What Are the Big Differences Between WordPress and Joomla?

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WordPress and Joomla are content management systems (CMS) that allow users to design and edit self-hosted websites. Comparing the two systems is like pitting Macs against PCs. Both have their own fan bases with users arguing that one is superior to the other. WordPress and Joomla have their own strengths in different areas, and both are great for novice and intermediate webmasters.

WordPress Basics

Based on Google search results and user reviews, WordPress is the most popular system. This CMS was originally designed as blogging software, so it contains many advanced features for article creation. Updates have given users the ability to create static pages and evolve their websites. WordPress is recommended for beginner designers and those who are focused on blogging.

Joomla Basics

Joomla offers more diverse features out of the box, and users can easily design different types of websites for business or non-profit. Its structure is more complex, so there may be a higher learning curve for beginners. The payoff is a higher growth potential for a site that will contain varying features and hundreds of pages.

User Interfaces

WordPress’s dashboard features a navigation panel on the left side and tabs for content creation. One feature users really appreciate is the separated tabs for creating blog posts versus web pages. Joomla uses a control panel with icons for each category of web design. Menus are labeled across the top and have different management tools. Both UIs are fairly simple to use and easy to learn no matter your level of expertise.

Content Creation

Both systems use TinyMCE as their visual editors for content creation, but Joomla has different default features out of the box. The WYSIWYG editor makes it easy to design content as you would like it to appear on the site. WordPress does go one step further with its preview option, which is handy for finalizing your edits. This option can be utilized at any point during the creation process. Another feature WP users appreciate is the distraction-free writing mode. WordPress lets you work in rich text or HTML, but Joomla features advanced HTML editing options. Joomla also has extensive display and publishing options located to the right of the text editor. You can choose to add a print button, creation date, number of hits and a variety of settings for the author. Both CMSs have image editors that are easy to use, and Joomla implements alignment and spacing options within this editor.

Overall, WordPress has user-friendly editors with large buttons and navigation tools that are easy to find. Joomla offers more functionality in terms of making adjustments to the tiniest of details for a truly customized website.


WordPress uses themes while Joomla uses templates to change the look of your website. There are over 3,000 free and premium themes for WP that are searchable on the themes tab and search engines. These features are easy to install with a button click or upload. You can customize the themes, including editing individual elements. Joomla offers templates for both frontend and backend design aspects. Third parties often supply free and premium templates. The template manager allows you to edit the styles.


The way to really craft your site into anything you want is through WordPress’s plugins or Joomla’s extensions. With these add-ons, you can build an online store, membership portal or a unique blog. WordPress has more than 35,000 plugins in its directory, and you can find an endless supply of premium plugins across the web. Users enjoy the flexibility they have with plugins because WP allows you to edit the code, make your own plugin and add these features as part of your default theme. WordPress also has widgets with a drag-and-drop design for ease of use. You can define when the widget will display based on criteria.

Joomla’s directory contains over 8,500 extensions divided into web design categories, and about half of these are free to download. You can get a good sense of what you are downloading because each extension has a score and rating in the description based on important criteria like functionality and support. The description also lists alternatives for the extension in case you are looking for something similar. Joomla’s extensions are updated frequently and offer impressive functionality. Like widgets, modules are available for use in Joomla. You have the ability to turn these features on and off as well as specify the order in which they appear.

Overall Design

WordPress is an expert blogging system, and Joomla is great for expanding your site over time. They have flexibility and customizable functionality while offering intuitive tools for novice web designers.