Joomla! has long enjoyed the reputation of being one of the leading CMSs. Whether you are running a blog, a corporate website, a news site or a site of any other genre, Joomla! has the ability to suit your needs and power your website.
However, of late, Joomla! has lost some of its market share – particularly due to the rise of WordPress.
Sometime back, Joomla! released its version 2.5 (which has already had a security update by now). As with any product, Joomla! is also trying hard to shed its older image of being the geek-friendly CMS and contest WP for its crown of being the end-user’s CMS. The latest release, version 2.5, has taken many strides towards that strategy. In fact, it is the first major release after version 1.5 (the interim ones such as 1.7 were short-term releases).
In this article, we shall compare Joomla! 2.5 with WordPress. But before going any further, let us catch a glimpse of what Joomla 2.5 has to offer.
Joomla! 2.5 – Under the Hood
- First up, Joomla! 2.5 now offers multi-database support, including Microsoft SQL server. This is a great addition as until now, Joomla! was (by default) compatible only with MySQL databases.
- Next, Joomla! 2.5 comes with automated script updates, improved search and auto-complete functionality within the Article Editor.
- Arguably, the most notable new feature is the Joomla! Platform version 11.3 (with added support for third party extensions, Offline Mode and CAPTCHA Services, and new additions to the j* class).
- Code Mirror has replaced TinyMCE as the default editor. You can still use the old editor if you so desire, though.
- Categories under Article Manager now support fluid hierarchy and you can filter sub-categories as well.
- Better localization
- Support for Unicode Aliases for URLs – you can now have URLs in languages such as Hebrew and Arabic too.
- Enhanced security – over 240 major vulnerabilities have been fixed.
- Eye-candy and better appearance – even the thumbnails seem to float when you hover the mouse pointer over them!
It is also worth noting that support and updates for older versions of Joomla! will no longer be available. In other words, unless you have a very good reason not to do so, you should upgrade to Joomla 2.5
Joomla! 2.5 doesn’t really ‘revamp’ the admin back-end to the extent one would expect it to. Still, the admin area has the following major menus:
- Site: You can tweak the site-wide settings here, such as making global changes, clearing the cache, and editing the logged in user’s profile.
- Users: In this section, you can set up user accounts, groups, define access levels and permissions and configure mass mail functionality.
- Menus: Menu Manager and associated features.
- Content: The Article Manager, Category Manager and Media Manager are here.
- Components: Miscellaneous stuff, such as banners, news feed, redirects, links, etc. are placed under Components.
- Extensions: Extensions (modules, plugins, templates and language packs) can be found in this menu.
- Help: Obviously, this is where you’d turn for Help files, documentation and wiki pages.
As we can see, Joomla 2.5 comes with many vital additions to its set of features. But does it have what it takes to beat WordPress? Let’s take a look by comparing it with WP.
(Note that, the focus here is to evaluate the performance of Joomla! 2.5 and WP under certain categories).
Joomla! 2.5 versus WordPress
Ease-of-Use and Mode-of-Operation
Joomla! supports a lot of features natively that WordPress does not – for example, sitemaps and mass emailing. While WP can surely be extended by means of plugins, at the end of the day, Joomla! comes with a more handsome set of built in features.
However, WP is easier in terms of usage. For instance, take a look at the Article Editor.
In Joomla! 2.5, the Article Editor flashes a lot of features – formatting tools, SEO tools, metadata tools, and what not!
WordPress, on the other hand, also has a powerful Editor. Yet, once you use both of them, you realize that WP comes with the more nimble options.
Bottomline: though Joomla! has an equally awesome Editor, it does not beat WP in terms of speed of operation and usability.
Extendability and Addons
Both Joomla! and WordPress come with an excellent repository for extensions or plugins. However, WP does score way above Joomla! when it comes to themes/templates.
WordPress is being served by numerous designers and developers and you will come across thousands of themes for WP, both free and premium.
Whether you’re running a job board, a news site or a photography portfolio, you can be sure that you have many ready-made themes waiting for you.
While Joomla! 2.5 is also backed by a decent collection of templates, the choices here are nothing compared to what WP boasts of. Theme makers such as RocketTheme and YOOtheme have been creating Joomla! templates for quite some time, but your options are limited – even with these two theme providers, WP is the main forte.
Bottomline: the list of premium template providers for Joomla! is small when compared with WP.
Overall Website Management
Website management, in itself, is one such area wherein one CMS cannot exactly outperform the other. It depends mainly on the user, to be precise.
Anyway, Joomla! 2.5, as stated earlier, comes with many additional features. Naturally, its Settings and Configuration mechanism will be more loaded than that of WordPress. You can tweak email settings, article editor’s features, menus, layout, etc. All in all, Joomla! comes with a neat website management and settings’ section.
It is also worth noting that Joomla! offers many features natively, that are otherwise available in other CMSs only by means of extensions/plugins. For instance, to really gain terrific SEO features in WP, you will probably need to use third-party plugins. Joomla!, on the other hand, has loaded the SEO goodness natively in the CMS itself.
Along similar lines, Joomla! lets you setup email newsletters and mail accounts from within the CMS itself. Such functionality serves as a real blessing if you are running a large site.
Bottomline: Joomla! 2.5 has several ‘useful’ features that WP doesn’t have, natively.
Support and Community
Both WordPress and Joomla! have a loyal and active community, so you are in safe hands if you need help. Further more, both of them have an elaborate documentation, always ready to help you.
Lastly, Joomla! also has its own community magazine.
Bottomline: Joomla’s documentation and community support is at par, if not better, than WP.
Joomla! 2.5 has taken giant strides and added many new features to its arsenal. There is still ample scope for improvement – the CMS can use a few good responsive templates and support for mobile devices definitely needs a facelift. Still, version 2.5 has done a good job in enhancing the user experience overall and adding to Joomla!’s credit.
So, does Joomla! 2.5 really have what it takes to beat WordPress?
Well, Joomla! has been the coder’s CMS for quite some time, but of late it has been trying to be the end-user’s weapon of choice. It now has many interesting features that make it stand apart from the crowd of CMSs, but all said and done, it still does not beat WordPress in terms of ease of use and user friendliness. Managing a website can be cumbersome task at times, and WP does well to take that burden away from the user, as much as possible. Joomla!, though a very powerful CMS, just does not fit the bill if you are considering it as a viable option to WP in terms of ease of use.
Sufyan bin Uzayr writes for various magazine and blogs, and is the author of "Sufism: A Brief History". He blogs about technology, Linux and open source, mobile, web design and development, typography, and Content Management Systems at Code Carbon. You can learn more about him, follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook and Google+.