- Feb 04, 2019
- by Brad Litwin
A few years ago, Joomla! (or Joomla.org) launched Joomla.com – a simple and pared-down version of the original software. While both varieties have their merits, it’s important to select the best option for the specific needs of your site.
Joomla.com provides all the same basic publishing features as Joomla.org. However, as you might expect, it does comes with some limitations. Taking the key pros and cons of each into consideration will help you come to a more informed decision.
In this article, we’ll discuss Joomla.org and Joomla.com in more detail, and explore the differences between them. We’ll also talk you through how to decide which platform is right for you. Let’s jump in!
An Introduction to Joomla!
When you’re creating a website, there are a number of factors you’ll need to consider right at the beginning. Deciding which Content Management System (CMS) you’re going to use is one of the most important yet challenging decisions. There are a lot of options out there, and Joomla! is one of the most popular.
Joomla! is a free and open-source CMS that’s designed for publishing web content. The software is written in PHP, and uses a MySQL database to store content. It’s also considered fairly easy for beginners to pick up – thanks in part to the helpful online community the platform attracts.
Building a site with Joomla.org provides you with several benefits. Perhaps most notably, you’ll get an incredible level of control over your site. Sourcing a suitable hosting plan and domain is the responsibility of the user, enabling you to take full advantage of some of the great services out there.
This also means that general site maintenance and updates are also in the hands of the user. While this may be daunting for first-time site owners, many hosts will carry out these tasks as a part of their base service, particularly when you’re using a plan that’s optimized specifically for the platform.
In addition, with Joomla.org there are no limitations placed on the extensions and templates you can install to customize your site, and mailing functionality is unlimited. The level of overall freedom offered by this platform is hard for many of the alternative options on the market to match – including Joomla.com.
Joomla.org vs Joomla.com
In 2015, the developers of Joomla! introduced Joomla.com, a modified and simpler version of the original software. There are a number of key differences between the two platforms, and the easiest way to understand them is through a direct comparison.
Let’s start by checking out some of the benefits Joomla.com has to offer:
- With Joomla.com, everything is a part of the base service. You’ll receive hosting and a domain for free (making this a ‘hosted’ platform rather than a ‘self-hosted’ one like Joomla.org).
- Getting your site off the ground comes with a lower price tag. You can get a basic site up and running without spending a cent.
- Many site maintenance tasks, such as updates and installations, are automatic. Furthermore, Joomla.com comes with all of the platform’s 50+ languages pre-installed.
A site created with Joomla.com does have certain restrictions, especially when it comes to extensions. The service comes with just five pre-installed extensions, as opposed to the unlimited capabilities offered by the self-hosted version.
Mailing functionality is similarly limited. However, it’s important to mention that the core functionality provided by the Joomla.com service is exactly the same as it is for Joomla.org users.
In contrast, let’s quickly recap the pros of using Joomla.org:
- You have a greater level of freedom in regards to your hosting plan, meaning you are able to choose an option that better fits the needs of your site.
- There’s no limit on the extensions and templates you can use.
- With Joomla.org, you can directly edit your template files – this isn’t possible on the Joomla.com service. In a more general sense, your options for customization are far more open.
Of course, there are some disadvantages to consider – cost being the primary factor. The expense of hosting and domain registration can add up, although there are affordable options that will be easy on your budget.
The level of maintenance required when running a site with Joomla.org is also considerably higher. This includes the initial installation, future updates, and the addition of extra tools as needed. You don’t need to be a technical wizard, but you will have to take some time learning the ins and outs of the platform.
How to Select the Right Platform for Your Site
As we’ve seen, both Joomla.org and Joomla.com have some compelling advantages. At the same time, they’re different enough that each platform is better suited to a distinct kind of site and user. By considering the factors listed above, you can begin to decide which option meets your specific needs.
The additional level of support with site maintenance and upgrades means that Joomla.com is generally well-suited to smaller businesses and first-time site owners. It’s a useful option if you lack the time, resources, and/or knowledge to learn the platform and maintain your site.
The fact that you’re provided with hosting and a domain can also free up some resources – less research is required, for example. This means that more time can go into creating great content and marketing it. If you need to create a website but lack any kind of budget, Joomla.com is worth a look.
Those who desire complete control over their websites, however, may find Joomla.org a more attractive option. It’s extremely customizable, and you get access to limitless template and extension downloads. As a result, you can put together a site that looks and acts exactly the way you want.
What’s more, Joomla.org gives you the freedom to select a high-quality web host. This is a particularly strong draw for many users, as it enables you to choose a hosting provider and plan that match the needs of your business.
All-in-all, Joomla.org is a great choice for larger businesses and experienced website owners. If you have the time and resources to carry out the manual maintenance that’s required, you’ll reap the benefits of an extremely powerful platform.
Joomla! is one of the world’s most popular CMSs, and the addition of Joomla.com only cements its position further. As we’ve discussed, both platforms have some clear advantages and drawbacks. Therefore, it’s essential to assess the individual needs of your site, to determine which option will work best for you.
In a general sense, Joomla.com is better suited to those who require an extra level of support, and have little-to-no budget to work with. On the other hand, site owners who require a greater level of freedom, and who want to choose their own hosting plan and domain, are better off opting for Joomla.org.
Image credit: Max Pixel.