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