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Joomla vs WordPress – what’s the better option for your new website?

Both are widely adopted, easy to use and supported by large communities of developers and third parties. Both are open-source platforms that allow for extensive customisation and each provides a robust platform for a modern enterprise website. So how do you choose between them? We’ll try to make things a little clearer here.

First, some background. WordPress has been around slightly longer than Joomla, launching as a blogging platform in 2003. It quickly established itself as the platform of choice for small businesses, sole traders, hobbyists and anyone who wanted to get themselves a cheap, professional-looking online presence. WordPress really brought web development to the masses.

Joomla appeared two years later, designed from the ground up to support complex, enterprise level websites. As a result, Joomla had a certain advantage over WordPress at the outset. It was more flexible and able to cope with much more complex and innovative designs, so while WordPress had the user base, Joomla had the tools.

That advantage isn’t so great anymore, as WordPress has evolved into much more than a blogging platform. So, how do you choose between them? Here are a few pointers to guide you as you start your next website project.

Ease of Use versus flexibility

While both platforms are designed to make the web development process as painless as possible for the user, WordPress does have the edge here. It’s commonly accepted that WordPress is the easiest CMS to use, especially for non-developers.

The additional flexibility that you get from Joomla brings with it additional complexity and while this is a trade-off that most web developers are happy to accept, there’s definitely more of a learning curve. It all comes down to the combination of Articles and Categories and an array of admin screens which can seem a little bemusing for a first-time user. How much this matters depends entirely on how much you (as a non-techie) want to do for yourself and there are plenty of ‘page builder’ extensions available now that help to present Joomla in a truly user-friendly way.

So you’ll need to consider the skills you have to support, update and maintain your new site and balance the versatility of Joomla vs. the simplicity of WordPress.

Security

As you’d expect, both platforms benefit from regular security patches, however when it comes to security, WordPress is victim of its own success. As the most-widely used CMS in the world (by far) it’s simply much more of a target for hackers than Joomla and is significantly more prone to cyber-attacks. According to a 2017 report, WordPress took the hit for 74% of website hacks in Q3 of 2016! Joomla’s handling of Secure Socket Layer (SSL) connections is also more integrated than WordPress which provides a distinct advantage.

Thankfully, WordPress is supported by a large security team and a vast array of security plug-ins so most malicious actors are kept at bay but in terms of security, Joomla has an advantage.

Extensibility – plug-ins and add-ons

Both Joomla and WordPress have huge developer communities – a vast marketplace of vendors with a widget or a tool for every conceivable occasion. In that respect there’s really not much to choose between them. You’ll find numerous free and paid-for themes for both platform.

Costs

There’s really nothing to separate Joomla and WordPress in terms of costs. Development and design costs tend to be roughly the same. You do find that many developers are firmly in one camp or the other though so your choice of development team may drive you to one platform or the other.

Hosting and ongoing support tend to be roughly the same and plugins, extensions and themes all fall into the same price bracket.

So – which to choose?

Ultimately, what really matters is what you want to do with your new site. If you’re looking for something light, quick and simple then WordPress is the clear winner. If you want something a little more sophisticated, then you should be looking at Joomla.

Make sure your next web developer talks you through the options that are available and try to work with someone who can offer a range of solutions. If you’d like to start a conversation about your next web project, get in touch with RMA: we’d love to be a part of it.

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