There are many tools and services to help people who have no programming experience create a feature-rich and functional website. Choosing the right platform before investing time and resources in a website is of paramount importance. However, sorting through all this information can be very tiring and intimidating for a complete beginner.
In this post, I will help you choose between two popular open source CMS projects, Joomla and WordPress. We will consider a variety of factors such as ease of use, extensibility, maintenance, and cost before delivering a final verdict.
Joomla and WordPress
Let’s start with a brief introduction to both Joomla and WordPress to lay the groundwork for further comparison.
You are probably already quite familiar with WordPress because it is the most popular CMS for building a variety of websites. However, there are two variations of WordPress that you can use to build websites. The first is a hosted version which you can find at WordPress.com and the second is the open source version which you can find at WordPress.org.
In this post, our Joomla comparison will be limited to the open source version of WordPress.
WordPress was first released for public use in 2003 and has continuously received updates with new features and bug fixes during that time. It must be installed on a web server to be fully functional and usable by the public. However, you can also install a version locally for testing, developing and building websites.
Joomla has also been around since 2005 and received its first major update in 2008. It has also continued to receive regular updates since then. The project was born to help people with a basic understanding of the website building process to create a website by themselves.
Some of the similarities and differences between these two platforms stem from the fact that both are open-source and WordPress is much more popular.
Installation and ease of use
Both Joomla and WordPress have been written in PHP and come with MySQL support for any of your database management needs. However, Joomla also allows you to use other database management systems like PostgreSQL. You can use both Joomla and WordPress on Apache and Nginx web servers.
All of this basically means that the setup process is very similar and doesn’t require much effort on your part. Many web hosts usually provide one-click installation for both.
When installing Joomla, you are asked to first select a language and a website name, then set up your login credentials on the next page. You will be asked to configure your database connection. You can read the Joomla installation guide on the official site.
While installing WordPress, you are asked to choose a language and then set up your database connection details by entering your database name, username, password, etc. You can find all the steps of installing WordPress on the official website.
Once the installation is complete, you will be able to create posts in both WordPress and Joomla. It seemed to me that both offer a similar experience when it comes to posting content. However, Joomla was a little more difficult to navigate.
To tie: I rate both Joomla and WordPress equally for their installation and ease of use.
Design choices available
Everyone wants their websites to stand out from the crowd. Many things are important to leave a lasting impression on visitors such as content, functionality and design.
The terminology is different for website design choices in WordPress and Joomla. What WordPress calls themes are referred to as templates in Joomla.
At the beginning of 2011, WordPress’ market share in the CMS market was around 55% and Joomla’s market share was around 10%. In 2022, the market share of WordPress reached about 64% and the market share of Joomla is about 3%.
As you can see, WordPress has been popular for over a decade. This increased popularity means that more developers are spending time developing themes for WordPress instead of Joomla in order to improve their monetization opportunities. The availability of more themes in turn means that people will likely choose WordPress over Joomla. So, one factor basically reinforces the other and we are back with the current situation.
WordPress offers many free and paid themes that you can easily install and have a website ready to use. The WordPress theme repository on the official website has over 10,000 free themes for you to use.
There are also several marketplaces like Themeforest where you can buy premium WordPress themes with better functionality and support.
Unlike WordPress, there is no central repository for themes, or templates as Joomla calls them on its official site. However, there are third-party repositories hosting thousands of free Joomla themes. You can also find Joomla templates on marketplaces like Themeforest among others.
Winner: WordPress is a clear winner when it comes to the design choices available for your website.
Chances are high that you will want your website to be more than just barebones web pages. You may want to integrate a forum, comment system, e-commerce store, or other features and functionality into your website.
Most of this extended functionality is not implemented in core WordPress or Joomla. This will make the codebase bloat for anyone who doesn’t want this feature.
A good way to add additional functionality to a website is through the use of extensions or plug-ins. Extensions in Joomla are similar to plugins in WordPress.
Both WordPress and Joomla have a central plugin repository. However, WordPress has a much larger pool of plugins for you to use. This is basically due to its popularity as I mentioned in the previous section.
Do not get me wrong. You will almost certainly find all kinds of Joomla extensions integrating e-commerce features, SEO, multimedia features like slideshows, etc. On your website. The advantage that WordPress offers here is that it gives you a lot more plugin options, so if any plugin is no longer actively maintained, you can easily switch to another one.
Joomla offers around 6,000 extensions while WordPress offers a whopping 60,000. There are ten times more choices of plugins available in WordPress.
Just like themes and templates, there are third-party marketplaces that offer you feature-rich premium Joomla extensions and WordPress plugins to install on your website.
Winner: WordPress is the winner here due to so many options available.
Maintenance and assistance
One of the main features of an open source project is that it allows you to modify the source code to adapt its functionality to your needs. However, sometimes this can also be a disadvantage because you will have to spend much more time on things like website maintenance.
Both Joomla and WordPress are open-source, so you’ll need to take care of website maintenance yourself. Any installed plug-ins and extensions should be updated regularly along with website themes and templates.
You will also need to keep the compatibility of different extensions and plug-ins in mind before using them. Basically, website maintenance is a much more active process with both Joomla and WordPress than services like Wix and Squarespace etc.
No matter how experienced you are in building websites, you will probably run into some problems from time to time. When you get stuck, you won’t get premium support with WordPress and Joomla like you do with other commercial services. However, both of these platforms have their own active and thriving communities where you can ask questions and there is a high chance someone will come to your aid.
To tie: WordPress and Joomla are roughly equal when it comes to maintenance and support.
The cost of building a website with WordPress or Joomla can vary greatly depending on your exact needs. Apart from the cost of domain registration and hosting service, you don’t have to spend money on anything else with these two platforms.
The bill only increases when you decide to use premium themes or plugins. You’ll also need to hire developers to implement custom features if you don’t have much coding experience yourself.
It would be easier to find developers who specialize in WordPress instead of Joomla due to a larger ecosystem. However, the development cost should be pretty much the same either way for basic needs.
To tie: WordPress and Joomla are about the same in terms of development and hosting costs.
Let’s take a final comparison between WordPress and Joomla to see how they fare in different respects.
|Installation and ease of use||To tie|
|Design choices available||wordpress|
|Maintenance and assistance||To tie|
Both WordPress and Joomla are more than capable of creating various types of websites. You can’t go wrong using one of them to create some blog or portfolio website. However, I would recommend you to use WordPress for complicated websites only because it has a larger community of users and developers around it.