I was recently asked by a potential client why I recommended Joomla! to be used for building their website.

Let me explain the benefits of using Joomla versus using anything else, and by anything else I mean comparing building a website using some type of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor or building a website with a comparative type of software package.

Joomla! is a Content Management system, which means that it is built to ensure that website pages can easily be maintained and updated. This includes for example, adding new pages or removing pages. This is the main advantage above building a website in straight forward HTML that would normally be the end product of using some type of HTML editor.

But why Joomla? Why not something else like a Microsoft-based product or another commercial product?

– Joomla is Open Source, which means that there are no licensing fees payable, that you have often pay for a Microsoft product or a commercial product

– Because Joomla is Open Source, there is a huge pool of community resources available to provide support. The Joomla community is huge worldwide as well as in local countries, there are often local user groups that are very well supported often even in small countries such as South Africa. There is an enormous pool of people supporting the product. The forum on the Joomla.org site has over 200 000 members all providing support and input into making Joomla! a better product.

– There are millions of sites worldwide (about 10 Million if you do a guestimate using Google) that runs on Joomla. It is therefore extremely popular and widely used which also means that it will never be difficult to find developers and people to support it.

– Because it is so popular, it also means that by now there have been quite a few books written about Joomla! from various perspectives to assist both the developer as well as the end-user.

3. Some other good reasons to use Joomla!

One of the most attractive features of using Joomla! is the fact that is so very easy to extend its functionality. You can build anything from a brochure website to a full-featured shopping cart or interactive membership site. This is because there are over 3500 add-ons and plugins available to extend its functionality. This ranges from shopping carts, image galleries, video plugins, forums, blogs, project management tools, etc etc

The Joomla templating system also makes it easy to change the look and feel of your site without having to redo the whole site from scratch. You can literally change the whole graphic design/look of the site in a matter of seconds while retaining the content. There are also over 2000 templates, most of them free, available to change the look and feel of your site.

4. But again, why Joomla! Why not WordPress, for example?

I have to admit, WordPress is also extremely popular and WordPress also makes it extremely easy to add new pages. WordPress also has numerous free templates available and it makes WordPress an extremely attractive option to build websites quickly and easily but it must always be kept in mind that WordPress is essentially a blogging platform. Although it also has numerous plugins available to extend its functionality, it just does not have the raw power with regards to its underlying infrastructure to allow it to easily plug in something like a shopping cart, for example.

So what is the catch? It can’t be all roses?

Having worked with Joomla! for a couple of years (and before that, with its predecessor, Mambo) I can tell you exactly what the shortcomings are:

  1. Joomla’s membership capabilities fall far short of what they could be. There is very limited support for various access groups and access levels.
  2. Because it is so popular, it attracts a lot of attention and Joomla! sites get hacked quite often. The only solution for this is to be aware of your server security settings and to upgrade regularly to stay abreast of the latest Joomla! security updates.
  3. Joomla! might be a bit top-heavy for smaller sites, although it still remains the tool of choice for even my smaller sites – it does leave room for expansion later without having to upgrade to a different tool or product!
  4. Joomla!’s native search engine friendliness in the older versions leaves a lot to be desired, although this has received attention in the latest upgrade. Despite this drawback, most of my Joomla! sites perform well in the search engines due to the judicious use of various plugins to rectify this shortcoming.

Altogether, Joomla! is an excellent tool to build websites that are easy to create, easy on the eye and easily extendable.