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Choosing between WordPress vs Joomla

This is a “WIP” article which means that it will be improved with graphics, extra information and links over time.

WordPress has turned into a renowned brand which powers the majority of websites. Despite their dominance, people are still looking at Joomla as an alternative for their next website. Once a fierce contenter, Joomla has lost a lot of its feathers. But the question “WordPress vs Joomla” still keeps appearing in our stats. So we will try to answer it and help you make a decision if are trying to choose between the two.

We could start this article with a very long description of both Joomla and WordPress. Apparently that is what people do when they want to appease the search engines. But since you ended up here, you probably already know a thing or two about both. You are now probably trying to decide which is the better CMS of the both of them.

WordPress vs Joomla – an old battle

Both WordPress and Joomla are free content management systems. That means they’re great toolsto start building a website. Both are praised for being easy to use and are popular with small web agencies and DIY website builders alike. With good reason, too! Both platforms require little custom development to do amazing things. So you don’t need to hire a team of developer to get things done. Yes, I’m looking at you Drupal.

Both CMS’es are very popular. One thing you need to consider into the WordPress vs Joomla debate is that there’s a fundamental difference. Joomla was originally targeting website builders, whereas WordPress started out as a blogging tool. Things certainly have evolved since. But the foundations still exist and need to be considered when making a choice between the two.

About equal: the ecosystem

Both are both free in cost. They’re also free as in “you are free to do with it as you please”, and that is not where the similarities end. They both have a good ecosystem of developers, templates and plugins. However, WordPress does outshine Joomla in this regard.

Why? Because WordPress is home to some top tier extensions which don’t have a Joomla equivalent. Not an equivalent with the same community backing, features and documentation anyway. For starters, there’s WooCommerce. Woocommerce turns your WordPress installation into a feature rich and easy to use webshop which is incredibly popular and has no equal on the Joomla side.

There’s also full blown LMS solutions that have established a name for themselves. One example is LearnDash, a popular tool to sell and offer courses. Joomla doesn’t really have these “killer applications” anymore. There isn’t a Joomla extension you can install for which you can’t find at least an equal alternative for WordPress or another platform.

Both choices are also fairly hosting friendly. Unless the hosting company you are using is incredibly incompetent, you should never have any problems being able to run either Joomla or WordPress. As long as you are using Linux hosting, of course.

One other thing the applications have in common is the ease of installing and upgrading. The installation process is fairly simple for both. WordPress is slightly easier to install than Joomla, but the difference is very small.

Since they are both fairly popular, you’ll likely don’t even have to upload anything to your server. Most hosting panels and hosting companies offer the option to install them with a few simple clicks. However, Joomla’s popularity has been dwindling recently. As a result, some hosting companies are only offering an option to install WordPress through their solutions. But even then, installing Joomla should be pretty straight forward.

Advantages of using Joomla

Let’s discuss the advantages of using Joomla. Joomla offers you more freedom and options but these can be confusing and not always beneficial. However, it offers strong foundations if you want to focus on building functionality yourself.

The true advantages of Joomla over WordPress lie in the following features of the website:

  • User management
  • Modules Management
  • Translations

Firstly, there is user management. Unlike WordPress, Joomla has an user management system which can be used in real world scenarios. On the other hand, WordPress by default only lets you log into the admin panel. Joomla’s approach allows you to setup your website in interesting ways. You can leverate user groups and permissions on the front end. That allows for a more “corporate” approach than WordPress allows out of the box.

Another strength of Joomla is the Modules Management. Modules are blocks of content in different types, shapes and forms which can be assigned to places in your template. They can be compared to WordPress widgets. Modules, however, are far more powerful and offer options such as different configurations. You can do things such as apply custom styling, setting visibility for pages, usergroups and components and much more. Thanks to the module management you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to creating a website and designing its functionality.

Thirdly, Joomla’s translation capabilities are unmatched by WordPress. Parts of the system are less intuitive than they should be. However, the translation feature is functional and it does the trick for most users. Using WordPress you’d have to install a plugin to get translations going – and your results might vary from plugin to plugin.

Advantages of using WordPress

On the other hand, there’s WordPress which has its own set of strengths.

  • It’s easier to use
  • Some really high quality extensions
  • A solid release strategy
  • A stronger ecosystem

Joomla fans will tell you that it’s not the case, but a lot of people find WordPress to be easier to use than Joomla. I have a hard time disagreeing with that. Out of the box, WordPress is simpler and easier to understand for end users. The big names in the ecosystem are making big efforts to make sure that their products also follow that “ease of use” strategy.

We already touched on the big name extensions in another section, so we are not going to revisit that part. Just know that some extensions for WordPress have become so popular that some people only realize after doing their research that they’d need to install WordPress. Think: WooCommerce, LearnDash.

And last but not least, WordPress has the more solid release strategy of the both of them. Unfortunately, you can’t really rely on Joomla to make sense or do the right thing anno 2021 or before so if you are looking for “regularity” then you should probably look into the direction of WordPress. WordPress also has some strong corporate backing, which doesn’t have to be a dirty word. There are companies who have invested a lot of time and money in WordPress who will do everything they can to make WordPress stay relevant.

As a result you can also depend on some pretty enterprise-y tools if that’s what you want, from the Jetpack subscriptions to specialized WordPress hosting. A lot of companies have better on WordPress and if you are looking for a solid foundation for your website, then WordPress is a good choice.


Choosing is difficult, I know. And recommending one over the other is hard as well. But we’re going to give it a shot anyway! So, who wins the battle of WordPress vs Joomla ? Find out after the commercials. Or right now works too.

In general I would recommend using WordPress for 90% of the websites that depend purely on presenting content to people. That probably includeds the website you were planning on using. Think: blogs, your company website, news sites and the likes. WordPress is also a great choice if you plan to use one of the “killer applications” for the platform.

Joomla can be used for those same things, but you might have a harder time finding support and developers that might help you if you are having problems.  When you want to build your website yourself and your concept depends strongly on user (groups) and is more “feature” focused than focused on content, Joomla can still be an excellent choice.

However, there’s also a third consideration. If you are studying both options and you can’t find the plugins or extensions that you want, pause. If you believe your solution would require a lot of custom development, neither CMS might be the best option. Instead, starting from either might do you more harm than good. If that’s your case, custom development of an app might be more interesting.

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