Sufyan bin Uzayr June 10th, 2013

Joomla! Does WordPress Spell Doom For It?

Earlier in January, I wrote an article about Joomla!, wherein I discussed the present trends and future prospects of Joomla! In this article, I shall be comparing Joomla! to WordPress. However, my focus shall not be on mainstream comparison metrics such as ease of use, user interface, etc. Instead, I will take that as granted (seriously, if you are reading this, in all likelihood, you have tried both Joomla! and WordPress, haven’t you?), and focus more on reasons why Joomla! is losing out to WordPress. If, for some reason, you are looking for a more graphical comparison, Noupe has got you covered here as well.

Joomla! -- Why Can it Not Match WordPress?

The Prelude

Certain obvious points first: WordPress has a much larger market share as compared to Joomla! This does not really come as a surprise to anyone: WordPress is way more user friendly and has a simpler mode of functioning. Joomla!, though younger than WordPress in terms of age, has more core versions to its credit. However, having a higher number of core releases does not essentially add up to the fact that the software is usable too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qjnc0H8utks Along similar lines, the market share and popularity of WordPress cannot be matched by Joomla! WordPress has surpassed Joomla! in terms of numbers, like it or not. Thus, if you are looking for statistical figures about user base and number of templates as a comparative yardstick, don’t bother looking -- WordPress wins easily, and yes, WordPress users often consider this to be a good enough reason for arrogance humor. Still, if Joomla! has been around for ten years, there must be something that it is doing right, isn’t it?

On the Surface

The benefits of WordPress are known to the world: faster and simpler blogging, easy management, no rocket science required, great collection of third party help resources, market popularity, and so on. When it comes to Joomla!, however, the same benefits are harder to find. Upgrading from one major release to another has always been a pain for me, and I have never been happy with Joomla!’s SEO features, to be honest. Speaking of positives, I personally appreciate the fact that the Joomla! repository is not overcrowded like that of WordPress. Yes, this is not something Joomla! deserves credit for -- after all, it is not even half as popular as WordPress, so obviously the repositories will have lesser content. But at the end of the day, having less plugins/addons thrown towards you helps you find the right one. It is easy to pick the ideal plugin out of ten plugins, as compared to finding the same ideal plugin out of 1000 plugins. joomla1 Sadly, this is a two-edged sword. Joomla!, with its modest market share, does not command the same amount of love from internet users as WordPress. Look at Noupe: you will find a separate category titled "WordPress", not "Joomla!" or "Drupal". The same logic applies elsewhere too: search for help resources, documentation, tutorials, free/premium themes, and so on. WordPress is all over the internet; Joomla! isn’t. Now, before going any further, let us have a recap:
  • WordPress has way more users than Joomla! Not just users, WP also has a bigger market share, powers many more websites and is growing at a better pace.
  • Joomla! has lesser third party resources, even lesser addons in its repository, and is definitely not an easy software to use.
Wow! Seems like we have a winner: WordPress. Hooray! End of article, I guess? Nope.

There’s More to it...

Agreed, Joomla! has way lesser users than WP. And its count of addons and plugins is less too. But that does not actually mean everything is as dismal as it seems to be. Thing is, most, if not all, Joomla! users have some sort of working knowledge of development. Blame it on Joomla!’s poor abstraction, but there used to be a phase when you could not get even the simplest tasks done without tweaking the CMS. While this made Joomla! lose out on the user count game, whatever is left with it (mind you, 35 million is not a small number in itself), consists of folks who know their game. In other words, Joomla! users manage to get work done because they do not actually need third party goods: if a user feels a plugin is needed, he or she codes the functionality, instead of looking up the repository. This is precisely the reason why Joomla! has survived, and even managed to attract a decent audience. [caption id="attachment_77236" align="alignnone" width="550"]Image Courtesy: Joomla! Community Magazine Image Courtesy: Joomla! Community Magazine[/caption] On the downside, however, Joomla!’s major flaw has been the fact that it hasn’t managed to evolve at an acceptable pace. For a good portion of time, when WordPress was talking about being retina-ready and what not, Joomla! was still struggling to match pace with the new trends. You cannot expect your users to do great things if your own house is not in order, can you? As a last note, there is another often overlooked yet extremely obvious reason behind the slow progress rate of Joomla! Assuming you wish to win converts by attracting WordPress users to migrate to your CMS, what will you do? Offering extra functionality, being better at any particular thing, etc. are all opinion-based answers. An easier approach will be to offer something that WordPress does not -- give functionality in the core itself and eliminate the need for addons. Yes, you cannot have everything in the core, but CMSs such as MODX have demonstrated time and again that if you try real hard, it is not that difficult to target the “missing from the core” drawback of WordPress. Joomla!, for some reason, has not yet noticed that. Ironically, even if Joomla! were to go the MODX way, it may not succeed -- Joomla! itself has a lot of functionality missing from its core.


Thus, it is evident that Joomla!, even though it has a good share of the market (I do not consider approximately 2.5% to be a bad number; 2.5% out of millions is still somewhere in hundred thousands), seems to be missing out in the CMS race. All in all, while Joomla! has had a glorious history and even today it powers some big names out there, as of now, it seems to be missing the mark in the race for the top CMS. It would be a shame if Joomla! were to disappear into oblivion, though -- it has always been a wonderful open source project, and one that’s always had a special place in my heart. What do you think of Joomla! as a CMS? Do you think it is headed towards extinction or is it doing just fine? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Sufyan bin Uzayr

Sufyan bin Uzayr is a contributor to a variety of websites and blogs about technology, open source, web design, content management systems and web development. He is a published author, coffee lover.


  1. But why is it better as a CMS? What does it do better, give specifics regarding actually user and admin functionality. Provide side by side real world examples of why Wp is the better platform. This article talks numbers, but misses on content.

  2. I used to have to use Joomla because a company I was working for insisted on it for larger sites…(Your guess is as good as mine!) I found it terrible to use. WordPress is the leader for good reason now. Its intuitive, light-weight and just kinda works.

  3. IMHO, Joomla has lost to Drupal, not WordPress. WordPress targets a different niche. I’m no expert on either platform (I’m a WordPress guy), but from what I can see as an outsider, Drupal is kicking Joomla’s butt on all fronts.

    I suspect something will eventually usurp WordPress from it’s dominant position, but I doubt it will be any of the existing CMS’s. I’m expecting some sort of new PHP or Python based platform to take on the giant WordPress dominance, but I’m guessing it’ll be something we have yet to hear from. Either that or someone will fork WordPress and turn it into something amazing.

    1. I agree with the Drupal comparison. We are still talking Mambo mutations.

      Joomla is a lot more DIY than WP, but without all those pesky memory leaks and nightly reboots. Personally I’ll live with the WP downtime, and have a huge marketplace/knowledgebase.

  4. When I first started playing with CMS’es, it came down to Joomla vs. WordPress, and at the time, Joomla seemed more advanced for “sectioning” than WP (I think WP was at 2.3 or 2.4 at the time and Joomla had just introduced the 1.5 rc branch). Add to it the better ACL management system, and it was a no-brainer. But between the ability to build templates and additional functionality, I was in over my head. When the 1.6 and eventually 2.5 branches came along, I gave up on keeping with Joomla and migrated to WP.

    I had a lot of difficulties with additional functionality and front-end permissions. A lot of times, I’d get either front-end or back-end admin mess-ups (menu functionality didn’t work, etc). The compatibility and “in-place” upgrade availability of WP beat out Joomla. The one site that I used it for was a “freebie” for one of the organizations I’m involved with, and the costs to have functionality like what I can get under WP for free would have me spending $500+ per year in modules/components/extensions for Joomla. Yikes!

    I seriously doubt I’ll ever seriously consider Joomla again.

  5. I don’t think this was altogether too accurate. What do you mean by “Joomla! itself has a lot of functionality missing from its core”? I happen to think that Joomla offers more than WordPress in terms of core functionality. Minus versioning (which is going to be available in the next release), Joomla allows for more flexibility in components (view overrides — btw, far more intuitive than hooks imo), Administrator templates (WordPress forces you to use a plugin, which is bad practice), and template mapping (WordPress does not have this). But more importantly, the admin back-end is all bootstrap markup, which means you can essentially buy an admin theme on themeforest and start plugging in your CSS.

    The main problem for Joomla is its lack of documentation. There’s no doubting it – it’s horrible compared to WordPress’ Codex. Even Drupal does better. Try waiting for a response on their Google Groups page. Horrible. On the other hand, WordPress is still using SVN, whereas Joomla is using GitHub and Git (Horray for Joomla). I can easily fork their repo, and even after looking at how to contribute to WordPress, I have no idea (why does this take me to a comments page??).

    Bottom line: tech-savvy? Use Joomla. Blogger? Use WordPress.

    Just my two cents.

  6. Sit Nancy the marketing director in front of Joomla and tell her to add a page and add it to the main navigation. She can’t. If she can it’s only because she spent a whole day crawling message boards to figure it out. It shouldn’t be this hard.

    Now sit Nancy in front of WordPress and tell her to to do the same task. She’s done in a minute.

    That’s why WordPress is swamping everything else. CMS’s are for the HTML illiterate, not for developers. The sooner the development community realizes this simple fact the better.

  7. Joomla is like Emmett “Doc” Brown, from Back to the Future. Really smart, but spends most of his time working on useless gadgets that take forever to deliver an outcome (like frying an egg). Then builds a time machine that ultimately screws up everything for everyone, with a ridiculous plot line. But in the end, he has a flying choo-choo train with a beautiful family. Nothing you originally expected to be the outcome, but those who persisted are OK with that.

    1. Kevin, you review on Joomla deserves applause seriously! :) Reading even this kind of sarcastic comparison , I’m starting to thinking about switching to Joomla))

      But to be honest I will never leave WordPress. I’ve recently moved from Joomla with cms2cms that transferred my site content to WordPress automatedly, and it’s like a weight off my mind! WP is so much easy to use and your notice is true – there’s no need to waste time on useless gadgets, everything looks crystal clear.

  8. For me it’s quite simple:

    • WordPress
    ? Blog
    ? Designed for non technical users

    • Joomla
    ? True CMS
    ? Designed with the more technical user in mind
    ? Blog
    ? CRM
    ? Developer platform
    ? Flexible

    I have hand coded websites since 1995 and probably before that and I did not make the move to Joomla! lightly. However, now I love it and develop all my sites in it, even full blown hand coded auction and property systems.

    What you mentioned about “coding” functionality is so true. Frequently I will look for a component that does 100% of what I want and have to code my own solution, it’s no different with WordPress to be honest but then there’s no substitute to having a REAL developer on your books I think.

    What drove my decision to move to Joomla over WordPress (6-7 years ago now):

    • Can I manipulate the source code and optimise manually, inject my own PHP where I need it and have 100% control over the design…?

    • Will it save development time…?

    I designed a fully hand coded property website in the UK and decided to replicate the design using Joomla to manage the content and user authentication and PHP to drive the properties database.

    ? Development time: 75% less. Ergo: savings on future projects
    ? Security – Integrated

    I manage a fair number of Joomla sites and can say hand on heart that not one has been hacked. Sure, I get many many attempts but to this day no hacks.

    So in short Joomla for me saves on development, is a secure environment that I can optimise easily and can be handed to a client to manage.

    1. I agree, once you get to know Joomla well you cannot even compare the two, I have been building webites for 8 years, started with CMSMS, which was great but feel behind with modules etc…, moved to WordPress and now try and build all my new sites in Joomla, I find it very frustrating to search through the many wordpress plugins to do simple things like ACL and Multilingual driven sites, where in Joomla its all built into the core, also working with Joomla feels much cleaner and its much easier to find articles and menu’s using the filters system. I give a two hour tutorial to my customers once I complete their sites, I find more WordPress customers losing themselves in the system then the Joomla customers.

      Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.
      – Confucius

  9. I tryed both! I choosed for joomla. Why? I looked up at the docs and right away i was understanding how to create my own templates and modules etc.

    I tryed it for wordpress to understand but i can’t find how to create a simple template design as a start to take of?

    If some knows tutorials of making simple wordpress templates please post?

  10. Joomla and WordPress both has different advantages, even though wp has more and more leaned towards being a cms it’s still the easiest to manage out-of-the-box whilst joomla seems more flexible in bigger enviroments. So for me it’s a fifty-fifty choice depending on what I’m doing.

  11. I inherited a site done in Joomla. It was out-of-date both in Joomla version & in content. I had past experience in SharePoint so understood the CMS aspects. I also had hand coded in HTML for years & years … well, never mind how many years.

    I learned Joomla and yes — while parts of it were obvious there was still stuff to learn. I found the Joomla documentation to be weak so I bought the Joomla 2.5 Explained book. That was a big help. Until Joomla pushed MORE changes.

    I realized I would *never* be able pass this site (this is a volunteer effort for a non-profit) to someone else. I felt then, and still do, that do provide a quality Joomla-based site — there is a LOT to learn. And it helps to be a techie with past experience.

    I started looking at WordPress for a replacement. It took some time to pick the right template, the right plugins. But the move was completed last week and I’m so glad to have the Joomla noose of my neck.

    Joomla is very robust. It has capabilities I believe that WordPress does not. But for our volunteer society, we did not need those capabilities. The ones I put in place were NEVER used.

    WordPress can be robust too — maybe not as much as Joomla. But how many sites need that level? And I didn’t want a “job” for life. I’d like to think that if something happened to me that the site will go on.

  12. I agree Joomla and WordPress is almost like comparing salt to sugar. If you need to create an eBay you don’t start with a WordPress. If you have programmed under both platforms you will understand that WordPress and Joomla are like Night and Day. I give WordPress to my clients that need no upgrades and a quick blog. But to the clients that need a robust custom situation WordPress would be a joke.
    WordPress = Newly Named CMS
    Joomla = True CMS
    This Blog post and the last one does a horrible job at explaining the core differences.

  13. WordPress core developers should stop focusing on content – they have already done enough – custom post types, taxonomies and post formats are good enough step towards CMS, not they should focus on ACL and multilingual support. User managment really should be better, and the WPML plugin for multilingual support is complex, buggy and not intuitive.
    I don’t agree you can’t make robust and serious websites with WP – I created some … ;) . Today WP is waaay beyond blog.

  14. In my point of view joomla is best cms,it offers security,optimization and more funtionality than wordpress.

  15. i don’t care that WordPress became a CMS then took CMS crown, i’m still going to use Joomla. furthermore, the ease of use argument just means there are tons of stupid and lazy people out there. just like the ease of use (and the “it just works”) argument for iPhones. tons of idiots that don’t want to fiddle around/dick around with settings and what-not. well, guess what…….Android blew up and surpassed iOS. how do you like them apples? now Apple and Microsoft have to sue Google because that’s the only place they can compete is in court. anyway back to the CMS topic….i’m still going to be loyal to Joomla just like i have been with Android.

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