can totally update my site without editing the code and add all kinds of pictures and crap on the fly. pMachine will be around FOREVER! Whoohoooo!”

ME (1 year later): “Crap. Discontinued. Oh well, I guess I’ll try the upgrade to Expression Engine. Waitaminnit – you want me to pay for this? NEVAAARRRHH!!11!!” (turns over computer desk and rips painting off the walls in fury)

After that I searched around and found Drupal and Joomla. Drupal seemed kind of hard and I had a site to get done so I went with Joomla. They were right in the middle of their big push from 1.0 to 1.5.

Luckily for me I decided not to be safe and I jumped right in with 1.5. I had a lot of fun with Joomla and eventually ended up having to do pretty much everything with it.

ME: “Wow, there’s just so much I can do with this CMS! How can they give this away for free, man? I LOVE Joomla! I’d marry it if I could! She’s the ONE!”

ME (3 years later): “I’m so @#$-ing BORED. I can’t stand the thought of building ANOTHER Joomla site. It’s just too easy. Babe, I need to see other people. Huh, say what? WordPress, eh..?”

And that was a year and a half ago. I never looked back…until now.

I’m so conflicted…

Now I’m kind of bored with WordPress and looking to do some more Joomla, except there’s drawbacks to both platforms for my new site.

It’s going to be a site dedicated to one of my comics, but I don’t just want to do a WordPress/ComicPress site, it’s gonna be a little bit different.

The site will be way more modular. To me, after having used both I think the Joomla Module system is superior to the WordPress Widget system. Yes you can accomplish the same things with both but the Joomla way is a lot less fussy -especially if I want to add a module to a spot where there isn’t already module code. WordPress pisses me off in this regard.

Except…I want the site to be “socialized” as well. WordPress is kind of the undisputed king in that arena.

I need share buttons, Facebook Like buttons and boxes and all that stuff. WordPress has a lot of innovative stuff to integrate into the social media world that is difficult or apparently impossible with Joomla.

The comment systems are fragmented on Joomla and there’s no CommentLuv plugin for it .

There are other issues, too, but I won’t go into all the tech stuff here. Either way I jump I’m gonna have to live with some annoyance.

If only there was some clear winner between the two, but for this particular project it’s more like the lesser of two evils.

I could always learn Drupal…

…but I ain’t that crazy.

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87 thoughts on “Joomla VS. WordPress – The New Project

  1. This is often a difficult choice to decide. I have a website PS Exam on Joomla and I run a couple of blogs on WordPress but I never imagine to return to Joomla after I saw the ease and whole lot of free pulgins availablve for WordPress.

    There is another CMS Xoops I’m using for one of my Quiz website and it is great if you can program custom modules. Xoops on itself is just a framework and you can construct anything out of it through developing modules.

    Wish you best of luck with your comics site!

    1. Hey Suresh, I also dabbled in Xoops way back in the day. They looked like they were in the middle of some kind of civil war when I checked it out so I took a pass on it.

      I agree that WordPress has many more quality plugins than Joomla. Actually Joomla has a staggering quantity but so many are poorly done that it doesn’t really matter.

      Thanks for the well wishes and thanks for commenting, Suresh!

      1. You know guys, every time I think one is better than the other, I find some bug or “feature” that makes me mad and reverses my opinion lol

  2. Loved the journey stories, I remember much the same emotion myself with each new version of my website. Unfortunately I can offer no advice as to which way you should jump, but I’ll watch with interest!

    1. Hi Ryah! I’m glad you enjoyed (and can relate to) my ranting :)

      I’ll just have to make the tough call at some point and live with it either way.

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. John to Joomla: Babe, I need to see other people. Huh, say what? WordPress, eh..?” LMAO

    Also, the “I could always learn Drupal…but I ain’t that crazy” line killed me lol

    I worked briefly with Joomla before switching to WordPress….so it has my vote.

    1. Yeah Drupal is a BEAST from what I hear.

      It’s extremely powerful but the learning curve is daunting according to some. I was going to give it a shot eventually but I decided to do a “feature freeze” and not dilute my strengths any more.

      I’ll just concentrate on WP and Joomla…but a decision must still be made :P

  4. I haven’t use Joomla, but this one of those life lessons where one product won’t do everything you need it to do. Although, with the development of both products, there may be a point where some of the annoyances become a thing of the past, and you will have a tougher choice of which product to choose because they both can do it all.

    1. Hey Paul,

      you’re right. I think if we had one product that did everything then we’d all be clamoring and saying “where’s the competition??”

      That’s what happened with QuarkXpress after all.

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. Pingback: Joomla VS. Wordpress – The New Project – |
  6. Pingback: GB Bilder » Joomla VS. Wordpress – The New Project –
    1. Hey Lill, thanks for reading (and commenting)!

      If you’re mostly interested in blogging, then you should avoid Joomla. WordPress does it way better.

      If you’re looking for more actual content management than blogging then you could always give it a shot. Here’s the thing: I can’t recommend the new 1.6 version, I’d stick with 1.5.

      Let me know if you have any questions!

      1. I agree with you JG wordpress is the choice of majority when it comes to blogging and it’s interface is far more easier than Joomla.I stopped using Joomla a long time ago because wordpress is much more simple.

        1. Hi Bill,

          I think Joomla learned a lot from WordPress (and Drupal) for its latest version, plus managed to make some innovations. I would never say its the equal of WordPress for blogging, but it had definitely improved a bunch.

          I still have issues with both, but the key is to utilize the best tool for the job, as you obviously did when you made your choice. Thanks for the comment!

  7. Try Drupal, there is new 7.0 and they are building 8.0!!! ;d

    1. Hey Jane, I don’t know if I’m ready to tackle Drupal just yet. I may have to get really bored before I take that on! :)

  8. Fun post John.

    I have clients on Joomla and helping these people with Social Marketing does have its frustrations. I can say that DISQUS commenting works (pretty much) with Joomla (depends on the permalink structure).

    If you are selling your services, there are definitely people on Joomla who want to integrate a WordPress blog.

    1. I am one of Linda’s clients (she’s fantastic, btw) and we’ve struggled a bunch with this debate. Joomla was advised by my web-designer and I found myself caught between the passions of two women. Normally, this would be a high-class problem, but in this case it just left me confused! Right now, I’m sticking with Joomla mostly because we’ve solved some of the user issues, for me, that were bugging me and the cost of switching to WordPress, given all the content on my site would be prohibitive!

      1. Hey Bruce, thanks for dropping in here.

        When you wrote “caught between the passions of two women” I thought for sure I was in for the juiciest comment ever seen on this site…but you were talking about something else. Oh well… :(

        Anyway, I think you made the right choice to stick with Joomla for now. If it’s doing what you need it to do then just let it ride :)

    2. Hi Linda,

      I’ve used the DISQUS comment system on a Joomla site and I did like the way it worked. I like the social aspect of it.

      I see those “integrate WordPress into Joomla” services and plugins all the time. I’ve been skeptical of how well they work, though…

      There’s definitely an opportunity for a savvy Joomla coder to come in and dominate the social networking plugin scene by replicating the offerings available to WordPress.

      Thanks much for commenting!

  9. Poor Joomla. She’s stuck with you through all of this confusion and experimenting with that feisty and versatile WordPress.

    Joomla may not be as limber as WordPress, but she makes up for it with enthusiasm and a willingness to experiment with DISQUS.

    Every relationship goes through a slump, and it sounds like you’re definitely out of the honeymoon phase with Joomla. You just gotta find a way to rekindle the excitement, man!

    Or, if you really gotta get it out of your system, go build yourself a small WordPress site in a different town where no one can recognize you. Joomla will still be there.


  10. Thanks for sharing your journey with us John..

    I’m not a big techie person but I have used Dreamweaver and I hated it. Haven’t used Joomla but I almost did. Decided to just go with WordPress since the search engines were so in love with it and now we have all these cool plug-ins that you just can’t beat.

    Sounds like you’ve got a choice to make but I’m sure you’ll make the right one of you!


    1. ADRIEENNNNNNNNNNNE!! You must get that a lot, you know, from the Rocky movies??

      Anyone? Is that not funny anymore? Oh, well.

      Anyway thanks so much for coming by. I share your feelings about Dreamweaver. Ugh, what an ordeal.

      I’m glad you decided to go with WordPress. For blogging it really is the way to go.

      The blogosphere will be hearing my shrieks of joy and/or rage very soon with regards to my new site!

  11. Hey John,

    Awesome post, you are hilarious! I think you know where my vote lies, so I wont go into it. :) One thing though – I have to say that I think it’s hard to beat WP’s built-in SEO advantages. I have found that even simply moving a site as is, without changing a thing, to WordPress leads to higher search engine traffic. So that is something to consider too of course… :)

    Can’t wait to hear what you decide and then see the site once it’s launched!

    1. Hey Libby,

      yeah the default WordPress templates are set up to be SEO optimized, whereas your standard Joomla default template or other site is usually not. Joomla definitely isn’t by default.

      I still haven’t made the choice…I’m stalling :)

  12. John,

    I completely appreciate your dilemma. I’ve (believe it or not) stuck with FrontPage just because I’ve been reluctant to change. Now in order to develop my website’s functionality and join the real world it is time to upgrade. Drupal looks wonderful, but I do not want to become a code guru when I want to publish content. Joomla looks best from the content management angle (posted files to a library, etc), but I really want to incorporate the social conversation.

    My desire to incorporate the discussion element to my site as well as the social network integration is causing me to lean to WordPress. My problem there is that so many of the WordPress sites are incredibly boring.

    I’m looking forward to hearing what choice you make.


    1. Hey Scott, it’s tough when you have a lot invested in your site already. making the right choice for anew direction is critical!

      It’s true that many of the WordPress are kind of stuck in a Thesis/Genesis rut,but you can still style it up the way you want it. As long as the framework functionality is there.

      Honestly at this point I’m leaning heavily towards WordPress, just because I’ve been doing some client work in Joomla and attending some seminars about the platform’s direction and I don’t really like it. I’m waiting for the new(!) 1.7 version to hit this summer before I make my final decision.

      Good luck and let me know if you have any questions about either Joomla or WordPress, I’m happy to help out.

      1. Thank you John,

        I appreciate your comments about the framework. I’m amazed at how many viable (it appears) frameworks are available for WordPress. One day I like Gensis, another Gantry, another Headway, another Standard, etc. I feel bad not listing them all (iThemes, Woo, Catalyst, Thesis, Startbox, Pagelines – someone please make me stop!). I know that if the framework doesn’t accomplish everything I want I can use a plugin or add code. I’ve noticed the beginning of partnerships (like Allure and Genesis), and I wonder where this new twist will lead.

        I’ve spent enough time analyzing the market and providers to know that no one provides everything I want in a theme. Even some of the frameworks don’t make what should be simple tasks like customizing the header actually simple. Which makes me realize I probably need, as you mentioned, a framework so I have somewhere to begin and then customize to my heart’s content. I imagine I need to start purchasing a playing.

        Thanks again, and I’ll let you know when I make a choice.

  13. I’ve been using Dreamweaver 8 for years, finally moved up to CS3 and it now hangs forever when I open a document that has full urls – aaaaargh! and I do listings for people who sell classic and exotic cars so there are 40+ images sometimes that I need to have full urls for because they are used for ebay.

    I’ve been playing around with a few new wordpress sites and it has been a fun sometimes frustrating experience, as with any website creation. I still like using Dreamweaver despite the quirks but maybe that is because I am so used to working with it. And to think back to my fist site ever on geocities… glad that’s over :)

    1. Chris I feel your pain! I still use Dreamweaver if a client is using it…damn do I hate that “Check-in/Check-out” system, lol.

      I use CS4 only to do image maps and complicated rollovers effects. I try to avoid that sort of thing in my own work but sometimes clients want it.

      Ahh yeah i remember my geocities site, I also remember dressing up my AOL personal page, too. I never took it down. I wonder if it’s still there…

  14. Ah yes the check in/out system – tried that briefly – that was a mess. Never did get into AOL – brings back memories of free internet access though back when 56k was blazing fast and free none the less. :)

  15. I’ll stick with WordPress. If you’re good at what you’re doing right now, why make life harder and more difficult? Did you end up learning Drupal? Maybe set it for a NYE resolution :)

    1. No Diane, I never did get into Drupal. I don’t think i’m going to at this point, either. I should have done it back in the day when I had time for it but now I’m gonna stick with Joomla and WordPress since I know those ones already. Like you said, there’s no need asking for trouble!

  16. In nutshell both platforms work well for managing a website, WordPress is best option for small to medium business. But Joomla is fantastic option for a website that requires multiple user privileges or custom database work. amit

    1. Hey Amit! You know I did find the Joomla database easier to work with, but that might have been because I was used to it for so many years and WordPress was just unfamiliar to me.

      When you talk about multiple user privileges, that’s one area where Joomla is traditionally weak (at least the core Joomla). Unless we’re talking about something else?

      That’s one thing the Drupal community has had over Joomla for so long, extensively customizable permissions and roles for users. Luckily I never had to provide that level of functionality to clients, the default roles worked just fine for them.

      Are you using one of the Joomla permissions extensions? Like the corePHP stuff?

  17. Actually I haven’t tried Joomla yet and so can’t say anything about it. The best thing about WordPress is it’s functionality and it’s features are user friendly. I think what important is that you are comfortable with what you’re using coz if you are, best design will come out from your work.

    1. True, Doanne. it’s very tough to get your best work out there when you’re fighting with the CMS! Thanks for commenting!

  18. I’ve tried both and finally decided to use WordPress. I find WordPress is more suitable for me. Joomla is too complicated. I prefer WordPress to Joomla because it’s simpler and easier to operate. By the way, great illustration you got there for this article. I like it very much.

  19. That’s a nice illustration of confusion around choosing the right CMS. It’s been nearly two years since I used Joomla for any on my websites. I have been really comfortable with WP and their new upgrades. I believe WP is a lot more easier to use compared to Joomla.

  20. I find wordpress a bit clunky sometimes. But then it more than makes up for it it with the range of plugins it has. Could I be tempted with Joomla? I’m not convinced but keep us updated.

  21. IMO, WordPress is better than Joomla. As always, WordPress gets my vote, because it is the easiest CMS available as for now and it has got the most important features and customization options available due which it’s the most proffered CMS.

  22. I have done two very complicated Membership/Security driven WordPress sites and it was extremely easy via the use of a super great plugin called s2Member.

    I also implemented Dynamic WIdgets which allows the site owner to pick and choose which widgets appear on which pages and posts as well as which Member Levels can view them. Totally awesome! I vote for WordPress ;)

  23. Oh man!

    You know, this article makes me very happy because I am one of those tech geeks that is constantly conflicted between using my programming skills, focusing on content, or doing what is most efficient. Then there’s compatibility, third-party support, “out of box” functionality, and yada yada yada… They seem to be mutually-exclusive regardless of what route you go. d’oh

    I’ve seen Drupal break first-hand. I don’t like the way it handles databases and parses data, personally.. But some folks swear by it. I feel that most that go with Drupal use it because there’s the cool geek factor to it but I don’t think it’s as efficient or flexible as, say, Joomla or WordPress.

    I haven’t really played with Joomla yet and I’m fighting myself to avoid going there. I feel that it’ll be one of those things that will lead me to more pet projects and keep me from what I really should be doing. From the sounds of it, it is very much an RDE with strong third-party support. EEK.

    Remember several years back when web developers were able to sell CMS as part of their deliverables? With platforms like Joomla and WordPress, it makes it almost pointless. Why reinvent the wheel? Sure, PHP and MySQL can combine to form like Voltron and do just about anything you want.. but is it worth it if you are trying to focus on content?

    Decisions, decisions…

    I will say this: I still use Dreamweaver. Heck, I paid over $1000 for the suite (actually, I got a discount but who’s counting) so I better put it to work. Adobe really needs to wise up and make their web tools more accessible because, as you indicate here, they are losing ground to the much more user-friendly solutions out there.

    I know I haven’t said anything particularly concrete here but I am still weighing options myself and, like you, I got my hands in a bit of everything. Haha

    This blog right here is #nerdgasm city. #justsayin

    1. You bring up a good point there about Adobe needing to wise up about it’s web software. With the ease of use of WordPress and other easy to use free systems who needs to spend so much for Dreamweaver? Well, maybe I’m just saying that because I’m still using an old version of Dreamweaver for a few sites but don’t want to spend the money to get the latest version. :)

      1. Same here. It’s a matter of principle more than anything. They make some great software but it’s not priced for bootstrappers and budding small businesses, I find. We’ll see how long Adobe keeps playing their silly game. After all, I understand that price is not everything and there’s something to be said for premium pricing/perceived value BUT… It’s a load of crap mostly, at least in their case. ;o)

          1. I hadn’t seen Edge before, that’s interesting. But I agree if it is strictly WYSIWYG I’m not interested (and Flash certainly wasn’t an easy to use interface – at least from a non flash experienced person). I wonder what price they are going to ask for Edge – most likely the inflated amount they charge for the rest of their software. :)

          2. You know, I’m kicking myself because, from the beginning, I was a big fan of Flash. I was motion-tweening since the 1.0 but, boy, it just got worse over the years. Web designers and developers alike started to favor visuals over usability.. Epic fail indeed.

            Chris, you’re not kidding – inflated prices may actually put it lightly! That is why I will refrain from clicking that link. The last thing is another tech-geeky thing to distract me.. and dilute my strengths, right JG? ;o)

            I can learn Edge but I ain’t crazy! LMAO

            (I’m with Dino.. The monologues here are HILARIOUS!)

  24. I sometimes use Dreaweaver in conjunction with WordPress. I sometimes find it easier to edit code in Dreamweaver rather than the WordPress editor. However, Dreamweaver does sometimes add extra code. If that happens I switch the an FTP editor such as BBEdit or Filezilla

    I stay away from Flash whenever possible as Mac products do not support it. Thus you are limiting your audience and their ability to see said Flash content.

    Hype is much simpler to use and runs on a Mac platform so all those iPad and iPhone users can still view your content.

  25. John i have been using WordPress since 1 year and i find it very easy and handy. I have heard about Joomla before but did not get any chance to use it. WordPress on the other hand is very easy, not only you can write and edit posts, but you can add pages. Another factor of wordpress is the the number of superb plugins and tons of themes and templates from which you can select and many more other features…

  26. Hey PS,

    the social (and other) plugins are indeed a huge factor in favor of WordPress. It’s one of the things that makes me hesitate to start a new site in Joomla, although they are doing a good job of catching up in this area.

  27. I personally dislike both of them because I only need a little bit of the whole system. But… In your case I’d go for WordPress, I mean it was made for blogging in the first place.

    1. Hey Met,

      thanks for the compliment!

      I definitely think that WordPress leapfrogged Joomla at the 1.5 stage, but now that Joomla 1.7 is out it’s a lot more of an even ballgame.

  28. Hi JG
    As I’ve written in my earlier comment that I want to learn about Joomla
    .So next stop was naturally this post”Except…I want the site to be “socialized” as well. WordPress is kind of the undisputed king in that arena.”These lines resonate with my thoughts.
    This is the reason which has stopped me also from getting familiar with Joomla.The plugins,integration with social networks,number of themes and SEO tools available for WordPress is simply unmatched by any other CMS.

    1. Yeah Hamza you are quite right here. While Joomla has made some huge strides in “social feature parity”, some of the plugins we take for granted in WordPress are either non-existant or have some counterpart that does not function quite as expected. You’d do well to stick with WordPress.

      That said, I’m getting bored with WP, so I’m jumping into Joomla 1.7 soon. LOL. Getting bored with Joomla was the reason I went to WordPress in the first place :)

  29. I really liked your blog , quite informative and interesting facts you have discussed on your blog even the comments are very fruitful and helpful in enhancing the knowledge regarding the topic.

  30. Almost every one would like you to take WordPress up because it gives you a upper hand in seo and meta tags.
    Where as Joomla is upcoming rapidly many of them are unaware how joomla is also user friendly !

    1. Yes, WordPress was definitely built with all of these things in mind. The default Joomla 1.5 template was pretty terrible, but it looks like they’ve corrected this in 1.7 thank god…

  31. Hi,

    Really there are lots of extensions are available in Joomla, but WordPress have out of box. If Joomla is good then I say WordPress is Best. This negotiation never ends.


    1. Hey Amit, yes we could go ’round and ’round forever. WordPress does have a lot of features right in the core that Joomla has to add later, but they are catching up with the latest version. Thanks for commenting!

  32. I never could get the hang of Joomla. I think WordPress is better for someone that does not have a lot of experience. More plug and play.

    1. Yeah people seem to have a tougher time picking up Joomla, so WP usually goes over better with beginners. Thanks for commenting!

  33. Hahaa I love your writing style, I literally laughed out loud as I was reading your flashbacks.

    1. Thanks Karen! they are funny now, but man that stuff was frustrating back in the day. The methods of web design have come a looooong way!

  34. I have never used Joomla so not aware about it but yes, WordPress surely helps a lot with its so many new plugins..Thank you for sharing and waiting for another such blog!

    1. Yes these days you can get a decent site up and running in a reasonably short amount of time using any of the major CMS systems (although I do hear Drupal has a steeper learning curve).

      Not like back in the day when you just had to crank out some code and hope for the best.

      Thanks for your comment!

  35. I like your style – it’s marvellous! I didn’t use Joomla, so it is interesting to me – would you recommend it and what do you prefer now, after almost a year?

  36. I have this debate every time someone brings a new website idea to me. I love when people say that WordPress “has so much more out of the box” – I think it’s exactly the opposite – Joomla has way more out of the box, but it’s just not as visible. WordPress is like an iPad and Joomla is a MacBook Pro – one is really slick and makes common tasks “touch & drag” easy, but the other can run bigger applications and hammer out much more intensive work.

    But the question I am left with is:

    Which one did you choose and where can we view these awesome comics?

  37. Hi John,

    When I was first learning how to build websites Joomla was a god send. But after using WordPress I ended up sticking with it over Joomla (The only reason was Client’s have only heard about how great WordPress is) but sometimes i’d like to just try Joomla again. So I feel ya on this post for sure!


  38. Hi
    I use Movable Type for my blog – www. which is my views on Life, Love and Relationships to help others. I looked at WordPress but think MT gives much more professional results and in 8 months since launch I am receiving in excess of 2000 visitors a week.

    However, MT is complex and not for the faint hearted.

    My latest article is of an interview with performance and rock artist, Alex Zapak titled, “The Naked Countess.” :Love to know your views on it.

    Have a wonderful day.
    Kind regards
    Isaac Sarayiah

  39. We’re a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your website provided us with valuable info to work on. You’ve done a formidable job and our whole community will be thankful to you.

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