Why we use WordPress now, and why we left Joomla

This is a sad story. Thankfully, it’s mostly just PHP.



We used to swear by Joomla.  We loved the components, the modules, and the plugins.  We thought the MVC structure made a ton of sense.  We thought well of the Joomla model.

We figured out how to make CCKs work (CCK = Content Creation Kit).  We figured out sh404sef despite its often bad compatibility with other plugins.  We provided missing documentation for K2 and other plugins which not many knew how to use.  We even wrote about how and where Joomla itself could improve (including dropping the exclamation point).

We were Joomla people

So, with all of this knowledge and time invested in Joomla, why did we move our site to WordPress?  Why are most of our client sites built using WordPress (or Laravel)?

Y-Designs is a Business

Y-Designs is first and foremost a business. We need to be able to deliver our end results to our clients in a reliable and most predictable fashion. We have a timeline, a budget, a design spec and a functionality spec to follow. We need to be able to fix problems quickly and consistently.  This can be rather difficult in Joomla.

Marketing is what we ultimately sell

On top of selling custom websites, we help our clients figure out their online marketing strategy. We help them come up with ideas for their blogs and where to share them. Ultimately, the client’s goal is to rank on search engines.  There is nothing like winning Google traffic that makes for a true client win. Google loves Blogs and Good Content.

Everyone has to Blog (generate content) to Rank

I subscribe to Moz and their mostly white hat group of SEO tactics. Reading their blog is a good idea in order to keep up with the times.  If you build websites and don’t do or understand SEO, you shouldn’t be building websites. Here’s the gist of what Google is looking for right now:
  • Quality Content = Better Rank
  • Longer Content = Better Rank
  • Unscalable Things (crazy good things) = Better Rank
To make good unique content (ones that might rank), the client has to have a structured, yet varied form for their content. With mobile responsiveness in mind too, this becomes a task if they only have a single content field. No client should be assigning classes to HTML elements within a WYSIWIG. That’s just insane. In Joomla, it is difficult to blog without having a good CCK or a custom field system. We prefer to use ACF Pro (Advanced Custom Fields) for our WordPress setup. In addition to having custom fields for pages, posts and custom post types, they allow you to create repeating fields and flexible content. Repeating fields are fields that repeat. Flexible content is a repeating fields with different inputs (like text fields, then gallery, then image, etc) for each row. Good consistent content is hard to make without a good CCK. Joomla CCKs are large and often times too complex or too rigid. Most of them don’t have the ability to do repeating fields making content generation more difficult. Clients also don’t like things that look “techy” or “hard”.  If it intimidates them, its not worth our time.

Ultimately, we build websites for the clients, not for us

What do clients care about? Cost, timeline, ease of use, flexibility and room for change. Cost: Far faster to create a website with WordPress than it is with other platforms. Timeline: Do we have conflicting Plugins very often in WordPress? No. Did we experience a lot more conflicts in Joomla. Yes. Ease of Use: You’ll know all about this one if you’ve ever used both WordPress and Joomla.  The administrative backend was one of the biggest complains we received from clients who had experiences using both. Updates: Does every 0.5 version upgrade cost your client more than $1000? not in WordPress. Most website clients don’t care about MVC, opensource, object oriented code, or even outright performance. Similarly, Toyota can sell 50,000 Camrys a month despite it being slow, fat, and ugly because its reliable. Also, re-performance: most websites won’t be getting enough hits for WordPress to become a major issue.

Alternatives to current CMSes

I for one, don’t want to think that we should continue to use WordPress or Joomla in the near future. I think people are working hard to come up with completely new solutions that may work better. We wrote a PHP CMS comparison and a Node CMS comparison recently to highlight how far some of these projects have come.  We think that there are a lot of alternative options out there for different use cases. That said, we’re not sure if any of them fit into our production role yet.


As always, choose the right stuff for the right project.  There really isn’t a tool to rule them all. For us, WordPress works for the majority of our customers very well. In all truth, we just wished that there was a solution that works internally like Joomla (OO code, MVC), and visually like WordPress (Nice backend, good templating) written in Node with good support and all the fundamental plugins built around it.  That would make work really fun for us. If you’re just interested in getting a solid website built for your needs, you can always contact us.