WordPress vs. Joomla & K2 for Magazine Websites

Anyone who has developed with multiple CMS systems will inevitably choose a favorite system for development. This favorite is not always the best for every project, but the CMS in which we have invested the most time learning. As web professionals, it is our job to forget about favorites and analyze the needs of individual projects. I have learned the hard way that it is best to let the core of a CMS or at least a SHORT list of extensions handle most of the functionality rather than installing every cool extensions you can find. Most CMS’s are built as a bare bones system ready for expansion, but updating a site with 20+ extensions to the latest version of the CMS can be disastrous.

For the task of building a magazine websites, the decision between WordPress and Joomla! has always been pretty simple for me.

Customer: “Hi, I would like a website.”
Me: “Ok great! What kind?”
Customer: “A magazine website”
Me: “Ok, we will use WordPress.”
Customer: “But I thought you specialize in Joomla!”
Me: “I do, but we will use WordPress!!”

While Joomla! is my favorite CMS for websites, it is not well equipped for magazine and blog websites. You can definitely create a magazine site, but you will need extensions and modules for comments, author bios, tags, related items, article gallery and hours of custom coding to pull everything together properly. There are a couple of blog extensions that handle some of these features, but they are not strong enough to take on WordPress. All of these features are build into the WordPress core as it was purpose built for blogging and article management.

Let’s compare the “out of the box” features of WordPress and Joomla 1.5 to those required for a magazine website.

WordPress Joomla 1.5
Tags X
Author List X
Author Profile X
Author Avatar X
Article Image Gallery X
Comments X
RSS Feeds X X
SEF URL’s X X
Media Manager X -/X
Image Resizing X
Multi-Level Categories X
Category Specific Layouts X
Multi Category Assignment X
Image Comments X
Dynamic Navigation X
Article Navigation X X
Auto-save X
Revisions / Drafts X
Multiple modules/widgets X X

It  is pretty obvious which CMS would be right for the job. Joomla! right? :)

This was before K2 for Joomla! completely revolutionized the way Joomla! manages content and articles.

Now this is more like it:

WordPress Joomla 1.5 Joomla 1.5 + K2
Tags X X
Author List X X
Author Profile X X
Author Avatar X X
Article Image Gallery X X
Comments X X
RSS Feeds X X X
SEF URL’s X X X
Media Manager X -/X X
Image Resizing X X
Multi-Level Categories X X
Category Specific Layouts X X
Multi Category Assignment X
Image Comments X
Dynamic Navigation X
Article Navigation X X X
Auto-save X
Revisions / Drafts X

As you can see, K2 brings most of the great features of WordPress to Joomla. Even better, K2 comes with modules that can do just about anything. So, if you can do without the content workflow (revisions etc.) Joomla! + K2 is ready to tackle your next magazine website.

Here is a magazine website that I created using wordpress: http://www.seniormagonline.com – UPDATE* They decided to convert to a page flip system due to budget issues, but a functional copy of the site can be found here: http://senior.acs-digital.com/

I created this one using Joomla! and K2: http://www.cuisinenoirmag.com/

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Tarik Assagai
Tarik (@tarik916) is a web developer and owner of ACS Digital Media, a Sacramento based web development agency specializing in open source CMS systems. If you are looking for support for your current or upcoming projects, visit www.acs-digital.com.

39 Comments

  1. I hadn’t heard about K2 until now. I’ll have to check it out.

  2. Love the write up!
    Been in web dev for 9yrs and have been fretting over a good CCK to make mag style sites.
    I’ve used Zoo, Flexi, Sobi etc.. and always went back to WP for effectiveness and ease.

    But b/c k2 now enable front end submission you can have a community style mag site!

    Also k2 and jce have a plugin that enable great content editing and linking with the k2 environment.

    k2+joomla FTW!

  3. Hi, thanks for this post!
    I’ve run a magazine site on Joomla for 4 years and, as a technical know-nothing, I cannot develop my site without spending on developers.
    The site publishes four year’s worth of monthly issues using the iJoomla Magazine component, and a Newsroom (3400+ published articles).
    I’m strongly considering migrating to the WordPress platform, it appears to me that I will be able to attend to most (if not all) of the site setup, plugins & updates personally.
    If you happen to have 2 secs:
    1. What is the best WordPress theme for me to consider for a hierarchical magazine setup including all common bells & whistles; and
    2. What can I expect regarding preserving page read stats & comments.
    Thank you for considering this response,
    Kind regards, Ryk

  4. Hi tarik, I have a question about http://www.cuisinenoirmag.com/.
    I prefer Joomla!, and K2 don’t likes me (maybe now be better).
    The question is: How you get the URL’s with no /item/?

    PD: srry for my english.

    • tarik916 /

      The site uses Artio joomSEF, but I usually use sh404sef. Either one will remove the “item” and page id from the URL if you install a K2 plug-in.

      • Hi Tarik,thanks for your fast answer.

        This is one of things why I’m thinking to change Joomla! by WordPress, the Joomla SEF is ok, but, when you are using extensions like K2 need a Component for better URL’s and always need to be upgrading your components, waiting for upgrades… etc…

        Other thing I see better in WordPress is external CDN setup, or subdomain CDN setup for media manager, and other thing I see better in Joomla! is the menu System and admin panel… Joomla!, is one of things why I keep using Joomla! (and Kunena, Jomsocial or CB, they aren’t in core but are impresionant).

        PD: I recieved Email, and again sorry for my english.

        Regards!!!

        • tarik916 /

          I prefer to use the default SEF for Joomla!, but if you want to control the metadata and customize the URL’s, you need an extension. I have only had to upgrade the SEF component once and it was a single click in the administrator. There are definitely tasks that each system does better than the other, so it is a good idea to look at the complete list of requirements before starting your project.

  5. Charles /

    I prefer yootheme zoo. It’s more flexible than k2

  6. Paul /

    How did you setup wordpress to handle issues?

    • tarik916 /

      I created a category and custom template for issues. I also added custom fields for image, month and year to each post in that category. In the custom post template, I used the WordPress archive snippet and PHP to pull all articles that matched the month and date listed in the custom fields. The result was a post with an archive list: http://senior.acs-digital.com/2010/08/august-2010/

  7. Hi! Nice review. I used K2, but when importing, some of my pages dissapeared with 404 error. Eventually I got tired of fixing it all the time, and found than WordPress does practically the same, so now I am freshly pressed;)

    BTW, I switched using http://www.cms2cms.com – a free tool that did all the job and saved me loads of time. Frankly, the transition scared me, but I actually had only to take care of the redirects, everything else went ok.

    • d4v!d /

      I hear of these 404 errors but I have yet to encounter them with K2… I get nice, clean SEF urls, and I make heavy use of K2.

      I have some good blog pages running in Joomla, but none of them are front page blogs, except for one that streams all their social media onto the front page. (This is fantastic – the blogger does everything from Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.) Now up to Joomla 3.

      WordPress landing pages and scalability aren’t strong features, but their front page is incomparable in a blogging-first environment.

  8. Hi I just wanted to know when you used WordPress for the magazine – did you do it with pages or with posts?
    How do you archive posts automatically – like how posts are archived?

    • correction: how do you archive Pages?

    • Tarik Assagai /

      If you are referring to removing them from the magazine, we never archived them that way. Everything remained published within the issue category.

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