Open Source has been taking over the web at a stable rate for the past 5 years. The current financial crises added a turbo boost to that taking open source to places you never expected. Nowadays some of them open source platforms offer enterprise features not to mention millions of resources and world wide support availability.
The needs of the community are different regardless professional or personal. Some would just like to have a blog, others a corporate site, the trend however has been pushing more for content management system (CMS) based websites.
Recently, the line between blogging platforms and CMS platforms has been growing thinner and thinner. Not necessarily in the platform offering or architecture, but in how people would choose to like one of these and then tweak it and shape it to suit whatever need they have. By definition though, CMS framework is very different.
My personal experience has been mostly with Wordpress and Joomla!. I am going to explore a few more soon but in the meantime, I am going to share my thoughts and feelings about these two.
First and foremost, I do not believe a direct, head to head comparison would be valid especially in the terms of “Which is better?”. It really depends on what you are planning to achieve simply because Wordpress is a blogware while Joomla! is a CMS.
This of course does not mean that you cannot build a website using Wordpress, or a blog using Joomla!, but to me in spite of the beauty of that, it is still like running a virtual Windows on a Mac machine, or a virtual linux on a windows machine – a hack.
Wordpress is extremely customizable and superbly light. It has a flat system which makes it really easy to tweak and shape in any form you like. It is extremely user friendly, search engines love it, and the community support is simply amazing. The latter is not a surprise for the reasons mentioned right before it.
One of the main reasons behind the success and beauty of wordpress is the fact that everybody is involved in its continuous evolution; designers, Information architects, usability gurus, and programmers. This resulted in developing amazing themes for the platform, all sorts of plug-ins and extensions, and most importantly standard compliance and extendability.
I mean just Google it around and see for yourself. Almost all the themes out there are CSS driven, table-less, standards compliant, and free.
Joomla! on the other hand has a very structured framework like most common commercial powerful CMS systems. This resulted in having a platform with limited extendability attracting mostly hardcore programmers. The system being one of the first, lots of legacy practices still exist in it. Table driven layouts still dominate, standards compliance is a new trend for Joomla!, and many of the most popular extensions and components are commercial – not free.
I know it sounds like an attack on Joomla! when it’s put like that, but that is something I would never do. I am a huge fan myself and I have given back as much as I can to the Joomla! community especially in validation and compliance realms. But these are facts, and if you are a Joomla! enthusiast like me, use them as an incentive to move Joomla! to the present and best practices instead of commenting back to this post on the defensive.
That being established, which one should you go for? A very common question I keep getting really.
“IT DEPENDS.” is the answer I give every time.
If you are building a website for a corporate that expect to have a CMS and lots of professional functionality and you do not really have much time on you, then Joomla! is definitely the answer. The system has the right architecture and framework and is built for this specific purpose.
You can turn around a straightforward website, or even a full fledged community portal in a very short time – relatively speaking.
Most of the tweaking you will be doing is post production work – fixing layout, tracking non compliance issues, and optimizing SEO.
On the other hand, if you are building a small website or a blog with a content management need, or a small project which could have been a static website, then Wordpress is your best friend. Again because it was built for that. A staggering 45 minutes is all you need sometimes to setup a blog on Wordpress.
If your project was a bit advanced and complicated though, you would still be able to do it on Wordpress, but you will find yourself tweaking and hacking the platform pre-production, as in modifying plug-ins or core, or tweaking the framework to achieve your objectives. Once you are done however, everything else is taken care of when it comes to SEO optimization, compliance, and layout.
Knowing both is like speaking two languages. Even if you are a guru in one, you will expand your horizon by triple when you decide to explore the other, even if you don’t feel the need for it since you can do whatever you can on your platform of choice.
Joomla! is an overkill for a blog, Wordpress is an extreme pain for massive community portals. As simple as that.
Both are still evolving at magnificent speed – thank you community. But I would love if Wordpress would focus on being a blog and Joomla! focus on being a CMS. No need to step into each other’s territory. Instead taking a unified and cross-compatible approach would be much cooler.
My two fils ladies & gentlemen