It’s no secret that when someone asks “Why Joomla,” the real question is “Why use Joomla when you could use WordPress?” WordPress’s massive popularity over the last decade has coincided with a continued drop in Joomla users over the same time period. Anyone looking into Joomla for the first time is bound to notice some similarities and, given WordPress’s popularity, ask the obvious question. Despite some hiccups a few years back, the recent release of Joomla 4 shows that there are still compelling reasons to choose Joomla for your website.
- Why Joomla’s Customization Holds Up
- Why Joomla’s Best Features Still Matter
Why Joomla’s Customization Holds Up
When WordPress 5 introduced the Gutenberg Editor, along with a new block-based method of editing and layout, the WordPress community’s reaction was mixed. Hundreds of established themes and plugins had to be completely reworked, and many established developers simply quit working with WordPress completely.
The dust has not entirely settled. Major WordPress developers have adapted, but many feel that WordPress’s prior builds were easier to customize. Blocks offer a great deal of potential, but using them to their fullest requires amateur coders to learn WordPress’s implementation of React — a daunting task for those just starting their coding journey.
How does this WordPress controversy relate to Joomla? It turns out that Joomla has had those same rich, intricate customization options built-in from the start. Joomla’s wealth of customization options, even without extensions or plugins, is one of Joomla’s strongest selling points.
Do More with Less
It’s true that Joomla has more of an initial learning curve than WordPress. The upside to this is that learning Joomla forces you to learn how to correctly solve issues. WordPress’s plugin ecosystem is tremendously convenient, but it’s easy for beginners to take the wrong lesson from this and solve every problem with a plugin. A few years and updates later, you have a slow site with dozens of conflicting plugins causing issues you don’t know how to solve and a freelance developer recommending you just start over with their fifteen preferred plugins instead.
The Joomla admin dashboard can be overwhelming at first, but that’s only because every tool you need is already there. When you install an extension, it won’t be for a configuration issue you should have tried solving in the dashboard but because the extension offers a useful, concrete, and new benefit to your site.
The fact that you can’t reach out to third parties to solve simple configuration problems only seems like a downside when you’re new to Joomla. Sure, it is more work, but that work means not having your entire site stop working due to a standard update to the core site software, then checking twenty different plugins individually to see which one crashes your site.
Why Joomla’s Best Features Still Matter
Customizing Your Site Layout
Joomla’s built-in tools let you do more to change the display of individual pages across your site than WordPress. Want your Halloween articles to have festive pumpkins added to the theme? Want to provide additional accessibility features on health content for seniors and the elderly? Do you want all of that customization as part of the standard workflow of site-building? That’s the kind of situation where Joomla shines.
Does this mean more work for you as a developer? Absolutely. The extra time and effort required to set up your site may not be right for you. The upside to that time and effort early on, though, is increased flexibility later.
Focused, Well-Supported Extensions
Want to add a backup solution to your WordPress site? Time to go through dozens of available options, weigh each one’s benefits as both free and paid software, and hope you make the right choice. Want to add a backup solution to your Joomla site? Use Akeeba.
Don’t like Gutenberg as an editor in WordPress? Well the WordPress team wants you to like Gutenberg so much that they have been trying to “end-of-life” the Classic Editor for years, only to relent due to popular outrcy. Want to add a more word processor style layout to your Joomla editor? Try the Popular Joomla Content Extension, an extension so popular that I’m convinced more pros use it than the default editor.
The point is that, while Joomla has much less variety and fewer “essentials” when it comes to extensions, the handful of extremely popular extensions, both free and paid, are well supported and backed up by a dedicated dev team and user-base. If what you need is out there, you’ll have no trouble finding the best solution for the issue. Besides, with Joomla’s built in features, you may not even need to look for extensions to solve the problem once you get used to the software itself.