When it comes to building a new website, right at the outset you’ve got to decide whether to opt for an off the shelf content management system or go down the bespoke route. The range of possibilities is enormous meaning that you’ll be spoilt for choice. There are however two names that you’ll keep coming across – Joomla and WordPress.

They’re two of the big beasts in the world of open source content management systems (CMS). According to the website W3 Techs, Joomla and WordPress deliver around 30% of all websites worldwide. Word Press alone powers around 26% of websites worldwide and Joomla a more modest 2.8%. Impressive statistics.

I’ll be given a hard time by the web team here at Teapot if I don’t point out at this point that WordPress is a blog platform first and foremost whilst Joomla is a proper CMS. WordPress may be a blog platform in it’s basic form but as far as what it offers and how it works it is essentially a CMS.

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WordPress, Joomla & Teapot

Here at Teapot Creative we use WordPress for building brochure sites. When we made the move back in 2013 from Joomla to WordPress the Teapot site was a couple of years old and starting to show it’s age. Whilst we’d been happy with Joomla on the whole we thoroughly investigated the pros and cons of moving to WordPress and decided it was a better option for both our own site and more importantly, our clients.

Since the change we’ve built around 150 websites using WordPress and when the time was right for them, migrated dozens of existing Teapot Creative clients over from Joomla. At time of writing we have a handful of clients still on Joomla but this number is getting smaller and smaller each month that goes by.

Three years on and both platforms have continued to evolve and present the user with all sorts of different capabilities, thousands of plugins and themes as well as the all-important communities of developers contributing to the respective platforms development.

We’re going to take a look at their performance in a range of areas – ease of use, plugins, SEO, themes, ecommerce and security. I’ll also explain why we moved over from Joomla to WordPress.

Ease of use:

WORDPRESS – It’s widely regarded as ideal for complete beginners and big companies and everyone in between. Some examples of ‘big’ names that use it are: Ebay, General Motors, Mashable & Microsoft. On the other hand WordPress is loved by small businesses that need a manageable platform for their website.

We find that the straightforward approach to managing and adding content such as blogs, photos, videos and editing existing content suits our clients down to the ground. Userfriendly and easy to follow. Most importantly of all its perfect for non-techy people that don’t want to have to learn how to code or get technical but still want to be able to manage their own website. Adding pictures, blogs, diaries etc.

JOOMLA – The generally held consensus is that if you’re a beginner when it comes to managing websites then Joomla will be trickier to get to grips with. It suits the more experienced designers and developers, as the interface is more complex and less intuitive for rookies. What you can do with it though once you’ve got to grips with the set up is impressive particularly if you’re setting up a community based website (colleges, schools, universities) as Joomla is excellent for social websites (forums & communities).

Famous institutions and companies that use it include Harvard University, McDonalds and Ikea whilst like WordPress its popular at the other end of the spectrum too with small to medium businesses.

Plugins:

WORDPRESS – There are around 38,000 plugins on the premium version. As an example of the range of applications, the Teapot Creative site uses 20 different plugins for everything from the contact form to the slider. With such a wide range available it’s possible to search for just the right one for your site.

JOOMLA – Whilst you won’t find as many extensions (Joomla’s term for plugins) to choose from there are still a huge range to search through helpfully broken down into categories with a sophisticated search mechanism to help you find the right one.

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SEO:

WORDPRESS – The plugin Yoast SEO is renowned for it’s effectiveness and easy to use features. Page by page it’s possible to optimize the site ensuring that the content you’re putting all the effort into creating will reach the widest audience possible. Yoast helps you by giving a score for each post and an overall sitewide analysis too.

JOOMLA – The only equivalent SEO plugin available that comes close to the usability of Yoast is SEO Simple. Again the emphasis is on the site owner following the advice and feedback provided as they add content page by page. Providing you know what you’re doing when it comes to SEO then there’s nothing stopping you winning on this platform but for a more universal on-page approach it would have to be WordPress.

Themes:

WORDPRESS – If you’re fussy about how sites look and we are then WordPress is a bit of a dream come true. 2,000 themes. Yup, 2,000 – that means that no matter what kind of a site your trying to build there’ll be a look for you. Food, architecture, manufacturing, travel. They all find a home somewhere in the enormous list of themes and enable the designer to present the content of your site to the best of their abilities.

JOOMLA – Much the same here too. Whilst there are less themes to choose from and they’re known as templates on Joomla, essentially your able to build the site you want using the template you want. Adaptable and customizable just as in WordPress, the imagination and skill levels are the only barrier.

Ecommerce:

WORDPRESS – A free plugin for setting up an online store is available  – it is called WooCommerce. Introduced in 2011 it has grown in popularity and offers flexibility to store owners along with usability and the ability to access over 300 extensions to personalise your store. Choosing a theme is the starting point and then adding your products, getting your payment system in place and you’re off. Simple for the user to get to grips with and take charge.

JOOMLA – Whilst its certainly possible to set up an ecommerce store using Joomla, due to it generally being a more complex to manage platform, it doesn’t lend itself to the often fiddly nature of ecommerce stores unless as already pointed out the user knows what they’re doing!

The best ecommerce sites are the ones where the owner can manage the stocking and presentation of products quickly, rather than having to rely on a third party support team for little everyday type tasks. On this count WordPress scores more highly.

Security:

WORDPRESS – No website is 100% secure and the view from the developer team here at Teapot is that whilst the core code of WordPress is managed incredibly closely, the threat lies ultimately with the users and specifically with plugins and how they’re used. Research and checks into their suitability and provenance are essential. In other words what put into the site matters. There are various reliable plugins that you can set up captchas and passwords and as a baseline security fence but vigilance is vital.

JOOMLA – Again, the core code is rigorously monitored but the extensions and plugins are far more difficult to keep tabs on. The emphasis is once more on the individual users staying on guard and following the best practice guidance.

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Rounding Up

There’s no question that both Joomla and WordPress are both first class platforms. Whether it’s their flexibility, enormous communities of experienced developers, number of users and worldwide reach or their customisation potential using plugins and themes then they both have so much to offer. All those millions of users can’t be wrong!

WordPress Over Joomla

We can build fast, secure, modern and effective websites that our clients can handle on a day-to-day basis. Joomla was fantastic in terms of what the developer team could do but gradually we found that through a combination of bugs and breakdowns the sites were becoming more difficult to manage for us and for the clients. WordPress is not perfect but if you asked our developers here at Teapot which one they prefer to work with and they’ll say overall its WordPress. Our clients find it easier to use and that is another big tick in the box as far as we’re concerned.

If you’re keen to find out more about how WordPress sites look then why not take a look at the Teapot Creative web portfolio. It’s just a selection of the hundreds of sites we’ve built but it’ll show you what can be done in the right hands and with a good dollop of tea fuelled creativity.

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