Which Web Site Platforms Are Best for Small Businesses?
When considering web site platforms for your business, there are a few major considerations. Ease of use, availability of qualified programmers and a web platform that is extensible should be a major concern.
The digital age is here, and the public square of business has transitioned from busy streets to bustling websites. Customers are using the internet more and more to find products, discover unique experiences, and patronize businesses that they’ve long been loyal too.
Since their inception, amateur bloggers, part-time journalists, eCommerce side hustlers, and small business owners have been leveraging the power of content management systems to build and manage their online presence.
Content management systems (CMS) are open source technologies that make web development accessible to anyone looking to up their digital game. CMS platforms are known for their shallow learning curves, powerful plugins like search engine optimization tools (SEO), and seemingly endless online resources to get you up and running.
If you haven’t already set up your business’s website, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a guide to introduce you to two of the most popular CMS platforms, WordPress and Joomla, with a focus on helping you choose which one is the best CMS to empower your small business in the digital world.
WordPress vs. Joomla: A Brief Introduction
WordPress.org was launched in 2003 and started out as a blogging platform. It’s the biggest player in the open source CMS game, with a market share of about 60%. WordPress also serves over 34% of the entire internet. It has a massive community of web developers and users and supports all types of websites.
Joomla was launched in 2005 as a CMS meant to service “portal websites” like Yahoo and has grown to service much more than that. Joomla serves a significantly smaller portion of websites with 3.4% of the CMS market and 5.4% of the internet.
The technologies aren’t standalone products. They require that you install them on a web hosting service like HostGator or Bluehost, which comes with associated costs. Don’t worry, there are tons of hosting providers out there that you can use for either CMS.
Both CMSs also require that you already have a domain name ready to go, but they can facilitate the process of finding a domain name appropriate for your business.
Ease of Use and Site Management
Small business owners often don’t have a lot of web development experience and thus are looking for solutions that have a high level of customization and a small learning curve.
When it comes to ease of use, WordPress has a healthy lead. WordPress is extremely user-friendly for someone totally new to web development. Most hosting services have specialized one-click WordPress hosting options that make set-up super easy. Once you’ve chosen a web server for your site and have signed up for a WordPress account, it basically takes care of itself. After setup is done, configuring your WordPress site and optimizing it for your needs is relatively simple.
WordPress themes are tools that help you build your website quickly. The market for WordPress website themes is massive, with tons of free and premium themes available to customize your front end. The themes are visually appealing, are available for any type of website, and are very easy to manipulate. Website creation is very intuitive and usually consists of basic drag-and-drop of page features and other widgets in a page builder.
Content management is also very simple. It’s easy to learn how to post articles or content pieces, manage your pages, and customize your output.
Joomla isn’t as seamless or beginner-friendly. Hosting services usually don’t have automatic installation processes, which means that you’ll be left with doing most of the heavy lifting. Joomla does have a ton of customization potential if you have the know-how, but you can still do a lot even with relatively little technical skill.
Joomla also has a pretty large website template market you can leverage when building your Joomla site, though it’s markedly smaller than that of WordPress. Because the development community is smaller, the template offerings have less diversity and usually offer less user support.
Content management is not as easy. Joomla is less forgiving for those with less experience, and the learning curve for posting and customizing content is a bit steeper. There are still plenty of tools for less tech-savvy website owners to make the process easier. However, if you have the skill set you can do a lot more personalized customization in the back-end of Joomla.
Takeaway: WordPress is more beginner-friendly, has a huge network of users and developers, and a massive market for themes to customize your site. While Joomla takes a bit more technical skills, you can do a lot of personal customization and you still have access to a large enough market of templates.
Search Engine Optimization
In order to compete online, your business’s website has to rank well on Google when customers are searching the internet. Both platforms are SEO-friendly and have lots of free and premium SEO-plugins and extensions available in their online stores.
Remember, WordPress has a massive community and thus tons of tools for every aspect of your website. SEO WordPress plugins and add-on are easy to find, but by far the most popular plugin is Yoast SEO.
Yoast has a very intuitive user interface and helps you score your content’s SEO strength across key metrics and offers guidance for how to improve in each area. Yoast also measures the readability and relevancy of your pages/articles, two areas that Google weighs heavily in search rankings.
Best of all, it’s a free plugin with the option to upgrade to premium capabilities if you so choose.
Joomla has a slight edge over WordPress on the outset. Users can customize the meta descriptions and keywords for articles directly through Joomla’s back end, which can be a huge boost when positioning your website to rank on Google.
The Joomla extension market also offers lots of SEO-plugins, the one most popular being Easy Front-end SEO (EFSEO). It can automatically assign relevant meta information and helps you craft the strongest content possible in a similar fashion to Yoast.
EFSEO is also free, but you have to pay in order to get user support.
Takeaway: Even though Joomla offers the ability to customize the meta descriptions and keywords for your articles and pages, WordPress’s Yoast plugin takes the cake with its ease of use, powerful features, and strong user community.
Customization Options for Small Business
Your website can be a powerful tool for collecting leads, directly selling to customers, and collecting insightful data that you can use to optimize your small business’s performance. Here we look at the options that small business owners have to leverage available tools to make the most of their website on both of these platforms.
WordPress offers an unparalleled amount of innovative and powerful tools that you can leverage as a business owner to get the most out of your website. The plugin market is massive, and there are plenty of business tools in the mix. We’ll talk about a few of the most popular plugins below just to give you a taste:
- Woocommerce is a comprehensive eCommerce tool with tons of customization options and great reporting tools to give you a sense of your sales performance.
- WPForms is a user-friendly, drag-and-drop form builder that lets you build customized contact, email subscription, order forms, polls, and basically any type of online form quickly and simply.
- MonsterInsights is a plugin that helps you to leverage the power of Google Analytics to empower your online presence.
- Shared Counts is a tool that connects your website with your business’s social networking efforts by allowing you to easily add social sharing buttons to your pages.
These are just a few of the many, many plugins and tools that WordPress users can use to make their website work for their small business.
Though the Joomla extension marketplace is smaller, there are still lots of great options for small business owners.
- The Google Analytics extension with free and pro versions that connects your business website with powerful analytics features
- EngageBox is a popup and leads generation extension that helps you to boost conversion rates by turning site visitors into customers and/or subscribers
- EShop is a user-friendly eCommerce tool that helps you to easily sell products and services online through secure payment portals
- JFBConnect is an all in one social networking tool integrates all of your social platforms with your website’s content and functionalities
The Joomla extension directory has lots of options for small business owners to choose from.
Takeaway: Though both platforms have lots of options to optimize your website for your business needs, the larger WordPress market lends itself better to user support and customization.