For a decade now, there has been an on-going revolution in web design. Where in the past websites were built from scratch – page by page, feature by feature, and so on – they are now much more commonly built off existing foundations called CMS (or content management systems). For the uninitiated, CMS sites start with a framework (i.e. layouts, features, functionality and core attributes) which can then be modified, updated, and customized for each site’s needs. Once the site is created, it can then be managed, updated and modified from a dashboard by a user with minimal web skills. The benefits are endless.

WHICH SYSTEM IS BEST FOR YOU?

The main argument on the Internet is “Which CMS (Content Management System) is better?” There are many options to choose from, but the two most common are Joomla and WordPress. Joomla was established in 2005 and WordPress in 2003. Many who have written articles about which is better,  fail to bring up, in their arguments, that the answer depends on the type of site we are talking about. When hunting for a solution for the development of a website one must keep in mind the following:

  1. How many products will be listed?
  2. Is the site exclusively an online store?
  3. How will the company grow or expand in the coming years?
  4. What type of site will I be building?
  5. Will the site consist of a blog?
  6. What other major functionality will the site have?
With these questions answered you can start narrowing down which solution would be best for you. For example:
If your site is going to be 80%, or more, product based, neither Joomla nor WordPress are going to be optimal solutions for you.
However, for a full-fledged blog site, WordPress should definitely be used.
If it is a small site, with content pages for “About Us,” “Services,” “FAQs,” “Contact Us,” etc., then either Joomla or WordPress will do just fine.
If your site is going to have some “major” functionality like a large e-commerce shop, social network components, real estate listings, etc., then I would do research on the specific components (Joomla) and plug-ins (WordPress) available and see which has the best solution for your site.

PLUG-INS, COMPONENTS AND MODULES, OH MY.

In WordPress, practically all add-ons are called “plug-ins,” which can consist of a simple Google Analytics plug-in for the site or an e-commerce plug-in. In Joomla, you have plug-ins, modules, and components. Components are the larger applications which always have their own back-end panel. For example, Virtuemart, an e-commerce component for Joomla, has its own back-end complete interface to manage products, categories and all its other settings and configurations. With WordPress, at times I have seen large plug-ins that have major functionality scattered throughout different panels in the back-end, making it much more confusing for the user to manage.

Virtuemart

Figure 1.0 Virtuemart Backend Screenshot

As you can see in Figure 1.0, Virtuemart for Joomla has its own control panel for the e-commerce component. Most Joomla components come with built-in front-end views. For example, from the Virtuemart ecommerce component, one can set up a menu item that will display the entire store with products, a particular category or a specific product if necessary. The same is possible in WordPress with WP e-Commerce, though set up of menu items and pages is a bit more involved. WordPress works primarily with short codes. The short codes are placed within standard WordPress pages in order to display a particular view of the plug-in.

WP e-Commerce

Figure 2.0 WP e-Commerce Backend Screenshot

For the most part, you can accomplish building e-commerce sites, social network sites, small company websites, web portals, etc., using either Joomla or WordPress. The decision should be based on planning and research. Planning what your entire site will encompass, and research to decide which plug-ins or components meet the needs of the website you are developing.

In the end, the debate over Joomla v. WordPress has to be decided on a case by case basis, and doing your research is a must if you want to find the best available solution.

JOOMLA VS. WORDPRESS: A Repository Case Study

Last year at our agency, we developed two different repository websites. One was for TRYP Hotels and the other was for the Wyndham Hotel Group. Both designed essentially as repository portals for hotel managers, hotel employees, potential hotel owners and vendors to have access to brand manuals, guidelines, hotel templates, logos and images. BrandTRYP.com was built using WordPress and desarrollo.grupowyndham.com was built using Joomla.

WP Plugin

Figure 3.0 WP Plugin for User Access Management

Joomla JDownloads

Figure 4.0 Joomla JDownloads Component

For the most part both Joomla and WordPress accomplished the task at hand, but the real difference was the amount of time it took to configure each site’s user access for downloadable items. With WordPress, the access to each download was set at the page level (as seen in Figure 3.0). Each page in WordPress has multiple access settings determining who can edit and access the content within the page, so with WordPress, access levels had to be set on every page that had a download, making the process very tedious. On the other hand, the Joomla component, “JDownloads,” has its own control panel for managing all categories, download files, groups, etc. Uploading the downloadable files is done directly through the component’s back-end panel to its particular category. Then a group (which contains specific users) is set up to have access to a specific category, which contains specific downloadable files. So by far, the CMS of choice for building a repository site is Joomla over WordPress.