Battle of Internetopia : What CMS wins?

Joomla! has proven itself as one of the fastest growing CMSs and has an active support community, aiding in its expansion.

 

Wordpress is the most common CMS used on the internet, largely in-part to its free Blogging option via wordpress.com

I've ingrained myself in the world and pure awesomeness of Content Management Systems for seven years now. They've completely changed the landscape of web development, content updating, and the cans and cannots of the interwebs. In many ways they are the reason I was able to build the skills and interest necessary to start SD.

I've watched the debate of which one is best, which one is easier for the dumber, faster for the smarter, which one makes Google the happiest, and which one has the largest community of support play out over the last few years--watching keenly as I try to decipher if I should build loyalty towards one or the other.

Spoiler alert--I'm not going to proclaim one over the other, there's no point in doing so. If you haven't noticed already, experts in everything around the world differ in "opinion" every day, because they are opinions and preferences. Instead, I'll explain how I decide on which CMS to use.

The two most popular these days, the iPhone vs. Android (sorry Windows phone) rivalry of the CMS world is Joomla! vs. Wordpress (sorry Drupal). Sure, there are other CMSs out there, and I'll concede that many have uses in which they'll trump these two, but for the purposes of concise writing and happy reading lets continue with this focus.

Short history: Wordpress, launched in 2003, gained ground in the blogging world and since has expanded to becoming the most popular CMS on the web (garnering some 3.8 BILLION page-views a month). Joomla was developed as part of the Open Source Matters project, launching in 2005 and have sense grown exponentially.

Because of its popularity on the blogging front, Wordpress is often the first thing clients ask me about when we begin planning their new site out--and this often leads to their first taste of my techy-geeky-freak side--and that's because the decision making of which CMS to use should have a strong focus on the inner-workings of the software and how that factors into the content you're wishing to display. I'll break down some of the differences, in summary.

 

Joomla! 3.0

Wordpress 3.5

My Conclusion

Ease of "Dumb User" Content editing/creating

Joomla! takes some figuring out--and a good understanding of site-mapping and logistics in order to maintain a site. Though once you’ve had practice it makes a lot of sense and can come second nature.

Wordpress’ backend is very literal, and makes a site-map easy to understand. Figuring out how to add/edit content is very logical because of this, and even a “dumb user” can figure it out without much guidance.

Wordpress wins this one with its easy-to-figure-out backend, but with the launch of Joomla! 3.0, the race has become closer

Developer Friendliness

Joomla!’s language and system is pretty easy for a developer (like me!) to figure out after reading a little bit of its code and documentation. While it seems I’m also always learning new things within it, they come pretty easy.

Wordpress does allow for decent definitely built more for the non-developer. The structure is built for simplicity, which can make it harder for a developer to have their way.

Joomla! was built to be a happy-medium between developing and managing websites, and it’s hit the developing site quite well. While Wordpress makes it easier for the “dumb user,” it in turn hurts the developer.

Branding & Customization

Creating templates from scratch can be tough with Joomla, but editing one and customizing it to encompass your brand and image is quite easy for a developer to do--turning a basic template into more of a wireframe than anything. Even for your everyday user, many templates are developed with a GUI (graphical user interface) that allows for easy customizing

Wordpress’ popularity has made its templates (I mean themes) the most abundant of any on the interwebs. So, yes, you have a lot to choose from. However, while abundant in number, these themes do their best to lock you into their style and design, by Wordpress’ design.

If you want to guarantee your website is one of a kind, but don’t have the resources to develop a custom template from scratch, then Joomla! is the winner here.

If you find a template that you believe fits your brand and image without much change, then whichever CMS has that template is your winner.

Expansion & Extensions

A large library of pre-developed (both free and for purchase) extensions along with the ease of of use for a developer makes expanding your site’s abilities quite extensive.

With the largest amount of both free and for purchase extensions (including WooCommerce) of all CMSs out there, there’s lots of opportunities to add to and expand your site with Wordpress.

Wordpress wins if you are 100% happy with any of the available extensions out there.
However, if you want to customize one for your needs or expand your site beyond what the extension library offers, Joomla! may be your better choice.

Security

There’s not much need to separately divulge both of these here
Joomla! wins security, and this is why:

The MAC vs. PC theory--more users on PCs ment more viruses built to attach them, and the same goes for Wordpress. Along with that, the Wordpress sourcecode’s structure has seemed to prove more susceptible to hacking-bots.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Wordpress used to be a strong leader here (while Joomla! certainly wasn’t lacking, Wordpress was just that good), but the launch of Joomla! 3.0 has evened it out a bit. Just like security, we’re just going to jump into the this section here. There’s not much difference in either anymore (with the recent launches of both CMs new versions). The reality is, the power of your SEO is dependant on three variables:

  • how the template/theme is coded
  • what SEO boosting plugins you use
  • what YOU do to ensure quality SEO within your site.

Support & Community

Joomla!’s support and community have been a large focus of the organization over the last year or so. The community may not be the largest on the web, but they are certainly one of the most active.

Wordpress has by far the largest community by a CMS group online, which can be partially attributed to the expansive use that the CMS gets.

This is a close call, but I’m inclined to lean towards Joomla!. I wouldn’t have two years ago, but the reorganization and invigoration of their community and support forums has been impressive. While Wordpress’ size of community is there, I’m personally one for quality over quantity.

Server Specifications

They share pretty similar specs. The only difference between the two came out of Joomla! 3.0’s launch, now enabling Microsoft SQL Database as an option instead of MySQL.

These factors help me consult a client on which CMS is best ot build their site with. The two largest factors I consider: customization of site build from begining and need of a "dumb-user" to update and edit content to the site. Balancing these two usually leads me to a decision. If a client wishes to just have a site that they can easily keep updated without much help or consulation from me in the future, and is OK with having a "cookie-cutter" website, then I usually point them towards Wordpress. If it's just a blog that one wants with a design that fits their need, then Wordpress is usually the clear winner as well. If a client either sees me as a point man in maintaining their site (either in full, or just as a support figure) or is hoping for a highly customized look and feel of their site, then I would usually point them towards Joomla!.

Again, there’s never going to be a clear winner in the CMS race (though there may be some losers along the way). Everyone needs a site for different reasons, and everyone has different resources available to use towards the creation of their site--these are your guidelines to use in order to select what CMS is best for your site. I suggest different CMS for different clients based off of these (including the factor of how much of my involvement they want in the development process).

(not so) Strategic Motivation & Conversation

Last week was the one year anniversary of the first step (of many) in the creation of Strategically Digital (SD), and now I've been put in the reflective mindset of how I got to where I am now.

The idea for "taking my talents to" (my Ohioan self loves to make Lebron James references...) my own company was firmly incepted in my mind by the executive director of Partners for Clean Streams (PCS) after I had met with her and her staff last May. I had been volunteering with PCS in many different ways since I worked with them on my Eagle Scout project in the Fall of 2008, and once they heard I had an interest in web development and multimedia, my once-every-few-months meetings turned into weekly phone calls, emails, and web design...

I continued to work with PCS by consulting about site updates and developments along with expanding their digital presence after launching their new website in 2011, to the point where a week never went by when I wasn't participating in long email discussions with them, all up to that meeting last May. At the end of the meeting, she asked if I'd be interested in submitting a quote to officially become contracted with them the next year as a Digital Outreach consultant and web developer--without hesitation I lit up a smile and said yes, which was immediately followed by spending the next month calling everyone I knew who worked in the industry to ask how much I charge for such work. I sat staring at my proposal for hours the day it was due, which just happened to be the day after my birthday, and finally got the guts (or maybe it was confidence?) to hit the send button minutes before it was due.  

One year later the weekly conversations with PCS are just as lively, fun, and productive--and we are going into website revamp version 2; I've launched two more client websites (Nagle Companies and Pyramid Packaging) and will be launching a third on Monday (take a sneak peak a the new Healthy Living News site if you'd like).

Reflecting on this past year I know that while digital mediums are an invaluable resource for outreach and communication, they are useless unless the're paired with your everyday face-to-face conversations, written letters, and phone calls--because these are all what brought me to start SD and keep it going by growing a client base. With each one of my current and past clients we had great conversations before business was discussed (and for most, even thought of). It's proven to me how important a smile, handshake, and mutual interest are to any relationship (friendly or professional). Every one of these relationships began due to a mutual interest, whether it be in the St. Francis Knights, Boy Scouts of America, Marquette University, Rowing, or the Sigma Chi Fraternity.

Every one of these relationships have been maintained through continuing the "real" conversations, beyond the "business talk" and ritualistic emails or social media posts. My favorite part of my job is working with people, teaching them what the possibilities are in the digital world, and how they can take advantage of these opportunities THEMSELVES; and in return learning their industry, their interests, and who they are and why the do what they do. I let my skills and talents help others learn, and in turn I learn myself--and I find that to be pretty awesome.