I’ve recently made the switch from Joomla to WordPress for most of the sites I run (and I suspect the others will follow) and I thought I’d document why I made the move so that I don’t switch back and so others might have some food for thought.First I’d like to say that this is not a rage quit of Joomla despite the fact that it’s given me my fair share of headaches over the years. I’ve long felt that Joomla wasn’t quite right for me and I’m starting to think that it’s not really right for anyone. Don’t get me wrong Joomla is a nice system, it’s got some great features and it’s well put together (mostly). The initial learning curve is very steep but once you’ve got you head around how it works you realize the power of the system. Perhaps that’s one of the problems with Joomla, it’s unnecessarily difficult to set up that first five page site. In fact I’d argue it’s too difficult even for a two hundred page site which was about the size of my site when I moved it away.
Before I moved to WordPress I went and did a little homework to make sure I wasn’t jumping on to a sinking ship, I didn’t think I was but it’s always best to check. The Google Trends graph really says it all. Joomla is not dead by a long stretch but the fire has gone out of it which, if I’m honest, is how it feels. The software doesn’t really feel like it’s progressed since about 2010 which is when I started using it heavily and at that point it looked like it could go either way. There have been changes to Joomla over the last five years but they all feel like window dressing.
I certainly miss a few of the features of Joomla, the templating system in particular was great but I’m really not sure it was worth the effort of staying. If I’m completely honest one of the things that really annoyed me about Joomla was the lack of decent media management. Look at the media management in WordPress: it’s fast, it integrates well with the writing experience, thumbnails happen automatically and it’s easy to pick up a light box plugin. Contrast that with Joomla where you have a media manager that looks like it came from Windows 3.1 and a narrow selection of not exactly great thumbnail and light box plugins. Then there’s comments, WordPress bakes them in, Joomla has a middling plugin. What about tags, WordPress bakes them in, Joomla bakes them in now but has long relied on plugins. Etc etc.
This compare and contrast of Joomla and WordPress got me thinking though. Who is Joomla really aimed at now? It was also sold, intentionally or not, as being the middle ground between WordPress and Drupal or another high power content management system. The trouble is WordPress has grown powerful enough to support all but the biggest of sites and they are catered for by the Drupals of this work. Joomla has been squeezed to the point where, I fear, it’s no longer got a unique selling point.
Anyway, time will tell whether I’ll stick with WordPress. For the sort of site’s I tend to have I think WordPress is a much better match for me. So long Joomla it was a good run but all good things have to come to an end.