Choosing Between Joomla and WordPress

The current era of the Information Age has transformed the way we approach publishing on the World Wide Web. We have adapted to the web as a functional software platform quite well, and with regard to online social networking we have probably surpassed all early expectations. We are still developing within the Web 2.0 concept of real-time information that it is easy to share across platforms, and to this extent the web publishing paradigm has adjusted properly thanks to Content Management Systems (CMS).

The popular phrase “content is king” is at the heart of the CMS functionality. The idea of using a CMS as a publishing platform is to allow site administrators to focus on content, or else allow publishers to concentrate on content creation. Writers, for example, can direct their attention to crafting web copy that is engaging and appealing to visitors instead of having to worry about site development.

Millions of web publishers have chosen WordPress and Joomla as their favorite CMS applications, and the popularity of both systems has changed the way developers think about web publishing. In their most basic configuration, both Joomla and WordPress are free and open source projects that feature a certain degree of user-friendly operation that will work out of the box. Their functionality and open source status have also enabled a vibrant community of CMS users and developers to grow along both systems.

The decision of choosing Joomla over WordPress or viceversa should not be based on technical merits alone, although it is important to note that WordPress started as a blogging tool and Joomla as true web authoring and administration system. Based this fact, most people consider WordPress to be less complex and more accessible than Joomla, but that is mostly on the surface.

The most important factors web publishers should consider before choosing a CMS are:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Ease of Customization
  • Availability of Plug-Ins
  • Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Making the CMS Friendly to Search Engines

In terms of SEO, both Joomla and WordPress can be modified to appear friendly to search engine crawlers. Site administrators should not worry too much about their choice of CMS; instead, they should be looking at the right combination of templates and plug-ins for their sites. The key is to follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines when it comes to design, layout, site map, quality, and content.

The recent changes Google made to its search engine algorithm are keeping webmasters and SEO specialists on their toes with regard to content. This is an important SEO area that can’t be ignored. There are thousands of Joomla and WordPress templates that closely follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and are deemed SEO-ready, but those factors will only go so far if the site content is stale, duplicated, irrelevant, or of no interest to visitors.

Ease of Customization

While Joomla should technically offer more flexibility than WordPress with regard to customization, there are some limitations in both cases. The strong commercial interests behind WordPress are geared towards providing users with solutions that require minimal involvement from administrators, and thus may seem less dynamic than Joomla, but for just about any modification desired in either CMS, a plug-in is likely to have been developed for it.

Plug-Ins and Extensions

The exact number of plug-ins and other modules available for Joomla and WordPress is unknown, but it is safe to estimate that over 10,000 plug-ins and widgets have been developed for each CMS. There may be twice as many plug-ins for WordPress compared to Joomla, but duplication is likely given the open source nature of both programs. Loading a site with plug-ins is not recommended with either CMS, as doing so will consume resources and reduce performance on the server and client side.

The Administrative Interface

In terms of GUI, the Joomla CMS is not any better than the WordPress CMS. The initial configuration of Joomla takes place entirely within the GUI, while WordPress needs to be configured through a couple of steps before GUI administration takes over. Authors who have some experience blogging will probably learn the WordPress CMS GUI faster, but some Joomla users will certainly be attracted to the elegance of its interface.

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Juliana is a Content Manager based in Los Angeles for Joomla Hosting provider InMotion Hosting. Please reach out on Twitter @JulianaPayson and google plus for more Joomla or WordPress advice.