My Experience with Joomla

By reading through the various posts and topics that I have on this website, it's pretty obvious to see that I'm a fan of WordPress. It makes complex tasks incredibly simple and automated for users who want to create/build a website, but don't want to have to deal with code at all. For more advanced users who do want to tweak a bit more with code, WordPress is great for that as well. However, I'm not so biased or blind as to believe that there isn't/can't be something better out there.

I received an e-mail from someone looking for help managing a website. As I'm almost always looking for freelance work, I was up for the task. As I continued reading through the e-mail, I discovered that their website was built upon Joomla. I was almost deterred a little bit, but I figured that if I was ever going to mess around with Joomla, this might as well be it. I responded to the e-mail, and the company gave me a day or two to familiarize myself with Joomla before getting to work on their production site.

First Impressions

I installed a fresh version of Joomla on my hosting server and began to tinker a bit with the backend piece. Upon first glance, I was a little intimidated, honestly, as there was a lot of unfamiliarity. I felt like a little kid who had been separated from their parents at Disney Land — eager and excited to be somewhere new and magical, but scared and intimidated by something new and foreign. So many menus, and dialog boxes to choose from.

Okay, so I wasn't *that* scared, but it was strange to be working with something other than WordPress. After watching a few tutorials on YouTube, I felt somewhat more comfortable with the user interface and how things worked. It appears that Joomla is very modular, and the entire face of the website is built upon little pieces that are customized individually to create the front end.

The Good

Out of everything that I experienced with the little time I spent with Joomla, the thing that impressed me most was the amount of customization. Every little module, or template could be customized, changed, or manipulated to your heart's content. Just when I felt I had been through all of the menus, I found three more that were embedded underneath the first.

While this might not be a very valid point to all your readers out there, another good part about Joomla is that it's *not WordPress*. The last statistic I heard, roughly 20% of the internet is running on WordPress. That means that if a security hole is found in WordPress, 20% of the websites on the internet instantly become vulnerable. WordPress is good about putting out patches and updates, but even that can lead to another slew of problems with themes and plugins breaking. So you ask, “How is Joomla any different?” Well, for starters, Joomla has a much more solid foundation to build upon. When WordPress began in the early 2000's, it was nothing more than a blogging platform. Since then, it has morphed into a hideous beast with tens of thousands of poorly-written themes and plugins to extend it's capabilities. It wasn't initially developed to be used for an e-commerce platform, or for large business websites. Joomla, on the other hand, is open source and has been coded with this in mind.

The Bad

The longer I played with Joomla, the more I couldn't help but feel that Joomla was trying too hard to distinguish themselves as “not WordPress,” even though it's basically the same. “Pages” are called “Articles,” “Plugins” are called “Extensions,” and “Widgets” are called “Modules.” I understand that it's hard to create something new and different, but by changing the names and moving the menus from the left side of the screen to the top, it doesn't exactly feel “different.”

I also felt that Joomla as a whole had an unpolished feel to it, almost as if it's a dying project. Joomla is open source and has a great community following, but Joomla kind of falls into the “grey area” as far as popular CMS's go. Those who are looking for a quick and easy way to make a web presence will choose Wordpress, while those who fall into the category of “code warrior” will often overlook Joomla and head straight for Drupal.

My Verdict

I'm not so naive as to think that I haven't been blinded or built an allegiance to WordPress. I absolutely have. Perhaps I haven't spent enough time with Joomla, and that's most likely the case, but as for me and my needs, I'll be sticking with WordPress, thanks. For ease of use, functionality, capability, theme and plugin support, and a huge community following, WordPress does exactly what I need. I'm familiar with that, so why switch? When I'm in need of coding capabilities, I can do that too through the editor panel.

What else do you need?