Recently I’ve finally gotten off my butt and started moving forward with a couple of niche sites. During this journey, I’ve learned a lot myself, and in sharing my experiences with my friends, I’ve found that some of them are also trying their hand in the online money-making world. One of those friends chose Joomla over WordPress and we were both curious as to why we chose one over the other. This is the first of a series of posts to follow that will dive into the pros and cons of each particular framework and what we think are the most important factors when choosing the platform for your own website. Follow the break to find out more.
WordPress vs Joomla
WordPress and Joomla are probably the two most similar platforms for creating self-managing websites and they also happen to be two of the most popular out there. First, let me say that I really don’t think you can go wrong with either of these platforms. I’ve not used the newest release of Joomla, but I will be exploring it with my next niche site so that I can give in depth information as to what the similarities and differences are between the latest version of WordPress (3.2.1 as of this writing) and Joomla (1.7.1 as of this writing). I do want to tell you that if you’re looking for something fairly easy to use, quick to implement, has tons of free and paid themes (site design) and will allow you to quickly start entering content, you’ll want to stick with one of these two. Also, I’ll leave it with this for a quick summary – if you’re planning on doing a niche site or you want to run a personal or business oriented blog and you only plan on having a handful of contributors, go with one of these. As to which one you choose, I’ll have more on that in future posts as I dig into Joomla a bit more.
I’ve put Drupal in its own category because I feel it’s actually a different beast than WordPress and Joomla. Why? Simply because Drupal is one of the most customizable, complicated, full-featured platforms that exists (free). I don’t want to be unfair to the Drupal platform – when I say it’s complicated, I’m simply referring to the fact that a typical user is not going to be up and running in a couple of days, or even a couple of weeks. The sheer number of options that you can control in Drupal are mind-boggling. If you are planning on running a site that is along the lines of a newspaper that contains a large number of categories, editors, approvers, contributors, etc. then Drupal is an option you’ll want to explore. Drupal allows you to control workflow in a way that neither Joomla or WordPress were built to do. If you’re looking for a way to have 10 authors who submit their articles to be approved by a number of editors, and you really want to fine tune how your site is organized, this is one of the best solutions out there. But, that being said, for most people and sites out there, this is far too complex and honestly, tremendous overkill. Another note on Drupal – while there are themes available for it, it’s nowhere near as popular as WordPress and Joomla, and therefore you’ll either spend more money on a custom theme that will suit your needs, or you’ll likely settle for something that’s not as nice looking just because you have more limited options.
Static HTML / Custom Website
Some people will see that heading and write it off, but I can assure you, there are some real positives to having a static html site (there are some real cons as well, which I’ll describe briefly). There are a few major factors that makes a static html site make sense:
- Performance – there are no databases, server scripting, etc. There is NOTHING that will run as fast as a static html page
- Vulnerabilities – static html pages are much less likely to be hacked than a scripted page – this isn’t saying that a page can’t be hacked – if it’s digital, there are always possibilities, but that being said, if you’re not allowing for server side interaction and the server is just serving up a page, you’re about 100x safer than if you’re using a scripted language
- Website templates are a dime a dozen, can be had for extremely reasonable prices and can make your site look incredible with little time investment
- SEO – have complete control over search engine optimization – if you know what you’re doing, you can leverage all the key points of SEO directly on the page
Now, let me touch on some of the negative points:
- Consistency – if you don’t have a background in the web, you are likely to not make your navigation consistent and thus your visitors will be slightly confused. If you have a large number of pages, keeping everything consistent becomes a real challenge and a bit more of a frustration
- Layout – once you start adding content to your site, you have to start thinking about how you’re going to lay everything out. If you’re on article number 10, do you decide to keep everything on one page, or do you go in and relocate all your first 10 articles to page2.html, or do you have to keep rotating your content onto different pages – it becomes a lot of overhead just to keep your content in an organized state
- SEO – yes, this is also a con. If you don’t know anything about SEO, you won’t have any plugins to help hold your hand along the way. If you mess up and forget to do SEO on your first 10 articles, it’ll be on your shoulders to go back into each one of those files and redo it all from the beginning – using WordPress (and I assume Joomla), a plugin can literally take care of 80% of that for you with very little work
So, what’s the take away from this? If you’re new to the online world and you’re wanting to get started as quickly as possible with the fewest barriers to entry, go with either WordPress or Joomla. The amount of resources available for these tools are immense and the support communities around these two platforms are incredible. Also, once your site is up and running, you can concentrate on writing content and just keeping your site and plugins up to date (which is ultra-important – more on that in the future).
If you’re putting together a site that is going to have a large number of contributors and requires a specific workflow, go with Drupal, but be prepared for a steep learning curve.
If you plan on creating a website that will be no more than 5 pages and you don’t see it growing, by all means, take the static HTML approach. Put a bit of time and effort into learning SEO so that you can optimize your site for Google and the other search engines and you’ll have a site that is fast, attractive, and nearly unhackable. If you plan on growing the site past about 5 pages, then go back up to WordPress or Joomla.
I’ll be checking back in with updates in the form of additional articles and videos on the pros and cons of using WordPress and Joomla. I won’t be going into Drupal because I’ve been there once before and lost myself in the administration of the site and lost focus of the most important thing – content. Also, I won’t be going into static sites simply because I’m not interested in any hand-coding nowadays. However, I will have some resource links available for you on my resources page so that if you do want to have a static HTML site, maybe I can help you out a bit.
Please, if you have any comments, opinions, questions, whatever, leave me a comment below. I personally answer all comments and look forward to any perspectives/opinions you have to share.