Monday, April 11, 2011

Joomla vs WordPress - Why we use Joomla!

We've been asked by numerous people WHY we chose to build our sites using the Joomla! Content Management System, rather than other popular options available today. This has been a while in coming, but I'm going to answer this. I know there are likely to be those that will disagree with me, but these are our reasons, and you're welcome to comment.
We've been designing websites for over 12 years, not using "drag and drop" software like many use today, but hand coding line by line. This was a tedious and time consuming path, but we believed that you would get cleaner, more professional code for the website, than using "drag and drop" software which typically inserts a bunch of code that is worthless in the given situation. or formats the code poorly. The problem with hand coded websites, and even HTML websites that are designed using web design software, is that most business owners and clients that we've had, wouldn't know the first thing about making changes to their site. The plus side for a designer is that they can maintain control of the pages, and require the client to rehire them to make changes, charging anywhere between $75 to $200 per hour to make even the simplest of changes. It's a goldmine, and pretty much guaranteed repeat business.
About 6 years ago we made the decision that, although we were HTML professionals, we wanted to design our sites to where they we flexible, powerful, professional, and would allow our clients to take ownership in their website, but having a platform that would allow our clients to easily make changes, or add additional content, without having to learn programming.
We knew that database driven sites were the way to go, but which one to choose, with so many options available, such as Joomla!, WordPress, Drupal, Xoops, ImpressCMS, Mambo, PHP Nuke, OpenCms, phpWebsite, Typo3, and more. We made the decision that the software we focused on needed to be 1) open source, since open source software tended to receive updates and enhancements more often than commercial, 2) Flexible. Not all sites are created equal, so we wanted a system that had an active developers community, active user forums, and enhancements for anything you could pretty much think of, 3) Content Management. Since the content on the sites would be managed by the clients, a content management system would be the best way to go, 4) actively updated, and 5) powerful. We wanted powerful software so that the software could handle the simplest of sites, to the sites requiring more power behind it, such as ecommerce websites, or Real Estate sites.
Shortly after testing several of the options above, there were pros and cons of each, for various reasons. For the sake of making this blog as short as possible, we'll focus on Joomla! and WordPress.
WordPress is very popular now days, so the question "why don't you use WordPress" is a valid question. We've looked at offering more websites using WordPress, but we again discounted WordPress for the majority of clients we meet. The reason: "WordPress started as just a blogging system", taken directly from the WordPress website. Granted, WordPress has been enhanced over the years, and is being touted as a content management system, but the underlying "engine" is still a blogging engine. Reading comments from a WordPress developer, WordPress is the easiest to use system available on the internet today. However, it can be a nightmare for developers since many times the whole system is likely to crash when trying to make modifications.
Wordpress uses a "per-view" structure in their theme structure. Although this allows designers to design different looks for different pages, the downfall is that this structure requires the duplication of many parts of the code. The WordPress themes utilize a hierarchical structure, which has generic views that are used as fallbacks.
Joomla! is equally popular today, but downplayed by many "web designers" today stating that it's not as user friendly as WP. Although I can agree that Joomla, "Out of the Box", can be intimidating, the power, flexibility, and extensibility behind Joomla is phenomenal. Many large businesses have chosen Joomla! over WordPress because of the power and extensibility available that rivals that of WordPress.
The theming structure (known as templates) uses an html and tagging system for different page renderings. The Joomla! template, and extension, architecture uses the MVC (model-view-controller) software architecture, which has become a standard in software engineering. The MVC framework utilizes a more logical approach to design, isolating the application logic for the user from the user interface, which allows for a separation of the design architecture from other parts of the system.
To sum things up, we chose Joomla! due to it's more standardized architecture (MVC), active community, and the ability to service any business, whether small or large, from a single piece of software. True, we could build sites using WordPress and Joomla!, and we did set up using WordPress, but if you're focusing on multiple software architectures, it makes it more difficult to keep up on changes and new add-on that come out regularly, which means there's a greater liklihood that something new, and greater, could be missed.

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