CMS & WordPress
What features of WordPress or Joomla that you like?Why?
Joomla and Drupal, very little to be honest.
WordPress however quite a few.
It's really easy to install and takes minutes (upload speed depending)
It's dead simple to use, I love simplicity in systems, where I can do what I need to do quickly and effortlessly, without having to faff about or jump through hoops, where the user experience has been thought through (Joomla and Drupal)
It's easy to create custom themes for it and isn't too imposing
The codebase and database, while far from perfect technically, is easy to get along with and you can get in there and do what you need to do as a developer without too much hassle.
If you need a really simple website or a blog, its perfect.
Joomla and Drupal, I really don't get the love in. There is virtually nothing about them that gives any kind of appeal. I mean, these solutions are supposed to help developers hit the ground running and save time; and I don't feel that they do, in fact I feel that they do exactly the opposite.
Take Joomla, the "easy one":
Never had a client like the UI, content creation pipeline and workflow. It's ill considered, difficult to work with and feels as though its developed by techies for techies rather than for end users (who are after all who are going to be using these facilities). It just lacks the simplicity that other systems have (I know you can grab admin themes but I've never found one that makes me go "yes thats the way it should be").
The template engine is nasty, just not a fan of that.
The codebase is like a shoe string, looping through scripts, which isn't good. That makes the developers job take longer, which kind of defeats the objective IMO.
For what is a basic CMS product, its big and complicated.
Drupal suffers the same fate with me, but with certain features just really amplified.
To put it into context, there are other solutions that I much prefer, take Invision; its UI is so much nicer to work with and the full suite does so much more out of the box and yet is a thousand times nicer for the end user.
THANKS A LOT FizixRichard!!!
1) Great Blogging Platform.
2) Easy to use.
3) Files are organized and placed logically -- usually very little need to search through a million folders to find the file that does "X" or "Y."
4) Huge community, lots of documentation, good plugins.
Trying to get it to be more than just a glorified blog can sometimes present challenges.
The ease of finding the right files and keeping everything together in just a few folders ... is both good and bad. From a development standpoint, it suffers from what a lot of the CMS's suffer from, and that's ... too much intermingling of presentation code and logic code. Following a more regimented structure with the file system would open up a lot of possibilities, but at the moment, the loose nature of it all could become extremely frustrating once the site starts getting much bigger and more complex.
In short, as the site grows in size, it will invariably grow in complexity. So the site that you loved because of how quick it was to set up ... becomes the site that you hate because it's become so beastly to maintain now that it has grown.
1) Ungodly amount of plugins and modules that will do absolutely anything you want to do.
2) Despite what people tell you, it is very easy to work with. Seriously, this is what it is: Log in, and your first two options are "add article" or "manage articles." Click on the "add article" button to ... well, add an article (or "page" if you'd rather think of it that way). Or click on "manage articles" ... and amazingly enough, a list of articles appears. You click on the one you want to edit ... do your thing, and hit "save."
If you or your client can't figure that much out, then please .... kill yourself now (please don't -- I'm only joking).
3) Very logical from a design/theming standpoint. My site is composed of areas or "blocks." I want something to go somewhere ... I just stick a block there in my template by sticking in one line of code. Then I go to the modules area to designate what I actually want to appear in that block, where that block should appear, etc. I don't know, for the life of me, why this confounds so many people.
Almost too many plugins out there, and a lot of them poorly written ... many points of failure in them. This shouldn't be a problem if you stick with the ones that get higher reviews. Just read the darn reviews.
Peaking underneath the engine reveals a pretty complex system, that doesn't follow very good design theory. You'll see far too many instances where code logic is mixed in with presentation logic, and it can get very ugly very quickly. Lots of redundancies, but it at least tries to follow an MVC-architecture so I'll give it at least some credit there.
In short ... if your project requires you to do some heavy development / programming, things could get tricky. Even a seasoned programmer will need to spend some serious time getting familiar with how things work under the hood. Better to just pray you never have to open the hood.
The bit in bold, I have to disagree with this. While you are right in principal as it is "just a case of hitting add article" or "edit article" from the article list. That doesn't make it user friendly though and from my experience most users find it very confusing and overwhelming. That first impression then sticks.
The biggest problem with the Joomla UI, as I see it is that there is too much going on in the cms, way too many options and most average, non technical, users I come into contact find that overwhelming. They want a simpler interface, all the extra stuff should be hidden away until needed.
Another thing is the language, I mean this:
Click on the "add article" button to ... well, add an article (or "page" if you'd rather think of it that way).
That is a big usability no-no. A static page, such as your about page, isn't an article. That to end users is often confusing as when you say "article" they consider something akin to a "news article", when you say "the about page" they consider a "page" and expect those two things to be different and inherently they are. Even if under the hood, the code base, treats them the same, from the users perspective they should be different, even if it's just an alternative view to the same system.
Implying that the user is stupid if they don't get it or feel overwhelmed (I know you did it jokingly but the feeling that they are just stupid is clearly there) is not the answer to the problem, its discarding the problem or trying to make out like there isn't one.
Essentially what you've said is, "It's not that the system that's got a bad design, its that you are too stupid to use it".
Now if we were talking about a technical system or a feature of the system that is essentially technical or "advanced" then it's ok for it to require some "getting to grips with", but when its something as elementary as adding an article or a "page" then it's a problem if it requires anything more than a couple of minutes to get your head around (of course more advanced features of publishing are another thing, I mean the ability to simply publish an article or a page).
Taking Joomla's article system in a bit more detail, some of the things I find users struggle with are:
- Article/Page (whats the difference), their first reaction is one of
User: "I want to add a page"
Me: "You use the article system"
User: "No I want to add a page, not a news article, like my about page"
Me: "They are the same thing in Joomla, you create the page 'as an article'"
User: "Thats confusing, how do I know the difference between my news articles and pages"
... conversation goes on, explaining how it works, user ends up feeling kind of overwhelmed and feels like the system "does it in a silly way" ...
When on the lists and editors they find them overwhelming, there are far too many options right in the users face. They literally just want to select a category or menu to place the page/article under, enter a title, meta data and the content body. Then select a publish option (i.e. publish, unpublish, embargo date) and hit go. Instead they have a mass of information in front of them and don't know where to look. Added to that, the UI looks very technical so they feel its all "very technical".
They get a bit confused over how and where their article will be indexed and how to index it to a menu or a category.
These are things WP do really well and why WP is known to be easy to use, the editor itself and the indexing system is really straight forward so the end user can see at a glance what they need to do.
A better approach with all the extra bits of info and features on Joomla would be to tabulate the form, structure the menu and flow in a simpler way, or have an "advanced options" button or even expandable blocks on the forms. That way all the confusing stuff is hidden away and the end user will feel more comfortable.
When it comes to indexing an article or page, most just want to create their categories and manage their category structure separately to everything else, then either select a category and "add article" or have some kind of category tree on the editor which says "select the categories you want to index this article under" or words to those effect.
Then a few navigation options, such as an option to include a page in the main navigation along with navigation title and placement; maybe a seperate manager on top of that to reorder the main menu on the fly.
Joomla does all that, but not in a very coherent way.
Yea, I agree with this, actually. Good point. However, I have to go under the assumption that the Developer/programmer is going to be in-tune with the sophistocation of their client before even choosing a CMS. If I'm dealing with someone who can't really think in the abstract (and I understand that is a lot of people and that it doesn't make them "stupid") ... then I will simply change a few lines of code in Joomla's Admin area so it reads "Page," instead of article.
In fact, I typically customize the terminology to fit my purposes, which is usually a very simple thing to do with Joomla. For a real estate client, for example, it will read "add property" instead of "article" or page, or what have you.
But overall, if you can get past the terminology issue ... the idea of coming to a welcome screen with a set of about 5 or 6 graphical icons that you can select from, rather than a tree of more terms and more menu options, is a pretty fair and friendly way for a user to be greeted.
I understand that everyone's brain works differently ... there are conceptual types, creative types, left-brain, right-brain, etc. etc. And I agree with what you're saying, but only to an extent. If you have decided that you want to have a website, and having a website is important to you ... then you need to be willing to put forth at least some effort to learning what's going on. Most of the CMS systems out there are amazingly easy to use when you consider what they will do for you, and the amount of knowledge you'd need to make changes "the hard way."
Joomla doesn't go out of it's way to make things complicated. If your site is important to you and you're motivated enough to maintain it, then you should be able to pick it up very easily. In most cases, I find lack of motivation and/or seriousness to be the main issue on the client's part. For any CMS, I create videos and easy-to-follow PDF instructions, and I put them in places that are easy for them to find. If they don't have the motivation to pull out the PDF or watch the video, and just want instant answers to every little question ... then I have to question their motivation level and their seriousness.
It's kind of a double-edged sword. On one hand, what they need is all right there, but there are also other options that they might not need at the moment. On one hand, if you take away some of those options -- which I do sometimes (not a difficult hack by the way) -- then once the person actually grows comfortable with the system and realize how dead-simple it is ... they complain that there's not enough options, and will later conclude that they "cant' do some of the things they want to do" or that it is lacking in features.
I get you, but it's a catch-22. Maybe Joomla is just more of an "intermediate" CMS for the CMS user who has already used a "training wheels" CMS like Wordpress or CMS Made Simple. Either way, I still can't help but think that if you are serious about your website ... your site is a high priority to you and you are motivated to maintain it, then you will find it exceptionally easy and powerful. On the other hand, if you're an "instant gratification" type, you probably should just have someone else make changes for you ... or get a much simpler CMS, like one of those newer "no database" options that just edit the code directly.
User: How do I resize my image? Why will it resize in firefox but not in chrome?
What is this featured image thing?
Why does the editor strip out all of my paragraphs whenever I change an article?
What the heck is this media manager, and why can't I just pick an image and stick it in the article?
I mean ... pick your poison. With any CMS, you're going to have a laundry list of complaints from newbies. It's 6 of one or half-dozen of the other, but in the end, they all pretty much have the same options and a similar laundry list of issues.
Absolutely. And this is why I often configure these additional options to be expandable via JQuery show/hide. Or I simply make the important ones in larger, bold text (just a little bit of CSS). There's nothing stopping you from creating your own custom theme for the CMS Admin. It's really actually not harder than creating a custom front-facing template for the site. Joomla doesn't run your site theme through the same engine as your admin theme like Wordpress (major pain). But the steps involved in creating your own are almost exactly the same. Your issues seem to be much more related to the admin template than anything else. So either hack it or create your own. Then sell it and make lot of money ... brand it as "Joomla made easier." Or make one that's laid out exactly like Wordpress. I'll bet there would actually be a market for that if you sold it for 20 bucks a pop.
OK, I agree with your comments here in principal. If the user is more technical, they get it and are happy with it then fine, no problem exists with the UI. The problem presents itself when the user is not in tune with it. I disagree with your notion of "if they care about their site, they put the effort in" or should do; most of my clients who encounter Joomla feel that its making their job harder to maintain the site they care about and are serious about.
A lot of my clients have enough on their plate and are busy running their business and therefore aren't particularly interested in taking the training course, they just want something they can get along with.
One thing I have to disagree with, is your notion of resorting to hacking Joomla or editing the templates. I don't see that as a good thing and I'll explain why.
- The moment you hack the codebase, you are doing two things; A: Hindering upgradeability / making upgrades more difficult
- The moment you install a plugin you run the risk of dependency or introducing problems
Therefore I am of the belief that you should never hack the code base, the moment you are hacking the core code base you are demonstrating ill suitability (its different with a framework of course).
I am also of the belief that plugins are for extension, so any "hacks" should be plugins and that they should degrade elegantly and that you should not be over dependent on them.
Some of the biggest problems I have had to deal with for clients with existing systems that are built on a product (i.e. a forum like vbulletin or invision, a WP site, Joomla or Drupal site) are being caused by plugins or hacks that have introduced some remedial or secondary issue that has made the task at hand problematic or have introduced some issue.
My issue with template modding Joomla is within the template engine, it doesn't truly separate backend logic/code from UI. If it had a system similar to Invision or vBulletin this wouldn't be a problem. The systems in those forums separate the UI from PHP code completely. There is no HTML in the PHP code and no PHP in the templates (which are pure HTML with replacement variables and some kind of logic parser with is UI focused).
Thats how a template engine should be, it allows for better platform upgradeability, seamlessness and as its not tied into your codebase as much its more non restrictive in both directions.
The best feature of WordPress is that it's not an unnecessarily complicated, unintuitive nightmare like Joomla.
I guess I just disagree with the notion that Joomla is somehow "hard," or that it would require a training course. Maybe you and I just have different definitions of "hard." I mean ... any CMS these days pretty much involves the same thing. You log in with a user ID and password. You select some sort of "edit page" option, and you're given a list of pages. You pick the page you want to edit, make the changes, hit save.
Honestly, if that's too much for someone to wrap their heads around, then they should probably just have someone else do it for them ... and probably not worth your time, because this is going to be a major pain-in-the-a$$ client. The kind that can't figure out how to refresh their browser (and yes, I have had a few of those).
But either way, if that's what you're dealing with, then luckily we have training wheel type CMS platforms like Wordpress and CMS Made simple.
And I wouldn't either, which is why I don't advocate it. I do, however, highly encourage you to create your own template, and work within Joomla's system to override certain aspects of the template if/when necessary (which it probably won't be). This is one area that non-Joomla guys don't quite get. Much like Drupal .... Joomla has a separate Administrative template. Changing the layout, styling elements, hiding things and revealing things ... is no more "hackish" than creating a template for the actual website you're trying to manage.
You have full control over how the engine is presented to the user, if you so wish ... and I don't think you quite get that.
But nonetheless, if you don't feel like theming your Admin section ... no big deal. Honestly, if you like Wordpress, that's totally fine. It has a lot of strong Content Management properties and features and is good at what it does. I just get kind of bored reading all of the myths about Joomla being so difficult, because it's really not. It's kind of like this: Wordpress is probably easier at first ... as in the first few minutes you look at it. Joomla, on the other hand ... if you spend just a little bit of time with Joomla, you'll find it's actually easier to do a lot of thins with it. Tons of features already built in to it that do the work of several Wordpress plugins. And a lot of things you'll never be able to do with Wordpress as easily. But these are all things that go beyond that initial "first 5 minutes" impression.
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