WordPress v Joomla: Introduction and Content Structures

By Mark Atkinson
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WordPress v Joomla

The WordPress v Joomla debate has been an argument — no, an all-out war — for years now. The issue with this war of the CMS titans is that it’s largely being fought by biased individuals, rather than debated from an objective standpoint.

I’m not the first person to discuss this topic and I certainly won’t be the last. I feel, however, that there has been no really good comparison between Joomla and WordPress in recent times. For this reason, SitePoint is going to bring you a series of articles discussing every major area of comparison between WordPress and Joomla as they stand in 2012. This is what you can expect to see throughout the six blogposts:

  • An Introduction to WordPress and Joomla
  • Joomla Templates v WordPress Themes/Templates
  • Customization Potential of WordPress and Joomla — plugins, extensions, etc
  • WordPress SEO v Joomla SEO
  • Is Joomla or WordPress Better in the Support Department?
  • The Winner Announced!

An Introduction to WordPress

WordPress really needs no introduction as it is currently the most widely used CMS in the world. I would, however, like to draw your attention to the following information:

Technical Stuff

The WordPress CMS is based on PHP and, like most content management systems, uses MySQL for database management. For these reasons you’re going to want to make sure you’re using an Apache (Linux) host with mod_rewrite enabled (for URL rewriting) because it will make your life a whole lot easier.

WordPress is licensed under the GNU GPL which outlines how the CMS may be used by the public.

Standalone v Hosted

An interesting point to note is that WordPress offers both a standalone CMS as well as a hosted WordPress facility at wordpress.com — so even if you don’t have your own domain, that doesn’t mean you cannot run your own website.

It’s worth noting that if you use wordpress.com to host a website your website address will be something like yoursitename.wordpress.com. For this reason I would always recommend investing in a cheap hosting account and registering your own domain so you can use the standalone version of the WordPress CMS, which is obtainable from wordpress.org.

The wordpress.com version of WordPress is also quite a bit more limited than the self-hosted version.

From Then to Now

WordPress was created in 2003 as a successor to what was known as b2/cafelog — which apparently had a user base of around 2000 at that stage.  The system was created by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little along with contributions by the developer of b2/cafelog, Michel Valdrighi.

Since its inception, WordPress has grown to be the most popular CMS on the internet, currently hosting approximately 25% of the web’s top sites and around 15% of Alexa Internet’s “Top 1 Million” websites. [Source]. It is currently sitting at version 3.4, and the roadmap suggests that versions 3.5 through to 3.6 should be released in 2012.

WordPress has thousands of well-known brands as active testimonials for their CMS.  Some of the more popular websites currently using WordPress are:

And of course, SitePoint itself is created using WordPress!

Content Structure of the WordPress CMS

WordPress’ content structure is basically broken down into Pages and Posts. Pages are generally used for static content (eg an About Us page), whereas Posts are your regular updates (eg blog posts). Each page/post can be assigned to a menu which will form the base of your website.

Posts are grouped into Categories, and defined even further by the use of Tags.

Additional content can then be added in and around the base content using Widgets. Widgets can be placed in several places on your pages, and you can define pages on which you would not like to display each widget.  There are many widgets that are natively available, including tag clouds, recent posts widgets, post categories and a whole bunch of others.

Functionality can be added to WordPress by downloading and installing Plugins. There are thousands of Plugins available which will perform practically every function you could ever think of. You can use Plugins to turn your site into an e-commerce store, a download repository, a sports statistics website and many other weird and wonderful applications.

Now let’s take a look at the Joomla CMS.

An Introduction to Joomla

Although Joomla could easily be considered the second most popular CMS around (sorry Drupal fans), it would probably be fair to say that it is still relatively unknown to many who aren’t familiar with web design/blogging or aren’t even sure what a CMS is.

Technical Details

Joomla, like WordPress, is based on PHP and MySQL, which means you should also be looking to use an Apache host here.

I feel Joomla’s file structure is far more confusing and cluttered than the WordPress file/content structure is. We spent significantly more time deciphering Joomla’s object-oriented code than we needed to spend for WordPress.   For the average user, however, this is not much of a concern.

Joomla, unlike WordPress, does not have a hosted facility. This means you will need to host your own Joomla website and have your own domain name in order to use the CMS.

From Then to Now

Joomla was created in 2005, partly as a successor to Mambo. The J! development team created the Joomla project in response to a controversial move by the founders of Mambo, who turned the project into a non-profit organisation. The development team also founded a movement — OpenSourceMatters.org — and within hours had hundreds of fans voicing their support.

Joomla was created with the intention of creating a free and open-source CMS, as well as a great online community centered around the CMS.

Joomla have just released version 2.5 and seem to be making a conscious effort to release updates with new functionality on a regular basis. This is good: we are finally starting to see some functionality incorporated into Joomla that should have been there from the beginning. On the downside, frequent updates often mean we need to wait for Extension developers to update their components before we can successfully update to the latest version of Joomla.

While Joomla doesn’t enjoy the same fanfare WordPress does, there are still some big names using Joomla as their CMS of choice.

Linux.com is one of the biggest names using Joomla for its website and has been using it successfully for a number of years. Interestingly, McDonalds in the Arabian Peninsula has also opted for Joomla to back their website.

Another big name using Joomla is eBay – not for ebay.com, though. eBay uses Joomla to manage their intranet of 16,000-plus employees. This application in particular highlights how powerful Joomla can be.

The Joomla Content Structure

At first, Joomla seems slightly more complicated than WordPress. My opinion is that this is simply because of its naming of different content items and some slightly less obvious ways of achieving certain objectives. For this reason, most people who start out with Joomla find figuring out the content structure to be a bit of a learning curve and this often leads to them abandoning Joomla altogether.

What most of these people don’t understand, initially, is that Joomla’s content structure is very similar to WordPress’.

Articles or Components generate a page’s main content. Content is linked to a menu using menu items — which basically provide a vehicle for the display of a certain piece of content. Menu items can be a whole host of different things — for instance, a menu item can be set to display a single article, an entire category of items, the output from an extension/component which has been installed (eg a contact form component) or even an external URL.

This is slightly different to the WordPress functionality, in which functionality is usually added to a Page by embedding a little piece of code (Shortcode) which is provided by the associated plugin.

Modules are Joomla’s equivalent of Widgets.  Modules are displayed around the main content and are generally used to add in peripheral bits of content; for instance a Weather module, a Login module or a Latest News module.

Joomla’s menus also need to be created using modules, or else they will not show up anywhere! This is exactly how WordPress’ menus function too. A Menu widget needs to be created which will be set to display a particular menu in a specific position.

Joomla can be extended by using Components, Modules and Plugins, all of which can be downloaded from the Joomla Extensions Directory. Whereas WordPress uses the term “Plugin” to encompass all of its extensions, Joomla tries to narrow it down a bit by grouping extensions by the function that the extension performs. Unfortunately, I think this is one of the areas which leaves first-time users a bit bewildered.


Right off the bat it is quite evident that WordPress is the more popular of the two systems. That said, WordPress is also a couple years older than Joomla.

WordPress was created to enable creators of content to easily publish that content. It is currently used as the blogging platform of choice. My opinion is that it is great at exactly that — blogging/content curation — but perhaps not as flexible in other departments.

Joomla is generally used for websites of a slightly more static nature, as well as for more advanced uses, such as the eBay intranet. This doesn’t mean that it cannot power blogs or content-oriented websites, but I tend to find that it’s not everybody’s first choice for this.

WordPress’ content structure is slightly easier to grasp for newbies and first-time users of Joomla tend to have trouble grasping the terminology and application of certain functions.

In the next post we’ll discuss templating for Joomla and WordPress. In the meantime, which CMS do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Petit Paul

    I would have liked Drupal to be included in this comparison. Hey, I’m Belgian…

    • Sorry mate – I might very well have included Drupal, but for the fact that I don’t have much experience with it and would be talking a whole bunch of nonsense. For now I’ll have to stick with what I know.

      That said, with Joomla and WordPress at my disposal, I have never really seen the need for Drupal. Do you prefer it? Why?

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Petit.

      • Kathryn

        I didn’t know anything about any CMS about three years ago, and started converting our static site of thousands of frontpage files in Joomla, only to discover that any kind of granular permissions for contributors were not available, and something as simple as listing all of the articles published in a particular month was not possible, nor was having an article use multiple tags or taxonomy listings. Since all of these things were built in (even in Drupal 5) I did the entire site again.

        There are now numerous really good getting started resources for Drupal (only a couple of books from Packt when I was starting) so the learning curve shouldn’t be a problem. You can also go to Drupal Gardens, and point and click yourself a site for free, and then just download it to host yourself.

        Hopefully Joomla! has gotten easier to install in the past few years, but back then it was certainly simpler to get Drupal up and running (make a database, upload the files, and run the install script is the super hard method if you’re on a server where you don’t have preconfigured installs).

        I’ve dabbled in WordPress in the past year to see if it would be simpler for quicky campaign sites, but it’s just different, and seems much less extensible.

      • Mark – you should check out what Views can do. It’s a contributed Drupal module that is the major reason that Drupal stands head and shoulders above WordPress and Joomla.

        A lot of the votes against Drupal seem to be around its complexity and steep learning curve. I’d agree that the learning curve is steep especially if its your first CMS, and I understand that for many web developers it’s just too much to get their head around. But going up the learning curve really pays off, particularly if you’re trying to go beyond building a simple business website.

        I guess it’s like anything – once you are familiar with your CMS of choice, you can generally do what you want fairly quickly. But with Drupal I find that the *potential* available to me in terms of functionality and capability are far greater than with WordPress and Joomla.

  • WordPress !

  • Pam

    I think preference needs to be looked at in terms of “which do you prefer, for which use”. WordPress for a blog, absolutely. Joomla for a more expandable website. Would I “prefer” Joomla for a website that is intended mainly as a blog? Certainly not. In the same way I would not prefer WordPress for a website that has no intention of having a blog or similar style dynamic content.

    • Pam, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. Each system has things that it is better at.

      I do hope you’ll check back for the following parts of the series and let me know if you agree with it all or not.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      – Mark

  • Dave

    I have used Joomla now for a long time and Mambo before and have to admit not really looked at WordPress in any detail. I had been wondering recently if Sitepoint would look at Joomla and maybe even produce a book along the lines of the WordPress publications which are excellent.

    From my own point of view being familiar with Joomla has meant that I can create sites and understand the terminology used with Modules, Plugins etc. After some initial training my clients find it easy to work with too and they do not need to concern themselves with the technical issues.

    So my prefered choice is currently Joomla!


    • Hi Dave,

      Thank you reading and commenting.

      That’s probably a really good idea and perhaps something the head honchos here at Sitepoint will look into. I personally feel that Joomla is highly underrated and struggles to get the exposure it deserves, what with the entire online marketing community seemingly preferring WordPress for their endeavors.

      I find that once I’ve trained my clients on the use of a Joomla website, they don’t have many problems. We do ask them to have us make the structural/advanced changes, though.

      I hope you’ll check back for the next parts in the series, Dave. Thanks again.

      – Mark

    • Thank you for* reading and commenting… (Must be the caffeine)

  • This is great! The best part is, I can point my clients toward this when they have these types of questions for supplemental reading. I can’t wait for the SEO part of the series.

    • Thanks for taking the time out of your day to check this out, Patrick.

      You know, that’s probably the main reason I decided to write the series in the first place. I thought it would be ideal to let my clients read for themselves so that they are informed enough to provide decent input to the process.

      The SEO part was probably my favorite part to write – I do hope you enjoy it. Make sure to check back for the following parts.


  • I’ve been using Joomla for over three years, but without having any formal training and no web experience at all beforehand. I found Joomla to be very intimidating and non-intuitive. I struggled to learn how to create new “pages” and menus.
    I set up a blog about a year ago using WP (not self-hosted) and found it surprisingly easy. Of course, I knew a bit more about the web (HTML, etc.) in general by that time! Now I’m working on creating my first website from scratch using WP (self-hosted). The experience has shown me where the holes are in my web, HTML, CSS knowledge. Once you get into creating child themes, modifying templates, etc., you need more technical expertise.
    Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, WP is the way to go — but Joomla is more powerful and better for complex sites. Just be sure to do your homework!

    • Hi Erica,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

      You’re probably right – if you don’t have any guidance, Joomla can be quite intimidating at first. Once you get the hang of it, though, it really becomes quite powerful.

      As you have experienced – WordPress is very easy, until you need to try and do something more advanced like creating templates and themes. Then I think the playing field is leveled a bit.

      That’s the beauty of CMS though – they cater to the needs of a wide range of people with varying levels of technical ability.

      Both systems can do a range of things and, depending on your purpose, you need to decide which one works for you.

      I hope you will check back for the following parts of the series, Erica. Thanks again!

      – Mark

  • This Article is a fine comparison of WP and Joomla. Although I have couple of doubts:
    1: What are the core architecture of above two.
    2: Do they use any framework( I have heard of some names like Zend or may be codeigniter) or they have there own.

    • Joomla uses an object-based MVC structure, but it uses it’s own framework. Not necessarily as logically setup as some of the frameworks you mention, although it is very modular; heavily component-based.

      WordPress is more “hook” based, like Drupal; not as object-oriented.

  • Les

    I’m in two minds about both solutions. On one hand, WordPress from an internal POV is an absolute mess to work with coming from an OOP background, and Joomla is too bloated but has better code design.

    There has to be a better alternative to these two for a LAMP server?

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Les.

      I wish I could comment further on the LAMP server query, but to be honest, I’m not really sure. Unfortunately these systems tend to be coded with the end user – namely “technologically challenged” people – in mind, rather than coders who would like to customize the system.

      I hope you’ll check back and read the following parts in the series.

      – Mark

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Les.

      Unfortunately I can’t really comment on the LAMP server query because, to be quite honest, I’m not really sure. I have a team of programmers to save me the headaches. :)

      You are quite correct in saying that Joomla is bloated, but I feel that it definitely is better from an OOP point of view. Once you familiarize yourself with the intricacies, it’s really not that bad.

      Unfortunately, these systems tend to be coded with the end user – namely “technologically challenged” people – in mind. Programmers wishing to customize the systems are left to fend for themselves.

      I hope you will check back for the following posts in the series, Les.


      • There are tonnes of other PHP content management systems available. (See the Wikipedia article “List of content management systems”.) It’s difficult to recommend anything in particular without having more of an inkling of what Les is trying to achieve. It can sometimes be less painful and less time-consuming to just knock up a minimal home made CMS system than to try and divert an already existing one into doing something that it wasn’t intended for. Plenty of people do use WordPress for non-blog sites with some success, but I do wonder whether they’re necessarily using the best tool for the job.

        On the subject of using Apache; I’ve recently moved my websites over to Nginx with the hope of achieving better page load times. It’s a little bit less straightforward to set up, but it works, and it is significantly faster.

  • Truth – I like both Joomla AND WordPress. I do find that WordPress has a shorter (much shorter) learning curve than Joomla; but once I learned Joomla (using Joomlashack training) I love it just a little bit more. I recommend WordPress for blogging sites and small business sites, ecommerce or not. I recommend Joomla for all types of business sites, depending on what our client wants. And to me this is why I like Joomla more – it can easily be used for all websites, from the smallest to the largest. By the way, I use both Joomla and WordPress for my own personal and business websites. I’m looking forward to your next post.

    • Hi Jennese,

      Thanks for taking the time to participate in this discussion.

      You are much like me, then. I just find that most websites will fall naturally into the field of either Joomla or WordPress – and then we just build it.

      Often it comes down to client preference, though. Depending on the client’s abilities, I decide which system would suit them better. I’m usually more confident leaving a WordPress site in their hands than a Joomla one, though.

      I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of the posts in the series. Thanks again.

      – Mark

  • Megamanic

    I was paid last year to look at CMS by my employer and the clear winner out of those three was Drupal (with Sharepoint an honourable second – we had already bought the CALs and server licences so cost was not an issue). WordPress wasn’t flexible enough and was still too much of a “Blog” engine to be a serious corporate CMS – in fact I reckon it’s position as #1 CMS is primarily attributable to the number of Blogs running on WordPress.com, people are hosting it themselves – just not as many as the number of “sites running WordPress” would lead you to believe. Joomla is pretty but does not have the extensibility or community of Drupal which is best thought of as a Web framework which happens to ship with an example CMS built using it.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Megamaniac.

      I believe that Drupal is getting a bit better as time goes by. (But then again, so are the others.)

      I think you’ve probably hit the nail on the head regarding WordPress, but I don’t really agee with the comments on Joomla. I firmly believe that Joomla has the best online community and tons of potential in the extension department. Two of my posts in this series will cover those topics exactly, so I do hope you will give them a read and let me know your thoughts.

      That said, I don’t doubt that Drupal is possibly the most extensible of the lot, but with that comes a much higher learning curve and that often results in us omitting it from our selection – we don’t really want to leave a Drupal site in the hands of our clients.

      What do you specifically like about Drupal that Joomla doesn’t offer?


      • Megamanic

        The extensibility :) – I’m formerly a coder. You say Joomla has potential in the extensions and 9760 extensions certainly shows that (although I found that those numbers were distorted by having two versions of some modules – free and paid). Also there are over 7000 people listed on the Joomla People page But here’s Drupal’s numbers:-

        17,104 Modules
        1,427 Themes
        434 Distributions
        19,186 Developers

        In a corporate environment you have the budget to employ and train a couple of Devs and Admins so the learning curve such as it is can be overcome.

        In addition, Drupal seems to have more & better books and is the really scalable one:-


        I couldn’t find anything that big running Joomla but correct me if I’m wrong.

      • If you can accomplish everything you need with Joomla and/or WordPress and don’t know why you would need Drupal … then chances are you don’t need Drupal. :-)

        If I were asked by a client to build Facebook or Groupon, and have it done by the end of the month, I would start out with Drupal, and download a whole bunch of modules that I would need to start out with, and then get cracking on making them all work together. Drupal is part CMS / part development framework. More accurately, it is a “CMS Framework,” for lack of a better term. No two Drupal installs are exactly alike in terms of how they are administered or how they are architected, because you are, in a sense, customizing your CMS at the same time that you’re customizing the user experience.

        Think of it like this: With Joomla and/or WordPress, you want to accomplish something, you either download a plugin … and if there’s isn’t a plugin for it, then you write your own custom code, or you build your own plugin.

        With Drupal … you don’t necessarily have to do that (in all cases). Because each module out there can be viewed as a building block or “piece” of functionality. So whereas with Joomla or WordPress, a plugin is either going to exist or it’s not …. with Drupal, I can generally get to where I need to go by piecing together various modules. It’s often likened to a lego set and everything is modular. Drupal developers are often guys who used to like playing with lego sets as kids.

  • David Lee


    I’m a newbie just got a design degree, and recently fell upon a Drupal Conference, and am now focusing on Drupal, although, also I want to know of WordPress, and Joomla, and liked your article.

    From my view it looks like Drupal had a major revision with Drupal 7 about a year ago, and with it to build a Drupal site has become much easier, and Drupal 8 looks even better coming up on the horizon maybe for next year.

    I understand Drupal sites have doubled (Passing Joomla) in the last year, but developers have not, meaning there is lots of work for Drupal site builders, and that is why I am learning Drupal. An example of a Drupal site is: http://www.whitehouse.gov .



    • Hi David,

      Thanks for the comments – I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

      I’m not sure whether I believe your stats though. :) I did have a quick look at some of the Drupal numbers when planning this series and I didn’t find any evidence of Drupal becoming more popular.

      Do you perhaps have a link for me? I do think I’m going to go back and revisit Drupal when I have a bit of time again. I really am quite happy with Joomla and WordPress, though.

      Thanks again, David. Good luck with your endeavors – it’s tough when you’re just starting out.

      – Mark

  • I have to admit i’m a massive joomla fan.
    I’m approached often in requests to build extremely feature-rich sites, from private social networks to video sharing sites to real estate systems…the list is endless.

    Upon countless occasions i’ve used joomla and its handled everything i throw at it

    Out of the box its adequate but i really feel the power lies in its wide range of available extensions – most of which are very good.

    I think open source is always the way to go and of course cost effective, but will always opt for open source systems that especially consider these points
    1) A great, helpful…LARGE online community — this is an imperative and very handy when you’re stuck which always happens at one point or another
    2) a large library of extensions – i’m a big believer in knowing my chosen CMS well..every file everything. I of course constantly keep up with different CMS options sometimes they are more suitable ( i agree wordpress i’d use on a blog-focused site)…. however it’s always best to have one CMS in your toolbox that you know extremely well. Every year i check out other available options…but always seem to come back to Joomla (concrete5 is interesting…but not large enough for my needs in terms of community/extensions…. expressionengine is great…but has a steep learning curve, lacks the huge range of extensions compared to joomla, and of course is costly…would only use on very large products)

    That all being said, there are some scenarios when i won’t use joomla. For an e-commerce site… i prefer Magento which is fantastic and easy to pick up and very powerful.

    As for Drupal… nah not for me…. Joomla is a great product

    That all being said, i’ve been doing this for 14 years now. My brother started last year…and however much i’d love him to get into joomla (he could then work with me)…. he hates it. He finds it lacks intuitiveness (is that a word?) and simply doesn’t get it

    His opinions are very negative on Joomla (each to their own huh?)….
    Fine, i accept that it does take a little getting used to…but once one understands the terminology (what is a plugin, module, article, category, extension and that a menu item isnt simply a button but controls what that page is/does) then you’re well on your way.

    I believe he’s not grasped it and not given adequate time to discovering its power…and its an ongoing argument between me and him.

    So he sticks with expressionengine and the like …. he’s much more into coding and so maybe suits him better.

    But if you’re about building sites that can work great, look great, and you can concentrate on the layout of content and how the features of your site work, rather than spend countless hours coding…it’s the way to go definately.

    Also my brothers issue with joomla is in article creation, and how the client will edit articles….. however when I showed him Zoo and K2 for Joomla it seemed to ease him with his hatred against the way Joomla works.

    His opinion is the client shouldnt be able to have access to so much changes – i dont agree – every client is different – some want to try out everything…others dont have the time. But that’s where Joomla is great….simply install a little extension for front end article editing…and the simpler client never even need see the back end.

    Joomla 2.5 with its new ACL (access control levels…which users are allowed to do what) simply rocks and those who tried out 1.5 of Joomla and walked away definately should give it another try.

    Joomla is a great option….as long as it’s used in creating a site by someone who knows Joomla very well….if you’re not into putting that much time into learning…try wordpress.

    But if you have time….learning the ins and outs of Joomla, learning which are the great extensions for each task….understanding that out of the box its pretty simple…but with some great extensions its great…. you’re on to a winner

    Unforutnately such articles can only ever compare Joomla, WordPress etc as they come out of the box….which to me are all very plain (but hands down beat what we used to do in the old days using Adobe Contribute etc….)

    There’s a lot of rubbish sites also built with Joomla, WordPress etc…and they in themselves give those CMSs a bad name….as they’re built by people who’ve simply installed it, added some text and uploaded to a server.

    But when done properly….Joomla (and even wordpress) simply rock.
    As does Magento.

    That’s my 2cents…. well a lot more….! I never reply to blog posts…dont normally have the time…but i am such a strong believer in the power of Joomla that i felt i must share my thoughts!

    • Hi Olly,

      Thanks for reading and providing your 2 cents, plus some!

      I think I generally agree with most of the sentiments you’ve expressed.

      I did have a chuckle when reading about your brother. Unfortunately, some will never be persuaded. I think the important thing is that we just work with what we feel comfortable with. There are many ways to skin a cat, as the saying goes.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts – I really appreciate it.

      I hope you will read the next posts in the series.


  • I have been using both platforms for years. Both of them gave me headaches too. But I would still suggest to use WP instead of Joomla. After creating a custom module for Joomla, I decided that it is was too complicated for me and my clients to use, as WP has a simple backend.

    WordPress on the other hand sometimes is too bloated with too many plugins installed in a single website. I even have client that says . ” You don’t need to code, there is a WP plugin for everything!”.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Keithics.

      As long as you find something that works for you, that’s the important thing. I have found shortcomings with both systems – it’s a case of which works better on a per-project basis, I think.

      I really hope you will read the rest of the series and let me know your thoughts.

      – Mark

  • Jasper

    1) don’t link images to their attachment page here, that looks dumb. Link them to the image file instead.
    2) “sitepoint.com” is not a valid link in WordPress, it should include http:// at least

  • I started with Joomla with the intention of also working with WP and Drupal, but I found that I can do almost anything I need with Joomla and that I have more value going deep with one technology than trying to be proficient in several. So I go deep with Joomla.

    When comparing the two I think we ought to consider who is going to be building the site. If the site is to be built by the owner who has no intentions of learning a tool and building more sites for others, then I won’t argue against WordPress. But if we are talking about a CMS for a web developer who builds commercial sites for others, then the more powerful and flexible CMS is going to have more value in the long run (despite the fact it takes more time/effort to master).

    I also think we should not compare the two by the administrative section we get out-of-the-box — rather, look at the user interface we deliver to the client (and to those who maintain a site’s content). I never deliver to my clients the same interface I use to develop a site. I build a “client’s” backend that contains a reduced set of options, and only those options the client needs. And because Joomla’s backend is built mostly the same way as is its front-end, I can build and deliver this. I feel Joomla enables a capable developer to deliver a much better client interface than the out-of-box versions of either WP or Joomla.

    • Thanks for the comment.

      You’ve definitely highlighted some good points and I tend to agree.

      Unfortunately, I do a lot of work for clients on a low budget and most of them can’t seem to justify the higher cost in return for building a “client’s backend”.

      For larger clients, it is definitely an option, though.

      I hope you will read the following posts and provide more insight. Thanks again.

  • Hello,

    Such an interesting post. A friend of mine uses Joomla and he really finds it to be a perfect solution for building an out of the box website. He has not customized it with extensions etc at this point in time and I personally cannot comment either, but I do have some clients that use Joomla and they find it very manageable, just takes some time to get used to it, just like everything else. Most of the complaints are more around how the developer built the Joomla site, not Joomla itself (ie too many extensions etc).

    I personally come from a OO development background in PHP and Java and can certainly relate to Les’ comments for WordPress not being OOP oriented, that would certainly help with WordPress. Trying to familiarize yourself with all of the hooks and filters is no easy task and it’s not very extendable from that perspective alone, but like everything it just takes time to learn. I am currently working on plugins to make WordPress more of a web application tool and not so “Blog” oriented but instead more OO Oriented (custom tables etc too), its just getting over the WordPress snags but it’s very doable. Since WordPress offers Custom Post Types and access to the wpdb object to allow you to write any custom queries you wish, it’s a great environment for building almost anything. In addition, WordPress has a very intuitive, slick administration for customers and there is no arguing the stats it’s the most popular CMS and continues to grow. Its too bad it has become labelled as a blogging tool, it’s beyond that now. Creating themes and customizing the admin pages just takes a bit of learning, but it’s actually quite easy to do.

    I found Drupal’s theme environment is not so great at this point in time, but I can honestly say Drupal appears to be a very solid foundation for building full featured web applications. I think the only real downfall to Drupal is the number of people using it, very hard to compete with WordPress at this time.

    Just my thoughts for what its worth.


    • Hi Gary,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Some really interesting points you’ve raised here. As you say, whichever system you choose, you need to take the time to learn its ins and outs. They both have the potential to be quite powerful if you know what you’re doing.

      Agree on the Drupal points too.

      Hope you’ll pop by to read the next post in the series.


    • I’ll happily admit to being a Drupal fan.

      Gary – interested at your choice of words – “only real downfall to Drupal is the number of people using it, very hard to compete with WordPress at this time”.

      I wouldn’t look at the numbers using a platform so much as the quality of the community that supports it, which in Drupal’s case is hard to beat (in my experience). A lot of very smart people providing rapid support for free. The lack of a module marketplace is a huge asset to Drupal too, especially when modules like Views, which represent hundreds of thousands of coding hours, are contributed completely free.

      Mark – I’m hoping your analysis will cover this side of things too. And looking forward to your Drupal review.


  • Jeremy

    Thanks for the article, I think this is an interesting comparison. We are currently reviewing our CMS options for a website revamp. While neither WordPress or Joomla are being considered in our case it is still an interesting read.

    I’ve been down the WordPress road a couple of times, but to me it’s still a blogging tool and doesn’t easily provided beyond that without coaxing. We moved from static pages to Joomla in 2008, While this accomplished many of the goals we were trying to achieve it didn’t take long for the cracks to show, and we began to feel limited by the product in what we needed to do.

    In 2010 we moved from Joomla to MODx and it was really an awakening of potential for our site. MODx does not have a large community compared to the others or a slew of third-party plugins, but the quality of the framework and the ability to control what the framework outputted was exactly what we needed.

    For our 2013 revamp, we once again reviewed popular CMS options. The finial phase of this process has Drupal 7 and MODx 2 as the finial contenders. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages, but they are miles ahead of the competition for our needs.

    • Thanks for the comment, Jeremy.

      I can’t really comment on MODx because I’m not familiar with it. If it accomplishes your organisational goals, that’s great.

      I think I’ve probably written the Joomla vs WordPress comparison more for people who aren’t developers and need to find a system that is easy to use with limited programming knowledge. I’m sure that there are many systems out there that are far more programmer-friendly.

      Thanks again.

  • Peter

    After doing custom development of joomla modules for a year or so I can say that I much prefer Drupal, and would choose drupal over joomla even if the functionality was available in joomla extensions.

    Having looked hard at the joomla internals, and the internals of many popular extensions, I found that they were often inflexible, poorly written and occasionally vulnerable to common security exploits.

    The inflexibility leads extension creators to constantly reinvent the wheel, whereas Drupal modules often extend the features of other modules – although this usually means that you have to resolve dependencies with Drupal, which can be a pain.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Peter. Appreciate it.

      – Mark

  • EWC

    Defiantly Drupal, moved from originally using Joomla to Drupal for the high quality modules that play nice with each other. I will admit some basic things like slide shows are significantly more work in Drupal, however once setup it is much faster and easier to update/manage.

    If you are a web developer, like me, you also save tones of times by creating your own distro and or web templates, so you don’t need to start fresh every time. The speed of adding content is amazing in Drupal, I found the Joomla admin panel to be cumbersome and overly berried items. My customers love having a Drupal site, because they only have to click one button or hover over any region to add/edit information on the site. If your looking for a great responsive starting point check out Omega, it’s now HTML5 enabled by default too.

    Most people cringe at the complications of Drupal, instead look at the capabilities of it. Never been easier to create custom native/integrated tools that make it easier for both me and my customers to use the website.

    When it comes to WordPress my experience is low, I will however give them that it makes one of the best and easiest to use blog sites. If you are simply making a blog you have no reason to use something like Drupal.

    • Thanks for the comment, EWC.

      I’m quite sure that Drupal does provide the flexibility you speak of and I will probably be taking a more in-depth look at it sometime in the not too distant future.


    • Dan

      Totally agree with you EWC. After 3 years using Joomla I felt much release using Drupal. Much more clean and easier theming and a great great community. I hated to buy Joomla modules to find out later that they were not really doing the job that I expected. In the contrary, you can combine Drupal modules to nearly the infinite or create the missing one.
      About WordPress, I never really find it fitting to my needs, I mean for multilingual and not blog centered websites.

  • Well, i have confusion to go with either wordpress or Joomla for my local regional website.

    PS: My local regional website is developed with UTF-8 (Gujarati) Language, which is extremely supported by Joomla, in opposite to it i love WordPress :(
    Maybe by reading your all 6 parts i can decide on which is the best :)

    I am waiting another part.. thanks.

    • Thanks, Mayur.

      Please do check out the next 5 parts and let me know what you decide on. :)


  • I’ve been using Joomla for years, I think I should also look at WordPress for my next project!

  • I originally set up a Joomla site, but it was continually attacked, spammed and attempted hackers were sending 100’s of messages daily. There were so many security holes and updates that managing one small site was turning into a full time job. I moved my site to Drupal, and have had almost no problems with it. However, when doing small sites for self or clients, if their needs aren’t great, I have been using WordPress more and more. It is easy to set up, plugins are far easier to manage, and except for full fledged e-commerce, it usually fills the bill for most small to medium businesses. PLUS, most clients can do the minimal management changes they want to themselves with very little instruction. Wouldn’t do that with Drupal. That would be like giving a machine gun to a 5 year old.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Jefferis. I tend to think that your experience with security is probably more coincidence. What version of Joomla were you using?

      WordPress is cool for small sites, but also won’t really escape from the security issues. I know both WordPress and Drupal developers who have had issues with security and SPAM.

      Regarding e-commerce for WordPress, have you checked out WooCommerce? It really is a fantastic system with loads of really useful extensions.

  • I use regularly both WordPress and Joomla for my clients. They are great tools to use and they both have pros and cons. One thing for which Joomla has an overwhelming superiority is for multilingual websites as well as for managing RTL languages.

    Said that I cannot wait for your SEO comparison. On that respect Joomla 1.5 was clearly inferior to WordPress. Even though Joomla 2.5 is a serious improvement at the SEO level I have the feeling that I have more “SEO control” with Worpress.


  • I use WordPress occasionally and like it for some small projects, but I’d never ever consider Joomla. We use MODX and have found it to be so far superior to Joomla in ease of templating and user experience that it is downright laughable. The last Joomla project we had to deal with (franchise site for restaurant chain) only confirmed my feelings on the subject… and said chain is making plans to transfer to MODX. Just my .02.

  • Greg

    Interesting read. What about modX?, I think that is one CMS that has the shortest learning curve of all the CMS out their including wordpress and Joomla.

    I tried Joomla, for a few projects and it just reminded me of a game of Jenga. Any thoughts or comparisons with modx.

    • Hi Greg,

      Thanks for reading. :) I can’t comment too much on modX because I haven’t used it before. It is on my list of things to check out, though. (Along with the newer version of Drupal)

  • Chris

    I’ve worked with all three at some point and WordPress is the only thing i use now. I’m really surprised to find so many people here liking Joomla as i found it not only really confusing for clients to use, but not a great dev environment. I’ve never had a client come to me wanting to stay on their Joomla site if they have one or want a new one — so that’s great. The progress WP has made over the past year to getting it out of the “blogger only” mode has been extraordinary. But maybe I’m biased.

  • Darren

    I’m another Drupal user and feel that it should have been part of the comparison. I’ve developed for all three systems (WordPress, Joomla and Drupal) and definitely prefer Drupal above the other two.

    I prefer Drupal because it is relatively simple for an end-user to manage and also conforms to best practice coding standards. It is the closest of the systems to a coding framework so is a great starting point if you need to build something even slightly out of the norm. WordPress is great if you just want an out-of-the-box solution. Joomla is a coding mess and a pain to manipulate and should be avoided.

  • I will defiantly vouch for Drupal, I started out using Joomla, although it’s pretty powerful systems, I found it to be too complex for end users.

  • Kim

    I’ve been using both Joomla! and WordPress for years now. I like them both, but as Pam said already, I tend to decide which to use based on what is required for a given project. One thing I’d like to say about Joomla! is that I’m not pleased with the migration issues I’ve been having lately. Keeping WordPress up to date is easier.

  • Eric

    I’ve been both a Joomla and WordPress developer for a few years now, and have switched everything over to WP completely in the last few years. The reason for this is pretty simple… I hate dealing with the weirdness of Joomla. I look at the way they code and organize things and it looks like a high school project vs. much more professional with WP. I’ve had big name plugins screw with the core code, then guess what happens when Joomla is upgraded? Whole site goes down. How easy is it to recover from that? Really hard, even with a good backup. WP doesn’t allow that to happen, and upgrades have been a breeze for as long as I can remember. I hear tons of talk about how great Joomla is, but it all seems to be from a developer perspective, not someone who has to admin a large site over time. That to me is where WP pulls away.

  • Jay

    I’ve been using Joomla for several years now and love it.

    It is the primary CMS that I implement for local clients because of the front end editing abilities and user control of authors.
    Clients love the fact they can simply login, navigate to the page they want to edit and make their changes.

    The only downside of Joomla is the inability to control and add menu items via the front end but this make an excellent upsell opportunity.

    Combined with Joomla and the Web Design Business Kit I purchased several years ago (thanks Sitepoint!), I have a very powerful business in my local community.

  • He he he…
    Coming soon, the next CMS…
    You can have a look to the Framework Code of Innova CMS…
    Innova CMS is a hierarchical Web Site Forest Manager…
    A different vision of what will be Internet communication in the next years…
    The master word is : NO LIMIT…
    Best regards

  • I’m a huge fan of WordPress and don’t know a lot about Joomla but I think WordPress is the winner.

  • Great discussion! I use both WordPress and Joomla but also use Drupal for certain projects.

    Most of my sites are done in WordPress. It’s great for basic sites, people that want a site and blog, and people that want to maintain the site themselves. WordPress wins when it comes to updating the core and plugins. And the community is great.

    But when a site needs membership functionality, complex hierarchies of content, a robust event calendar, any of those things combined with e-commerce, etc. then I go to Joomla. Joomla does a lot of this right out of the box. And it has some very mature modules such as VirtueMart and JEvents that don’t really have a comparable WordPress plugin.

    For sites that are complex in terms of functionality and data/content, then I turn to Drupal. Nothing in Joomla or WordPress compares to Drupal’s CCK – Custom Content Kit, Drupal Views, or it’s permissions/user management and theming capabilities. There is so much flexibility that you have with Drupal out of the box, it’s really impressive. The learning curve is huge, I won’t kid you. And usually when I start working in Drupal, I hate it. But I always end up loving it again by the end of the project.

    Thanks for this series of articles. I think it will help a lot of people. (make sure to do Drupal next :-)

    • Hi Terry,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. :)

      Just in terms of the e-commerce side of WordPress, have you taken a look at WooCommerce lately? They’re doing some awesome work as far as I’m concerned. I recently built a big e-commerce site on Virtuemart 2 – what a pain. Admittedly, VM 2 is still in its infancy, but I’m definitely going to look at WooCommerce for the next online store.

      I will definitely be taking a closer look at Drupal in the not too distant future.

      I hope you’ll read the rest of the series as it gets published. Thanks again.

  • GeekGirl

    I’ve used all three systems for years now. There are definitely pluses and minuses to each, but here is my two cents:

    1. WordPress is great for a blog, but the templating system is a bit of a mess, and it was never intended to be a website CMS, and it shows. For instance, having certain features only show on certain pages is a big pain in the butt for WordPress, making it more difficult to customize it in a way that most clients would want. For a blog, yes….but if the client needs a full-featured website…..no way.
    2. Drupal has the ability to create very complicated, full-featured websites. Unfortunately, most of my clients will be maintaining the site themselves, and Drupal just seems to confuse them. There is also a bit more of a learning curve if you are a web designer, and just starting with it.
    3. Joomla has become what I use for 90% of my clients who need a full-featured website. Templating is extremely simple, (a single .php file, then whatever .css files you need), has excellent modularity, and is fairly simple for the client to use on the backend, (well….at least 1.5 is). I find that I develop more rapidly on Joomla, and their website makes finding modules much easier than trying to wade through all the contributions on the WordPress site.

    If I were a web developer just beginning to think about a CMS platform, I would definitely go with Joomla. It has the best overall ability to be customizable, robust, and simple to use.

    • Thanks for commenting, GeekGirl. :)

      You share a similar viewpoint to my own. I hope you’ll check back for the rest of the series.


  • Ok, I am interested in your article as I am totally disenchanted with WordPress from a security standpoint and find the WordPress code in need of a swamp guide to navigate though it.

    Please take the time in your comparison to bring out the security issues facing any user of either package.

    Just tired of having to constantly monitor WP sites for hacks.

    • I didn’t specifically go in-depth regarding security, unfortunately. (Perhaps I should have)

      Regarding security, I believe that all dynamic systems will have security exploits. Depending on the type of site you run, I’m a firm believer in making sure you have a very efficient backup process in place. We make daily backups and keep at least one copy a week somewhere offline.

      I’ve had both WordPress and Joomla sites hacked. There are certain precautions you can take, but you will probably be at risk with either one. That said, I do believe Joomla has stepped up its security significantly with later versions.

      I hope you’ll check back for the rest of the series.

      – Mark

  • As a content provider that has used both types of websites I have found WP to be much easier to use. In the Joomla site I work on the text editor is cumbersome and there are elements that show up in the wrong places on the website. It could be that the web site developer that create the site did a poor job, but I hate working on it.

    Isn’t the point of a CMS to make it easy for the content providers to add content without needing to be techie?

    • Definitely sounds like a case of a poorly put together site there, Ken.

      It all depends on what you need to do with the website, though. If you’re just a writer/blogger, for example, WordPress is probably the way to go.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      – Mark

  • A few points.

    Joomla wasn’t “partly” a successor, it absolutely was. The derived code forked directly from the Mambo source. The split happened with regards to some disagreements over provisions instituted by Miro and their Mambo related non-profit. This is also why the name of the organization behind Joomla is “Open Source Matters.” As a result, WordPress really isn’t older than Joomla, because you have to trace the lineage back to Mambo, which predates WordPress by 2 years. That was when the community really began to form, and the shift to Joomla was ubiquitous.

    Secondly, I used to develop modules for Joomla. There is a reason why WordPress is more popular than Joomla, and it really comes down to management and extensibility. WordPress can auto-update, single handedly it’s most useful feature. The tedium with regards to updating Drupal, Joomla, Typo3 and the like render it nearly unusable for most lay individuals. Furthermore, if you are a developer that prides yourself in “empowering” your client, WordPress is the most direct way to achieve that. All of my Joomla clients are forced to keep me on a life line to try to keep their installations updated. This is the case for other proprietary systems like Expression Engine, etc.

    Thirdly, the developer community that surrounds WordPress is lightyears beyond Joomla. There are even hosted management solutions like http://www.managewp.com that allow you to aggregate management across an unlimited number of installations. The addition of custom taxonomies, etc, has turned WordPress into a full fledged development platform, akin to EE and the like.

    Also, Drupal was brought up. Drupal is more modular than Joomla. Joomla is a true publishing system out of the box, and will require significantly less development for the “core” feature set. The module integration of Drupal, however, gives you a lot of flexibility. Updating Drupal, however, is even more cumbersome than Joomla.

    This is just my experience. I haven’t touched Joomla in a bit, so maybe it has significantly changed, but in truth, if you want a user friendly platform to develop a client site on, there is little that stands its ground against WordPress. I’ve seen very few use cases that can’t be easily integrated into WordPress.

    • Thanks for providing some input here, E.T.

      One thing that Joomla has worked very hard on is the updating facility. You can now easily update Joomla and its extensions via the back. It’s probably not quite as streamlined as WordPress’ updater just yet, but it is getting there.

      Agreed, WordPress is great for building simple self-managed client sites, though.

      – Mark

  • Karl

    Use both, winner really depends on the requirements and goals of the website combined with skillset/resources available to the site owner. Both are excellent as evidenced by their great popularity.

  • My business has been using Drupal now for many years, for both simple and complex web sites. It does everything I need, so I haven’t had to return to Joomla, or investigate WordPress.

    Drupal’s strength comes from the ability to define any type on content by adding a wide variety of fields to the basic “node” entity, and then to display that content using the extremely powerful Views system: a database query builder and output formatting system. A particularly powerful field type is a reference field, that can point to other content. This allows full “relational database” links between entities in your web site.

    If you then add in the Rules modules, that allow you to take actions based on triggering events and conditional tests, and you can “program” your website without writing any code :)

    Drupal really is a website, or even web application, construction kit. It happens to work well as a CMS out-of-the-box, but it can do an awful lot more than publish pages. Most contributed modules also work together nicely, so you can combine them to do even cleverer things :)

  • Excellent write up Mark!

    It’s nice to see a well-balanced comparison between WordPress and Joomla.

    I use both WordPress and Joomla and tend to lean more towards Joomla because I primarily build medium and large content (1,500+ pages) sites and I find that Joomla handles large sites better than WP. I also think the quality of commercial extensions is better for Joomla (Akeeba Backup, RSForms Pro, Jom Social, Phoca Downloads, etc.). Joomla also has a better ACL (access control level) which is nice if you have to give a lot of people access to different parts of the site. I have heard that there is a WP plugin that greatly extends WP’s ACL, but I have yet to try it.

    On the upside for WP, the admin panel is more user friendly than Joomla. WP is already set-up for blogging with its built-in tags, comments, archive, tag cloud, etc. It is also great for small marketing sites as it is easy to make specialized template layouts for landing pages. As you have pointed out, the learning curve for WP is super short. I am amazed at the number of people that I have met who have created their own websites using WP and don’t know HTML, CSS, and PHP.

    I think there is a place in the world for both WP and Joomla. The trick is to determine the best tool for the job.

    I have done some Drupal work and have found that it does not come with much installed. To create a workable website with Drupal 6/7 requires downloading and installing at least six modules. Whereas with WordPress and Joomla, you already have a basic site right out of the box. Drupal is far more complicated for the person with limited programming skills who wants to develop basic sites. There is a reason why there are so many more job listing for Drupal than Joomla and WordPress.

    Great stuff here. I cannot wait for the rest of the series.

    – – – WiLd

    • Thanks so much for the great comment, Wild.

      I think you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head here, so I don’t have much to add. :)

      I hope you enjoy the rest of the series.


  • I am looking forward to this series because I use both WordPress and Joomla. I choose which s system to use- always a difficult and important choice – depending on the needs of my client. I build websites for organizations and businesses alike. For organizations, I tend to think Joomla is more flexible. I love some of the components offered for online registration services, etc.

    I am hoping that you will cover points to consider if you are designing a website that your clients will be editing. Each system is different. I would love to know your opinion for which CMS is best for different types of clientele.

    Thanks Sitepoint! I love your site.

    • Thanks, Kelly.

      Unfortunately there’s not too much assistance I can provide regarding client-interaction.

      I would say that you need to assess each client’s individual needs and expertise.

      The WordPress back end generally requires less training when compared to Joomla, but if you compile some good PDFs to complement your client training sessions, I don’t see how you can go wrong with either. We’ve got a particular client on a Joomla website where a group of six 70-80-year olds (The committee for a local golf union) have no problem updating the site themselves. That said, for simpler sites, WordPress is really easy for your clients to learn.

      Each case needs to be assessed individually, though. I don’t have any really set decision-making process for that.

      I hope you’ll check back for the rest of the series. Thanks again, Kelly.

      – Mark

  • Mark,

    Excellent article – I look forward to future installments!

    I have developed with both WP and Joomla and to be honest I find them both to be less than ideal. I am pretty much in agreement with your high level assessments – WP is OK if you are building a relatively simple site, and Joomla is quite powerful but quirky.

    I have been using ExpressionEngine for the last three years or so. True, it is not open source (read:free), but I find I can develop sites much more quickly using it, so the license cost (around $250 with quantity discounts) is more than made up for by the time I save in development and the unlimited flexibility it provides.

    One aspect of any CMS that seems to get little attention is the Control Panel/Backend, i.e. the client view. I have had many many clients with nightmarish stories about both WP and Joomla. Some of this is not doubt related to poor development, and some due to the fact that both of these CMSs get pretty confusing when you start to add a lot of functionality. Some things are just plain mystifying -shortcodes that are exposed to non technical people for instance, or trying to remember what plug-in is controlling that content on the bottom right column of page xx.

    I keep wanting to embrace one of these CMSs, with a slight bias towards Joomla, because they are open source and are supported by an incredible selection of third party plug-ins (albeit with their own issues). As you mentioned in one of your comments, some clients simply can not afford to pay for custom coding and expensive CMSs, so there are some powerful arguments in favor of these two contenders. But every time I book a new project and give them some thought I end up opting for ExpressionEngine.

    There is no question that I am far more comfortable with EE, so that plays a big role in my decision making process. But still really want to find an open source solution that is more cost effective for a certain class of client. Two that I think hold great promise are Concrete5 and ModX.

    • Thanks very much, Roi.

      I agree with many of the sentiments expressed in your comment. I haven’t really used EE so I can’t really provide too much insight here. As long as it works for you, that’s the most important thing.

      I do plan to look more closely at some of the other CMS contenders around, like ModX and Concrete5. I’m just not sure how much value they can bring to my business in South Africa, where things generally have to be cheap before they have to be quality. (We’ll get there, one day.)

      I appreciate the comment. I hope you enjoy the rest of the series.


  • susanne Tamir

    Hi thanks for this article! I can t really tell whats my opinion because i don t know Joomla. I am using WordPress since i started to built websites and i like it so much that i never saw a reason to try something else. The support for wordpress is great . Mainly private people in some forums not so much the WP community itself are really answering on all questions. There is endlessness options and WP fits the very beginner up to the real Profi. You can chose a template free or Premium or built your own, you can change templates according to what you know. Most of the services are free . And its developing all the time and updated. I allways will built my sites with wordpress if you found something good so why to change? Susanne

  • david shirey

    Nice article, Mark. Concise and focused.

    A general question. I want to build a web site where people can get information on a variety of topics. Sort of a wikipedia but on a much reduced scale, dealing with just issues or elements that my consulting company deals with. I know I could create a blog post in WordPress for each topic element that I want but is that really the tool I should be dealing with (seems like Joomla is roughly the same)? Should I be using a more sophisticated thing like Expression Engine? Or should I really be targeting a wiki? Sort of unclear where CMS stops and wiki begins.

    Thanks for any input you can give.

    • I’ve never developed a wiki, but my understanding is that it is useful when there are a lot of people editing the content (it probably contains the ability to moderate edits, too, if you need that). If it’s only you or a few people working on the content and you trust each other, a wiki might be overkill (and might be limiting in other website design areas, if the wiki isn’t the only thing you want on the site). If your clients can also weigh in, definitely wiki (or perhaps a forum – depending on what you are thinking, that might also be something to look at). But perhaps others with actual wiki experience can weigh in if I’m talking through my hat.

    • Thanks, David.

      It’s difficult to provide advice without knowing a bit more. Off the bat I would probably say that Joomla’s content structure might be better suited as it is very easily separated into sections and categories and doesn’t necessarily require you to embrace the “blog” feel that WordPress brings.

      Have you looked at the extension/plugin directories of the various systems to see whether something might suit your purpose?

      If your website doubles as a business website and information repository, I would probably shy away from a pure Wiki feel.

      FAQs, Q&A components (Something like EasyDiscuss for Joomla) and other content components may suit you better, depending on how much info there is.

      I hope you find the perfect fit for your site.


  • I am a designer first with strong development skills as well. I am in the camp that got frustrated by Joomla on first use, and have never approached it again (client didn’t like it either). I love WordPress. The number of ways you can start a site (full-featured theme, frameworks like Hybrid, or roll your own) is powerful, and I am continually amazed at the plugins that are available to achieve all sorts of functionality. It always helps to be a developer to be able to customize everything, but a non-developer can get miles along with plugins and the incredible abundance of documentation, tutorials, videos, etc.

    A number of folks deride WordPress as “best for blogging”. It seems lots of people don’t realize how easy it is to turn WordPress into a CMS of whatever type you need. It helps to ‘unlearn’ what you know about Posts, and embrace Custom Post Types. There are plugins to push this along quickly, and developers can leverage existing plugins to kickstart their own custom work.

    That all said, I have enjoyed my little bit of time with Drupal, and I agree with those who’ve mentioned how much clients like how editing content is handled in Drupal.

  • My first introduction to CMS about two years ago was Joomla. Starting as a static web designer I saw great potential to create dynamic websites faster with greater stability and flexibility to add robust functionality. I was enamored to say the least.

    Within a few months I heard about another blog/CMS platform – WordPress and I felt like I struck gold. WordPress was so much easier to use and seemed much more flexible. I have been building clients sites in WordPress now for about a year and a half and I am loving it. My clients love it too because then can very easily manager their own websites on the back end with a couple hours of instruction.

    I am continuing my studies as a Web Developer though, but I will probably end up using my skills to build my own WordPress theme and plugins.

  • I only use WordPress for a CMS at the moment, I haven’t tried Drupal or Joomla as I only have blog type sites. I don’t really like WordPress, but it is easy to use, and you can get plugins to do most things you want.

    Looking forward to the future articles where you get more into the meat of the differences.

    I noticed in the article you mentioned that you’d want an Apache server for running wordpress. You don’t actually need Apache, even wordpress.com itself doesn’t use Apache. (It uses Nginx)


    • You need Apache if you want to use mod_rewrite to make your URLs really clean-looking. But of course everything functions okay without it.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Dave.

      Regarding the hosting issue – You’re quite right that you can use Nginx or other servers. I just referenced Apache mainly because its more commonplace than the rest and I’m just trying to get people away from using IIS servers for CMS setups. :)

      I could go into a whole new post just on hosting. You’re quite right though – I’ve just had a better experience with our Apache servers than anything else.


  • Using WP since 2008 when I started my own domain, I’m a little bit biased now. But, since customers are playing a important role I’m investigating others systems.
    For very small websites I use cmsimple.org. No database no nothing, just one page of content.
    To start it’s easy for the customer because they have an on line editor.
    Next to that I’m looking at Joomla, Typo3 (important in Germany; I travel a lot in Germany).
    And yes, Drupal is a further candidate to take some effort.
    It all depends what the purpose is for the customer.

    Waiting for the next articles,


  • Wes

    I use both, i find WP best for blogging and more basic sites (although that is starting to change)

    and i use Joomla for more in-depth and complicated sites.

    I don’t like how WP keeps Pages in the database and they aren’t an actual file you can go edit. I love to be able to bypass and just edit code when things wont do what you want them to do.

    I haven’t got past part 1 but i like your comparison, also could of called the fact that Drupal lovers would come and comment and end up trying to change the subject.

    I have a few friends that started in Drupal, but it was so complicated they moved to Joomla or WP.

  • Scott Tuchman

    I transitioned into Joomla CMS from DW hard coding at the start of Joomla 1.5 and never looked back. Unlike many other posters, I did not find Joomla to be difficult to understand and quickly increased my productivity. Over the years, I visited WP and until recently, found it to be good for creating blogs and that’s it.

    Earlier this year, I discovered Ultimatum, a sort of fork on the WP structure. WOW, I haven’t looked back! For the first time I have a complete framework at my fingertips where I can design the page layout, not be stuck with some themers template. Starting from a blank page is a freeing experience and allows me to create a site so much more specific to the clients needs. You create the page structure, you create the design elements and you can easily add responsiveness; no pre-configured themes or templates. There is a Joomla version of Ultimatum on its way as well.

    Suffice to say that because of Ultimatum, my WP vs Joomla output is now 3 to 1. I still love Joomla (some projects just don’t lend themselves to WP) better than WP, far better development in plugins/modules/components (JCE is THE best content editor ever – can someone in WP land take notice please) and there are things about WP that are clunky and not well thought out, but I find as a developer, to be able to start from a blank page trumps everything else. Currently, I have 3 WP sites and 3 Joomla sites in the pipeline. ModX and Drupal – Ugh!

  • Started designing websites full-time just on 5 years ago, and after 2 years of some really tacky work, and requests from clients for sites they could maintain themself, I decided to start using a CMS. At that point in time I had zero knowledge of anything beyond basic html and css. I found xampp, downloaded WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, and started playing with them. First of all, I was confronted by the dashboard areas of the three. Spent some time familiarising myself with what was where. Then I started looking at changing the look of the site front end.

    My decision on which CMS on which to concentrate was based on firstly what my client’s would encounter, when working in the back-end. Joomla is pretty, but the layout confused me, but, Drupal was the nicest, and easiest to get around in. D-2; W-1; J-0

    Extending the basic functionality was next on the list, and I was overwhelmed by the choice offered by WordPress, and the ease with which the plug-ins could be added and customised. I had a really hard time finding plug-ins and add-ons at Drupal and Joomla. D-0; W-1; J-0

    Templating and theming was my next consideration, bearing in mind my skill-set was pretty limited back then. Maybe I just made bad choices of themes to operate on, from which to learn, but I was not comfortable, or happy, working with table based themes when tables were already history. This was Joomla. Drupal, I could not fathom out how the theme components came together. WordPress I clicked with right away. D-0; W-1; J-0

    Needless to say, for myself, and my clients I believe WordPress to be the best solution as a CMS. Drupal would be my choice should I find I need to do something WordPress cannot. Joomla, well, I don’t see myself ever using it.

    I will be following the rest of this series with great interest.

  • Thanks for this series. I’m hoping it will answer some of my questions about CMS.

    My day job is in communications and I freelance as a web designer. I take few clients since my day job doesn’t allow for much free time.

    I use Dreamweaver and make all updates for my clients for a fee. I recently had a customer that insisted on making their own edits to the home page, about us, and the like. I used a fairly new CMS called perch. It’s very inexpensive and I’m allowed to customize the portal where my customer makes changes. The CMS appears to have been designed by me, which I really like. It’s very limited and I’d like something that has many more modules, widgets or whatever. I was pretty much set on WordPress for the simple reason that it’s simpler to learn…I’ve heard over and over again. But I think Joomla is probably going to be better in the long run.

    Does Joomla or WordPress allow the ability for a web designer to customize the portal for the client?


    • In Joomla, if all the client wants to do is edit page content or add new “articles” (that’s the Joomla term – can be shown as a single page or a blog-like post or both), they don’t need a portal at all – that can be done directly on the “front-end” view of the website. When they log in as an editor, all the articles will have a little icon that they can click to edit it, and the user menu will have an Add Article link. You can choose which of a variety of WYSIWYG editors is presented to them for editing their content.

      If they need to change the menu structure, move modules/widgets around, etc., then they’ll need to use the “back-end” admin interface, but even in that case, yes, you can make your own custom template for that interface. (I’ve never bothered to do that, but the functionality is there.)

      • Thanks Karen. That answers my questions perfectly! I’ll be delving into Joomla soon.

  • Enjoyed your article, I use both equally, depending on the clients needs.

    I find I have to hack the php code more with WordPress then Joomla to customized it. Joomla is far more configurable then WordPress. I always strive to use the least amount of modules/plugins in my sites for both security risks and stability factors.

    Looking forward to the rest of the articles in your series.


  • mkv

    It should be noted that both of these CMS’s need quite a lot of memory and CPU. WordPress, even optimized, seems to chomp an incredible amount of server memory even when the site is a simplistic one. There is nothing wrong with this as long as there is CPU and memory available. If one has an installation in a low-end VPS, for instance, the combined CPU and memory usage can choke the system pretty quickly.

    A memory use for a simple page call may be 20+ MB for WordPress whereas Drupal and Joomla, for instance handle the equivalent task using less than 6 MB. Lightweight but working alternatives like IonizeCMS need less than 3 MB. The CPU time is pretty well in line withe the memory usage. For a busy site I would not recommend a low-end server and WordPress. I had to do the maths when selecting a system for a site that due to its nature had bursts of hits every now and then. Finally we ended up writing one of our own and it used less than 2 MB per page request and very little CPU.

    That said the popularity of these frameworks speaks for them.

  • Ron

    The WordPress section contained notable sites, where the Joomla section did not. Is this because no major company uses Joomla or is it perhaps due to the author’s bias for WordPress?

    • leo redpath

      Have a look at Who’s using Joomla for a better view of major users of Joomla.

      Sorry to say but the WP fanclub bias shines through here.

      Which ever one goes with depends upon resources and requirements at the end of the day

  • I have been primarily developing with Joomla for 6 years and it is my main tool in my toolbox. When I need a CMS, I use Joomla. I have developed a handful of websites in WordPress when the end user wanted to blog as it was the right tool for the job.

    I almost abandoned Joomla before 1.6 came out. The interface was clunky and it took too many clicks to get something done. The core developers have improved the back-end immensely just by creating the “save and New” button on the article and menu creation workflow. I am glad I hung in there now as 2.5 is really nice comparatively speaking to 1.5

    I am not a template creator, however I am pretty good at customizing them and work with a few different frameworks. Now that quite a few frameworks are responsive, I can create a site in the root, dupe the files over to a sub-folder and run that install in a Facebook page running off of the same database. The site looks equally impressive at 1024, 810, and 520 pixels wide.

    When I do not need a CMS, then I go with Bootstrap.

    Thanks for the great read!

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Chris.

      I agree, that versions 1.6 through 2.5 have been massive improvements for Joomla. Responsive frameworks really do make things a lot easier for us too.

      I hope you enjoy the rest of the series.

      – Mark

  • We have been using WordPress successfully for client websites for years. It’s absolutely amazing what WordPress can do. If you know a little bit of PHP you can even code some amazing custom plugins to do anything you’d need it to do.

    I specifically love a plugin called “Option Tree” – this is so simple to use and it allows us to create some amazing things for clients. Anything from alert boxes on the home page to custom styling, to whatever we want!

    Anyway, my vote is for WordPress.

    • I think another great thing about WordPress is simply the user community. The ability for the client to google simple things like adding pages, posts, etc. makes it so much easier for us to not have to write documentation for simple things that normal users would need help with.

      Also, there’s the thousands of plugins and options we have that make extending WordPress nearly infinite.

      Additionally, I’ve found the UI of the admin section much easier to use from a client’s standpoint. They don’t need to be developers to figure out how to use it. It’s very intuitive and easy to use.

      Not to say that Drupal, Joomla, etc. are necessarily better or worse than WordPress. I just prefer it over the others.

    • Rob

      Thanks for the Option Tree tip! I don’t think I’ll be able to use it as effectively as you do on JAM Creative, but it’s just one more great WP plugin I didn’t have a clue existed.

  • I have been using WP as a blogger for 7 years and as a web dev enthusiast, I thought It would be neat if I build my own WP framework that I could use for my clients in the near future after taking a web design program. For 7 years I haven’t done any WP framework yet, last winter when I did my internship with a publication company that also build a website, web app and mobile app for clients, I learned how to develop a Joomla website from the ground up in just three weeks. That made me realize that building a Joomla site is actually easier than building WP from scratch. Just saying……..

    I thank all of you who are experienced developing for different CMS…those you have mentioned are worth searching for especially that some people has approached me to create Drupal sites.

  • For us it is WordPress all the way! Not only is it more flexible, more easy to extend, but we also find it more light weight compared to joomla…putting less load on the server…

    look forward to the upcoming articles in this comparison …

  • We use WordPress for our client’s blogs and Modx for everything else. While Modx has a blog add-on we like WordPress better. In part, because I am a bit paranoid and like to keep user inputs in a different database table.

    We chose Modx for a number of reasons. First it is a tagged system, so there is no code in the HTML, which really simplifies development. Also, many of the items, such as SEO, that are add-ons in Drupal and WordPress ( perhaps Joomla – I am not sure ) are available ‘out-of-the box’ in Modx.

    Our designers like it because they can take any HTML page and turn it into a Modx template with very little effort. As a developer, I like having all the main functions are in one class which makes any custom programming much easier. And, our clients, that manage their own site, love it. It has one of the best manager interfaces I have ever seen.

    • For the record, Joomla has SEO, including mod_rewrite, “out of the box” – just three checkboxes (and name your menu item aliases the way you want your URL to look) and it does the rest automagically.

  • As a professional web developer and programmer, I love it when I am required to quote against a company offering either WordPress or Joomla. I know that I will be able to offer a better and more flexible solution at a fraction of the price. There are dozens of better CMS systems available – we have our own, but that’s not the point. WP and J may be popular but that does not make either of them any good. One is comparing an insecure mickey mouse system (suitable for graphic designers used to working with HTML) with a bloated camel (designed in a rush by a committee of PHP nerds).

  • Chris van Wyk

    I have developed a lot of websites in Joomla! and Drupal, but in the past year moved exclusively to WordPress. I find the functionality in terms of extensions more or less the same, but updating WordPress is by far the easiest of the three CMS’s.

  • “For this reason, most people who start out with Joomla find figuring out the content structure to be a bit of a learning curve and this often leads to them abandoning Joomla altogether.”

    That’s exactly what happened to me. Once a friend of mine introduced me to Mambo, and showed me how powerful and flexible it was, and I decided to give it a try (for several times). Summing it up, I didn’t understand a thing and ended up creating my own CMS with ASP on an .mdb database, wich worked fine for what I wanted. But I would eventually stumble on the resource and standards matter.
    Then I met WordPress, and it felt like when meet that girl who seems to have known you long before you met her, who knows what you want, understands what you say and vice-versa. It’s easy to understand, easy to use and, like girls are, a little bit hard to change at some points, but in general, WordPress is my CMS of choice.

  • Guillermo

    Definitivamente la conclusión es correcta, hice en algún momento el intento de usar Mambo que al igual que Joomla tenían una estructura muy complicada y demandaba muchas horas de trabajo, con un mayor expertisse para poder desarrollar o implementar un sitio web, lo que hacía muy difícil trasladar a un usuario su utilización práctica.
    El avance de WordPress ha sido más significativo y más seguro, por ese motivo lo vengo usando intensivamente hace algunos años.

    Agradeciendo el artículo, reciban un cordial saludo desde Peru

  • Geej Mauriva

    I have used both Joomla and WordPress in my career as a web developer. I began using Joomla in my early years and have looked at it recently and have always found it to be challenging and unintuitive in it’s layout and customization. I always had to refer to the manual when I was using Joomla and was still confused.

    On the other hand I have been using WordPress for about one and a half years and I absolutely LOVE it! I have never used a manual and have found it extremely intuitive. I currently build all of my sites using iThemes Builder and I find that platform very flexible for WordPress. When discussing the possibilities of WordPress and web design with my clients I often will say to them “Whatever you can imagine or want to accomplish with your website, we can do it in WordPress”


  • Trevor Langas

    From my experiences, you’ve mentioned most noticeable differences of the two.
    Wordpress is well worded, easier to pickup for new people. Although you do know the hosted version does limit you when you plan on customizing. Ex. Lets say the template.
    Joomla is not worded as well, but will provide a clearer understanding/straight forward, once you figure it out.
    Since I’ve already learned the wording differences, I choose Joomla.

  • I like the line, that both CMS’s is build using PHP and MySQL so we should look for an apache host.

    We could use nginx, or litespeed etc :p

    Also Joomla seems to have problem with their way they build for performance, by default they set no-cache headers

    • Thanks for commenting, Lucas. :)

      You’re quite right. But since this is more a laymen’s comparison, I thought I would highlight the more commonplace (and my preferred) alternative for hosting.

      As I mentioned in another comment below, going into hosting would probably require a whole post on it’s own.

      I just have found the least problems with our Apache server, when compared to other platforms. My main concern is that users stay away from IIS servers when dealing with CMS websites.

      I hope you will check back for the rest of the series.


  • I’ve used WordPress for years and this year, for the first time, started developing in Joomla.

    I like both platforms. Both have their respective pros and cons. The biggest thing to remember, is neither is “best” or “worst.” It all depends on the deployment. Each one is good for certain applications, while the other is not.

    I’m looking forward to the series of articles.

  • PaulS

    Horses for courses. I use WP, Joomla and Drupal (and when I say use I mean write/modify code as well as play around with standard modules). The CMS I recommend depends upon the intended application, the intended site managers and the availability (or near availability) of suitable add-ons. Nothing I have experienced recently has led me to the point of abandoning any two of the three in favour of one CMS to rule them all (to coin a phrase). I do, however, feel quite strongly that the article is/will be fatally flawed without the inclusion of Drupal.

  • sandra

    After looking at many CMSs, I have luckily stumbled upon WordPress and built many websites with it. 5 minute-install (really), short learning curve, many themes, many plugins, easy to modify other people’s code and adapt it to your needs, great supporting community that like to share experience and help you out, hosting that’s made to support WordPress… Fits both newbies and experienced developpers. Love it, love it, love it…

  • Seriously, leave them both, use Drupal

  • I am a 75 year old great-grandmother who loves the William Glasser Institute, which is an educational, non-profit organization. In my current position as volunteer representative from the Sunbelt Region to the WGI-US Board, one of my duties is to oversee the regional website. Joomla is used and I must learn how to use it until someone qualified is willing to volunteer. I just returned from the Books-A-Million store but they had nothing on Joomla in the store.

    Please suggest what to order online. There are so many choices.

    Thanks to you for the Joomla vs WordPress article. Before Ted Altenberg suggested I read it, my fear was that Joomla would be too difficut for me to learn. You have given me a shred of hope.

    Yours in Choice,
    Beverly LaFond

  • andy

    I run dev in a PHP shop and we go WordPress or Drupal for CMSs. Joomla does not have the extensibility and power of Drupal nor the ease-of-use of WordPress. As WordPress has added multi-user capabilities and Drupal has made efforts to become more user-friendly, they have converged on the CMS space once occupied by Joomla and effectively made it obsolete.

  • I’m creating a new (currently not named) CMS.

    I love wordpress and have done several integrations for companies that wanted a blog and content management system together and this is where it starts to get difficult.

    I’m creating something that is as easy to use and extend as wordpress yet has a lot more flexibility as a commercial CMS.

    It’s PHP and MySQL based and the template function names will be the same as WordPress so there is no learning curve for WordPress theme developers to migrate.

    The project is about 20% complete so far. It’s installable, extendable with apps from an app store and has an API.

    I’m looking forward to sharing it with the world in the future :)

  • Ihab

    Recently, I have a news type website I’ve decided to work with wordpress as it is justified for such purpose. However, coming from none Open Source CMS background, my all other projects where done using ‘own CMS’ built upon CodeIgniter Framework , I find it difficult to find resources that teach how to transform a PSD layout into workpress theme. I purchased Wicked Themes by sitepoint and it is a great but does not elevate the confidence level on full grasp. I think it would be nice if sitepoint introduces an ebook about theming project from PSD to wordpress. As for joomla I agree with the writer as to be best suited for static type pages

    • Ihab

      P.S. I was first confronted with Joomla when it was 1.5 and to be honest I was completely lost with it. As for my previous comment about Joomla and static type pages I greed with you based on the arguments you’ve highlighted.


  • gita

    I am a web designer/developer and have 200 sites under my belt. I have used HTML, PHP, Joomla and wordpress. It is not what I find easy to use that matters to my business – what the clients find easy to use and update their websites. WordPress wins hands down. I have built many Joomla sites and it is a pain to use for a non tech savvy person. Updates are a very big pain and if extensions are not kept updated they can be easily hacked. I have had more than 5 hacks on Joomla sites as clients find it hard to maintain.

    WordPress on the other hand is a few clicks to keep all plugins and versions updated. A client WP site got hacked (70-80 page site – 600-700 uniques a day) It took me 3 hours to bring it back up and get it running. Joomla would have taken me 2 days at least. I have built 150 page sites with WP so that argument Joomla is great for large sites does not apply. Part of CNN BBC have wordpress components.

    I use WP to build client business sites – not for blogs by the way. These sites help them make money and are very targeted to increase their client base. I have a client who has 250,000 followers for her blog and she has an ecommerce site built on WP on the same site. I use WP as a CMS so I don’t agree that WP is a blogging platform. it has evolved way beyond that now with so many powerful plugins available (esp the paid ones)

    I don’t even know why there is a debate at all! WP wins hands down on every aspect. Just think of permalinks! how easy it is to set them. In user friendly URLs Joomla is so hard to set up. Think of blogging why would you want a Joomla site to blog?

    • Great post and one I’d agree with whole heartedly.

      I’d used loads of different CMS systems on linux and windows platforms (including Joomla, Mojoportal and Kentico) and was quite late to give WordPress a fair shot – when I did I was blown away by how easy it all was.

      From a client point of view it’s quick to develop and allows us to keep costs down, it’s also very stable and very secure due to the amazing ease of updates – from the fairly short time we’ve been using it it just seems to keep better and better.

      Out of interest how open are you with clients about wordpress, do you leave it in its native state or use a plugin / custom interface to simplify the interface even further?

  • This is a good start for the series.

    I started with an HTML site in 2006, then looked for a CMS to convert to in 2008. I chose WP for its ease of use and overall flexibility. I looked at Joomla and Drupal and took a pass: Confusing, lack of a large installed base, inferior support and a feeling that they did things “their way” just to be different from WP. Maybe things are different five years later, but it doesn’t seem like it.

    I fail to understand why people don’t respect WP as a large-scale CMS. From what I’ve seen, WP is as good a CMS as Joomla, but maybe I haven’t seen enough of Joomla. Maybe WP’s reputation is hurt by being associated with bloggers, the kids, and not the “big boys.”.

    My personal opinion is that Drupal will fade or not grow and that Jumla will stagnate or grow slowly, but those are just guesses. As for the other blog/CMS platforms mentioned in the replies, I have no idea how good they are.

    It’ll be interesting to see where you come out in this series. I hope it isn’t “on the one hand … on the other hand and — Surprise!!! — It’s a draw, ladies and gentlemen!!!” lol.

  • Hello,

    I have been a Joomla! website developer now for about 5 years. Basically, I try to avoid religious wars about these things but I understand that debate makes for great entertainment.

    I agree that Joomla! can be difficult to learn, but for me it has been worth the commitment. After all you can’t use or be proficient in every web development platform out there. I have yet to meet a use case that Joomla! wasn’t able to meet. So I’ll stick with what I know.

    A few months ago a client came to me with a very simple static site of about 4 or 5 pages. No special functionality except for the contact form. I decided to try WordPress. It was a great education. I’m glad I did it. I found it a little confusing at first, but because of my experience with making custom templates in Joomla! I was able to figure out how to make a custom template in WordPress. The only thing I found annoying was that to make a custom template in WP you must edit several PHP files. In Joomla! it’s just one.

    My overall impression is that the heart of WP is a blogging software. At the heart of Joomla! is Content Management System. Now you can hammer a nail with the handle of a screwdriver but that’s not what it’s for. It may depend on your definition of a CMS. If content management is simply the ability to create and edit content on your website without knowing HTML, CSS and other markup or programming languages, then I guess WP is a CMS. But if content management extends to actually organizing and managing large amounts of content then perhaps Joomla! is more of a CMS. In the WP site I made, the client didn’t want to blog so I had to turn off the very thing it was designed to to best.

    I will follow the rest of this series with great interest, but I am really dismayed that you are apparently going to pick a winner. That, of course, means that there has to be a loser. I wouldn’t characterize either platform as a loser. To each his own, and the right tool for the right job.

    All the best,


  • Daniel

    Both still sucks, bad in their usability – as time we feel like it design for nerd and not for user. It assist in content layout according to both creator of site but not to the need of content publisher. Honestly, I try both – decided to forgone both. Now on weebly. Good luck to your comparison it did no help to real and serious user.

  • Concrete5, because it works the way I think. (Simple stuff for simple minds). Front-end editing is real easy, my sister would be able to do it. I’ve made all sorts of sites with this CMS, wont ever go back to Joomla or Drupal. WordPress perhaps, for blog(ish) sites.

  • Ian

    Hi Mark,

    I run a web design business specifically aimed at micro and small business solutions. I mainly use WordPress as a CMS for those clients that want to update the site themselves due to the backend user interface. I have a couple of clients who had existing Joomla websites created by other people, and their complaint have been the same, too hard to add new content and navigation.

    A while back, I toyed with the idea of changing over to Joomla to provide more scope to client websites, but found the time it would take to learn the Joomla system was not warranted for the return I would get. Small business do not want to pay the extra in my experience to develop a Joomla site, when a WordPress site willl do the job and be easier to work on (from the client perspective).

    Though WordPress is often touted as a “blogging” platform, I find that with the combination of pages and posts, I can create sites that also allow for “news” sections for the client in an easy to use backend environment, without having to create a seperate user interface for them. The use of different user levels when creating client registrations allows me to control what they see and can modify, straight out of the box.

    I will however watch for the rest of your posts on this subject as I am always open to changing my mind if I see a better way of providing service to my clients.

    Regards, Ian

  • Nathan

    I’ve used both in the past but to be blunt eZPublish (http://ez.no) makes both of these CMS’s look like toys. Drupal would be my second choice as both eZPublish and Druple seem far more mature.

  • I’m a Drupal fan and have used it since Drupal 5. I have built a few sites with WordPress and also attempted Joomla once but they always seemed inferior. I feel confident I can piece together modules to accomplish what I need with almost no coding. Drupal 7’s new features make Drupal software faster and easier to maintain, reducing the advantage of WP in that regard. Also, the module compatibilities are more straightforward with Drupal. Yes, you may have a bit more learning curve and clients may not be able to take over the total technical aspects of the site, but it works out great for my clients — they let me do the 5 to 10% and they do the other 90-95% which is mainly content creation and editing. If you haven’t tried Drupal, you are missing out.

  • PyroCMS is what I use now and you guys should try it out. Pretty nice and slick and built on CodeIgniter too!

  • My experience is mostly with Joomla, so it’s more familiar to me at this point, but there isn’t a winner and loser – it depends on the situation.

    I want to point out that Joomla went through a major change from 1.5 to 1.6 – after that, the structure, the method of updating, and various other things are different (hopefully better) than 1.5. Many of the comments were from people who switched away from Joomla in years past, but since your articles will be mostly for people who are trying to choose what to get started with, be sure that you are evaluating a current flavor of Joomla, because that is what new developers would be getting.

    Since SitePoint regularly has articles, books, etc. about WordPress but not about Joomla, I tend to wonder whether your evaluation can be completely unbiased – we all tend to like what we know best, and none of us know everything equally. But I know you’ll be doing your best at objectivity, and I look forward to the rest of the articles. I suspect I’ll learn a lot!

  • Alex

    I haven’t noticed that someone mentioned in here about VIP.WORDPRESS.COM
    Just FYI they are provide there special advanced paid service for such clients as CNN, TIME, Boing, TED, NBC-Sports, UPS and many more http://vip.wordpress.com/clients/


  • I’ve used pretty much every CMS known to man and have settled on Drupal for most of my client work. I use wordpress for my personal blog and I’ve played with Joomla a little bit. But kept coming back to Drupal for it’s modules and ease of custom content types. Can’t wait to see what else you have coming up in the series.

  • If you have ever had to train someone on how to publish to their CMS, wordpress stands out. The community and support available is (i found) a lot easier for users to find.

  • Matt

    I’ve used both and my clients have used both to manage their content. Clients prefer WP hands down, it’s so easy for them to update their website content. We design and build custom plugins directly for specific client needs so do not need to wait for 3rd party extensions or plugins to be updated. We just recently changed two Joomla sites I created a few years ago to WP.

    Clients don’t want to spend days learning how to navigate a CMS or pay for the privilege, and we don’t want to be bothered by trivial requests or lose time on training.

    Having looked at many CMS systems available, and there are some very good systems out there that have already being mentioned, it’s about usability for the end user, not the designer or developer.

    From a business point of view, I’m here to satisfy my client needs. The more they can manage the CMS the happier they are, resulting in positive word of mouth and new business.

  • I started using WordPress way back in 2003 and it has been my go to choice for website development. Every now and then I get to dust off Dreamweaver.

    I tried to use Joomla for client websites, but I found it too difficult for my clients to learn easily just as mentioned in your article. Most businesses or folks looking to get going with a website want something easy to grasp and WordPress easily gets the job done.

    Also, there are numerous themes, shopping carts, and plugins available to make WordPress do whatever you want it to do.

    Does WordPress have a few quirks every now and then? Sure, but it’s a stable platform and reliable.

  • A4D

    WordPress through and through for me .. nothing can compare to the multisite capabilities and the user ease of use. Once the code allows for it to be used as a full CMS ‘out the box’ then we will have our cake and eat it

  • WordPress is good for blogs, which is what it was initially intended for, and as a CMS is very simple for beginners to use.
    Joomla is very good for larger organisations with numerous users contributing articles and could be described as a “newspaper” like platform.
    Joomla’s advantage for designers is that you can design your template with your favourite design tool and insert the content tags in the appropriate places and upload the template via an ftp client.
    WordPress’s disadvantage is that having designed your template/theme in the usual way, you then have to cut it up and place it into the appropriate file and folder structure.
    From a designers point of view there are far better CMS platforms, such as ModX which “out of the packet” isn’t quite as simple as WordPress for users to pick up, but can be simplified with little effort, or better still taught. ModX is far easier than Joomla or Drupal for users to learn and for designers templates/themes are just copied and pasted in – much easier, much quicker.
    WordPress is the most popular, as was VHS, but not necessarily the best, my view is that you should implement the system that suits the clients needs best – small websites for newbies – probably go for WordPress, large sites for multiple contributors probably Joomla – anything else, we use ModX.

  • As a web developer for small businesses, I spent a long time looking at various CMSs trying to find one that had the perfect balance for being simple to use for clients, but extremely flexible for me as a developer. For me, this CMS is SilverStripe. It’s incredibly easy for users to understand, while still providing features such as page history etc, but as it’s built on it’s own PHP framework, it makes it incredibly flexible for me as a developer, and doesn’t restrict how I can design or develop my sites in any way. In fact, it makes my life so much easier. WordPress is great for blogs, Joomla, just seems to complex for average users, yet inflexible to developers, and Drupal’s user interface is just utterly confusing, even to me, let alone my clients.

    So I’d highly recommend anyone looking for a CMS, gives Silverstripe.org a try.

  • It’s been a long time (5+ years) since I’ve seriously looked at Joomla so it might be time for me to have another look.

    In the meanwhile though I’ve built a few WordPress websites, most of them are small sites for portfolios, blogs, SMB product websites, etc.

    I find most of the time for small sites, it’s just so quick and easy to write a theme with some simple content management that I can quite often knock out a not-too-complex-designed website in reasonably short amount of time.

    Having said that, I have been predominantly a front-end dev, which has made WordPress more attractive to me from a get-your-hands-dirty-but-not-too-dirty point of view. More and more I get asked to build more complex things that I find can definitely be done in WP, but I often have the feeling that they would have been easier to build using a more traditional type CMS

    I thought ModX Revolution and Concrete5 looked interesting, and maybe it’s time to have a look at Joomla again.

    Looking forward to the next article!

  • yousuf ginwalla

    Hello there all,

    I have been using WordPress for over a year. Before joining a web marketing firm I used Joomla for most of my works. Switching on to a new CMS was not easier for me. But my personal opinion is that Joomla is much more robust then WordPress. Due to some complications WordPress cannot be used to deploy departmental structure like in case of eBay. But surely work around are present. Its nice experience to use both CMSes for working. And I personally find it fun and easier day by day to understand.

    Happy blogging.

  • Nenad

    Well, I’ve been using Joomla since its beginning. I might as well say that I am really a Joomla expert. Not once did I try WordPress, but am thinking of starting to learn it as well. Great article, greetings from Serbia. :D

  • That’s a good article and a promise of more good stuff to come.
    One small point of information to add / correct – you can use your own domain with a hosted WordPress.com site. You just pay a small fee to do so.
    As an example, see http://smartfutures.ie/ which is on wordpress.com

  • Kellie

    I started out using WordPress as a blog and Joomla as a CMS. Initially, Joomla was better for creating static sites and trying to do so in WordPress meant a lot of hacking code to get certain things to work.

    One of the things I disliked about using Joomla (namely the 1.x series) was that the software felt very bloated.

    At the point when I started using WordPress (back in 2006), the plugin community had just gotten started. Joomla had a bigger plugin repository but very few were free. Some of those that were free were hugely buggy or lacking in functionality. However, it was easier back then to create a decent static site in Joomla with little-to-no coding knowledge than it was in WordPress.

    Fast forward to today. WordPress has not only grown exponentially in popularity, there are literally thousands of great free and premium plugins. Additionally, there are quite a few great frameworks out there to design and develop on. Creating an interactive, dynamic and feature-rich website in WordPress is where it’s at. WordPress is designer & developer friendly, especially if you get on a good framework.

    The only thing I can say negatively about WordPress is that some of the plugins (if not developed well) can wreak havoc on your hosting environment. While WordPress can run many small and medium sites very well, I wonder how it would do on a large site. I am thinking it would need some major optimization to run smoothly.

    Joomla (in comparison), has very few good theme frameworks. There’s Gantry. That’s about it. 2.5 does feel much more streamlined than the 1.5 version of Joomla and I love working with the Gantry framework. The plugin-development seems slower than WordPress. (that is just my opinion)

    Though on another positive note for Joomla — it seems to handle large sites very well. 2.5 has improved the taxonomy of document-handling too.

    Additionally, the learning curve on Joomla is much steeper than WordPress overall.

    With that said, I prefer working with WordPress over Joomla.

    P.s. I’ve tried Drupal numerous times but never got the logic behind their admin control panel. The organization was too confusing — lots of links within links.

  • Neeko

    I moved to web development from LAN systems only a few years ago. I took my time to look at all 3 of these WordPress/Joomla/Drupal also one other but I forget the name of it now.

    Drupal didn’t install for me at the first attempt and it seemed (at the time) far too Unix centric (I was a Microsoft slave back then VB + VFP).
    So I haven’t really given Drupal enough of a chance, might go back and look at it again sometime but no immediate plans and more out of curiosity than serious consideration now.

    The first site I did build was in WordPress, it wasn’t a blogging site and I found I was always working around this feature (probably just my ignorance), but that was annoying (switching off it’s main feature so it didn’t get in the way of what I wanted to do).

    Also I’ve been developing software for a couple of decades & I was looking to learn the highest standards of coding and industry best practice, which meant OOP was a pre-requisite to me. (I figured I was choosing a work tool to grow with for many years and wanted a solid professional foundation)

    Finally I started looking at Joomla, the 1st thing that caught my attention (after OOP) was the template layout, named regions, totally logical (don’t know if WP has this, I just never saw it), long story shortened, Joomla is my tool of choice now, for all jobs, & the more I see the more I like.
    Learning to use Joomla was easy, learning the coding structure behind it was not as easy, but a new book by Mark dexter has helped me a lot recently (“JoomlaProgrammingbook.com”)

    I think it is probably true WordPress is easier for punters/site owners, but I think website complexity will increase over the years and I want to be with the best team of developers and I think Drupal & Joomla attract experienced developers more than WordPress

    Over the decades this is my 3rd major development platform shift. (about the 14th or 15th programming language I’ve learned, but only 3rd development platform I’ve put a serious multi-years time committment into).
    I am very sceptical of people claiming to know several platforms intimately, I’m not thick, and I struggle to learn just one system intimately, and stay upto date with it’s evolution.

    My first development platform I chose for ease of use & because it was free – just like many people today choose WordPress for ease of use – nothing at all wrong with that.
    My 2nd system I chose for productivity reasons – a more informed choice.
    Now my choice is really PHP, and Joomla appears to me to offer very high coding standards for PHP

    Great topic and article, with great postings too. Thanks.

  • Drupal, hands down is the best for all the reasons Jeremy stated and more.

  • Ran

    Two comments regarding WordPress:
    (1) As to the line “Joomla’s menus also need to be created using modules, or else they will not show up anywhere! This is exactly how WordPress’ menus function too. A Menu widget needs to be created which will be set to display a particular menu in a specific position.” — Not entirely true. You can have WordPress display a menu without using any widget. All you need is the right function code in your template (wp_page_menu OR wp_nav_menu).
    (2) As to the line “WordPress was created to enable creators of content to easily publish that content. It is currently used as the blogging platform of choice. My opinion is that it is great at exactly that — blogging/content curation — but perhaps not as flexible in other departments.” — This was maybe the case in older WP versions. In current versions WP is a fully fledged CMS, used for creating almost any type of website. Actually, you could build sites which do not utilize its “blogging” capabilities at all.

  • We like them both and when Joomla 3.0 comes out, there should be an updated comparison. With Joomla, we prefer EasyBlog from Stack Ideas that has most of the options you would find in WordPress and nicely integrates into Joomla, so that is no longer an issue. We develop on both, so it all depends on the clients needs on which one we choose.

  • Greg Perham

    Comments on “Standalone v Hosted”:

    1. “vs”: See http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/versus.aspx

    2. You can get a 2nd level domain name for a wordpress.com hosted site, so that part of the section is inaccurate.

    3. That paragraph could have been shorter or eliminated, making room for the 3rd to be expanded, describing the limitations of the hosted WP.

    Looking forward to the rest of the series!

  • Josh Lucchesi

    Hi Mark-
    I’m glad to see this article. I have limited time and brain matter so I want to avoid putting all my eggs in one CMS only to find it’s not the best for e-commerce. I’m hoping you will address which of these two has the more robust plug-ins (components or whatever) for a catalog site with about 100 customizable items. Naturally I would like to use the same CMS to manage customer information, sales, shipping calculations – the whole store model.

    Looking forward to more! Thanks.

    • Hi Josh,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. (Apologies for the delayed reply)

      I think that both systems have great extensions for what you’re trying to do. My suggestion would be to check out WooCommerce for WordPress, Virtuemart for Joomla and then Magento. See which suits your needs the best, but I find that they’re all pretty good. (I’m really big on WooCommerce at the moment – I think they’ve got a great system running).

      Hope that helps.

      Kind Regards

  • One correction – you say in the post that WordPress.com users will have a domain name like yoursitename.wordpress.com, so that’s why you recommend getting a domain name and hosting.

    WordPress.com users CAN use a domain name with their sites there. It’s a paid upgrade, which costs about $20 a year (last time I checked), but for users who don’t want to deal with hosting, but do want the professional look of a proper domain name, this can be a good solution for them.

    WordPress.com can be a good place for people to start out who want to have their own site/blog, but aren’t ready to deal with hosting, themes, etc. At a certain point, they may feel limited by certain things on WordPress.com, like the inability to install plugins or themes, or to edit theme files, and at that point they can migrate their site to their own server, while retaining link structure and thus not losing search engine and link traffic.

  • I really like CMS’s in general and I love both Joomla and WordPress among others. But I like to be objective and thats why I consider WordPress as a blooging system who can be converted in a full featured CMS and Joomla as a full featured CMS out of the box. Both are increadibly good, when choosing between them considerations are more focused on the kind of project you are developing and the skill level of the developer and the final user.

    Nice article!

  • I’ve got to add my voice for MODX. It just keeps getting better and better, and is so powerful and flexible.

    There’s nowhere near as many plugins as WordPress or Joomla, but there are some very high quality ones there, and with a bit of know-how, you can roll your own :-)

    I really can’t stand Joomla, as trying to take a beautiful design and turn it into a functional website with Joomla just makes me pull my hair out. I find with Joomla that you start with the default installation, then try to shoehorn a design into it.

    MODX, on the other hand, allows you to use whatever design you like, however you like.

    Once you’ve gone MODX, you’ll never go back :-)

    • Thanks for the comment, Jacob.

      MODX is on my list of things to take a more in-depth look at, so I will hopefully be able to report back on that.

      I can’t say I share the same sentiments towards Joomla. I find it’s very easy to adapt a Joomla site into practically any design we can drum up in Photoshop.

      Each to his own, I guess. :)


  • Capsaicin

    The best CMS is to not use one! Simple php header/footer includes are about 1000 times better (and faster) and easier to learn than a CMS.

    The whole idea for a CMS is to bridge the gap between those who can’t/won’t learn html or simple php includes, and those that want to provide a simple CMS for their clients.

    In every instance it’s a failure, except for the tech-savvy person, who….probably already learned HTML anyway. 95% of small business owners aren’t going to learn the CMS.

    I’ve spent more time fighting the CMS and the complexity of the php framework(that’s a basic description for a CMS) than needs to be spent.

    99% of CMS’s are complete failures at basic javascript and tag inclusion. Why because they use that horrible TINYMCE plugin. …A plugin doesn’t come “out of the box” with anything other than for the carriage return (enter) and leaves the websites template css to determine the difference between and .

    Long story short. I hate CMS’s. They don’t do what they are supposed to do.

    And they are giant security/spam engines full of holes for exploitation. How many of you have struggled to figure out why, after installing wordpress, you suddenly start getting bot signups and spam? And then struggled to figure out akismet. And then threw in the towel wondering why the hell you spent all the time installing it in the first place?

    Do yourself a favor, learn basic php includes for headers, footers. (if you’re geek enough to do it) .

    Dump the CMS.

    • Stanlee


      I’m in the process of moving a couple of (small), vanilla sites and starting a new one, forum/message based.
      I discovered php/headers/footers awhile back and includes make updating pretty easy. I really hadn’t thought about using “includes” to post content. Let’s say I wanted to add some blog-type content to the front page using php/include. Is there a handier method other than adding content at the top and uploading the entire file? And then again later, for another post?


  • David Carrus

    I used Joomla for a couple of projjects under client order.
    I’m talking about 1.5 version, so maybe the situation improved. I didn’t like it.

    The reasons:

    Mootools against Jquery. Jquery is the most used js library.
    If i need workarounds to use it, i’m not happy.
    I liked mootools but its development/diffusion can’t compare jquery.

    Permissions, different roles creation and backend: there is no granularity in permissions, building a custom backend for registered users is something i had to do from scratch. (There is something like CCK for jquery, but i’d stick with drupal instead)

    Lack of documentation and not so helpful community: i found a lot of outdated advices, modules not compatible with each others and when i asked question i was answered with solutions that seemed a bit hacky or wasn’t answered

    3rd party plugins were often commercial, rigid and, worst, unreliable.

    I think you can do a lot of things with Joomla, but other CMS do it better.

  • Anand Prakash

    I have tried to work with Joomla again and again and find its nomenclature and data structure too confusing to understand and always back out. WordPress on the other hand is easy to install and manage. Working with its pages and posts is a breeze and there are great free plugins for everything you want to do with your wordpress site.

    What most of the people here haven’t mentioned is flatfile CMSs. If you are doing a small site with less than 50 pages then both, Joomla and WordPress, are overkills. A small flatfile CMS like Razor, GpEasy or GetSimple will do the trick for you. Only when a client specifically needs to do some heavy blogging and needs extensive plugin usage (which are in short supply for the flatfile CMSs) do I turn to WordPress. Though, for a proper CMS based site I would prefer to work with Modx, Concrete5, Silverstripe etc.

  • Last time I checked I thought Joomla was amateurs, web do-it-your-selfers who don’t want to hire a pro. As a pro I don’t want my sites to look like the CMS they’re using, and at least a couple of years ago that was the case with Joomla… haven’t checked how that’s improved, but I doubt it’s totally changed its focus.

    WordPress is blogware, period. Many designers use it since it’s fairly easy to make themes for, but its UI isn’t really thought out for maintaining mostly static pages.

    As a web pro I think Drupal offers the flexibility that I want, both when it comes to looks and functionality. However, Drupal can easily be a bit of an overkill (taking a while to configure), and in those cases I’ve either used Radiant CMS (which is Ruby on Rails based) or some simple CMS of my own.

  • Joomla’s ease and versatility wins me over every time

  • I never could master Joomla and make it dance for my clients. My DIY clients couldn’t get their head around the admin interface in the earlier versions.

    WordPress after 3.0 works very well for content sites. For ecommerce I use zen-cart which has many of the same static page creation features of wordpress. Sometimes I blend the two. I can usually make the two displays congruent with CSS. I do like the simple theme upgrades you can make to the core ones that come with the software.

    One fault of wordpress is that when you upgrade you will lose any customization made to its core files like config.php.

    • Make a child-theme and you can customize and upgrade without problems J;_D))

  • Nic

    You can pay to have wordpress.com host your site under your own domain, I can’t remember how much, but it was an option I went with for a site a year or so ago. In the end I moved the site to a hosted server for other reasons.

  • Ali

    WordPress wins hands down. Ease of use for both developers and the customer makes it my all time fave.

  • WordPress J;_D))

  • Great article. Just getting the hang of the CMS stuff. I am using WordPress on one site, a Blogger platform for another, and then also InsightCreation for another. I am just trying to figure out the best one to recommend/ work with.

    So far I haven’t tried Joomla or Drupal. The biggest endorsment for WordPress I see here is that Sitepoint is using it!


  • It was obvious that the writer of this series was a Joomla user, so I can’t really take his comparison seriously as an unbiased perspective. I did, however, find the comments section to be very thought-provoking so– I ended up finding the series to be a “positive waste” of my time. In the future, though, I recommend that Sitepoint hire a writer who can be a bit more objective and at least hide their personal bias a little better.

    • Thanks for reading (I hope) and commenting, Rob.

      Although I feel your comment is rather presumptuous, I appreciate the thought nonetheless.

      Would you care to elaborate on how it’s obvious that I’m a Joomla user? (I’m not, by the way. I use Joomla and WordPress equally, based on the requirements of each project. In fact, if I WAS biased towards a system, it would probably be WordPress.)

  • A We developer friend sent me this series of Articles on WordPress versus Joomla. I am not a professional web developer, but I have expertise in Websites/portals applications to business and organizations, and have personally installed (from scratch) most of the more popular Apache/PHP/Mysql or PostgreSQL CMS, Python based CMS/frameworks – Django, Turbo Gears and Plone, 2 of Ruby-on-Rails CMS, as well as three Java based CMS. Why? Because it is critical that I clearly understand the functionality and underlying infrastructure technologies of these web software application to provide the most informative advice to clients.

    My few Quesions:

    It is my clear understanding that WordPress (including Joomla, Drupal, et al) will also run on MS Windows with IIS Web server, and while I would never recommend Microsoft OS or web applications as base for these CMS, why did you make presumption and suggestion early in article that Apache/Linux were the default and only choices?

    From the three episodes on WordPress vs Jomla, it is difficult to see how Sitepoint article wtiters can be objective if the premise in totally towards LAMP Web CMS solutions, and if there are no viable comparisons with other non-AMP CMS I mentioned.

    Unless the author(s) intend to also cpmpare WordPress vs Drupal, WordPress vs Concrete5, wordpess vs Typo3, and Joomla versus all of these in different comparative analysis, why was this particular comparison so important?

    • Mark Atkinson

      Thank you for reading and commenting, W.

      Please bear in mind that this comparison is written primarily for the end-user and the user who is not an experienced programmer.

      The reason for me recommending Apache/Linux right off the bat was mainly to simplify things. Truth be told, Apache has always been the base that has given me the least problems when it comes to WordPress and Joomla. I would never, ever recommend an IIS server for either of the systems. This series is here to compare the two systems at an end-user level and not really to delve into the pros and cons of each hosting alternative – a topic which would require at least a whole post of its own.

      As for including other systems, such as Drupal, to the two I am comparing – it may be prudent, but again I feel that at an end-user/newbie level, the comparison between Joomla and WordPress is one that is most helpful. I believe that they are the two systems that compete at the highest level for that specific target market. Other systems may indeed be more apt for experienced developers, but that was not the angle that I was aiming for with the series.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Appreciate it.

      – Mark