Why OurChurch.Com Switched from Joomla to WordPress for Its Custom Website Platform

wordpress-vs-joomlaMore than 6 years ago when we at OurChurch.Com first began developing custom websites to help Christian organizations achieve their mission online, we knew we wanted to use the best open source content management system we could find. In late 2005, we evaluated several options including WordPress, Drupal and Mambo, but the clear winner for both functionality and usability was Joomla.

Over the years, we’ve successfully developed Joomla-based websites for many Christian organizations, however, in that time much has changed both on the CMS landscape and with Joomla specifically.

The Path to Joomla 1.5 (or lack there of)

In 2008, Joomla released its second major version – 1.5. The core code changes were so significant that no upgrade path was provided. Those sites using Joomla 1.0 would have to create an entirely new Joomla 1.5 site.

In late 2009, Joomla ended all support for Joomla 1.0. This left OCC and our existing clients in a difficult situation. If a security problem were uncovered, there would be no way to fix it. We began encouraging our Joomla 1.0 clients to upgrade to 1.5, but because it required creating a new site (and thus a significant cost) few did.

That left both our clients’ websites and the servers they are hosted on vulnerable. So last year we developed the Full Service Joomla Program in which we would charge just $199 to create a new Joomla 1.5 site for our clients (taking a substantial loss) and enroll those who upgraded in a program where we would provide all upgrades to their site for $29/mo.

The Path to Joomla 2.5 (or lack there of)

Wouldn’t you know it, just a short time after we launched the Full Service Joomla Program, began upgrading client sites to Joomla 1.5 and enrolling clients in the program, Joomla announced the release of its next major version – Joomla 2.5. And again Joomla provided no upgrade path. Moving from Joomla 1.5 to 2.5 would require another completely new site.

We were stunned and disappointed.

It’s simply not OK for Joomla to force their users to build a completely new website every time they release a new major version.

In Comes WordPress

In 2005, WordPress was taking the blogging world by storm, but it had relatively few plugins and was clunky to use as the basis for a website. But over the last 6+ years, WordPress has continued to race forward. Thousands of plugins have been developed to provide almost any functionality an organization could want for its website. Its administrative interface has always been ultra-user-friendly. And perhaps best of all, upgrading WordPress and all of its plugins has usually takes all of one click.

We’ve been using WordPress for this blog as well as Church Marketing Online and Christian SEO Guys for years. So, it only makes sense for us to embrace WordPress as our CMS platform.

From this point forward…

…we are developing all new custom designed websites in WordPress.

For those clients who have Joomla 1.5 sites and the Joomla Full Service program, we are committed to providing all necessary upgrades. However, instead of upgrading your site to Joomla 2.5 (which would mean a completely new site anyway), we’ll contact you about creating a new WordPress site at our cost. And in the mean time, we’ll continue to provide support for your Joomla 1.5 site.

Because there is no way to fix any security issues with Joomla 1.0 sites and they create a security risk both for those organizations and all organizations that have their sites on that server, we’ve notified all Joomla 1.0 clients that they will have to transition to a WordPress site or move their site to another host by November 30.

Any comments or questions? If you’re a Joomla user, what do you think of Joomla and the fact that it can’t be upgraded from one major version to the next? What are your thoughts on WordPress as a CMS?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

18 Responses to “Why OurChurch.Com Switched from Joomla to WordPress for Its Custom Website Platform”

  1. Well said, Paul. I don't understand why Joomla has made it so difficult to continue to use their product. On the other hand, WordPress offers the functionality that our clients want, is easier for the clients to maintain their site, allows for beautiful designs, and is simple to upgrade to new versions.

  2. I think that this is a great move on your part as well. I have already switched my churches website over to a WordPress based site hosted here. I love the additional functionality that wordpress offers me in designing the site and the ease in which I can up date it. The site is http://www.marlborochurch.com

  3. Paul, I don't know how this affects me, if at all. You made one enormous change since we first started our website in 2004, and I haven't noticed anything substantially different since then. Can you please advise? Thanks!

    • PaulSteinbrueck Jul 6, 2012 at 10:42 pm

      Hi Pastor Schroeder, this doesn't affect you at all because you've created your own website using our NE1 Web Builder rather than having us create a custom designed website for you.

  4. I am a web developer, for the last four years, I upgraded more than 10 websites from 1.0 to 1.5 with no problem. I just don't know why you can't do it!
    1.5 can be upgraded to any latest version but our clients didn't want to upgrade coz there is nothing wrong with this version. Would you like me to show you how to upgrade? http://docs.joomla.org/Migrating_from_Joomla_1.5_

  5. How does this affect those of us with a free website?

    • PaulSteinbrueck Jul 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      It does not affect folks with a free site like you. Free sites are created and maintained with our NE1 web builder and there's no change to that.

  6. PaulSteinbrueck Jul 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Hi Joe, the doc you linked to says, "Because the changes from Joomla 1.5 to 2.5 are so large and because of the massive effort put into getting Joomla 2.5 to where it is today, there is no core upgrade path. This is indeed a migration." It's a pretty complex migration even with jUpgrade and they openly state that upgrading with jUpgrade often doesn't work.

    As for Joomla 1.5, it's no longer supported as of April 24, 2012 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joomla

  7. Alastair Gilchrist Jul 12, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Interesting post, Paul. WordPress seems to be gaining accolades world wide. We are developing a new web site for our fellowship in Perth (Scotland) and one of the quotes we have had comes from an industry professional who recommends WordPress.

    I think we'll go for it!

  8. WordPress seems to be gaining accolades world wide. We are developing a new web site for our fellowship in Perth (Scotland) and one of the quotes we have had comes from an industry professional who recommends WordPress.

  9. Paul, I can understand the condition..and you have chosen the right option. Thanks

    • PaulSteinbrueck Aug 2, 2013 at 8:45 am

      Thanks for reading the post. In the future, please post your comments with your name rather than targeted keywords, so I know your comment is genuine and not simply a link building campaign.

  10. Okay Paul..thanks for reminding this….correcting my mistakes now..thanks

  11. I both Joomla and WordPress user. I am 100% sure that WordPress is far better than Joomla in terms of webmaster friendly, web designing task, social media integration and even easy to integrate with payment system. Just email me if you need some help on development and design

  12. In my opinion, joomla is the best cms compare to others.it offers lots of benefits,easy to learn,open source package,we can easily manage large scale website by using joomla.