CMS Review - Strengths and weakness of Wordpress, SilverStripe and Joomla

Posted by Paul Rogers on 25 January 2012

A few days before New Years Eve, I came up with a number of resolutions that I would be adopting, with the majority of them related to my sugar intake and exercise levels. However, I also decided upon a few work-related resolutions, one of which was to write about topics outside of my comfort area of SEO, in particular link building - so I decided to do a two-part review of a few popular content management systems.

There are countless content management systems (CMS) out there today, some free, some paid, some open-source, some built for bespoke projects, I could go on but I’d be here all day.

Part one of this blog post will be focused on three different CMS platforms, outlining the strengths and weaknesses of using each – the systems are:

Part two of this article will be focused on Magento, osCommerce and Shopify.

SilverStripe CMS:

SilverStripe are headquartered in Wellington, New Zealand and they released version one of their content management system, which is built on the sapphire framework, in September 2006. 

SilverStripe is an open-source platform that is often used due to its development versatility and user-friendly back-end admin interface.

Key Advantages of using SilverStripe:

  • The software is free
  • Open-source code base
  • Active developer community
  • There are additional themes available (free and paid)
  • Extensive support available
  • Ajax site tree
  • Easy to customise and integrate with software and other platforms
  • Good for SEO
  • Quick to install
  • Version control

Key disadvantages of using SilverStripe:

  • Fairly small following, meaning less information is available online
  • Not as many modules available as similar platforms like Wordpress or Joomla
  • Lack of documentation (because it’s still pretty new)
  • Shortage of stock themes

Examples of SilverStripe websites:

SilverStripe Conclusion:

SilverStripe is a really nice, easy to use content management system with a really big future ahead of it. SilverStripe is getting more popular by the day and they’re due to release version 3 in the next couple of months, which is promising a number of great new features and an updated user interface.

German-based company, PixelTricks are also actively working on a new ecommerce module, which showed a lot of promise when it was released in Beta form last year.

For me, there are a lot more strengths than weaknesses – I would recommend SilverStripe.

Best for:

  • More advanced non-ecommerce sites
  • Aesthetics-focused sites
  • Highly customised websites
  • Advanced developers

Wordpress:

Wordpress is most famous for being the world’s biggest blogging platform, but in reality, it’s so much more than that! First released in 2003 as a piece of code designed to aid typography, Wordpress has enjoyed unbelievable levels of popularity – as of August 2011 it is believed that Wordpress powers well over 20% of all new websites globally!

The undeniable appeal of Wordpress owes greatly to the astonishing amount of themes and plugins that are available to download, currently over 1,450 and just under 18,000 respectively.

I personally am a huge fan of Wordpress, with the ease of access to the code and the simplicity behind what would usually be complex programming changes representing my reasoning – however I have also witnessed one of the main disadvantages first-hand.

Key advantages of using Wordpress:

  • Nearly 1,500 themes available + more premium options
  • Nearly 20,000 plugins/modules available + more premium options
  • It’s free
  • Used by millions of people and websites world-wide
  • World’s biggest blogging platform
  • Quick and simple to integrate with other software packages
  • Search engines love Wordpress
  • Easy to integrate with social networking profiles
  • Manage multiple websites in one dashboard
  • Open-source platform
  • Built-in code editor within the admin area
  • Quick and easy to install
  • Simple PHP framework
  • Huge development following
  • Very easy to customise
  • E-commerce modules available and constantly being developed

Key disadvantages of using Wordpress:

  • Hackers love Wordpress (If you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t keep up to date with updates, you could be leaving your website susceptible to hackers)
  • Lots of updates
  • Some plugins and themes are unsecure (I’ve heard lots of stories about unsecure plugins that have lead to websites being hacked)
  • Could be outgrown (there are more suitable platforms for larger projects and ecommerce sites)

Wordpress Conclusion:

To be honest, there are very few disadvantages of using Wordpress, it felt a bit like I was clutching at straws. Wordpress is an immensely powerful CMS that really is ideal for users of any experience level. The one thing that I would recommend watching out for though is the Wordpress security – I failed to update an installation on Wordpress last year and was hit by a pretty fatal hack.

All in all, great platform – I love it and I use it!

Best for:

  • Blogging
  • Any non-ecommerce project
  • Users of any level

Joomla: 

I thought I would throw a CMS that I haven'y had much experience with into the mix here, as although I’ve played around with it, I’m not overly familiar with Joomla as a CMS.

Joomla is a PHP-based content management system that, much like Wordpress, has a huge selection of extensions and themes readily available for users. Following their launch in 2005, Joomla won the Packt open-source CMS award in 2006, 2007 and 2011, previous winners include Wordpress and Drupal.

Key advantages of using Joomla:

  • Open-source CMS
  • It’s free (although there’s also a paid version)
  • Simplistic user-friendly admin interface
  • Multiple users can edit a site at the same time
  • Support for multi-language sites
  • Huge development following
  • Lots of templates available
  • Huge range of extensions/modules
  • Joomla release regular upgrades
  • Highly customisable
  • Can be good for SEO (if developed correctly)
  • Lots of support available
  • Lots of readily-integrated features (such as polls and user control)
  • Appropriate for larger, more complex websites

Key disadvantages of using Joomla:

  • Harder to learn than Wordpress
  • Changes can often require development support
  • Requires work to make it SEO-friendly
  • Slower-loading and more expensive hosting (due to excess javascript and CSS)
  • Wordpress has more plugins (and more free plugins)
  • Wordpress is better for blogging

Joomla Conclusion:

Joomla is a very powerful system with lots of great extensions and a really easy to use admin system. 

These advantages and disadvantages are based on my limited experience and the views of a few of my colleagues, but I would say that whilst it may be more appropriate for larger websites, Wordpress is a better option for beginners and small sites.

Best for:

  • Larger websites
  • Multi-language websites
  • Experienced developers

Overall conclusion:

To conclude, I think that all three of these content management systems are different and have their own benefits. SilverStripe has the fluency and intuitive admin system, Wordpress has the range of modules and simplicity and Joomla’s versatility and out of the box quality is a big plus.

I also think that SilverStripe is more suited to larger non-ecommerce websites, due to its versatility, user-friendly back-end and added customisability. Joomla is also suited to larger websites because of it’s multi-user editing functionality, but it’s slower to load and will cost more to host with bigger sites. 

I still think Wordpress is the best option for blogging, beginners and small websites. It is also the easiest to get used to and the most time-efficient for small websites.

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This is part one of two posts, the second one will be focused on Ecommerce platforms and will look at Magento, Shopify and osCommerce.

There are many other content management systems that I could have talked about (such as Drupal), if there are any that you think should have been included or any additional points that you think I've missed, please feel free to add them in the comments. You can also visit our CMS design or Ecommerce development pages to find out more about the services we offer in these areas.

You can also follow Paul on Twitter and Google Plus.

Comments (10)

  • Philipp Philipp on January 25th, 2012

    Nice one!
    Concerning the security of WordPress: As it's so widely used, there's probably more automatic scanning going on for its vulnerabilities. However, the security of the core product doesn't seem to be worse than with Joomla or SilverStripe. I've just done a little comparison for that - you can check it out at https://github.com/xeraa/cms-security

  • Ade Lewis Ade Lewis on January 25th, 2012

    Nice round-up of the top CMS contenders and I am looking forwards to your eCommerce platform comparison. Personally, I am a big Joomla fan, it does take longer to learn than the others and PHP, Javascript and HTML knowledge is a bit of a must if you want to go beyond the very basics but from a purely design point of view I find that it it is way more flexible than both SilverStripe or Wordpress and you can create a CMS website that doesn't look like a CMS website.

  • Ludovic Ludovic on January 25th, 2012

    Nice one ! I'm a big fan of Silverstripe. It's a really nice CMS but people are affraid to use it. Partly because you can't find all the tutorials and documentation that the others are providing. I hope it'll change.

  • Edward Lewis Edward Lewis on January 25th, 2012

    I think that Silverstripe is a great CMS. I would say that compared to others like WordPress and Joomla there may be a slightly higher learning curve, and some people from a non techie background might struggle.

    Joomla is a dogs dinner of a CMS.. in my experience, which is admitedly very subjective, I don't think I have come across one person who finds it an easy system to use..

  • Paul Paul on January 26th, 2012

    Thanks for the comments guys!

    Philip: I agree, I also think that Wordpress hacks are more common because SS and Joomla users are likely to have a better understanding of website security than a lot of Wordpress users. The GitHub post is a great resource, will update this post with a link when I get to work (currently on my phone).

    Ade: hello mate - I haven't got too much experience with Joomla but it does seem really good. I will be doing the ecommerce post soon, is likely to be even longer than this one!

    Ludovic: I am a big fan of SilverStripe too, we use it as our primary non-ecommerce CMS. I also think that a lot of the support and documentation will come soon as they continue to grow. It'll be interesting to see what happens with V3.0, as it looks like it's going to be a major update!

    Edward: I agree, SilverStripe does have a difficult learning curve, which I think is partly down to the lesser amount of documentation and guidance available.

    My experience with Joomla is limited, but I think the admin system is ok. I do agree though, I found it a lot harder to use than Wordpress and even SilverStripe.

    Thanks again for your comments

  • Ramon Kupper Ramon Kupper on January 26th, 2012

    Very comprehensive article. I totally agree with the shortcomings of SilverStripe you have mentioned, but still it is our choice #1.

    Thank you for mentioning us (pixeltricks) and our eCommerce-Module SilverCart. In the meanwhile - it has been almost a year since we launched the beta - SilverCart has proven itself in the trenches, with one project having more than 300.000 products.

    We are right now working towards SilverCart 1.3 and it's getting better each day ;-)


    Cheers
    Ramon

  • Paul Paul on January 26th, 2012

    Hi Ramon,

    Thanks for your comment. Glad to hear your work on SilverCart is going well, it's a really promising prospect for SilverStripe users!

    Look forward to seeing it develop.

  • Frank Mullenger Frank Mullenger on February 2nd, 2012

    Great article, SilverStripe is my number one choice as well. I've also been working on an ecommerce module for SilverStripe which I hope will have something to contribute in that area.

    One thing about modules, I quite often stumble upon modules on github that I've never heard of before. It feels like there are a lot more out there at the moment than are listed on silverstripe.org.

  • Kerstin Kerstin on June 28th, 2012

    Hi Paul,
    Good overview on the CMS tools. It's always good for me to receive feedback on SilverStripe.

    Just as a site comment: Some of the things you came up with for Joomla apply to SilverStripe as well such as:
    Simplistic user-friendly admin interface
    Multiple users can edit a site at the same time
    Highly customisable

    With SS3 being out the door I guess that applies even more than it did before. (Also the framework is now called the 'SilverStripe Framework' ;)

  • Virgil Virgil on August 6th, 2012

    I have worked with all 3 and I don't recommend any of them. Instead, I recommend Drupal. It's harder to learn, but it's a lot more complex, has a bigger and more professorial user community where every module is open-sourced and much more...

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