Revised on 15 November 2016 – This is not a pro-contra review. In this article I try to give you some pointers to make it easy to chose between the two popular content management systems. The basic difference between WordPress and Joomla is that Joomla is a portal- or community type site while WordPress is a blog. Both overlap each other in several areas and can be extended beyond their original purpose thanks to the use of plugins. You can find those plugins almost everywhere on the internet. Both have a large user base with a lively community where tips and tricks are shared. Both are free to use and many hosting providers have them as an option in their web tools section. Both have a large community of volunteer developers and commercial add-ons.
This topic is somewhat outside the scope of Miracle Tutorials, but the reason I thought it was important to publish is that it relates to the setup of video portals and which CMS to chose, so, here it is:
To Joomla or not to Joomla
If you want to create a community or a network with a membership area, newsroom, forums, articles, input from external authors etc… then Joomla is a good choice because it is made to be that way. Creating a navigation structure is easy, once you understand how it works and it doesn’t require knowledge of html. You can set articles to expire after a time, activate dates, author name, breadcrumbs etc..
Thus, Joomla gives you a lot of power in your hands and that is noticeable in the admin section where there are so many options that you get dizzy the first time you go in. You really should get a good book on Joomla if you want to set it up fast. Otherwise you end up fiddling around and getting nowhere for days. You can find a whole range of books on this subject with Packt Publishing.
Adapting the look is simple if you are happy with changing some colors and the logo. Beyond that, you will find that Joomla has a complicated structure and even seasoned web developers have to go through a learning curve before they master the layout system, and that approach is different depending on the layout template you chose.
Joomla has multi-lingual capability built-in. This works very well but it is not that simple. You have to follow a certain order over actions to make it work, but it is very powerful. Luckily, there are many video tutorials available on YouTube. Just type “joomla multilingual” in the search box and you will find what you need.
If you do not want to get involved in the gritty work of stylesheets, you can buy professional layout templates for a reasonable price (between $35-$50) from JoomlaShack, for instance. Or you could ask a developer to do it for you, but make sure they have references of Joomla sites or you might end up paying their learning curve and that is what you want to avoid.
Disadvantages of Joomla
Importing articles from one site to another is not as easy as with WordPress. There are extensions for it, like J2XMLwhich does a good job, but migrating from one major version to the next can be problematic with respect to third party extensions.(See also below).
Joomla brings out new major upgrades on a regular basis. These upgrades break a lot of extensions and migrating from older versions is not an easy task, especially when you have a complex setup with membership system, forum etc… This is something the Joomla community really needs to address because moving to the latest version can be time consuming. Joomla promissed that it will make it easier from version 3,4 onwards. Hopefully this is true, because it is the major reason why some people migrate to WordPress.
Simple updates between upgrades are easy to do with a click on a button, they seldom break anything.
Joomla’s strenght is in complexity. Deep level navigation, sections in sections, categories etc… Unlike, WordPress, it makes no distinction between posts and pages, instead you use articles and modules for your content. Modules are best used for small pieces of content and media.
Great for all sorts of sites, with preference for community sites, eCommerce and portfolio/presentation sites.
To WordPress or not to WordPress
WordPress is basically a very user friendly blog system but it can be used as a regular site which you can update without any knowledge of html (the same goes for Joomla). You can create pages and posts, and with plugins, you can add a lot of functionality included standard in Joomla. Because WordPress is a blog system, Google seems to love it although recently, Google decides no longer to count links from rss directories, which was the major advantage of WordPress over Joomla.
The interface is easy to understand, you won’t need a book for it, although buying a “WordPress for Dummies” – book will save you some time if you have no experience with blog management at all. Adapting the look requires some knowledge of CSS, the style sheet language. Like with Joomla, if you select a template/theme close to what you want, adapting the colors, logo etc.. is not that complicated but if you do not want to get involved with CSS, and you would like to re-arrange navigation elements as well, you might consider hiring a web developer. Since WordPress has a logical structure, it is easy for a developer to change things around, place ad banners etc…Again, give preference to a specialized developer used to work with WordPress.
It is setup very quickly and you can be listed in Google within 2 days. I haven’t seen any other system doing that so far. For Joomla, it takes about 7 days, although you can push it by using SEO tools. A regular html site can take up to a month to get listed in Google, so this is something to take into account. Anybody can learn enough in 2 hours to create content with WordPress right away, including using categories and sub pages.
WordPress has no multi-lingual capability but this can be managed with a plugin like Polylang, which is quite easy to use.
Major upgrades of WordPress are not as frequent as Joomla and they seldom require extra work. None of my plugins have broken between 3.1 – 4.3, which makes it a very stable platform.
Importing posts and pages from other WP sites is easy. There is built-in importer.
Disadvantages of WordPress:
For instance, adding or removing post dates, need to be changed in design mode and it requires knowledge of WP scripting. The navigational structure is determined by the layout template you chose. Changing that structure again requires knowledge of the WP scripting language and CSS. With Joomla, you do not run into this problem because menus are controlled via the control panel and attributes like dates, author name etc, can be turned on and off per article or for the whole site in one go. In that sense, Joomla is much more a content management system.
Also, changing the order of categories or pages is rather cumbersome in WordPress. But you can use a plugin like Post Types Order to change the order op posts.
Widgets can help compensate for the lack of a strong menu system like Joomla, but it helps and it is quick to setup with the drag and drop feature.
WordPress is simple, you can see it as a blog or as a regular website. It has fixed pages, posts and categories.
Through the use of plugins you can extend its functionality and let it grow as big and complicated as you want. However, not every plugin is easy to understand, so it might be a good idea to have a specialized web developer in case of emergencies.
Security measures for both platforms
All popular opensource CMS systems are vulnerable for hackers because they know the system. Joomla and WordPress are both attacked on a regular basis.To minimize the threat, you at least should follow these measures:
- Updating the site as soon as there is a security update is therefore important.
- You also best install a firewall to block the most common attacks.
- For Joomla, you can use AdminTools, for WordPress WordFence. Use the paid versions since the free ones only cover a part of the vulnerabilities.
There are many other firewall plugins and some can even be combined to strengthen your security.
- If you work with members, force them to use strong, illogical passwords.
What do I need for my video channel?
You can add membership functionality in WordPress but Joomla will handle membership much better as it is really made for things like that. So, let’s say, while presuming you do not want to tinker with scripting:
- if you want members to access your videos on a subscription basis and have members in various levels of permission (depending on their subscription level), Joomla is your best bet.
- If you simply want to show your videos on your site, or you only have 1 type of members and you want things to be simple and clean, WordPress will do nicely.
- If you want to show off different types on videos on your home pages from different sections in your template, more or less like a magazine, again Joomla is better equipped for it.
- If you want to create a video journal, WordPress makes life really easy for you.
- Both platforms have responsive templates available.
If this little list doesn’t do you any good, you can always ask me a question by writing in the comment box below. I will answer as soon as humanly possible to give you some advice.
The great thing is, that if you discover that you selected the wrong system in retrospect, you are not lost because it is always possible to adapt the system. Both systems are open source, which means they are adaptable in every direction. Sometimes those changes will be costly, others peanuts. It depends on what you need to add or adapt. AND, there is a third way: Use them next to each other!
Have the best of both worlds if you want to. Install one of the systems in a sub folder, match the layout more or less and there you have a super site with all the bells and whistles you can imagine.
Given the fact that these are powerful content management systems, installation is a dream, but don’t be fooled by this expression, if you do not know what a database is or what FTP means, you better rent web space with a provider that has the system of your preference in its package. Dreamhost, GreenGeeks, Bluehost, Hostgator, Siteground and others have both WP and Joomla available for you with the press of a button.
That said, shared hosting is generally slow. It is fine to start out with, but once you get serious traffic, move to a dedicated server or Virtual Private hosting.