WordPress v Joomla: Support and Community

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Let’s face it, an open-source content management system without a thorough user base, support system and community is destined for failure.  We are comparing two giants in the CMS game here, so we already know they must be doing many things right in these departments. In this part of our series, we’re going to be covering exactly what Joomla and WordPress have to offer when it comes to the support community.

WordPress.org  v Joomla.org

What more apt place could there be to begin a post on support and communities than with the “homes” of each CMS? All the documentation, forums and community engagement for WordPress and Joomla stem from their websites.

Each CMS seems to have a very different approach when it comes to their websites. WordPress has opted for a minimalistic approach, whereas Joomla seems to have put a lot of effort into its design and functionality.

After its recent design update, I have to say that the Joomla website is much more appealing and user-friendly than WordPress.org, which comes across as bland and doesn’t seem to have any focus or direction.

Personally, I feel that WordPress is resting on its laurels. The people behind Joomla, on the other hand, seems to realise they are the underdogs and are making a conscious effort to grow the community and support base for their CMS through their website and various components thereof.

Support Base and Community

When it comes to an open-source system, support is crucial. Both WordPress and Joomla have adequate documentation, so I’m not going to be focusing on that area. The main focus of the support base should be the CMS’ community support. There are a couple areas to look at within the broader topic of the support community.

Support Forums

Whenever I’m looking for support for a specific problem, my first port of call tends to be the support forum. A forum can give you a good indication of how active and supportive the community is. WordPress and Joomla both have very active support forums.

Again, however, I feel that Joomla does a far better job with its forum than WordPress. As someone who participates on both forums, I have seen more involvement and engagement from the community on the Joomla forums. WordPress comes across as being very bland, with the forum being almost something of an afterthought.

Joomla makes use of the popular forum component, phpBB, to run its forum. It rewards members for active participation through ranking systems. As a result, Joomla professionals seem to be far more willing to go out of their way to help someone else who happens to be in a spot of bother.

I have had a couple questions posted on the WordPress.org forum go unanswered, whereas every question I’ve ever posted on the Joomla support forum has been answered beyond my expectations. I think that says something for the Joomla community.

Resource Directories

Sometimes you just don’t want to develop your CMS site yourself. Sometimes you get stuck with something and need a professional to assist you. Both WordPress and Joomla have solutions for this.

WordPress has something called WordPress Jobs; it allows you to post problems/jobs which professionals can then take on.

Joomla offers a slightly different solution in the form of the Joomla Resource Directory. The resource directory allows professionals to create listings for themselves or their businesses. You can then find a professional in your area and contact them directly to assist you with your problem.

I like Joomla’s resource directory because your listing will only be approved if you are an active participant in the Joomla community — either on the forum, the Joomla Magazine or any other Joomla community initiative. This does wonders for making the support community a better one for all.

As far as the WordPress Jobs board is concerned, I find myself just using freelancer sites like Elance instead.

Other Initiatives

WordPress and Joomla both have a few other initiatives which help in the support and community departments.

WordPress has a nifty initiative going called WordPress.tv — basically a video blog/directory which showcases tutorials and news from the world of WordPress.

Joomla really goes all out with its community-enhancing initiatives. The two that I think are great are the Joomla Magazine and Joomla Connect. The Joomla Magazine is published as both an online and print publication which showcases all the greatest Joomla news and stories. The people behind it invite anybody who is willing and able to write articles, share their experiences and potentially be published in the magazine.

Joomla Connect proves it cares about improving its community. Joomla Connect aims to bring together news from all around the world, in a number of different languages. I believe it’s extremely important to realise that as one of the most popular content management systems around, your user base extends far beyond the US and the UK. People in many different countries, speaking hundreds of different languages, will be using your system. By including them in the community it gains so much more diversity and experience and generally leads to a much happier, more engaged user base.

Joomla also has an online store where you can buy Joomla merchandise. I’m not sure this is vital, but some people may think it’s pretty cool.

I tried to look for more initiatives by WordPress, but to be quite honest, I couldn’t find anything else worth commenting on.


I think it’s quite obvious which CMS does a better job in the community department here. Joomla compensates for its considerably smaller user base by making sure it is creating a truly awesome, engaged community. Joomla’s website is more polished and it actively encourages participation in its many community outlets.

To be quite frank, before writing this post, I thought that the two CMS giants would be more evenly matched in this department. After doing a few hours of extra research, however, I can conclusively state that WordPress isn’t doing enough when it comes to the community. Perhaps the viewpoint at WordPress is that it doesn’t need to, since it already has such a good reputation.

Having said that, I would never advise resting on your laurels. It takes hard work to stay at the top once you get there and you can be pretty sure that your competitors are putting in overtime to try to beat you.

Draw your own conclusions here, though.  If you’re not a community sort of person, this may not even matter to you. You will probably get sufficient answers to your questions from both the WordPress and Joomla support forums … probably.

Who do you think will be crowned the King of Content Management Systems next week? Let me know in the comments!

Mark AtkinsonMark Atkinson
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Mark runs a design studio in Durban, South Africa. He is a web designer and branding expert for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Connect with Mark on Google+.

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