Dieter Petereit January 23rd, 2013

WordPress vs. Joomla: The Essence

Mark Atkinson had a deep and thorough look into the ups and downs of both WordPress and Joomla during the course of last year. He published six lengthy articles over at Sitepoint. You should definitely head on over there to read all of them. But first, stick with us. As Atkinson was aware of the lazy nature of most online readers he and his team thought about a way to transport the essential messages of the above mentioned articles in a fast and comfortably consumable manner. Guess what he did? Yepp, he turned to the newest fashion these days and created a - woohoo - infographic.

WordPress For Blogs and Newsy Sites, Joomla For The Rest!

What did Atkinson find out during the course of his six articles on WordPress vs. Joomla? To cut a long story short: Take WordPress for blogs, content curation, news and Joomla for everything else. Though I personally do not agree, as I see Joomla as a relic of the past which I wouldn’t cry for it were gone yesterday, others might want to at least consider Atkinson’s advice. At least, you don’t waste much time starting with the following infographic.

Would you have thought that Joomla actually is younger than WordPress? Left to my own devices I would have estimated Joomla to be much older. My impressions while testing it out a few years ago have always told me to be working with a dinosaur of the CMS age. So who went wrong here? Me or the developers who put up an experience like that?

The extension concept of both Joomla and WordPress is similar, yet different in detail. Where WordPress only has the concept of plugins to extend both the front-end output and the core functionality, Joomla has drawn in another line. While plugins in Joomla always only affect the front-end, you need components to extend the core functionality. These components themselves can be tweaked by plugins.

It might be seen as a potentially better security concept to differentiate between plugins and components. Not so skilled users will more easily crash their WordPress sites than their Joomla sites this way. But now let’s head over to the infographic by Atkinson and the Red Giant team. Clicking on it leads you to the original source:

(Source: Red Giant)

Related Links:

  • Glorious Past, Challenging Future: Taking A Closer Look at Joomla! - Noupe Magazine
  • WordPress v Joomla: The Winner - Sitepoint

Dieter Petereit

Dieter Petereit is a veteran of the web with over 25 years of experience in the world of IT. As soon as Netscape became available he started to do what already at that time was called web design and has carried on ever since. Two decades ago he started writing for several online publications, some well, some lesser known. You can meet him over on Google+.


  1. I used Joomla for 4 years since 2005 to 2009. That time Joomla is my all time favourite CMS. From 2009 I start using WordPress for couple of websites. Then from 2010 I didn’t use Joomla for any of my projects. WordPress is my all time favourite. Easy to use and customize.

    Second thing is its easy to understand by my clients who wants to update their site themself.

    Third reason, Its easy to create a Theme for WordPress and there are lots of Wordtress themes available on the market place.

  2. Thanks for this article, Dieter. I’m a fledgling developer and exclusively use WordPress. I did consider a number of other options but they all seemed really unfriendly. WordPress just seemed to click. Now that I’ve invested quite a lot of time in learning about WP I’m reluctant to try anything else – I just don’t have the time. I’m increasingly seeing, in the market for which I build, WordPress being used, which fills me with confidence. I guess it’s not about what you use but how you use it. If you’re happy for your site to look like an off-the-shelf theme then that’s what you’re going to end up with.

  3. Hi Dieter,

    First thing’s first, thank you for posting our infographic here. It’s nice to be seen on such a well established and supported site.

    I picked up that you had posted this here and, after reading your write up, I thought I’d add my sentiments.

    I find it particularly interesting that you thought of Joomla as being an older system. While this is not something that I’ve felt personally, I can definitely understand your viewpoint and can see how others might feel that way too.
    To be brutally honest, in the few months since writing the series for Sitepoint, I’ve struggled to find reasons to develop new client sites on Joomla. This could be for a number of reasons, but I feel like Joomla is falling behind in certain areas. I am confident, however, that Joomla will bring a lot more to the table with future versions of Joomla 3.0+

    Another stark change in my CMS choice has been in the realm of e-commerce sites, which I did allude to in the infographic. I was previously a huge fan of Virtuemart as the online store solution for the masses. I’ve subsequently seen massive success with WooCommerce for WordPress and realised that I may have been very misguided in certain choices of mine.

    At the end of the day, I think the message I try to convey to the readers is one urging them to choose a CMS based on how well it covers their functionality. I recommend taking a long, hard look at the available extensions/plugins for each CMS (this includes other options such as Drupal) and making a decision based on that, first and foremost.

    I feel like the main reason I keep going to WordPress for client websites lately, is because everyone wants (needs) a fully functioning blog. It’s just so much easier to blog on WordPress, really.

    At the end of the day, both systems are great and both have their advantages. Pick whatever covers your required functionality the best.

    Thanks again for the write up, Dieter.

    – Mark

  4. We’ve used Joomla since 2007 (done maybe 150+ custom templates and websites for the platform) and we’ve been using also WordPress since 2011 (25+ custom themes and sites).

    Where Joomla prevails?
    For bigger websites: definately Joomla, if you are used to the way things are done for Joomla then custom theme and plugin development for WordPress could really be painful compared to Joomla. The templating system for WordPress is really stupid in my opinion, there are workarounds and hacks and frameworks that can be used but out of the box we are still having WTF moments most of the time while templating for WordPress. Creating templates for Joomla is a breeze compared to wp.

    Another thing that bothers me the most with WordPress is that the quality of the free plugins / widgets varies too much. With much experience both in Joomla and WordPress extensions – Joomla extensions seem to follow an accepted structure meanwhile WordPress developers tend to do as they want – more spaghetti and hard-coded hacks.

    Where WordPress prevails?
    Security: Joomla gets hacked more often – fact. Over the years we’ve created a very precise routine and security monitoring system for our Joomla installs because any other way we would get a lot of complaints from our clients (we’ve learned it the hard way). Joomla core when it is updated to the latest version is usually quite bulletproof but IMHO wp core is more secure. Nonetheless – if you know what you are doing securing both systems is not that hard. Just there are a lot of beginners who know nothing about securing their installations and personally I think Joomla has maybe got some undeserved bad reputation about security.

    Clients love WordPress! I’m not the biggest fan of the WordPress back-end UI but our tests have shown that clients can handle and understand WordPress much better than Joomla. And that is what matters at the end of the day. We might love and prefer Joomla over WordPress but since our clients have to live with the site for years then it is not fair from our side to bash WordPress just because we as developers don’t like it as much as Joomla.

  5. Add “Advanced Custom Fields” plugin to your WordPress installation and you have a full blown CMS that is easy to configure and easy for clients to manage (this is very important to our clients). Joomla is a confusing mess for clients to use.

    Add a JSON API plugin to WP and you have content as a service, allowing you to stream content to mobile platforms.

    For ecommerce there are better things out there like Lemonstand (www.lemonstand.com) which has built in blogging and content support as a secondary function. WP and Joomla are content first, ecommerce second which isn’t great for medium to large stores.

  6. I have been using both systems. I started with joomla for a big community website. Its great for building à membership website but the downside is the inflexibility of it concerning articles. I prefer wordpress for à clean semantic website/articles.

  7. I have tried both Joomla and WordPress and both have their pros and cons for general info/blog websites. If you want to do a blog or info site, I feel WordPress is easier. However with Joomla once you get used to Joomla its easy enough to create and maintain a blog. I feel it is easier to make your create themes in Drupal. My advice is to try both and see which one attracts you. I believe you can get great results for both platforms, but you need to spend time learning each one. Joomla has definetely more fancy features, but there are various solutions on WordPress to achieve similar results. Good luck with your endeavours. Vic Stathopoulos

  8. Drupal is way better in terms of flexibility for complex sites, fast sites development, cost efficiensy.
    Choose WordPress for simple sites or blogs OR Drupal for comple sites & CRM $ platforms & E-commerce sites.
    2 years with Joomla – then swithed to Drupal. This is very common switch

  9. Question ANYONE who tells you, absolutely and with blind faith, that Joomla or WordPress is better. Both systems have their strengths and weaknesses. But I agree with others that WordPress is better if your focus is blogging and Joomla better for big, complex, content sites. But I also acknowledge that both systems can work for almost anything. And Joomla IS NOT outdated. In fact, WordPress has only recently caught up to Joomla as a CMS. The difference is that Joomla is a CMS out of the box; WordPress requires dozens of plugins to make it a CMS. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s a difference worth noting.

    I use both systems, but I think many people who are evanjelists have really only used one or the other.

  10. My experience and outlook is very similar to Mathias’, except I’ve found it about the same as WordPress (probably better nowadays) on security given the same level of smart or stupid handling by the site developer or operator.

    The current compete.com stats for Joomla are like Drupal’s. Both seem surprisingly low to me with similar drops in later 2012. The reliability of these numbers is not clear, nor their meaning. Joomla seems like it’s on a much better footing nowadays, with a regular release schedule and some major advances.

    I would not be surprised if it turns out that Joomla was only the leader in the past when it was more usable and extensible than WordPress. But now that WordPress has pushed Joomla out of the massive long tail of the blogging and SMB content market, Joomla is free to focus on its core competencies as a solid PHP platform with an extensible CMS/application layer and complex custom access controls. Because they share these traits, EE, MODx, and maybe Concrete5 all seem well-positioned to thrive in enterprise markets that are numerically smaller than WP’s but far more lucrative — if they can project a sufficiently credible image backed up by a sufficiently capable support ecosystem. WP has strengths in that area too but is architecturally ill-suited to being used as a big multi-user anything-platform. (Just because it can be done…)

  11. in fact, joomla is too hard to learning for developer and client. the client very confusing with so much money in backend. module, plugin, component, i wonder if most of client know the different of it

    1. Hard is just your opinion; after working with Joomla for a few years I found it “hard” to get my head around how wordpress does things.

      Personally I find Joomla much more intuitive for a content management system website that requires client scalability and creation of new content types.

      For a cookie cutter site where the client needs to work with a set type of content then wordpress is great.

      Each to their own however anyone should be very careful of folks plugging one or the other wholeheartedly as in a lot of cases developers will just go with what they like rather than what’s best for the client’s objectives!

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  13. With regards to framework the infographic is missing the T3 framework (joomla) as it is more popular than gantry or warp. T3 framework has been adapted by many other clubs and freelancers too for developing their own templates.

  14. loved the article although the two very powerful content management wordpress I prefer, I liked the very didactic informgrafia thanks

  15. Hi! love the article and the infografica is good! I would make Joomla female=)
    I used Joomla extensively, but now I am running a site on WordPress. First I started from scratch and checked it out, then finally mmoved from Joomla completely. CMs2cms helped me out greatly. But don’t think I am recommending people to leave Joomla. It’s just my case, and only because wp worked for me better. But Joomla is great too, and I sometimes miss it….)

  16. We have just recently released WP4J which actually allows you to run Joomla and WordPress together so you can really have the best of both worlds. The implementation does not involve hacking either platform in any way and is very light on server resources. You can check it out at WP4J.com (it is free to download).

  17. WordPress can only be good for blogs and some ecommerce sites or portfolios , But for complex websites I prefer Joomla

  18. I use WordPress and Joomla since the first version. Now I only use WordPress.
    Why? Because it is much better programmed / written, it is possible to write your own framework or even the whole sub-system very simple, templates are better and easier to make, better in SEO, faster, more flexibility…
    All who write that WordPress is to be used for the basic site and blogs, and joomla for complex sites, is not true.
    WordPress is much better to be used as opposed to Joomla, and for complex sites, blogs and ecommerce sites, photo gallery…
    Integration with the forums and other CMS is very simple, but it requires a little knowledge in programming.
    WordPress is today at least “three spears” above Joomla!

  19. ive worked we both cms in the past.and i find joomla 10X better and easier to use than wordpress. i use only joomla to do all my project from now on unless a client prefer wordpress, as i find it much more easy to have plugin,component and module separated unlike worpress were everything is all over the place.

  20. When compared to Joomla or WordPress, my vote and suggestion will be definitely on Joomla. Although I have worked on both Joomla and WordPress, Joomla stands the best and very user friendly.

  21. I recently started working with Joomla after 3 years with WordPress. Joomla seems to be packed like Chinese boxes.
    The 10 Murphy’s laws seem to be written specifically for Joomla.
    Maybe I’m wrong, but why should I pay so much every year for the plugin?
    The other week I read an article about WPMU where they spoke of the comparison between J and W and seemed to want to imply that J was better than W (despite working with W!). They said that one of the weaknesses for W was the amount of existing plugins. I do a comparison with Apple’s App Store, there are millions of app on the store, I’ve downloaded about 7000, app that I use really? a hundred …
    Same thing for wordpress plugin …
    The time will speak for me …

  22. WordPress is definitely of the most popular CMS software out there. Even though Joomla and Drupal have more functionality and are built to handle development heavy sites, WordPress still remains popular and the first CMS choice for many developers

  23. I work with Joomla since several years now and have also done WordPress sites. I am always amazed how everybody is so fond of WordPress.

    WordPress is not easier than Joomla to maintain and my clients get famliar with creating new content in a single day.

    The backend navigation of Joomla is way more easy with a more logical structure than in WordPress which has, for me, not logic at all.

    What annoys me most about WordPress is file management. I have spent days and days and many nights to get it working. Some of my clients want to show their projects and use multiple images. They want to organize their Fotos and also other files like PDF.

    And yes I found a plugin which enables creating folders but these are not shown in the file manager when creating a post or a page. So what’s the use.

    In WordPress it is just a, sorry for the harsh word, crap situation.

    Joomla 3.x is native mulitlingual and some of my clients need that. WordPress is not multilingual at all except if one uses extensions. And many of these extensions are not comfortable and easy to use for clients.

    The templating is a pain. Not because it is complicated, but because it is just useless to have all these files with almost the same code.

    Joomla offers the possibility to add classes to the body-tag without a plugin. With these body classes I can modify the code if the index.php. So, theoretically every single page could look totally different. Joomla offers the option to use different templates (in WordPress they are called Themes)

    This is a feature which is quite often asked for. It took me many hours to find a solution, surfing endlessly through forums. Finally I found a plugin which does the trick.

    SEO URLs are not customizable in Joomla, except for the choise that one can switch them on or off and that one can add an .html ending to the url which is not able in WordPress for pages, so the way it is handled in WordPress is neither prefect as well.

    Widgets (called modules in Joomla) are often not really well formed and I find the extension directory quite basic. No demos (mostly only some bad quality sceenshots) and there is loads of time wasted by installing and de-installing again.

    I am sure that the popularity of WordPress depends on wordpress.com whrere every thriteen year old teenager has a blog in 10 seconds.

    For company sites Joomla is, imho, definately the better, more solid and more sophisitcated solution. After all Joomla is a native CMS from the very start and WordPress is forcing itself and working his butt off to become one.

    And Joomla 3.x is a huge improvement. Responsive by nature in the backend and, if one wants to use the standard template, also responsive based on bootstrap.

    And blogging is not worse in Joomla. It is the same structure showing the aticles which are in the same category.

    If a client wants WordPress I will compare both sytems but I will always recommend my client to choose Joomla.


    Rob van Linda


  24. after stumbling upon joomla, i release that wordpress is a pile of sh*t, with no apology to those using wordpress.

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