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Joomla vs Wordpress: ready... fight!

| Gianluca Gabella | Joomla!
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It was inevitable, this article would come sooner or later. We will try to highlight the pros and cons of both CMSs in order to get an objective view of the strengths and weaknesses, so that you can more confidently choose the right CMS for your next web project.

Dutiful introduction

In today's digital age, choosing the right Content Management System (CMS) can make the difference between an efficient and intuitive website and one that is difficult to manage and navigate. CMSs allow us to manage and organise the content of our websites, eliminating the need for in-depth technical programming knowledge. Two of the most popular and widely used CMSs today are Joomla and Wordpress.

Joomla and Wordpress are powerful tools that allow developers and webmasters to create, manage and improve their websites. However, despite their basic similarities, there are significant differences that may make one or the other more suitable for specific web projects. These differences may concern aspects such as usability, extensibility, SEO, security, installation and configuration, as well as the support community and training resources available.

In this article we will compare Wordpress with Joomla version 4, which is the most recent and has made significant progress in code management and user-friendliness. Needless to say, comparing recent (or even past versions, actually) versions of Wordpress with Joomla 3 (which is from 2013) would make little sense given the actual technical gap between the two, which obviously favours the former.

We will try to analyse in as much detail as possible how the differences between the two CMSs can influence your website development and implementation choices, taking into account various aspects such as usability, functionality, extensibility, compatibility with SEO standards, security and community support. In addition, we will provide useful information that will help you determine which CMS is best suited to your specific needs.

Clearly, every web project has unique requirements and the 'best' CMS will be the one that best suits these needs. With this guide, we hope to provide you with a clear and detailed framework to make the most informed choice possible: joomla or wordpress?

Ready...? Go!

Overview of Joomla 4

Joomla is an open-source CMS, known for its robustness and flexibility, which enables the creation of a variety of websites, from personal blogs to corporate portals and e-commerce. Its history began in 2005, when a group of developers decided to fork the Mambo CMS project and create Joomla. Since then, Joomla has undergone several updates, culminating in version 4.

Joomla 4, released in 2021, represents a significant leap forward for the platform. This new version brings with it a number of improvements and new features that make Joomla an even more powerful and versatile CMS.

Let's start from 'behind the scenes'

To begin with, the user interface of Joomla 4 has been completely overhauled. The new control panel is more intuitive and user-friendly, with a more modern and clean layout that greatly enhances the user experience. Let's face it... it looks more like Wordpress, so.... :D

At the PHP level Joomla 4 finally abandons version 5.x and requires version 7 as the minimum version. This may seem like a stretch for users who decide to upgrade their old sites, but making this upgrade mandatory can only be good for the user, his site and also his hosting. It must be taken into account that by now version 7 is also old, so let alone 5.6...

There are also many new features (some introduced from 4.1 or later in fact) such as a finally new and usable media manager (with even a file editing system), an article workflow management system (let's say, in a nutshell, that it is possible to decide the path that an article must take before it is published: so we go from one author who writes, another who can add comments/additional fields, yet another who gives the OK and can publish, etc... we can then create an editorial process for the release of content on the site).

What about the frontend?

One of the most important improvements is the adoption of Bootstrap 5 (which was even still in beta at the time of J4 development: the decision to switch at the last minute from Bootstrap 4 to Bootstrap 5 shortly before the final release also caused some discontent in the community), which provides a consistency of style across all extensions, improving user interaction and enabling better cross-browser compatibility.

In addition, Joomla 4 has been designed with a strong focus on performance. The introduction of Lazy Loading for images and the native integration with PHP 7 and later versions have led to a significant increase in performance, making Joomla sites faster and more responsive.

Another key element of Joomla 4 is the emphasis on security. This version includes advanced security features, such as the implementation of Content Security Policies (CSP) and the introduction of two-factor authentication.

In summary, Joomla 4 is a powerful and highly customisable CMS platform that offers a high degree of control and flexibility to developers, while maintaining an intuitive and accessible user interface. Its focus on performance, security and SEO make it a worthy contender in the CMS field.

Wordpress overview

WordPress, launched in 2003, is currently the most widely used CMS in the world, and by far. Originally conceived as a platform for blogs, over the years WordPress has evolved to become a powerful and versatile tool for creating any type of website, from personal portfolios to online shops to complex corporate websites with e-commerce and restricted areas.

Central to the popularity of WordPress is its ease of use. The interface is intuitive and user-friendly, and the visual editor allows users to create and edit content easily and directly. WordPress also offers a wide assortment of themes and plugins, which allow users to customise the site and extend its functionality without having to write code.

Another strength of WordPress is SEO. The CMS offers a number of features that facilitate site optimisation for search engines, such as URL rewriting, simple sitemap generation, and integration with various web analytics services.

In terms of security, WordPress includes a number of features such as automatic updates, a backup system, and the ability to implement two-factor authentication.

WordPress offers extensive support through a large and active online community, with forums, tutorials, courses and resources covering almost every aspect of the CMS.

Joomla 4 vs. Wordpress: A Direct Comparison

Installation and Configuration

Joomla 4: Installing Joomla 4 is a relatively simple process that requires just a few steps. The new web installation system simplifies the process further, allowing users to configure site settings and install quickstart themes quickly and easily. However, I find some things to be unintuitive (such as the handling of typing errors or when doing 'next' without having filled in mandatory fields), so good but not great.

Wordpress: The installation of WordPress is known for its simplicity. The famous 'famous 5-minute install' is extremely user-friendly, making WordPress accessible even to absolute beginners. However, to achieve an optimal configuration, it is often necessary to install and configure various basic plugins once the installation is complete.

User Interface

Joomla 4: With Joomla 4, the user interface has been completely redesigned to be more intuitive and user-friendly. The control panel features a modern, clean layout that greatly enhances the user experience. However, it may take some time to get used to Joomla's menu structure and logic.

Wordpress: The WordPress interface is considered one of the most user-friendly in the CMS landscape. The control panel is well organized and intuitive, making it easy for users to find the features they need. I find it very inconvenient, however, that the list of extensions (which make up the main menu, on the left) are stacked without logic or appaerent order.

Extensions and Plugins

Joomla 4: Joomla 4 supports a wide range of extensions, which can extend the functionality of the site. The new web installation system makes it easy to install and manage extensions directly from the control panel. However, the MVC (Model-View-Controller) paradigm on which Joomla extensions are based is very functional and robust, and if the developer has done his job well, it allows very easy management of view overrides of the various components.

Wordpress: The real strength of WordPress is its vast ecosystem of plugins. There are thousands of plugins available, offering almost every kind of functionality imaginable. Most are free with paid "pro" versions, allowing you to try out an extension before, eventually, buying it.

SEO

Joomla 4: Joomla 4 has improved its SEO features, with management directly in articles (or menu items) of meta descriptions, robots options and meta keywords. There are also many plugins (including free ones) for managing structured data and open graphs. Unfortunately, the "deus ex machina" i.e., the extension that allows you to do everything and never think about it again, is missing.

Wordpress: WordPress is known for its powerful SEO features. With the addition of plugins such as Yoast SEO, users can have detailed control over every aspect of their site's SEO.

Security

Joomla 4: Joomla 4 places a strong emphasis on security. It includes support for HTTPS, Content Security Policies (CSP), and a two-factor authentication system. In addition, its extensions are generally considered secure and undergo security reviews.

Wordpress: WordPress security depends largely on the plugins used. While WordPress itself is secure, some plugins may have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. WordPress has an automatic update system to mitigate these problems, but it requires active management.

Support and Community

Joomla 4: Joomla has an active community and supports its users through forums, online documentation, and tutorials. However, the Joomla community is smaller than that of WordPress, which can mean fewer resources available.

Wordpress: WordPress has one of the largest user and developer communities of any CMS. There are thousands of tutorials, guides, forums, and online resources available, making it easy to find help and support.

Cons of Joomla and Cons of Wordpress

To list the pros everyone is good, just go to the two official sites :-)
The idea then is to list the "cons" of both CMSs, trying to be as neutral and objective as possible.

The "cons" of Joomla 4

  1. Learning curves: Despite improvements to the user interface, Joomla can take some time to master, especially for new users. Its structure and logic can be initially confusing.
  2. Fewer themes and extensions than WordPress: Although Joomla 4 supports a wide range of extensions, the number of themes and extensions available is significantly fewer than in WordPress.
  3. More limited community support and resources: Although Joomla has an active community and offers support through forums and documentation, the amount of resources available is less than WordPress.
  4. More complex SEO configuration: Although Joomla 4 has improved its SEO features, configuration can be a bit more complex than WordPress, especially for new users.


Therefore, we can say that Joomla 4 offers a high degree of customization and control, making it an excellent choice for projects that require tailored solutions. However, it can take some time to master and offers fewer community resources than WordPress.

The "cons" of Wordpress

  1. Security: Because of its popularity, WordPress is a common target for cyber attacks. While WordPress itself is secure, site security can be compromised by vulnerable plugins or themes. Managing WordPress security can therefore require some attention and expertise.
  2. Dependence on plugins: Although the WordPress plugin ecosystem offers a wide range of functionality, the CMS depends heavily on them to extend its core functionality. This can lead to compatibility issues between plugins, and can make the site heavier and slower.
  3. Advanced customization requires code knowledge: While WordPress offers a wide range of customization options via themes and plugins, advanced customization may require knowledge of PHP and CSS.

These "cons" thus show that WordPress (which is still a user-friendly and versatile CMS) is great for beginners, with a vast ecosystem of themes and plugins and a large support community, however, it can present challenges in terms of security and performance, especially for sites with a high degree of customization or a large number of plugins.

Conclusions

The choice between Joomla 4 and WordPress will depend largely on the specific needs of your project, your technical skills, and your personal preferences. Both CMSs have their strengths and weaknesses, and there is no definitive answer as to which is better.

WordPress continues to dominate the CMS market for a number of reasons: its user-friendly interface, huge ecosystem of themes and plugins, and robust support community make it a reliable and versatile choice for a wide range of websites. However, its reliance on plugins to extend its core functionality can lead to compatibility and performance issues, and security can be a concern if not managed properly.

On the other hand, Joomla 4 has made great strides in closing the gap with WordPress. Its modular approach offers a high degree of customization, while improvements to the user interface, performance, security, and SEO features make it a powerful and versatile CMS. Although Joomla may have a steeper learning curve than WordPress, and its support community may not be as large, it is an excellent choice for projects that require more control or advanced functionality.

In conclusion, the decision between Joomla 4 and WordPress should be guided by a thorough assessment of your project needs. Both CMSs are powerful tools that can be used to create impressive websites, but their effectiveness will depend on how they are used. Remember, the "best" CMS is the one that works best for you and the needs of your project.


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