November 1, 2014

Why You Might Want to Know About Joomla!

From a brewery to mental health therapy to cloud technology, all kinds of small businesses in all kinds of industries are using Joomla! software.

But you might be wondering, “What’s Joomla?”

“Joomla!” (that’s how it’s written, with an exclamation point), is a content management system (CMS) for creating websites. It’s become a popular system.  At least one source claims that millions of sites use Joomla! globally.

I’ve never had the chance to use Joomla! myself, but I’ve wondered about it.  So when we had the chance to catch up with Kevin Rice, who is a Joomla! enthusiast and developer, we jumped at it.  Kevin is co-founder of Hathway, a digital media agency and custom site designer that uses Joomla! to build sites. Dive into the super-quick interview below and learn a little more about this platform.

Question:  Joomla! has been described as an open-source software.  We hear the word “open-source” and many of us benefit from it, but in layman’s terms what does it mean?

  • Kevin Rice, Hathway: Open Source literally means that the code is released openly and viewable to everyone, as opposed to being encrypted and un-editable.  It is more of a way of thinking that involves the concept that knowledge should be shared in order to stimulate progress. In other words, Joomla! developers, leverage other developers code as building blocks for our projects, and make enhancements or modifications as needed to satisfy project requirements.

Question:  Would you suggest Joomla! to a small business owner who is an Internet novice?  In other words, is it a do-it-yourself option for building a site?

  • Kevin Rice, Hathway: It is critical to employ a Joomla! expert regardless of your technical capabilities for any size web project. There are  many options when it comes to software plugins to extend Joomla! functionality.  So it is important to work with someone who can guide your project in the correct direction and select extensions based on experience.

Question: Today WordPress is a popular content management system and perceived as easy to use. What is the main difference between Joomla! and WordPress?

  • Kevin Rice, Hathway: WordPress is a great platform. It is very simple and accomplishes its function to be a blogging system which could be adapted for small businesses. However, it is the Joomla! developer community and all of their add-ons that make Joomla! the most powerful open source CMS platform. Joomla! is incredible for small businesses because it is a platform for growth which will scale with their business as they grow.

Question: What types of sites do the best on the Joomla! Platform?

  • Kevin Rice, Hathway: Joomla! allows you to segregate various functions by departmental needs.  For example, a Human Resources Department can be limited to only have access to manage the careers page, or the sales team could log in and gain access to a password protected directory of sales resources. Joomla! is also incredible for web sites that rely on “user generated” content, such as directory web sites (think Yelp), or social networking sites (think FaceBook), or multi-vendor e-commerce sites (think Amazon).

Question: You said once that “Some small businesses shy away from Joomla! because it is such a powerful platform, but that should only be more reason to choose it.” What is the most basic way Joomla! is used – say, for a simple site use that can grow into something more robust?

  • Kevin Rice, Hathway: Joomla! really is a platform for growth that will scale with your business. Maybe you start with an informational web site. Then you add an online storefront. Then you modify the template to be mobile compatible to accommodate mobile shoppers. Then you integrate it with your fulfillment provider once your operation becomes too big to handle the orders. And so on.

Thank you, Kevin, for that quick interview.

One of the best ways I’ve discovered to learn the capabilities of a software program is to look at existing examples. It will open your mind and imagination to the possibilities. I strongly suggest heading over to the Joomla.org website and spending time looking through the Community Showcase.  That is a gallery of sites that have been built using the Joomla platform.  Looking at those examples will give you an idea of the types of uses Joomla! is good for and how it’s been deployed by others.

11 Comments ▼
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Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses, and also serves as CEO of TweakYourBiz.com.

11 Reactions

  1. I agree with Kevin’s assessment that you need to have a Joomla! expert on your project. I’ve spent a few years in Drupal, then migrated to WordPress. But I spent a year playing around with Joomla! on a site of mine. I liked it, but there is so much to it that is tough for the average small biz owner (me) to keep up and figure it all out. I know several Joomla! experts and they love the system (and they work in competitive CMS platforms as well).
    Thanks for a great interview with Kevin.

    • TJ, thanks for that assessment.

      Yes, I think one key takeaway here is that Joomla’s not for do-it-yourselfers. But then, I have sites using other platforms, such as Pligg, that I would never recommend for a DIY-er, either, but instead hire a pro for. The important thing is that you not delude yourself and think you’re getting a DIY tool when you’re not — that will just lead to frustration.

      If you think you want to use this software, find a pro. Look at the Web designer’s own website — do they say they have a competency in Joomla!? If they don’t, ask carefully and specifically about how much experience they have with Joomla! They may be the best coders and designers in the world, but they still have to know the software, how templates work with it, which plugins are available, and all the little idiosyncrasies that come with any CMS package. You don’t want to have to pay for their education.

  2. You’re not the only one liking Joomla!, Anita. Looks like Idea Cafe beat you to the punch on an article about Joomla! for small businesses.

  3. Joomla is perfect for small businesses. First, unless you are going the template route, a site has to be designed and built. Its no more trouble coding for Joomla then most others and you get a great SEO platform to work with and is scalable. In my opinion, for 98% of businesses Joomla is the way to go, large and small.

  4. I’ve used Joomla! a few times, but I’m no expert. I agree with TJ – if you’re an average user, you’re going to be confused and irritated a lot of the time.

  5. For the small biz owner looking into Joomla! the most important sentence was this:

    “It is critical to employ a Joomla! expert regardless of your technical capabilities for any size web project.”

    If you’ve outgrown WordPress, need a more scalable platform and have such an expert available then an upgrade is the way to go.

  6. Thank you, Robert. I agree — get yourself an expert. It’s actually liberating not to do everything yourself, I’m finding….

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