When it comes to content management systems, there is certainly no shortage of options to choose from.
There are over one billion websites online, using platforms such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Blogger, Shopify, and others.
Today, we’ll be taking a look at the two most popular content management systems: WordPress and Joomla.
To be fair, grouping them together as the “two most popular CMS” is a bit misleading.
WordPress’s share in the CMS market is almost 60 percent (59.7, to be exact), while Joomla’s market share doesn’t even compare, at 6.7 percent.
Nevertheless, both platforms are used by businesses and private bloggers alike. Let’s take a look at some reasons why you might choose WordPress over
Joomla and vice versa or why you might want to migrate from Joomla to WordPress.
1. Getting Started – WordPress vs Joomla
Getting started with either WordPress or Joomla is an easy process.
Most web hosting platforms will have a one-click installation option for WordPress.
Your WordPress site will come with WordPress’ default themes already installed (a new one is released each year), but that can be changed easily.
If you don’t want to buy your own domain name and pay for a hosting service, you can use WordPress for free on WordPress.com.
You’ll get a blog site on a WordPress sub-domain, with limited customization options.
Keep in mind that while this might be fine if you want to create a personal blog, you shouldn’t use this option for your business site or if you want to turn your blog into a revenue source.
Most web hosting services also have a one-click installation option for Joomla.
If you want a free hosted website, you can go to Joomla.com, which offers this service in partnership with Siteground.
Bottom line: In terms of setting up your actual site, both WordPress and Joomla are pretty similar, and both offer a free site.
2. Ease of Use
Now that you’ve set up your site, it’s time to start adding articles, uploading pictures, publishing blog posts, and more.
How does Joomla compare with WordPress in terms of the learning curve?
WordPress is a bit easier for beginners than Joomla, with a slightly smaller learning curve.
It’s not that big of a difference, but for someone who is new to building websites, WordPress might be the better choice.
First of all, creating posts with Joomla requires you to not only create articles, but to select categories with which to group your articles as well.
Not all articles will be featured on your homepage by default either, so you will have to select the blog posts you want to be featured.
In addition, Joomla has a lot of module options available on different admin pages.
For someone who has no experience with blogging, options such as default access levels can be confusing, although many of these options can be left to their default configurations to save time.
3. Editing Posts
Until recently, both WordPress and Joomla used a TinyMCE editor, so creating and editing posts on both platforms was pretty similar.
The TinyMCE editor is not difficult to use for beginners. You can write just as you would on Microsoft Word or Google Docs – you can create headings, add media, and more.
There are keyboard shortcuts as well.
However, with WordPress 5.0, the TinyMCE editor has been ditched and Gutenberg is now the default editor.
The Gutenberg editor aims to copy blogging sites such as Medium, which use a drag-and-drop editor.
Gutenberg can be easier to use, especially if you have had experience with drag-and-drop blogging platforms in the past.
If you don’t, it can be a bit confusing, but once you get the hang of it, you might find that it is fun to use.
Gutenberg allows you to add blocks of texts, images, tables, HTML, quotes, and much more.
It also gives you more screen space than the TinyMCE editor.
Another advantage of Gutenberg is that it works great on mobile devices.
This is big – until now, users had no easy way to edit their blog posts on mobile; the TinyMCE editor is a bit difficult to use on your phone or tablet.
Of course, you can switch back to the classic TinyMCE WordPress editor if you want to. Simply go to your Settings tab and the Writing settings section.
Bottom line: In terms of the editing platform, WordPress wins.
While drag-and-drop might not be for everyone, it offers two kinds of editing platforms without the need to install any additional plugins.
Optimizing your website for search engine optimization is crucial for attracting organic traffic. How do WordPress and Joomla compare?
The answer to this question is not so simple, as we’ll have to look at several factors.
First off, without adding any plugins, Joomla has a slight advantage.
This is because you can edit each article’s meta title and description without needing to download anything.
On the other hand, WordPress does allow you to create meta tags for articles (which can rank on Google) and change the URL permalinks of each page to include the keywords you want.
However, with both WordPress and Joomla, the real magic starts only after you download an SEO plugin.
Here, WordPress wins hands-down.
While Joomla has plugins such as Easy Front End SEO, WordPress has a much wider selection of plugins in general (we’ll cover this more later), and SEO is no different.
All In One SEO takes care of all of the SEO work you will need – for example, you can edit metadata and generate sitemaps.
Yoast takes things a bit further by giving you color-coded SEO scores for each page and showing you how you can improve.
There are other things that factor into SEO as well, such as a site’s speed, how well your theme is coded, and security.
These are the topics that will be covered in future sections.
The theme you choose will determine how your website appears.
Choose a professional, modern-looking theme if you want to give off a good first impression.
In terms of theme selection, WordPress comes out as a clear winner.
There are over 5,000 free themes in the WordPress theme directory.
Some are better than others, and not all have been updated to fit the newest version of WordPress, but regardless of which kind of look you want, you will never be at a loss.
Not only does WordPress have thousands of free themes, but there are also thousands of premium themes available.
Because WordPress powers such a large percentage of websites, there is no shortage of developers who have created premium WordPress themes for those who want to stand out from all the other WordPress blogs.
There is also no shortage of developers who will create a beautiful, custom theme just for your business.
Joomla works a little differently. Instead of themes, it uses templates.
In WordPress, you choose one theme for your entire site.
In Joomla, you have the option to use different templates for different parts of your site.
In terms of ease of use, WordPress would come out as a winner again.
On the other hand, Joomla can also offer a certain level of flexibility that WordPress does not have.
You can change the way some of your site appears without affecting the rest of it.
The main difference between Joomla and WordPress is that while WordPress has a theme directory, Joomla does NOT have a template directory.
Although several templates are automatically included when you set up your Joomla site, they are limited.
You will have to find templates offered on third-party sites.
Admittedly, there are many options, but this adds an extra step that makes everything more complicated for beginners.
You will have to download a template and upload it to your Joomla site, something that might be confusing and time-consuming for someone who never created a website before.
There’s another thing: Many, if not most, of the templates you will find with a Google search are premium templates.
Finding a quality free template can take even more time.
Also, since WordPress’s market share surpasses Joomla’s by such a large amount, it’s safe to say that you will have a wider selection of premium themes to choose from if you use WordPress.
If you search for “Joomla templates” on Google (without quotation marks), you will get around 70 million results. On the other hand, if you search for “WordPress themes” (again, without quotations), you will get more than 950 million results.
Bottom line: When it comes to themes, WordPress wins many times over. You have more options and the process is much simpler.
What about plugins? How do the two most popular content management systems compare in terms of the add-ons they have to offer?
WordPress has over 54,000 plugins in the plugin directory. Regardless of which category or what type of plugin you are looking for, you are sure to find something.
There are also thousands of plugins not listed on the directory.
Like with themes, there are premium themes sold by third-party developers, which you can download as zip files and upload to your WordPress site.
There are also free plugins that are offered by third-party developers and which are not in the WordPress directory, though you might want to make sure that any plugin you get is from a trusted source.
Joomla has over seven thousand extensions in the Joomla extension directory, which is a lot fewer than WordPress.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find the tools you are looking for.
For most needs, you will be able to find a Joomla extension that does a similar job as the plugins listed in the WordPress directory.
There are 22 categories in the Joomla extension directory, ranging from content display templates to security plugins.
However, there definitely is a much wider selection at WordPress. Since WordPress is more popular, there are more developers creating plugins for it.
Premium developers who sell premium plugins on third-party sites also tend to focus on WordPress more, as it offers a much larger market.
At the end of the day, Joomla has a good variety of templates and extensions, but WordPress has a much wider selection to choose from.
If you have basic needs, it might not be a problem, but if you are looking for something more specific, you might have a better chance of finding it if you use WordPress.
There’s a plugin for literally anything you could think of on WordPress.
As a humorous example, the Pig Latin plugin overrides the language and translates all messages into Pig Latin.
Another thing to think about – a lot of extensions in the Joomla directory aren’t free.
This limits the selection even further for small businesses and those with a limited budget.
Bottom line: WordPress wins again in terms of plugins.
Which platform is more secure and less open to cyber attacks and hacking attempts?
In any blog post telling you the top X reasons to use WordPress, you’ll likely find that one of those reasons is its security.
However, the truth is that from a pure security standpoint, WordPress may not necessarily be better than Joomla.
First of all, WordPress is a much bigger target than Joomla.
It is more widely used, and just as developers focus more of their efforts on it, so do hackers.
There are also tons of WordPress plugins and themes.
It can be hard to control all of the themes and plugins so that they are all secure and don’t have any vulnerabilities.
On the other hand, WordPress is constantly being updated by its open source community.
Bugs and security flaws are constantly being discovered and fixed.
This is why it is important to always update your WordPress version.
You should also only download plugins from a trusted source so that you know they are secure.
Always update your plugins and themes as well when new versions come out, and don’t use plugins that were not updated to fit the version of WordPress you are currently running.
WordPress does have many plugins you can use to keep your site more secure.
For example, the Sucuri plugin will create a firewall and monitor your site for any suspicious activity.
There are also plugins like Akismet that will block spam software.
But how does Joomla compare to WordPress?
First of all, let’s take a look at their structures and models.
The way they are set up, Joomla is a lot more secure than WordPress, which has a more chaotic structure.
In WordPress, there is a wp-content folder, which has code installed by plugins, themes, upgrade files, and user uploads, all with different levels of trust.
WordPress themes are based on an override system; this allows developers to customize each post from scratch.
On the other hand, Joomla uses an index.php system.
All requests must go through this file.
If you want to learn more about the details of the security flaws in WordPress’s model vs Joomla’s, go to this well-written article.
The point is that it is a lot easier for hackers to upload malicious scripts to WordPress and inject malicious code through crypto mining processes, while Joomla has centralized points for enforcing security, such as requiring developers to go through certain channels when requesting data.
As mentioned, there are tons of plugins in the WordPress directory, and security isn’t enforced as much as it is in the Joomla community.
So now we know that WordPress potentially has more security flaws than Joomla.
But how do the actual numbers stack up? Are WordPress sites really hacked more than Joomla sites?
Take a look at Sucuri’s Hacked Website Report for the third quarter of 2016.
WordPress accounted for 74 percent of security-affected sites, while Joomla accounted for 17 percent.
So, how does this compare to their market shares?
WordPress accounted for 25 percent MORE than their respective market share at the time, but Joomla sites that were hacked accounted for 132 percent more than their market share!
Remember that Joomla’s market share is only around 7 percent, yet they accounted for 17 percent of all affected sites.
Still, it’s hard to say that this proves WordPress is more secure than Joomla.
As you can see in the Sucuri report, 84 percent of Joomla websites that were hacked were running an out-of-date version of Joomla, while only 61 percent of hacked WordPress sites were out of date.
At the end of the day, according to the Sucuri reports, there are a lot of factors to be taken into account, and the CMS itself is not always high on that list.
For example, the top three plugins contributing to WordPress attacks were TimThumb, Gravity Forms, and Rev Slider.
As mentioned, Joomla’s setup is more secure than WordPress, though they accounted for more affected sites (per market share).
Bottom line: Regardless of which platform you use, you need to make sure your software is up-to-date and that you only use trusted plugins and themes.
It’s hard to say which platform is faster. On the one hand, Joomla has certain features that can maximize your performance, such as the ability to enable caching and gzip compression.
On the other hand, while WordPress does not have this option by default, it can easily be added by downloading a plugin or two.
Bottom line: Your site speed has more to do with the hosting provider you are using, the media you upload, and the themes and plugins you use, and less to do with whether you are using WordPress or Joomla.
9. Multilingual Support
Joomla wins here. With WordPress, you can download plugins for a full multilingual experience, but Joomla has multilingual capabilities built into its core, with language packs available right from when you set up the site.
Keep in mind that certain WordPress themes may have multilingual support as well.
You can definitely create a robust ecommerce platform on Joomla.
There are many extensions and themes that will allow you to turn your Joomla site into an online store.
You can also use Shopify on both platforms.
However, as with regular plugins and themes, WordPress will have more options and offer more flexibility.
If you are new to ecommerce and/or websites in general, WordPress will probably be easier to set up.
11. Support and Community
Both WordPress and Joomla have large, active communities of developers and users.
Of course, WordPress’s community is bigger as there are more users, but that doesn’t mean it will be hard to find tutorials, tips, and documentation for your Joomla needs.
For either WordPress or Joomla, a simple search on Google or Youtube will bring up how-to articles and videos.
If you have very basic tech skills though, WordPress would again be a better choice as there are more how-to guides, which are also often simpler to understand and follow.
Wrapping It Up
So, which one is better, Joomla or WordPress?
If you are starting out and/or don’t have a lot of coding experience, WordPress might be a better choice.
It is easier to use and things are simpler – if you need anything, just search for it in the WordPress directory.
This also applies if you just want a simple blog or operate a small business.
There are also more plugins and themes available.
Joomla, on the other hand, might be better if you have a large enterprise (or clients who have large businesses) and/or you have custom needs.
Joomla can offer you more customization options than WordPress.
For example, it can be harder to override plugin output in WordPress.
With Joomla, it can be easier to create customizations for modules and other components.
Regardless of which one you choose, you’re not going to be alone, and you will have the support of a community behind you.
Ben Levin is a Hubspot certified content marketing professional and SEO expert with 6 years of experience and a strong passion for writing and blogging. His areas of specialty include personal finance, tech, and marketing. He loves exploring new topics and has also written about HVAC repair to dog food recommendations. Ben is currently pursuing a bachelor’s in computer science, and his hobbies include motorcycling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Muay Thai.