CMS comparison: WordPress, Joomla or TYPO3?

by Guidebook

WordPress is the most widely used content management system in the world. The main reason: unbeatable user-friendliness. With it, pretty much anyone is able to create their own website. But WordPress is not the best choice for every project! Here you can find out what makes this system so special and why Joomla! and TYPO3 are also worth considering.

Anyone who wants to run a website has to create, insert and manage content. Fortunately, for people without programming skills, there are so-called content management systems (CMS) that realise the balancing act between idea and successful web presence. The free open source systems are particularly interesting. First and foremost: WordPress. But it doesn't necessarily have to be this one. Joomla and TYPO3 offer two good alternatives.

CMS - what is that actually?

A Content Management System (actually Web Content Management System - WCMS) is a software which allows the management of Web content without the need for programming. In German, CMS is best translated as "editorial system". Via a visual interface, the so-called backend, information can be entered into a database (e.g. MySQL) and files (images, videos, etc.) can be uploaded. This organisation of content is managed separately from the design of the website. The template (called "theme" in WordPress) and stylesheet are responsible for this.

Still sounds too Spanish? Perhaps the following comparison will help you: Think of a CMS as a kind of "operating system" for a website. What Windows is for your PC, WordPress would be for your website.

What CMSs are there?

There are a variety of content management systems, including both free and paid ones. Here I would like to focus on these three common Open Source CMS in this country: WordPress vs. Joomla! vs. TYPO3

WordPress: consistent pioneer

WordPress is equipped with a Market share of just under 60 % by far the most widely used CMS worldwide (as of 2017). Originally, WordPress was not a CMS at all, but a pure blogging system. In the meantime, however, it is in no way inferior to the others. Today, the software is not only very popular for blogs, but also for companies or smaller online shops.

Simple operation

One great advantage of WordPress is its unbeatable ease of use. I mean it from the bottom of my heart when I say: really EVERYONE, can learn to use WordPress in a short time. Once the software is installed on the server, you can have all the necessary basics explained to you in no more than half an hour.

For example, in this video:

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Or you can simply find out for yourself through a little experimentation.

Fundamental is the Subdivision into pages and posts, each of which is displayed as a list. With WordPress, these do not necessarily correspond to the menu structure of the website - an essential difference to TYPO3, where the contents are displayed as a tree diagram "menu-chronologically".

WordPress also enables the Use of drag & drop functions, for example, via the Plugin WP Bakery (with costs) or Elementor (free of charge). In addition, this year the Gutenberg Editor which is to replace the current TinyMCE. It is supposed to combine different elements into "blocks", whereby the page can be flexibly structured. However, not everyone will be happy about this update and my enthusiasm has been limited so far. For blogging, I was actually completely satisfied with the previous form without the "modular system". But you shouldn't complain until you've tried it, and if necessary, there is always the option of installing another editor as a plug-in.

Diverse world of themes and plugins

In contrast to the quick and easy operation, the choice of a suitable theme, which determines the basic design of your website, can take quite a long time. There are countless possibilities. Even if you know what you want, the decision is not easy and can take several hours or days. Paid themes are usually more flexible and can be customised better. If you have precise ideas, you can of course create your own template or have one created - depending on your knowledge and the necessary small change.

Equally diverse is the possibility of making extensions through plugins. This also makes WordPress very suitable for Search engine optimisatione.g. via the free plugin Yoast SEO.

Big community - big help!

The widespread use of WordPress means that many people deal with this CMS, (further) develop extensions and exchange experience. In addition to the large number of plugins and templates, this also has the advantage that you can find an answer to virtually any question and a solution to any problem - in online forums, blogs or the Facebook group "WordPress Bistro„.

Nobody is perfect!

Of course, there are also disadvantages with this CMS guru. Very large websites with complex page structures and large amounts of data will reach their limits at some point. Joomla or TYPO3 would be better suited for such projects. Moreover, with WordPress themes, you quickly slip into a design monotony if you don't specifically customise it. In addition, the numerous plug-ins and associated updates also mean security gaps - because the weak points of every website are in these extensions!

PROFILE:

  • Operation: very simple and intuitive
  • CMS structure: list-wise, independent of the web page menu
  • Advantages: very user-friendly, good possibility for search engine optimisation, very many possibilities for expansion
  • Disadvantage: Complex web projects reach their limits here, security gaps due to numerous plug-ins
  • suitable for: Blogs, small to medium-sized websites, small online shops

Joomla!: award-winning and well equipped

Joomla! has a similar backend structure to WordPress. Here, too, there is a list view of pages and posts and therefore the administration logic of both systems is comparable. Getting started is not quite as easy as with WordPress due to a wide range of design options, but definitely doable. The advantage: even without plugins, complex web projects can already be implemented with Joomla. In terms of design and expansion, you will also find what you are looking for with Joomla. The community is smaller overall than with WordPress, but still strong and diverse.

PROFILE:

  • Operation: relatively simple
  • CMS structure: list-wise, independent of the web page menu
  • Advantages: Already without extensions manifold possibilities, complex administration of user roles
  • Disadvantage: The entry is a little more difficult
  • suitable for: eCommerce, more complex pages

TYPO3: professional, but more difficult to understand

With TYPO3, everything is a little different. Instead of the list view, the contents are displayed here hierarchically as a tree diagram. This means that here you see the backend from the perspective of the website. Some find this organisation clearer, especially with a lot of content. However, the operation of TYPO3 is not for the impatient. You should plan on spending a few hours here to get the hang of it. Unlike WordPress, this software is very complex and not very intuitive.

Another major disadvantage for do-it-yourselfers is that the number of (free) extensions for TYPO3 is extremely modest compared to the other two CMSs. As a result, more customisations have to be made by the user, which in turn requires certain programming skills. For smaller sites or blogs, TYPO3 is therefore usually too labour-intensive. Large sites that can afford professional website support, however, benefit from the flexibility of this system and its ability to handle large amounts of data. Due to the (inevitably) higher level of individuality, well-managed TYPO3 websites usually look more professional.

PROFILE:

  • Operation: not so easy
  • CMS structure: hierarchical
  • Advantages: High flexibility and professionalism, complex management of user roles possible
  • Disadvantage: Requires technical knowledge for optimal exploitation of the possibilities
  • suitable for: Complex pages with large amounts of data, medium to large corporate pages

Conclusion

WordPress is not so popular for nothing. The user-friendliness is convincing, as is the variety of extensions and the strong community. Especially for website newcomers, getting started with WordPress is fantastically easy, and with experience, the possibilities of exploiting this four-fold CMS also grow. But just because most people use WordPress doesn't mean it's the best solution for you. The two alternatives Joomla! and TYPO3 also have their charms. Which one you choose depends on your goals. For blogs and small business sites, WordPress is advantageous. However, if you are aiming for a very complex project, it might be better to go for one of the other two systems. Generally speaking: Choose wisely, because a CMS change is of course possible, but very costly.

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