WordPress and Joomla are the two most popular Content Management Systems (CMS) on the web, but which one is better for building your new website?
To help you answer that question, we pitted both platforms against one another in a head-to-head battle, comparing how each one stacks up in terms of the most important factors for choosing a CMS, such as ease of use, setup, functionality, customization, and security.
WordPress vs. Joomla: A Head-to-Head Comparison
1. Technical Requirements
- Minimum disk space: 50 MB – 100 MB
- Minimum PHP version: 7.2.5
- Recommended PHP version: 8.0
- MySQL Version: 5.6
Joomla’s official documentation notes that the basic installation should take no more than 40 MB – 50 MB. However, as you’ll see in the screenshot above (taken from Hostinger), unofficial installation packages provided by web hosting companies and similar platforms often require you to have more disk space as they bundle in extra features and tools.
If you decide to use this CMS for your website, Joomla recommends that you actively avoid one-click installations, instead manually downloading the official Joomla installation package and manually uploading it yourself.
Although this is typically a much more technical process (especially for newcomers), it does mean that you avoid installing what may be unnecessary features that could leave your site vulnerable to security risks.
- Minimum disk space: 30.8 MB – 55 MB
- Minimum PHP version: 5.6
- Recommended PHP version: 7.4
- MySQL Version: 5.7
Like Joomla, the official core WordPress software is much lighter than the minimum space requirements set by most hosting companies.
The WordPress core is just 30.8 MB, though again, Hostinger requires at least 20 MB more.
Even with the additional disk space requirements factored in, WordPress is the lighter of the two options, making it a better choice for ensuring a fast-performing website.
2. Installation and Setup
Both platforms offer multiple ways to install them.
You can install Joomla and WordPress manually via FTP or your hosting account’s File Manager.
Article Continues Below
As we’ve already discussed, this can be a great way to avoid the unnecessary plugins and additional features bundled in by hosting companies. Still, the process can be a little tricky for first-timers.
If you plan to use this option, you’ll find our WordPress installation tutorial helpful.
Alternatively, you can also install both systems using your host’s installation set-up wizard.
Of the two, WordPress has the faster setup process, requiring just a few simple steps:
- Set the title of your website
- Choose which domain to install WordPress under
- Set up your administrator credentials (username and password)
- Install the software
With Joomla, the process requires a few extra steps:
- Set the title of your website
- Choose which domain to install Joomla under
- Set up your administrator credentials
- Create database credentials
- Set a table prefix
3. Ease of Use
Of all the reasons why WordPress is so popular, its effortless usability is undoubtedly top of the list.
When you first log in, you’re presented with a clean, clutter-free dashboard with a simple menu of options that makes it easy to find almost everything you need within no more than two clicks.
Compare this to Joomla’s dashboard, which not only crams much more into its navigation menu but is also packed with different controls and insights.
This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing in its own right. In fact, you may even prefer it.
Having everything laid out on the homepage this way does make it quicker to navigate to some of Joomla’s most commonly-used features. However, the sheer number of options on this dashboard can also make it feel cluttered and overwhelming.
Once you get into setting up your website, you’ll find Joomla much more complex, with a wealth of settings, tools, and admin pages buried within navigation menus that are more complicated than on WordPress.
To be fair, that’s all part of Joomla’s appeal.
It’s designed to be an advanced system that gives developers and website professionals more control over their websites.
However, if you’re a small business owner or hobbyist looking to set up a simple website, you most likely want something intuitive and beginner-friendly, which you only get with WordPress.
WordPress is the hands-down winner here, and you’ll certainly be hard-pressed to find anyone who claims that Joomla is easier to use.
That said, being a more advanced and technical Content Management System may make Joomla more appealing if you’re an experienced web professional with enough technical know-how to make it happen for you.
4. Features and Functionality
Both platforms have many add-ons that you can install to improve your site’s functionality, performance, and management.
In terms of quantity alone, WordPress is the winner here, with over 60,000 free and premium WordPress plugins available compared to less than 8,000 on the official Joomla extension directory.
As you can imagine, installing and using these add-ons is easier on WordPress, where plugins can be installed without ever leaving your dashboard by going to Plugins – Add New.
To do the same with Joomla, you have to go to System – Manage – Extensions – Install from Web.
Where Joomla triumphs over WordPress, however, is that many essential tools are already built-in to the platform, so you don’t have to bother with an extension.
For example, if you want to offer your WordPress content to users in different languages, you’d need to add a top translation plugin and configure it.
On Joomla, multilingual support is enabled by default, and all you have to do is install individual language packs from within your dashboard.
Likewise, other useful features, such as page caching, come as standard with Joomla, whereas you need a plugin for WordPress caching.
The best way to summarize both platform’s approach to customization is that Joomla allows you to do more, but WordPress makes it easier to do what you need to do.
For example, to change the overall look and feel of your website on WordPress, you go to Appearance – Themes – Add New and either upload a theme or install one from the in-built theme directory.
You can then tweak most of your site settings using the beginner-friendly Customizer tool.
With Joomla, you upload templates and then navigate your way through multiple settings pages to edit the style, appearance, and functionality of your site.
The upside to this is that you can apply different templates to different pages, whereas WordPress only allows you to use one theme for your whole site.
What’s more, Joomla is a highly flexible platform that is ideal for more complex website types such as Intranet portals, membership sites, and eCommerce stores, thanks to its advanced controls and a wide variety of content modules.
WordPress status as the world’s leading CMS makes it a prime target for bad actors who typically exploit vulnerabilities in outdated WordPress installations, themes, and plugins to carry out all kinds of attacks, such as installing malware or stealing data.
Fortunately, there’s a plethora of excellent WordPress security plugins that take seconds to set up and configure.
What’s more, since 2013, all versions of WordPress come with automatic security and maintenance updates, meaning you don’t have to do a thing.
Since Joomla isn’t quite as popular as WordPress, it isn’t as big of a prime target for hackers.
However, since the platform doesn’t offer automatic updates the way WordPress does, it actually has a marginally higher number of installations that are outdated to the point of infection.
Like WordPress, Joomla also has security extensions that you can add to your site for maximum protection.
However, they’re just not as easy to use.
As we’ve already seen, it’s much easier to install a plugin without leaving your dashboard on WordPress than on Joomla.
Then, once you’ve installed your security extensions, you’ll typically find that they’re much easier to configure on WordPress than on Joomla.
WordPress vs. Joomla: Which is Better? Final Verdict
Ultimately, the question we should really be asking isn’t whether WordPress or Joomla is better overall, but rather which CMS better meets the individual needs of your website.
After all, though we’ve favored WordPress heavily throughout this head-to-head comparison, Joomla isn’t without its advantages.
The platform’s advanced functionality, unbridled flexibility, and solid security make it a great choice for more complex projects, while experienced web professionals will undoubtedly enjoy having a greater level of control over every minuscule detail of your site.
However, if you’re a WordPress beginner, then the platform’s unmatched ease of use alone makes it a no-brainer.
Combine that with the abundance of plugin and theme options, a faster, easier set-up process, and automatic security updates, and it’s no wonder WordPress is still the platform of choice for over 450 million websites around the globe.
If you’re ready to get started with the world’s leading CMS platform, check out these essential WordPress tips and tricks to help you hit the ground running.